NFL 2015 Season – Week 1
Well, if this isn’t a pleasant surprise. You have decided to take this journey once again with me. Week 1 is finally upon us and I am back in my own element (after that dismal performance in a feeble attempt of MLB season by me.) Summer is finally starting to wind down which brings us back to football and a fresh year of Straight Up with Brandon Oettinger I know you were all excited for. So without going much into details of new features this year, let’s get right to the picks and you will find the new features in due time.
PIT at NE Thursday 7:30 CST PM NBC
Opening game of the year, as tradition would have it, has the defending champions showcased on NBC. This year is no different. Given the fact that these two teams are perennial powers in the AFC over the last decade, it also would not be a huge stretch to say these two teams could actually be playing this game for home field advantage already (though personally I do not see it that way.) This is a monster matchup that is with some powerful offenses. Pittsburgh has been the model defense for years until the past year, and it was time to get rid of the age and go youthful. That will make it hard on them against Tom Brady who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder and high intensity after his recent court cases. Big Ben is without star running back Bell and explosive receive Bryant along with pro bowler center Pouncey. All this spells doom for the Steelers week 1.
Patriots 35 Steelers 24
KC at HOU Sunday Noon CST CBS
We are onto Sunday and the first game on the slate should be a defensive battle. Both of these teams are coming into a season where they will have something to prove. Both have top rated running backs though one team will be without theirs. This is a game where they are going to need the running game as these quarterbacks are not near the top tier of the league. That spells trouble for Houston.
Chiefs 20 Texans 17
IND at BUF Noon CST CBS
Buffalo has played well at home over the past few seasons, including some big time wins last year. Their defense looks to be tough yet again this year, and their running game will continue getting better each week this year. Rex Ryan is making his debut in Buffalo and the coach has his team believing it is time for them to make the next step. This is a great test for them right away. Indianapolis is the trendy pick to win the AFC this year and compete for a Super Bowl, and why not? With Luck they will be a contender. Look for Gore to actually revitalize his career a little bit in this new system.
Colts 28 Bills 17
GB at CHI Noon CST FOX
The rivalry continues. This game is very different from any of the past few years. The biggest receivers these two teams have had against each other are out of this game, Nelson by injury, Marshall by trade. Cutler is coming into a make or break year, and though most experts expect him to make it this year, not many of them are saying it is enough to get past Green Bay. Even with the loss of Jordy Nelson, Green Bay still has one of the top wide receiver corps. When you couple that with a week Chicago secondary and the mix of a potent run game, Green Bay could put up a lot of points in this game. The only thing to be afraid of Packer fans is the lethargic first team defense we have seen the last 3 preseason games. Was that due to a very vanilla play call or is that something to fear. This game should give us an idea with an explosive running back in Matt Forte, but he alone will not be enough.
Packers 38 Bears 21
CAR at JAX Noon CST CBS
I personally always enjoy when these two teams get a chance to play each other. They have been tied at the hip since joining the league together. 21 seasons later, they find themselves facing off week 1. Jacksonville is still in rebuild mode and have to see if they have the right people in the right cornerstone areas. They are young on offense with a second year starting QB and a rookie starting RB. On the other side of the line you have Cam Newton and one of the tougher defenses in the league. What hurts Carolina this year is the loss of Benjamin, and Funchess will not completely pick up the slack of this missing big time receive. Carolina will again benefit from a weak NFC South, though look for both New Orleans and Atlanta to be better teams than last year this year. For Jacksonville, keep focusing on the future, because it won’t be too long until it is the present, but this rough first half schedule will have them out of the playoffs early.
Panthers 24 Jaguars 14
CLE at NYJ Noon CST CBS
This is another match up with teams that have something to prove this year. Cleveland has questions at quarterback, mainly can Johnny Manziel turn into the franchise QB they were looking for. The Jets start the season with turmoil during the preseason keeping their QB out for some time. There is a new coach in New York while there is a coach likely on the hot seat in Cleveland this year. Who can come up with a big week one win and start their teetering team on the right path? Look for Cleveland to show they are much closer to being a full team this year, starting with this week one win.
Browns 21 Jets 14
MIA at WASH Noon CST CBS – LOCK OF THE WEEK
As we just mentioned above, the Jets had some turmoil, and the Browns have a QB controversy, well we have one team that has both in this matchup. If you haven’t heard yet, which if you haven’t where have you been, RGIII has been benched for Kirk Cousins. Cousins struggled in his spot starts over the past few years. The front office is dismal and the continued controversy over the name is not likely going to subside this year, especially if they are looking to relocate. This team is the definition of a hot mess right now. On the other side of the field, Miami has a shot this year to contend for the division title. A big pick up this summer by getting Suh, and having a solid offseason should translate to wins. Look for Tannehill to continue to improve and have his coach off the already burning hot seat by the end of the season. This is going to be a make or break season for Miami, and look for them to get started down the right path early.
Dolphins 35 Redskins 10
SEA at STL Noon CST FOX
The last of our Noon games this first Sunday of football season, and what a good one this should be. St Louis has been keyed into the talks about moving operations out to L.A. which will continue all season. If you are watching this game, I am sure you will hear about it, but the team will not be thinking about it. Instead, they will continue to have their annual slugfest match against Seattle. Remember, over the past few season, St Louis has played very well and very hard against teams within the division at home. Seattle on the other hand may be looking at a Super Bowl hangover while having a preseason with one of their top DBs with Kam Chancellor on the holdout wagon. This could be a relatively rough season for Seattle if that does not get figured out. The saving grace for them, they still have a talent defense and picking up Graham with Lynch in the backfield make the red zone a very dangerous area once they get there. Look for this one to be again a slugfest of defensive proportion.
Seahawks 17 Rams 14
DET at SD 3:05 CST FOX
Alright, we have made it through the Noon games, and you still need your fill of football? That’s the great thing about this 3 course meal we get to have every Sunday the rest of this year. Next up we have two teams that are sitting right behind their division in their respective divisions a year ago. Both of them are looking to make a move to put them ahead of those division leaders this season. A win in week one would help both of them with this. Detroit will again have the Stafford – Johnson connection this year. Golden Tate remains there, and their running back position seems to have been given a boast by drafting Abdullah. On the other side of the ball will be rookie RB hoping to show his team he was the right and best pick for them. Remember when Montee Ball set the single game record for rushing yards in the NCAA last season? Who was that against? That’s right Abdullah. Now this is a different level of football, and these are two different teams than Wisconsin and Nebraska. However, the Lions Defense took a hit this year losing Suh and Fairley. The addition of Ngata will help but not cover up this lost. This should be a great game featuring two high power offenses.
Chargers 35 Lions 31
NO at ARZ 3:05 CST FOX
As you have seen so far with this, week 1 is a proving ground. Both of these teams know that. Can New Orleans put the past few years behind them and finally go and put a good season together again? They showed flashes last year playing up to opponents, but playing down to many more. Arizona looked like a team on the cusp of dethroning Seattle as the conference winner, but fell apart with injuries down the stretch. Now they are healthy, but they are also another year older at two key positions. Can Palmer stay healthy? Can Fitzgerald still be a threat? If so, this team could contend this year. With a tough defensive unit still, look for Arizona to have an opening day win in desert.
Cardinals 31 Saints 24
CIN at OAK 3:25 CST CBS
Now we go from a sea of red to the Black Hole for this late afternoon matchup. We know that Cincy will compete throughout the season, while Oakland feels it’s there time to start making headway in their division. Under new coach Jack Del Rio, Oakland looks to finally get back to its winning ways, but this likely will take 2-3 seasons. Carr will have another year under his belt, and did seem to get better as the year went on last year. Their problem is their use of recycled players. The leaders on defense are past their prime and could end up hurting this season as it drags on. Cincy on the other hand is still young and have had a core that has been together for some time now. The AFC North does look to be another tough division to win this year, though they should make the playoffs still. Flying from one coast to another is usually a tough thing to do, but this year look for Cincy to play with the chip on their shoulder to win in the playoffs. That starts here.
Bengals 28 Raiders 17
BAL at DEN 3:25 CST CBS
Baltimore is one of those teams that just seem to be in the right place at the right time. They don’t have the flashy team, but they are always in the game. During the season they have a slip here and there, but they are always in the playoff race right until the end. Denver has worked very hard to build the team they currently going with. This year has to be about grooming a replacement for Manning, which brings me to the most valid point here; he cannot feel his fingertips anymore. Now looking back down the stretch last season, he was not very Manning like. That was last year, that was late last year, and he has had time to prepare for this game. That is what will make the difference.
Broncos 24 Ravens 21
TEN at TB 3:25 CST CBS
We have been waiting to check this one out since draft day if not before. Rookie vs Rookie, the last two Heisman trophy winners, both making the NFL debut and they get to do it in the primetime slot on CBS. What could be bigger? If they had teams around them, that’s what. Obviously after having the top 2 draft picks this past year these two teams are in rebuilding mode. Tampa is another team that started to look better down the stretch, but it is a stretch to say they looked good. Tennessee plays in a very tough AFC South division with Houston and Indy looking to continue their winning ways. This game itself will be another great test for each of this rookie QBs as they make their NFL debuts, and as fans we get to see the QB matchup from the high scoring Rose Bowl again. Mariota is going to be the difference in this game.
Titans 21 Buccaneers 20
NYG at DAL 7:30 CST NBC
Surprise Dallas and New York faces off Sunday night to start the season, tell me if you’ve seen this one before? JPP is set to return to the Giants which will give them a little bit of a boast. Odell Beckham is set for a full season barring injury later on, and they still have Eli wanting to play for a massive contract. Then you have the Cowboys. The sting of the “catch” ended their season last year. Dez Bryant demanding more money, new RBs to try and have their offensive line make all stars, but hey, Tony Romo is healthy. This is a key year for Dallas, they are a team that could either go forward or backwards. This is not a team that will be exactly where they were last year. This matchup is key to which way their season goes right away.
Cowboys 31 Giants 28
PHI at ATL Monday 6:10 PM CST ESPN – UPSET OF THE WEEK
The annual opening Monday Night Double Dip. First up we have what I will say is an upset in the making and will go out on a limb and take it as my Upset of the Week! Philly looked good in the preseason, and they made some good moves in the offseason. Atlanta made a coaching change, but retained a team that not too long ago was a legitimate threat. Their downfall recently was injuries and a porous defense. Well, we have a defensive minded coach and offense still locked and loaded. This should make for a slow turn around, but a statement win on Monday night. Do not discount Philly though. The biggest acquisition is Sam Bradford (if he stays healthy.) This team is again primed to compete and will challenged Dallas for the division, and with a health Bradford could challenge for their first Super Bowl title.
Falcons 35 Eagles 31
MIN at SF 9:20 CST ESPN
What better way to cap off week one than going where the season will end? Oh wait, San Fran is going to be sporting some nice blackout jerseys for this game? Hopefully it goes better than their Super Bowl black out from a few years ago. The big questions lie for both of these teams. Can Bridgewater continue with his progress from last year? Can Kaepernick get back to his winning ways? How will Peterson be after a year off? The time for questions is over the time for answers starts now. With Peterson having fresh legs, and all this issues that the 49ers had during the offseason with retirements and off field issues, Peterson and Bridgewater will be primed to showcase their talents together. With a week filled with road wins, why not put one more on the board?
Vikings 24 49ers 17
Well week 1 predictions are in the books, and it feels good to be back. In my personal opinion week 1 is usually the hardest. Most people are going off of what last year looked like and add and subtract players from there, but there is more to it. You have a preseason without starters, vanilla looking defenses, and week 1 you have teams trying to make statements while others just play their style and knowing when to turn it on. It’s nice to have football back and games that start shaping up with January and February will look like this year. Look for both the lock pick of the week and the upset of the week to continue throughout the season. Until then…