Aug 16, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) on the sideline during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Thoughts from Hispandrix
BAL@DEN: Honestly, this arguably may have been the most entertaining playoff game last season. Baltimore lost a good bit of players in the offseason due to the Flacco deal. The Broncos added another toy to their passing attack, being Wes Welker. It will be strange enough to look at the Ravens defense, and not see Ed Reed or Ray Lewis. Perhaps the most overlooked element of this game could be the return of Elvis Dumervil. Make what you will of opening games, but last year had the Giants became the first defending Super Bowl Champion team since the 1999 season (1998 Broncos) to lose their opening game of the season.
NE@BUF: When will things ever go right again for the Bills? It’s like they have been in permanent purgatory since the infamous Music City Miracle. They dismiss Ryan Fitzpatrick, think they find their guy in Kevin Kolb, draft EJ Manuel, and were going to turn to undrafted rookie out of Washington State, Jeff Tuel for their opener. Instead, EJ Manuel will start. The Patriots were one Tom Brady injury away from being done for the year in preseason, but they appropriately showed it doesn’t matter if they are without Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead, or Wes Welker, they’ll steal beat you via Tom Brady. Rookie QB + Bill Belichick = Not So Much. But I’ve spent far too much time giving you information on this. Let’s just go with this to end this preview, since 2000, the Patriots are 23-3 against the Bills.
SEA@CAR: The Seahawks had an outstanding run last year with the help of rookie Russell Wilson. Out of the ‘mobile’ QBs in the NFL these days, Wilson has to be the the one I would pick who is built more for long term success (out of that QB class, that’s a different story). It should be an entertaining one to watch, as the Panthers try to get started on the right foot, but I think the Seahawks have way too much in them to be out-Newtoned.
CIN@CHI: The Bears offense is way different now that Lovie Smith is out of the picture. I mean, Matt Forte being used how he is supposed to, and getting goaline carries? What is this sorcery??? The Bengals & Bears were 3-1 last year against Non-Conference opponents, so it’s possibly a toss up here. I think the Bengals will have another very successful season, and they only added youth to their cause. I’ll take home field advantage, Jon Bostic, and the Bears for the win.
MIA@CLE: Quietly, this would be almost a ‘sleeper’ game for me. Last year, we’d just laugh if this was on TV. Cleveland has gotten better, and by better, I mean moving up from the value fry size to the small fry size. The Dolphins attempted to become the Yankees this offseason, throwing money out at anyone and everyone. I wouldn’t be so focused on Mike Wallace here, but moreso Lamar Miller. He earned the starting gig, and if the Dolphins can get any production from him, like they did from Reggie Bush, it could be a good thing for Ryan Tannehill and company. Trent Richardson, if he’s really that healthy, will probably just run all over the place. Stranger things have happened in Cleveland, but I like the Dawg Pound here.
MIN@DET: The Lions had one of the most frustrating seasons last year, finishing the season with an 8-game losing streak. Megatron was the lone bright spot of it all, finally breaking the chains of the Madden Curse. They upgraded their running back situation in the offseason by adding Reggie Bush. Meanwhile, in Minnesota land, AP will make his debut actually carrying the ball. Look for a huge day from AP, a close game, but the Lions will show their out to wrong 2012.
OAK@IND: Indy – Good. Oakland – Bad. I get the fact Terrelle Pryor may have ‘outplayed’ Matt Flynn, but the Raiders line is terrible. I don’t think a genetically altered mix of Joe Montana-Dan Marino-Steve Young-Tom Brady-Drew Brees could do anything with the Raiders offensive line blocking. The Colts were so close to actually taking their division, and when I think of everyone on the roster for 2012, they were the ‘I proved you wrong’ team. Andrew Luck, the not-so fading Reggie Wayne, and company are poised to take this one, easily.
KC@JAC: What is, the battle of the worst teams of 2012? Alex Smith, Andy Reid. You’re up. The Chiefs were a huge failure last season. They shuffled QBs more than the Bear Shuffle of 1985. Okay, well maybe not that much, but they were just bad. Dwayne Bowe will just be happy to have someone to actually throw the ball his way. As for the Jags, well, they have new uniforms? At any rate, they actually may win a few games if MJD is indeed healthy. I’d be very excited to see Charles & Jones-Drew battle it out in this one. However, the Chiefs are better. Let the Andy Reid era begin.
ATL@NO: You’ll never find me say anything for Saints games here, be sure to check out my Who Dat Dish Article, My Keys to the Game!
TB@NYJ: Reasons why this won’t work. Geno Smith. Geno Smith. Geno Smith. Even if it were Mark Sanchez, who cares? Coach Schiano’s defense will have a field day with the Jets.
TEN@PIT: Welp, these two teams suffered similar fates matching up in the conference, going 5-7 last season. The Steelers finished 8-8, while the Titans finished 6-10. The big difference? The Steelers outscored their opponents 336-314, as opposed to the Titans being outscored 330-471. In the preseason, Chris Johnson showed some quick flashes of a player that hasn’t existed since 2009. I don’t really buy into it. No Le’veon Bell means Big Ben will throw a good bit, and I don’t see the Titans having enough to pull it off.
GB@SF: Out of the gate, we’ll see firsthand how much Bryan Bulaga is missed by Aaron Rodgers, what Eddie Lacy brings to the table, and if Greg Jennings is missed. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll see how Colin Kaepernick starts the season. Most analysts are riding the 49er train this season to the Super Bowl. I don’t see it happening. Still, this defense is going to be exciting to watch against the Packers offense. Did you know the Packers are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings with the 49ers? Or let’s just really blow your mind, since 1996, the Packers have a 13-3 record over the 49ers. At least you get to enjoy Joe Buck & Troy Aikman. Hey Vegas, what’s the over/under on Pam Oliver hits this week? I’ll take the Pack.
ARI@STL: You may laugh, but when these two play Sunday, it may be very entertaining. Gone are the likes of John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Bryan Hoyer, Derek Anderson, and Max Hall. That’s the QBs to play/start for the Cardinals since 2010, I’m not joking. Carson ‘In the Prime of his career’ Palmer looks to become the first QB since Kurt Warner (2009) to actually throw Larry Fitzgerald the ball. The Rams hope to rely on some of the young guns (Givens, Austin) to torch opposing secondaries. These two have pretty terrible run games as of now, so I’m sure it’ll be a pass attack. Fun fact: The
Rams had the best divisional record in the NFC West last season, 4-1-1. If I give an edge to anyone, it’s the Arizona defense. I just wonder how long it is until we get a Tyran Mathieu highlight.
NYG@DAL: Remember when the Cowboys had a chance to make the playoffs last year? Yeah, that didn’t work out. This will be the 103rd meeting between the two clubs (Dallas holds the all-time series at 57-43-2). Here’s what you can expect, a lot of points. Check out these past combined points in Jerry World since 2009: 53 (2012), 71 (2011), 76 (2010), 64 (2009). That’s not to mention that each game has been decided by 6 points or less. Let’s also call attention that the Giants are a perfect 4-0 in Jerry World. Someone somewhere just said ‘stat curse’. I’m gonna be creeped out that Demarcus Ware is gonna have his hand down in a 4-3. The Giants pass rush is nothing to laugh at. They have a real chance to make Tony Romo’s night a living hell (or Romo could just do it to himself voluntarily). I think the difference here is how Eli Manning fairs with Cruz-Nicks. Sure, that seems like a given, but we’re talking about healthy Hakeem Nicks. This is a most entertaining way to close out ‘Opening Day’, and I have the Giants.
PHI@WAS: The Redskins had their first winning season since 2007, and were able to get back into the postseason as a result. For once, Dan Snyder didn’t have to blow all of his money on washed up free agents. They got great contributions from rookies Kirk Cousin, Alfred Morris, and some guy named Robert Griffin III. The Eagles, well, they were dead last in the NFC last year. The Chip Kelly experiment starts Monday, and one thing to pay attention to for the Eagles is their defense. We have heard there’s a resurgent Michael Vick out there, but that remains to be seen. The only real headline here, or thing that matters, is RGIII makes his re-debut, and should help lead the Redskins to a victory.
HOU@SD: The Chargers, well, they’ve been on a steady decline in the past few seasons. 2009 (13-3), 2010 (9-7), 2011 (8-8), 2010 (7-9). They made the playoffs in 2009, but lost to the Jets. San Diego may finally have a healthy Ryan Mathews (don’t hold your breath), but this is the Texans. They started powerful, and faltered towards the end of the season, going 2-3 in their last 5 games. They were able to fend off the Bengals in the Wild Card Round, but would eventually fall to New England. The Chargers may be in for a long year, especially for first year head coach Mike McCoy. I’ll just go ahead and say it, but this could very well be the end of Rivers (31) and/or Gates (33). Maybe their effort Monday Night will change my mind, but I still see the Texans rolling.