In case you didn’t notice, football is back. If you hadn’t, you can tune in to NBC tonight and confirm that to the tune of 70,000 angry Massholes waving Roger Goodell clown towels as the Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs to officially kick off this season’s festivities. With games inevitably comes picks, and with kickoff fast approaching, here are my picks for how I expect week one to shake out:
Thursday night: Chiefs at Patriots, 8:30 p.m.
Unlike some other people, I still expect the Chiefs to field a pretty strong squad in 2017. I don’t however feel that will be on display tonight, as just about any team could walk into Foxboro tonight and feel the heat of the Pats and their incredible home field advantage as they continue to stick it to the league for their involvement in the Deflategate saga.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Chiefs 17
This feels like a bit of a strange matchup as the Jets have almost entirely indicated that they plan to tank 2017 in an effort to start a rebuild, while the Bills have shown some similar signs but not to the same degree. Either way, the Jets feel more like a triple-A affiliate at this point, and regardless of how the Bills perform this year, they should be able to handle them at home.
Prediction: Bills 23, Jets 10
With all the city of Houston has endured over the past few weeks, the Jaguars could sneak into NRG stadium and plausibly steal this one, but only if Blake Bortles doesn’t play awful. It’s more likely that Houston will rally around the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, and make a statement over an inferior team.
Prediction: Texans 24, Jaguars 7
The Browns will be starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1 for the first time since 2012, and upstart gunslinger DeShone Kizer faces a tall test against the seasoned Ben Roethlisberger and what should be a strong Steeler defense. Look for Kizer to continue to make plays, as well as a few mistakes that will allow Pittsburgh’s high flying offense to capitalize on and put the game away.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Browns 14
As much as I like Arizona to bounce back to previous years’ form in 2017, I also love Matthew Stafford at home in Week 1 with a full offseason of rest behind him. I expect a pretty close matchup that like most of the games both of these teams played last year will go right down to the wire.
Prediction: Lions 23, Cardinals 20
The Falcons are back and rightfully pissed at themselves after blowing the biggest lead in Super Bowl history. Their offense will probably take a step back without Kyle Shanahan, but the Bears are a perfect Week 1 matchup to figure things out against as Mike Glennon will likely ensure that they have the ball in their hands plenty.
Prediction: Falcons 28, Bears 13
The Titans are so often noted as a “sleeper” team this season, that it’s hard for them to actually be considered a team that came out of nowhere if they are in fact successful. I’m all in on another year of development for “exotic smashmouth” and expect for it to be on full display in what would probably be thought of as an upset at home for the Titans.
Prediction: Titans 26, Raiders 23
It seems that these two teams meet in Week 1 every single season, and this year they do with a pair of banged up squads. Quarterback Joe Flacco finally returns to the Ravens lineup with his back on the mend, and I expect the Bengals to take advantage of all the time he missed in their home opener.
Prediction: Bengals 20, Ravens 17
There is some uncertainty surrounding Carson Wentz’ status as a franchise quarterback; he started off hot and impressive last year, but cooled off down the stretch while flashing some bad habits. With a new slate of weapons around him and some more pieces on the Eagles’ defense, I expect for him to make a statement against the ‘Skins in Landover in Week 1.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Redskins 13
The Rams are seriously hoping for a bounce back effort from their team as a whole, but most importantly quarterback Jared Goff who they invested a boatload of picks to go and get last year. Fortunately for them, Goff may not even have to throw a pass for the Rams to be able to beat a Colt’s team that is shamefully trotting out Scott Tolzien while Andrew Luck is still on the shelf.
Prediction: Rams 10, Colts 6
New 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan is one competitive dude, and I fully expect him to bring that type of fire to a roster that doesn’t have a ton of talent, at least in some of the most important spots. Still the Panthers are just a much better team and so I expect for them to be able to take care of business on a west coast trip, even if it is ugly.
Prediction: Panthers 20, 49ers 14
This has “NFC Championship preview” written all over it, and I expect for it to live up to the hype. As great as Aaron Rodgers is at home, Russell Wilson looked nothing short of fantastic in the preseason and that is something that I believe will carry over, starting with Week 1 at Lambeau Field.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Packers 27
This is yet another matchup that could potentially house the 2017 NFC champion, and should very well be a great first Sunday night game in Arlington. Running back Ezekiel Elliot will participate in this contest before starting to serve his six game suspension, and even with the Giants’ strong defense, I think that along with a big game from Dak Prescott will make the difference.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 24
This is a tough game to pick, as both teams are tough to figure out this season. With both teams so tightly matched in a lot of ways, I’m going to pick the home team to prevail. Still, if he’s given the rock, Adrian Peterson will be desperate to show up against his old team, and if he does, we may be looking at another Week 1 upset.
Prediction: Vikings 23, Saints 21
The second of the Week 1 ESPN double header has a division rivalry between two teams looking for a bounce back year. While the Chargers are dealing with their obligatory injury issues and the Broncos have questions of their own, I’m going to pick the better quarterback in this instance. Even against a strong defense on the road, I’ll always pick Phillip Rivers over Trevor Siemian.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 17
What are your NFL Week 1 picks?