ESPN Expert Picks for Week One

Could anyone have predicted the events of last season? Of course, not. The year of the quarterback started with a preseason lockout, there was a lack of performance from Chris Johnson, tremendous performances by Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, and Matthew Stafford and the season finished with the Giants, who were 7-7 in week 14, winning 6 games in a row and again beating the mighty New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

With every new season there is a new story waiting to be told and many questions to be answered. Can the Giants repeat? Will Dallas get their act together? Is Philly a Dream Team or nightmare for the team owners? Can Peyton Manning return to his old form? Can the Saints overcome their suspension issues? Was Cam Newton a one-year wonder? Can Luck and RGIII do what Cam Newton did last year? It will be exciting see how the answers to all of these questions unfold. Let’s see if we can answer some questions and make predictions about week one.

Each week I will go up against the ESPN expert analysts to see who can make the best predictions. Here are my week one predictions.

Cowboys @ Giants I have to go with the Giants. They are the reigning Super Bowl champs and the last time a Super Bowl Championship team lost their home opener the following the Super Bowl win was in 1999 when the Denver Broncos returned after John Elway retired. The last time these teams met Romo was sacked 6 times and Manning was 24/33, 346 yds, and 3 TDs. This lead to a 31-14 victory for the Giants. It is yet to be seen if the Cowboys have resolved their O-line problems and suspect secondary. The Giants are returning with all but a few of their key players.

Colts @ Bears Da Bears! Andrew Luck looks pretty good but he will be playing his first NFL game against one of the best defenses in the league. Bear LB Brian Urlacher has announced that he is playing on Sunday but this is not a team announcement and if he plays we don’t know how much his repaired knee will respond. Whether he plays or not, the Bears defense will keep Luck contained.

Eagles @ Browns Eagles should crush the Browns. The Eagles have many powerful weapons. The Browns have a week defense and 15 rookies.

Rams @ Lions Lions will roar. The Rams have one of the worst defenses in the league and they won’t be able to handle the Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson combination

Patriots @ Titans I like the Patriots here.  The Patriots are always a very powerful offense when Brady is at the helm. The Titans will be without the suspended Kenny Britt and therefore will not have a deep threat. If you cannot make big plays it is extremely difficult to keep up with the Patriots offense.

Falcons @ Chiefs The Falcons: Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Michael Turner, and Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs: Matt Cassell and Jamaal Charles (returning from ACL surgery). Need I say more? Nope.

Jaguars @ Vikings This is a tough one and I’m taking the Vikings at home. The Vikes are rebuilding and I think they are strong enough to take on the Jaguars in their home opener. Adrian Peterson will be back in just a limited role but on the other side of the field Maurice Jones-Drew has just returned to the team and Coach Mularkey is concerned that Jones-Drew does not have a good understanding of the playbook.

Redskins @ Saints The Saints have a very powerful offense with or without suspended Head Coach Sean Payton and I don’t think the Redskins can keep up. Drew Brees is an elite QB and very professional, I’m confident he’s made sure his targets are ready. The Saints defense is average, however, I’m sure they’ll be working hard to keep RGIII from getting comfortable.

Bills @ NYJ I like the Bills. They have improved their defense and RB Fred Jackson is back. I also think QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is out to prove that he is worth the giant contract he signed mid-season last year. The Jets scored one TD this preseason and did not win one game.

Dolphins @ Texans Texans will BBQ the Dolphins. Texans are strong in all areas of the game. The Dolphins have one weapon, Reggie Bush, and a rookie QB.

49ers @ Packers I can’t wait to watch this game. I really like the improvements the Niners made to their offense. The downside is the improvements are untested and with that many unknowns I have to pick the Packers at home. The Packers’ last loss was a playoff loss, to my beloved Giants, at home. I believe they are ready to prove to the world that game was a fluke.

Seahawks @ Cardinals I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick the Cardinals. John Skelton is 5-0 at home and he’s had all preseason to work out the kinks in his game and get in sync with his receivers. I’m not convinced that Seattle’s rookie QB Russell Wilson is ready.

Panthers @ Buccaneers Panthers will dominate. Tampa Bays offense is sure to be much improved this year but their defense is not strong enough to contain Cam Newton and friends.

Steelers @ Denver Manning is looking to prove he can be a dominant force again. The Steelers’ defense does not look to be as strong as it has in the past and they will be facing one of the best QBs to play the game.

Bengals @ Ravens Ravens all the way. The Ravens made it to the AFC Championship game last year and have 19 returning starters.

Chargers @ Raiders I like the Raiders at home. These teams are pretty evenly matched but there are many changes in Oakland and I think they are all positive. I suspect another offseason of QB Carson Palmer working with WRs Darrius Heyward-Bey and Danarius Moore will be trouble for AFC West defenses. A healthy Darren McFadden is always a good thing too. On the Chargers’ side of the game Ryan Mathews is listed as doubtful.

Those are my predictions. Your thoughts?

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