Atlanta @ Chicago:
I know some people like the Bears in this game, but I think it is the Falcons all the way. Atlanta is a far more balanced team, and they should have no problem dealing with the Bears home-field advantage. Chicago’s lack of an offensive line worries me and I think will be the big difference in this game. Falcons will win, 24-20.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland:
The battle of Ohio might not be a battle at all as it could be more of a massacre. The Bengals are a team without a direction, and while they might have some solid future talent on their roster, they look to be one of the weaker teams in the league. Cleveland on the other hand, has a lot of young talent and could be a .500 type of team this year. Adding the fact that they are at home, I think this is an easy win for them. Browns win 31-13.
Buffalo @ Kansas City:
The Chiefs were the AFC West champions last year, while the Bills were the 3rd worst team in the league (according to record) so this should make this an easy Kansas City victory, but I don’t think it is that simple. Buffalo was playing great football at the end of last season, and they look to be a team on the rise. At the same time the Chiefs had much of their success thanks to one of the easiest schedules in the league last year. This game should be closer than most people think, but Kansas City being at home gives them an advantage. Chiefs win a close one, 24-21.
Philadelphia @ St. Louis:
The Eagles are considered the ‘dream team’ after their impressive offseason, but their road to the Super Bowl won’t be an easy one. They start off their ‘dream’ on the road against the Rams. St. Louis barely lost their division last season, but are poised to make a run this year after as their young star quarterback, Sam Bradford looks to make an improvement on a solid rookie campaign. The Eagles in the end probably have too much fire power, but the Rams should keep it relatively close. Eagles win 27-20.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay:
The Buccaneers were one of the best surprise teams a year ago, and they look to improve on their 10 win season with a playoff berth this year. The Lions are one of the darling teams this season, that could make a run for a Wild Card spot in the North. The big question for the Lions is can Matt Stafford stay healthy. Well his first test will be against a much improved Tampa defense, one that could give him some problems. I like Tampa’s chances here, and I think being at home gives them the edge they need. Tampa wins 28-23.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville:
Both the Titans and Jaguars would normally be the teams you’d look to fill the AFC South void, now that the Colts are without Peyton Manning for an extended period of time, but both teams are in a rebuilding mode right now. The Jaguars are probably more stabilized on defense, as they added a number of quality defenders this offseason, while the Titans are set better on offense, where they added stopgap quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. I think the Titans offense will win this battle and give them the win. Tennessee 20-17.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore:
This should without a doubt be the game of the week, as both the Steelers and Ravens are serious Super Bowl contenders. The Steelers are the returning AFC Champs, but they weren’t given any favors by having to go on the road to Baltimore in week one. The Steelers though have thoroughly dominated this match-up when Ben Roethlisberger is at the helm, so history is on their side. The Ravens on the other hand look to break that tradition, and have a good chance to do so, but it won’t be easy. Baltimore’s once proud offensive line, had to be reformed a bit this offseason, and is recovering from some injury woes. Not the thing you want to hear heading into the Pittsburgh game. The Ravens also had to release a number of their top veteran players, and while they added some impressive replacement talent, that loss of veteran leadership could hurt them in the early weeks of a season that was without a full offseason. Pittsburgh wins a close one 17-13.
Indianapolis @ Houston:
This looked to be a potential game to watch, with the Texans having a reformed defense to match their impressive offense against the team that had dominated the AFC South since it was formed. Unfortunately, Peyton Manning‘s neck injury means the once favored Colts are not only in danger of losing this game, but any chance of returning to the playoffs. I think Houston has way too much fire power, and should win this game handily. Texans 31-17.
New York Giants @ Washington:
The Giants are hurting big time in this game, as they could take the field with as many as six defensive starters (or significant contributors) out (some for the season). New York was already facing some offensive questions as they had to release multiple starting linemen, and watch pass catchers Kevin Boss and Steve Smith (who would have missed this game due to injury) walk this offseason. With their defense a question mark on top of that, New York is facing an uphill battle on the road. The Redskins on the other hand, aren’t injury free themselves, as star safety LaRon Landry is out for the game, and 2nd round rookie DE Jarvis Jenkins will miss the season. Even with the injuries this Redskins team is far better than the one that took the field against New York in week 17 last year. Rex Grossman might still be the starting quarterback, but he does have more talent around him. Veteran’s Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth along with rookies Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul, give Washington more weapons in a passing game that was lacking this past year. Tim Hightower and rookie Roy Helu, gives the Redskins the rushing talent that Mike Shanahan lacked this past season. The Redskins defense should be improved this season with new additions Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Ryan Kerrigan and O.J. Atogwe. Despite the improvement the Redskins will still have a tough battle ahead of them. Redskins squeak out a win 24-21.
Seattle @ San Francisco:
The Seahawks are the defending AFC West Champs, but with an unsettled quarterback situation it could be a rough road to repeat. The 49ers aren’t settled any better at QB as they turn once again to Alex Smith. San Francisco, has better weapons, and an offensive line to go along with a quality defense. I think that the 49ers will win a close game 21-17.
Minnesota @ San Diego:
The Chargers surprisingly missed the playoffs last season despite having one of the top offenses and defenses in the league. Some bad luck, timely plays by their opponents, and not being able to stop opposing returners. I think they should be able to rebound this year and recapture the West, and they start their year with a pretty easy match-up. The Vikings hope that Donovan McNabb can give them enough to keep their post season dreams alive, but he doesn’t seem to be the answer. Not behind a rag tag offensive line, and after losing Minnesota’s top receiver. Chargers win 28-14.
Carolina @ Arizona:
Last year these were two of the worst teams in the league, but this year it could be a different tale…at least for Arizona. The Cardinals added Kevin Kolb, giving them a far better quarterback option this year. And while rookie Ryan Williams is out for the year, Arizona could be a surprise team this year. They have one of the top receivers in the league, have a quality defense and play perhaps the easiest schedule in the league, starting with Carolina. The Panthers have spent this offseason resigning just about every young player they have to an extension,which is good, except for the fact that these guys won just 2 games last season. Now they are a better team than that, but the Panthers didn’t really add any new talent, save TE Greg Olsen. Rookie Cam Newton will take the helm for the Panthers, and it could be an ugly start. While his athleticism will allow him to make some plays, he showed he wasn’t ready this preseason. Cardinals win easily 31-10.
Dallas @ New York Jets:
The Jets are a Super Bowl favorite for some people, but I just don’t see it. Despite what you hear in the media, Mark Sanchez has yet to show anything approaching ‘franchise quarterback’ play. Despite the fact that he has had very good receivers, a top offensive line, running game and defense on his side. Now though the Jets should see a drop in production from their defense and offensive line, as they’ve had to made some adjustments. Sanchez’s receivers also got a face-lift, as Brad Smith, Braylon Edwards, and J. Cotchery are gone, and in their place are rookie Jeremy Kerley, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. Unless Sanchez severely steps up his game the Jets might struggle just to make the playoffs. Their first opponent, should be an interesting test as the Cowboys on paper look like a playoff team, but last year on the field were anything but. They made some improvements this offseason (some of which will miss the game due to injury), back though is quarterback Tony Romo. Romo last year couldn’t get anything done as the team was in complete disarray under Wade Phillips. The Cowboys look to be in a better place this year, but they will have to prove it on more than just paper. I think the Jets pull out a close one at home 20-17.