College football was back last week, and there was much rejoicing.
The NFL is back, and there is more rejoicing to be had.
It’s 214 days of no-football that have finally come to an end, and it’s officially time to predict games. Here’s how I see week one shaking out:
Falcons at Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET
A rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional round is a great way to kick off the NFL season, and we will actually see the same two quarterbacks square off. Wentz is still not 100 percent, so Doug Pederson will call upon Nick Foles once again. The Falcons would have eliminated Philadelphia last January had the ball not passed right through the hands of Julio Jones on fourth and goal. I think Calvin Ridley gives Matt Ryan that extra weapon he needs to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 20
Steelers at Browns, 1 p.m. ET
The public cries for Baker Mayfield are growing louder, but it seems Hue Jackson is adamant on starting Tyrod Taylor Week One. It won’t matter who is starting this one as the Steelers will extend their win streak against the Browns to seven games. They are the better football team. Simple as that. The Browns have taken steps to improve on their 1-31 squad, but they’re not the playoff team people think they are…yet.
Prediction: Steelers 30, Browns 17
Bengals at Colts, 1 p.m. ET
Andrew Luck’s return to Indianapolis after over a year away from football? I don’t give the Bengals much of a chance in this one. The crowd will be electric and it seems from various interviews that he is pumped to be back on the field. He has dealt with poor offensive line play his whole career, but he finally has a centerpiece in Quenton Nelson. I’m giving each of these teams 8-8 on the season, but the Colts get the last laugh in this one.
Prediction:Bengals 20, Colts 28
Titans at Miami, 1 p.m. ET
I have the Dolphins with the worst record in the league this season, and it starts here in Week One. If Tannehill plays to his potential, I’ll reconsider that statement in a couple weeks. The Titans are improving, but, unfortunately for them, so is the entire AFC South. Nonetheless, Mariota is capable of going south and kicking off the season 1-0.
Prediction: Titans 31, Dolphins 21
49ers at Vikings, 1 p.m. ET
The 49ers were unlikely to go into Minnesota and win, but with the loss of former Viking Jerick McKinnon, I’m calling this one already. Cousins will have an average debut, but Minnesota is talented enough to win this one without elite quarterback play. It will be nice to see Dalvin Cook back on the field as well.
Prediction:49ers 10, Vikings 17
Texans at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET
Other than possibly Thursday night’s matchup, this is the game of the week. The seasoned veteran in Tom Brady versus the flashy young gun in Deshaun Watson. It’s must-see TV and I’m taking the Texans in an upset. After getting whipped by the Chiefs in Week One last season, it’s discouraging to see another slow start. Don’t fret if you’re a Patriots fan—the last four times they’ve started 0-1, they have reached the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Texans 35, Patriots 31
Buccaneers at Saints, 1 p.m. ET
Saints are my Super Bowl pick this year, and their road starts here. Tampa Bay has a lot to figure out as the season progresses, particularly how they are going to get Jameis Winston back on track. Ronald Jones will help, but it won’t be enough in this one. Brees is 39, but he has a loaded backfield that could have one of the best 1-2 punches with Kamara and Ingram (once Ingram returns from suspension).
Prediction:Buccaneers 21, Saints 38
Jaguars at Giants, 1 p.m. ET
The professional debut of Saquon Barkley has to be one of the most anticipated ever—he’s already going top-10 in fantasy football drafts and will surely be the centerpiece of the Giants offense. OBJ is back and if Eli Manning can hold on a little longer, it could be a big bounce-back year for the Giants. As for the Jaguars, they have Super Bowl aspirations, but Bortles must come up big once again. They drop this one in New York.
Prediction: Jaguars 16, Giants 20
Bills at Ravens, 1 p.m. ET
Nathan Peterman has been named the starter for the Bills, which basically means I’m taking the Ravens in this one. Allen doesn’t seem to be ready, and McCarron is now a Raider, so the Bills’ quarterback situation is one of the worst in the league. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in the wild card hunt this season and should even push the Steelers for the division.
Prediction: Bills 13, Ravens 26
Chiefs at Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET
Can Mahomes be the quarterback the Chiefs have been looking for? He certainly has the talent and weapons around him to succeed, and Andy Reid has had success with quarterbacks. Unfortunately, he’ll be sandwiched in between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in this one. Rivers and company will do just enough on offense to get the win.
Prediction: Chiefs 28, Chargers 30
Seahawks at Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET
A rematch of Super Bowl 48, I’m going with the Seahawks again. People have counted out Seattle with the rise of the Rams and the unofficial fall of the Legion of Boom, but make no mistake. You can’t count this team out of the playoff race. Russell Wilson is second all-time in passer rating and is easily a top-10 quarterback in the league, if not top-five. The Broncos are running with the Case Keenum experiment this season, and should see big production from rookie Royce Freeman, but it’s not enough on Sunday.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Broncos 21
Redskins at Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET
Starting quarterback for the Cardinals is still up in the air. Bradford will likely get the nod, but it’ll be interesting to see if Mike McCoy lets Rosen see the field at all. David Johnson will be huge in his return, and it’s a shame we won’t get to see Derrius Guice on the other side. I’m predicting both of these teams to finish last in their respective divisions, but someone has to start 1-0—I’ll go with the Cardinals.
Prediction: Redskins 14, Cardinals 19
Cowboys at Panthers, 4:25 p.m. ET
The Cowboys’ offense is in shambles right now—they lost their Hall of Fame tight end, their leading wide receiver, and the offensive line has injury problems all over the place. For the first time in a while, the defense could be better than the offense. They have a silently dangerous defensive line and Sean Lee is back. It’s up to Dak and Zeke to lead them back to the playoffs. The Panthers are still better on both sides of the ball (Luke Kuechly is one of my favorite players to watch), and they get the job done in Week One.
Prediction: Cowboys 20, Panthers 28
Bears at Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
I’m not ready to dub the Bears Super Bowl champions yet, but the addition of Khalil Mack turns an already-solid defense into a borderline-great defense. I’ve already stated my praise of Roquan Smith and I think Matt Nagy has the potential to lead the Bears back to the glory days.
Except for this game.
Rodgers has played his fair share of good defenses. This one is no different, especially at Lambeau Field on opening night of the 100th season of the Packers.
Prediction: Bears 17, Packers 27
Jets at Lions, 7:10 p.m. ET
Sam Darnold is the starter, and the Jets traded away their backup plan in Teddy Bridgewater. It’s not exactly the sexiest primetime matchup, but there are plenty of storylines: Darnold, Matt Patricia’s debut, and the uncertainty of each teams’ loaded backfield. As of right now, the Lions are the better team.
Prediction: Jets 26, Lions 31
Rams at Raiders, 10:20 p.m. ET
No matter what you thought of the Mack trade, it stirred the headlines for the start of the season. From first-reaction public polls, Raiders fans are NOT happy. Gruden is getting $100 million after being out of coaching for 10 years, why couldn’t they pay up for their best defensive player in a long time? As for the Rams, expectations are soaring this season with a loaded roster. They take a step in the right direction in Oakland
Prediction: Raiders 13, Rams 38