I’m pleased to bring back NFL Pick’em this year! We have four returning writers from last year’s affair. Most importantly, MacGyver (@SaintsTailgate) returns to defend his pick’em title! The rest of our pick’em panel includes: John (@JohnJHendrix), Ian (@IDear_Sports), Federico (@FedeFerrari10), who also return from last season, and Barry (@HarahanWhoDat), Simon (@Daugulis), Andrew (@ShootsMcGavin), and Ryne (@RHancock19) – a.k.a. the new blood.
Without further ado, here’s how Week One shakes up:
Thoughts from John
Green Bay at Seattle
This will be as good of a matchup as they come. We’re all thinking that this is the revenge game for the Packers to make up for the ‘Fail Mary’ game in 2012. However, since the NFL started the League Kickoff Game in 2002, the home team has only lost twice (both being the New York Giants – ’02 and ‘12). Oh by the way, it’s Seattle, who happens to be 15-1 at home in the past couple of seasons. It’s hard to suggest that the Seahawks will falter at home in such a high energy game.
New Orleans at Atlanta
As always, you’ll need to watch for my Keys to the Game article!
Cincinatti at Baltimore
No Rice Ray, no problem? Joe Flacco is hoping to reap the benefits of having new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in the mix. Flacco should go pretty pass heavy, and the Ravens are sure to put some points up on the board. However, so can the Bengals. I’m anxious to see the two-headed monster threat of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, and to see how the Ravens can fare against them. One thing going for the Ravens, they were 6-2 at home last year, and haven’t lost to the Bengals at home since 2009.
Buffalo at Chicago
The subtle storyline may belong to the debut of rookie Sammy Watkins, but the main storyline will lie in how Jay Cutler plays. The Chicago Bears look to put away all thoughts on last year’s heartbreaking finish. The Bears should have quite the feast on the Bills.
Washington at Houston
RGIII has the best possible scenario for ‘getting his groove back’. He’ll play the hapless Texans, who were once thought as the early favorites for last year’s Super Bowl (yeah, what were they thinking!?). Of course we’ll be eager to see how rookie Ja’Daveon Clowney pairs with J.J. Watt, but that’s about where it may stop for the Texans. Even after acquiring Ryan Mallett from the Patriots, I still don’t see many positives for the Texans this year.
Tennessee at Kansas City
It’s an intriguing matchup, because I’m wondering how Kansas City’s defense will perform. They were lit up in the preseason. Insert your Dexter McCluster facing his former team storyline, which should be most entertaining to watch. I honestly thought about picking the Titans here, but have to give the edge to the home team.
New England at Miami
If you’re going to make a name for yourself this year, then you have the perfect opportunity to do so in Week One. However, with the resurgence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, it’s hard to bet against the Patriots.
Oakland at New York Jets
I’m drinking the Derek Carr Kool-Aid for this week at least. It’s not that I believe the Jets are bad, but Carr found success against the Seahawks defense. Yes, I know that it wasn’t all of their starters, but it’s an encouraging sign for the Raiders, who are the league’s oldest team and least desired one to play for. Until I see something from the Jets that at least resembles a secondary, I don’t have much confidence in them.
Jacksonville at Philadelphia
Nick Foles, Chip Kelly, and LeSean McCoy plus a healthy Jeremy Maclin and rookie Jordan Matthews. Your move Jaguars.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
I hope you are placing bets on how quickly we hear about Johnny Manziel and how soon he’ll enter the game. I’m interested to see how much the Browns defense has improved. I’m not going to say much else other than the fact the Steelers are 14-2 at home against the Browns since 1999, and the Browns haven’t won at Heinz Field since 2003.
Minnesota at St. Louis
It’s a battle of lackluster quarterbacks, as Shaun Hill takes on Matt Cassel. In the end, you have to side with the better defense.
San Francisco at Dallas
(Insert Michael Sam working his way into the storyline although it has nothing to do with the game on Sunday). Oh right, there’s a football game here. I thought we’d focus on the practice squad the whole time. At any rate, this is a rather intriguing matchup. We know both offenses can score, but can you really say that the 49ers defense is going to be that dominant out of the gates? I actually peg this for a high scoring affair, but I’ll take the 49ers taking it in the end, because the Cowboys defense is awful.
Carolina at Tampa Bay
I’ve suggested that we’re going to see a different type of Bucs team this year. While I still believe that to be true, I don’t believe it will transpire on the field in Week One. Then again, if Mike Glennon is the real deal, he could really light up the Panthers secondary.
Indianapolis at Denver
Despite too much Old Spice for Wes Welker and whatever Matt Praeter was thinking, the Broncos possess the AFC’s best team until proven otherwise. The Colts were able to knock off the Broncos in their backyard last season in impressive fashion, but the venues have changed. Look for the Broncos to put on a nice clinic.
New York Giants at Detroit
Bad Eli or Good Eli? That is the question. The Lions have all sorts of weapons this season. I’m not sure that the Giants have enough to counter them. Also, who’s going to stop Megatron?
San Diego at Arizona
I believe this is a great matchup to close out the first week of play. The Chargers played well down the stretch, and look to have another good team for this season. However, one does not underestimate Arizona at home. They were 6-2 last year, and are 16-8 in the last three seasons. The Cards also went 4-0 against the AFC South last year. Expect a tight game, but in the end, I’ll take the Cards.