It’s that time of year again. Opening Night is just a few days away. Soon enough, Tom Brady will be throwing the season’s first TD. It’s time to figure out who’s going to win the first slate of games. Who will start the season strong? Keep reading to find out what I think.
Lock Of The Week
Note: The top team listed is the road team for all games listed in my score predictions
The Browns should be a bit better this year but this Pittsburgh offense is just going to be too much for Cleveland. When the Steelers offense is at full strength they’re nearly unstoppable. The Ben-Bell-Brown combo is one of the best offensive trios in the league. Martavis Bryant and Vance McDonald also add a nice touch to this potent offense. Although the Steelers offense will go full out, I don’t see this as a shutout.
The Browns offense has gotten better. Crowell will have a good year and Corey Coleman and David Njoku will help out rookie QB DeShone Kizer. The secondary is Pittsburgh’s Achilles Heel and the Browns will take advantage of that. But they won’t come close to topping the Steelers.
Upset of the Week
I wouldn’t consider this much of an upset after the Dolphins lost Ryan Tannehill for the season. But I want to make sure that A) Everyone knows Jay Cutler will be horrible in Miami and B) Everyone who didn’t read my NFL 2017 Predictions knows that the Bucs are my #1 dark horse team this season. I believe that the Buccaneers have the potential to shock us all. They have a solid young defense and the receiver duo of Jackson and Evans alone makes the offense have a good one-two punch.
In addition to that Jameis Winston is primed for a complete break through. Doug Martin is back in football shape and while he’s suspended, Charles Sims is a reliable option. I also believe that tight end O.J. Howard will have a huge rookie season. Don’t expect every Bucs game to be a blowout though. The Dolphins defense could be a challenge for Tampa Bay. In the end, though, the Miami D is no better than Tampa’s defense and the Dolphins offense just isn’t the same without Tannehill. I think this calls for a Bucs win.
The Other Games
The football season will open with this intriguing match-up. Both of these teams lost key players for the season but I don’t think either team will fall significantly from it. So this is still going to be close. But I have to go with the defending champs here. The Chiefs defense is still solid but their offense is wearing down. They need breakout performances from Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt to be any more than a one and done wild card team. The Chiefs are a playoff team right now but they just don’t match up to Brady’s Bunch.
The Pats have improved upon last year’s championship team. They made some nice moves to keep the defense good and despite the losses of Martellus Bennett and LeGarrette Blount (free agency) as well as Julian Edelman (ACL injury), this offense is still the best in the league. I see James White as the new starting back after his stellar Super Bowl showcase. Dwayne Allen and Brandin Cooks will be top receiving targets for Brady and watch out for Chris Hogan. He was great in Super Bowl LI and is ready to take his game to the next level. I almost forgot to mention that Gronk was hurt when they won the Super Bowl. They’ll be even better with Gronk at full speed. There is no way the Chiefs will upset them on Opening Night.
Meredith’s injury and Cruz’s release just makes these Bears even worse. Although the Falcons won’t be as good as they were last year, this game will be a clinic. The Falcons offense knows what they’re doing. Matty Ice, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones are still one of the league’s best offensive trios. The Bears have nothing on defense to stop them and although the Atlanta D isn’t great either, the Bears don’t have much left for an offense.
Unless Mitch Trubisky comes in and shocks the world, the Bears have no QB, barely any receiving weapons, and are left with just one quality offensive player, running back Jordan Howard. I’m even a little worried about Howard’s potential to suffer a sophomore slump. The Bears could be in some deep trouble going into this season and it will all start in this Week 1 game.
The Jets may be one of the worst NFL teams in history. They have no reliable receivers, no QB, and Bilal Powell is the offense’s only bright spot. Their other running back Matt Forte is on the trade block. What are the Jets doing? This isn’t a rebuild so I think this might be tanking for the #1 draft pick as they hope for a reliable QB to emerge. The defense is this team’s only hope which is nothing more than mediocre after trading Sheldon Richardson.
The Bills aren’t much better, but at least they have a star running back in LeSean McCoy, a half decent QB, and a few good receivers. The defense isn’t that bad either. Expect a shutout that will completely embarrass the Jets to start the season.
This will be a close one for sure. Neither of these teams is going to have a great season. But these teams are pretty much evenly matched talent-wise. The Ravens have a good defense but don’t have anything going on offense. The Bengals are very similar, except their offense isn’t quite as horrid. The Bengals may have good depth but none of their players are eye-popping and the defense’s dirty plays will get old very quickly.
They are going to wear each other down so much that by the 4th quarter, the 12th man will be the difference. This will be a long game and it could even go into overtime. But in the end, I see Cincy winning with the fans giving them the extra push to squeeze out a win.
The Redskins won’t be as good as they’ve been in previous years and the Eagles have gotten better. But in Washington, I can’t see Philly winning. The Eagles have a decent all-around team, but the Redskins have a really strong receiving game and parts of their defense will neutralize Philly’s game plan. Although the Eagles are the better team, the home field advantage will make things easier for Washington. It will be close but I’ve got to go with Washington in this one.
This is going to be fun to watch. Two quarterbacks coming off major injuries ready to come back strong and lead their teams deep into the playoffs. Both of these teams have superstar offenses this year. Mariota’s offense has continued to improve. They now have multiple reliable receivers and a strong RB duo. The Raiders are coming in with the same offense that may have led them to the AFC Championship last year if Carr wasn’t hurt. The only differences are that Latavius Murray and Mychal Rivera have been replaced by Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook. Those moves just made the offense better.
This game could come down to how good the defenses are. Home field advantage could also be a factor. I think this game will be an offensive shootout, with both offenses going all out. These teams are pretty equal, so I’m going to go with the home team here. Titans win by a field goal.
Although the Jags looked good this preseason, I’m not going to buy into their interesting off-season moves again. I made that mistake in 2016. The Texans should win this game. Their defense will just be too much for the Jacksonville offense especially since J.J. Watt is back to full speed and motivated to uplift a city torn by Hurricane Harvey. The Jags defense may not be anything special but neither is the Texans offense, so the Jags defense should be alright. However, as long as the Texans are smart and start Deshaun Watson over Tom Savage in Week 1, I think they’ll have just enough to pull away with the win at home.
The last time these two faced off, the Lions got clobbered. But that was 2 years ago and a lot has changed since. The Lions offense has improved significantly and the Cardinals are not the same team that made the NFC Championship in 2015. Their offense is lacking weapons and the defense just doesn’t have the same powerful core. The 2015 Cardinals were a strong all-around team but now Arizona has some serious holes.
I like this Lions offense as Ameer Abdullah is very intriguing at RB. Kenny Golladay could be yet another Lions breakout star at WR, and the Lions have plenty of other key playmakers on offense. With the highest paid NFL QB, home field advantage, a much better offense, a slightly better defense, and a weaker Cardinals team, the Lions should win this game.
I know that some of you might think I’d pick the Rams in an upset here. Since my 2017 NFL Predictions, my thoughts about the Rams have changed. The Sammy Watkins trade was great for them while the Phillip Dorsett trade was not good for the Colts. If Watkins stays healthy, the Rams have the upside to win as many as 9 games. But even if Luck is out early on, I can see the Colts doing better than previous years. They don’t have an established Week 1 QB, but as long as Scott Tolzien can do a decent job filling Luck’s role, the Colts can take advantage of the Rams’ weak secondary. If Donte Moncrief has the huge season I think he will, the Colts should be able to pull away with the win here, even if it’s an ugly win.
This is starting to become a serious rivalry. When these two teams play, it’s always a close game. This game won’t be any different. The Packers offense has improved since last season. They added Top 10 tight end Martellus Bennett and drafted running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. Jamaal Williams is a first-year breakout pick for me and I think he will greatly improve the Packers run game. Both these defenses are good, but Seattle’s spotless defense has just gotten better while Green Bay’s stays strong.
I just don’t think the Seahawks have such a good offense this year. They have a controversy at running back, are very thin at wide receiver, and have offensive line problems as well. This offense is no match for the Green Bay Packers and although the Seahawks D will make it hard for the Packers, Green Bay will get the win in the end. Not an easy win but a well-earned win at home.
I know Kyle Shanahan was a good offensive coordinator and he will be a better coach than Chip Kelly for the Niners. But the 49ers need some more talent before Kyle Shanahan has the chance to succeed as a coach. Brian Hoyer is a well seasoned veteran QB but he lacks good weapons. Who else do the Niners have on offense worth noting other than Carlos Hyde and Pierre Garçon? Nobody. That’s why Carolina will win this game. Their defense will have it easy and their offense should be good enough to overcome a decent San Francisco defense.
The Panthers have young talent on offense in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel and established veterans in Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, and Kelvin Benjamin. Their offense will be strong this year or at least better than last year. Enough to win them a game against the struggling 49ers.
This classic rivalry is set for Week 1 once again. These teams are the two frontrunners for the NFC East and this game will be close. The Giants are beginning to become an all around team. They have a good running back in Paul Perkins and arguably have the best receiving trio in the league with OBJ, Marshall, and Shepard. They lack a tight end and need some O-line help, but those are their only noticeable holes. They are solid on defense as they have a great D-line and secondary.
The Cowboys will be a challenge for them though. They may be missing Ezekiel Elliott but with the offensive line that Dallas has, any running back can be set up for success. Remember what Darren McFadden did with them in 2015? It can happen again until Zeke comes back. Their offense is as sharp as it was in 2016 except they’re without Zeke for 6 games.
The defense may be a problem though. The secondary suffered some serious losses. But the front seven is looking good going into the season, and they will be able to try and stop the New York run game. It will be tough for the Cowboys secondary to stop these receivers. However, despite the Giants making 4 TD catches, I think the Cowboys will be able to find the Giants’ weaknesses and pull away with the win with home field on their side.
The Vikings may not have the offense that the Saints have but the Vikings defense may be able to slow the Saints down. The Saints offense isn’t as good as it was last year now that Brandin Cooks is in New England. They will probably have trouble with this tough defense especially with Willie Snead suspended for the first 3 games.
The Vikings may not have the best offense especially without Peterson but I believe they can have success against a weak Saints defense. Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph will give the Saints tough match-ups. Stefon Diggs should have a better year too. So, if all goes well for Minnesota, they should be able to win this game.
The Broncos just aren’t the same anymore. But although I think the Chargers will be better, they’re a mediocre team. They’re not quite good enough yet to beat the Broncos in the thin air of Denver. The Denver defense is going to slow down the Chargers revamped offense significantly. The Chargers offense will only be good if they stay healthy. Even at full health, they are not good enough to put up 30 points on the Broncos D.
The Broncos should do well offensively in this game because the Chargers defense doesn’t have too much to stop them. The Chargers have a good front seven but Denver’s run game is not their strength and Denver will attack in the air against a weak Chargers secondary.
I see this one going to Denver in the end. It will not be easy for the Broncos though, as they are far from the Super Bowl team led by Manning. At least they’ll have Osweiler again if Siemian struggles, and Osweiler has already proved he can play in Denver.
This week will be full of surprises with close games, non-stop action, and a few blowouts. I expect to give the CBS reporters good competition like I did last year. How do you think Week 1 will unfold? Share your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for more NFL and MLB articles soon.