This is one of the greatest weekends of the year, because the NFL is back on Sundays. The season opened in grand fashion on Thursday night, with the Broncos crushing the Ravens behind Peyton Manning’s record-tying 7 touchdown passes. Week 1 has many more high-drama games left in store, lead by these five showdowns:
If this game goes according the plan then score shouldn’t be very close, but the amount of individual storylines makes it must-watch television. First and foremost, rookie Geno Smith will be making his first career start at quarterback. He’s not expected to do too much in this game, but if he does some good things and gets a better understanding of the offense then he could permanently supplant Mark Sanchez as the starter. Another subplot will be the return of Darrelle Revis to New York in his first game as a Buccaneer. He could make an immediate impact with a rookie quarterback at the helm for the Jets.
Geno Smith should struggle in his first start, especially with basically no help around him. The Tampa Bay defense is also much better than it was last year with Revis and Dashon Goldson in the secondary. That combination does not favor the Jets.
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Week One of the 2013 season will be a new chapter in the Falcons-Saints rivalry that has become one of the league’s best over the past few seasons. Sean Payton is back on the sidelines for the Saints, which should bring rhythm back to the offense. The Falcons are coming off of a season where they narrowly missed the Super Bowl, so a championship is their goal for this season more than ever. The Saints and Falcons should finish as the top two teams in the NFC South, so this matchup could be critical.
Like many of their previous matchups, this game should be an absolute shootout. I think whatever team has the ball last will win, and I’m guessing that team will be the Saints. Even for a great team like the Falcons, the combination of Payton, Drew Brees, and the Superdome will prove to be too much.
The Giants have never lost at “The House That Jerry Built,” but the Cowboys will do whatever it takes to win this Sunday night battle. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were one of one the best quarterback-receiver connections in the league in 2012, and they should be even better in 2013. As for the Giants, they have Eli Manning behind center, which is enough of a reason to believe that they can win the division. The NFC East is as even as it has ever been, so this game could be pivotal.
This game should also come down to the end, which is why I’m going with the Giants. Eli Manning is as clutch as any quarterback in the NFL, and he has already pulled off a number of comebacks in Cowboys Stadium. Also, David Wilson has a good chance to break out now that he is the starting running back. Romo and Bryant will get their numbers in this game, but the Giants will pull out the win.
While these teams finished on the opposite ends of the final division standings last season, this Monday night battle should be an evenly contested. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will get his first taste of NFL regular season action, and he’s bringing his high-flying offense with him. Michael Vick won the starting quarterback job, but he is going to have to prove that he deserved it. For the Redskins, Robert Griffin III is starting, even with his knee not at 100%. We’ll see how effective he can be.
Vick and the Eagles’ offense might eventually find their groove, but I don’t see it happening in Week 1. Even if he is injured, RG3 will still be the best quarterback on the field. With him leading the offense combined with home-field advantage, the Redskins will come out on top.
Not only is this a rematch of last year’s Division Playoff game, but it is also the best game of Week 1. The Packers and 49ers are two of the best teams in the league, and they both have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The Packers have the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, while the 49ers might have the NFL’s most complete team. A lot of points will be put up in this game, and either team could end up on top.
This is an unconventional pick, but I like the Packers in this matchup. The score should be very close, but in close games I’ll take whatever team has Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have also had a lot of time to game plan for Colin Kaepernick’s read option offense, so it shouldn’t be as effective as it was in the playoffs. Even with the game in San Francisco, I’m rolling with the Pack.