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Quick Hits: Week 1

What to watch during the regular season kick off

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The quest for the Lombardi begins tonight. Below are some of the biggest storylines for each team ahead of Week 1.

  1. Falcons at Eagles: The Eagles remain a front runner in the NFC, but Nick Foles looked more back up quarterback than Super Bowl hero at times during the preseason. Can Philadelphia keep the party going and take down Atlanta, even without the talents of Carson Wentz? Or will Matt Ryan and the Falcons return to their 2016 form when they were the second ranked offense in the league?
  2. Bills at Ravens: In a twist of fate, Baltimore gift wrapped the Bills a playoff berth last year, ending a postseason drought that dated back to the 1999 season. However, while the Ravens have looked to revive the career of their wavering franchise quarterback, Buffalo shipped their starter to Cleveland and is relying on Nathan Peterman, who has a 38.4 career passer rating. Can the Ravens breathe new life into their offense and support their respected defense headlined by an aging Terrell Suggs? Or will the promise of the offseason additions fall flat at home?
  3. Jaguars at Giants: After a tumultuous 2017 campaign, Eli Manning is back at the helm and the drama surrounding Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract has been resolved. Jacksonville corner Jalen Ramsey has dominated offseason conversations, calling out quarterbacks and receivers around the league, becoming a walking source of bulletin board material. Will Beckham Jr. live up to the bag he secured or will Ramsey back up his extensive self endorsement and shut down the star receiver?
  4. Buccaneers at Saints: As a starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 48-70-1 career record. By comparison, New Orleans’ Drew Brees has a 142-106-0 record. After losing in heart breaking fashion to Minnesota in the divisional round, can the Saints ride the wave of the Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram duo in 2018? Can Tampa Bay weather the storm with Fitzpatrick or are they doomed with or without a troubled Jameis Winston?
  5. Texans at Patriots: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are no stranger to bouncing back from a Super Bowl loss. They begin their quest for a sixth championship and a third straight Super Bowl appearance against Houston. Can the Texans rely on a healthy J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson to pull off Week 1 shocker like the Chiefs did in New England last season? Or will the Patriots, despite the departure of Malcolm Butler and suspension of Julian Edelman, assert their dominance?
  6. 49ers at Vikings: Even after overachieving in 2017, the Vikings decided to pivot by bringing in Kirk Cousins to team up with star receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Will Kirk Cousins prove Washington wrong and deliver in Minnesota? Or will Jimmy Garoppolo continue his coming out party and remain undefeated as an NFL starter and bring renewed optimism to a 49ers team that struggled prior to trading for the former Patriots back up?
  7. Titans at Dolphins: With the departure of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker have both a great opportunity and a great burden to support Ryan Tannehill’s return. Will they be able to step up? The Titans made several moves this offseason, bringing in former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, signing running back Dion Lewis and inserting Malcolm Butler into the secondary. Will these moves be able to put Tennessee over the top?
  8. Bengals at Colts: With Andrew Luck back in the lineup, can the Colts right the ship? Or will Luck’s once promising career finally flame out if he cannot stay on the field in 2018? It seems as if every year Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat, yet he is never ousted in Cincinnati. Is this the year Andy Dalton brings him the postseason success that has evaded the Bengals or will the Lewis era finally end after another disappointing season?
  9. Steelers at Browns: The buzz has been palpable surrounding Cleveland, despite coming off a win-less season in 2017. Will Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward shine against a top tier opponent or will Pittsburgh’s experience and stifling defense stall the process? How will the Steeler’s offense compensate for Le’Veon Bell’s likely absence?
  10. Chiefs at Chargers: Both teams seem to flirt with proficiency but fail to fully realize their potential each season. Is this the year that Kansas City is able to translate the talents of Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, alongside new quarterback Patrick Mahomes, into a playoff run? Can the Chargers utilize Philip Rivers’ shrinking window and finally emerge from their middle of the pack status?
  11. Seahawks at Broncos: Both franchises have secured a Super Bowl victory in the last five seasons, but it feels like both organizations are further away from returning to the mountain top. With the Legion of Boom dismantled, can Russell Wilson’s brilliance carry Seattle? Still in search of a true heir at quarterback, can Von Miller and the Denver defense drive their success?
  12. Cowboys at Panthers: The Cowboys premier unit -the offensive line- is looking a little worse for wear. With that in mind, will Dak Prescott be able to rebound from his sophomore slump? Similarly, can Cam Newton get the protection he needs to succeed? With the suspension saga behind him, can Ezekiel Elliott emerge as the best running back in the NFL?
  13. Redskins at Cardinals: It is unlikely that either franchise is going to make a lot of noise this season in the highly competitive NFC. Can David Johnson, Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones float an otherwise lacking roster in Arizona? Will Alex Smith be able to bring his regular season consistency to Washington or will not resigning Cousins haunt the Redskins?
  14. Bears at Packers: It is no secret that Green Bay’s ability to compete hinges on the health of Aaron Rodgers. With the support of emerging talent Davante Adams and veteran Jimmy Graham, can the Packers climb back to the top of the NFC North with a Week 1 divisional victory? Or will the Bears pull off a huge upset in Mitchell Trubisky’s sophomore season?
  15. Jets at Lions: After trading Teddy Bridgewater to New Orleans, the Jets are clearly all in on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Can he get off to a hot start with help from number one wide receiver Robby Anderson? Or will Matthew Stafford begin his elusive campaign for a playoff win with a home opener victory?
  16. Rams at Raiders: If teams received a trophy for offseason transactions, the Los Angeles Rams would have emerged with the recognition. Despite all the hype last season, the Rams still failed to secure a playoff victory in 2017. Can Jared Goff continue his development with the support of new additions Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh and Brandin Cooks? With the preseason overshadowed by Khalil Mack’s hold out (which ultimately ended in a trade to Chicago), can Jon Gruden start his second tenure in Oakland off on the right note?