Thursday Night, 9/8 7:30 PM
Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos
Peter’s Pick: Panthers
Peter’s Analysis: The NFL attempted to give us a rematch of the Super Bowl to start the season. This will be anything but that. The Broncos have the advantage of being at home in this one but the edge ends there for a team that lost big names on both sides of the ball during the offseason and still seems to be unsure about their future at quarterback. The Panthers on the other hand come back as pretty much the same team that won 15 regular season games last year and will be playing with a chip on their should and redemption on their minds.
Will’s Pick: Panthers
Will’s Analysis: The Broncos still have the defense, but there’s a lot of questions at quarterback and Siemian most likely doesn’t have the mind of Peyton Manning; not to mention the fact that Cam Newton’s getting his #1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin back. The Broncos will probably still keep it close, but it’s difficult to not see Carolina pulling away in this Super Bowl rematch.
Sunday, 9/11 12:00 PM games
Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans
Peter’s Pick: Titans
Peter’s Analysis: It’s risky to predict upsets in the first week of the season, before you’ve gotten a chance to see either team’s true colors. However, all of the games the Vikings lost last year were to teams who ran the ball consistently on offensive and focused on containing the run on defense. That is exactly what this Titans team is built to do. The Vikings will be still trying to acclimate Sam Bradford to their offense in week 1. As long as they can execute their plan, Tennessee should start out the season with a close, low-scoring victory at home.
Will’s Pick: Vikings
Will’s Analysis: The Vikings may have lost their QB, but luckily for them the offense wasn’t really built strictly around the QB, so they’ll be able to at least get by the Titans—whom are still going to be trying to sort themselves out—on the strength of Adrian Peterson and their defense, the latter of which will probably be the main key to their success this year.
Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans
Peter’s Pick: Texans
Peter’s Analysis: These teams are going to look very different on offense this season after a busy offseason for both squads. The Bears added to their defense. The Texans already had a great defense. This game leans heavily in Houston’s favor based on the talent on each roster. The fact that the Texans are playing at home should make it an easy win.
Will’s Pick: Texans
Will’s Analysis: The Texans have been doing pretty good the last couple of years under coach Bill O’Brien despite the QB carousel. Now that they may have finally found themselves a more long-term solution in Brock Osweiler and have a less delicate RB in Lamar Miller, they can look forward to the future and it can start against the Bears, who won’t be able to keep up on defense.
Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles
Peter’s Pick: Browns
Peter’s Analysis: These team’s are both under new head coaches and schemes to start the season. Both have exciting talent in place. The slight edge in this one goes to the Browns now that the Eagles will be scrambling to get a quarterback ready for week one.
Will’s Pick: Browns
Will’s Analysis: I’m not sold on Robert Griffin III yet as the solution in Cleveland, but they seem to have more answers on offense right now than Philadelphia, who has a massive WR problem. I don’t think a Browns win will be a harbinger of what’s to come this year, but I think they’ll pull it off in Week 1 against the rookie Carson Wentz, who will probably struggle out of the gate a little after being thrust unexpectedly into the action.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
Peter’s Pick: Bills
Peter’s Analysis: Some credited the Ravens struggles last year to bad luck and injuries. However, it appears that this team is in need of a complete rebuild. The Bills have had struggles of their own, but have talent all up and down this roster, I see them pulling out a hard fought battle on the road to start their season.
Will’s Pick: Bills
Will’s Analysis: This is actually one of the tougher picks of the week, since it’s difficult to know what to expect from the Bills especially in Week 1; but the Ravens have a bit more uncertainty surrounding their defense, running game, and even their wide receivers look iffy, especially since we don’t know yet if Steve Smith is playing or not. I’ll give the edge to the Bills this time around.
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Peter’s Pick: Chiefs
Peter’s Analysis: The Chiefs finished the regular season on a 10 game winning streak last season. Even with a 4-12 record the Chargers offense played well throughout the year but only managed 3 points in both games against the Chiefs devastating defense. The Chiefs are easily the better team and should have no trouble securing the victory at Arrowhead.
Will’s Picks: Chiefs
Will’s Analysis: The Chargers will be better this year, but it probably won’t start against a Chiefs team that has one of the best home advantages in football. And though Jaamal Charles may not be back yet (or he’ll be limited), remember that it didn’t matter last year during those 10 straight regular season wins with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware.
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints
Peter’s Pick: Saints
Peter’s Analysis: The Raiders are the more well rounded team here. It’s hard to see a major hole in any spot in their depth chart but I don’t think they are ready yet to go toe to toe in a shoot out against Drew Bree’s and his shiny new weapons. I give the slight edge to New Orleans in a well fought battle at home.
Will’s Pick: Raiders
Will’s Analysis: Two high-octane pass offenses could end up making this one a potential barn-burner. Brees is unlikely to slow down, but the Raiders’ slightly better defense should end up being the difference versus a team that still seems to have a suspect secondary.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
Peter’s Pick: Falcons
Peter’s Analysis: The Bucs swept the Falcons in two close games last season as Atlanta fell apart after a strong start. The Falcons have had the whole offseason to regroup and I believe they are back to being a solid team. I see another close matchup here but I have to give the edge to Matt Ryan and Atlanta as I believe they will be coming back with a vengeance to start the year
Will’s Pick: Falcons
Will’s Analysis: It’s probably going to be a pretty middling year for both teams again. It’ll likely be pretty close, and the Bucs may have swept them last year, but I’m going to give this first matchup to the home team that has the rising star running back and has actually gotten someone (Mohamed Sanu) to play opposite Julio Jones this year.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets
Peter’s Pick: Jets
Peter’s Analysis: This sounds to me like the prime example of some good old fashioned smashmouth football. The Bengals have started out strong for the last few years but each time it has ended in disappointment. After losing some key players in the offseason, it’s going to be hard for them to start out with the same burst and I see the Jets taking this one at home after adding yet another dangerous weapon in Matt Forte and continuing to bolster their defense.
Will’s Pick: Jets
Will’s Analysis: Andy Dalton will be looking to get his team back off to a strong start after missing the tail end of last year, but he’ll be missing his TE Tyler Eifert, there’s a lot of questions at WR after A.J. Green and the Jets will be looking to cash in on the opportunity to start fast in the AFC East with the Patriots missing Brady.
Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Peter’s Pick: Packers
Peter’s Analysis: This a matchup of the team of the future against one of the best team’s of the present. The Jags have one of the most explosive young offenses and can hang with anyone when it comes to scoring. The Packers defense has improved greatly and is skilled at putting pressure on the quarterback and causing turnovers, both of which are major areas of weakness for Jacksonville. The Jaguars defense is loaded with talent but still in need of experience to build the chemistry that will make them great and should struggle against a slimmed down Eddie Lacy and an Aaron Rodgers who has Jordy Nelson back. It will be close but not close enough, as the Packers steal one on the road to start the season.
Will’s Pick: Packers
Will’s Analysis: I’m expecting the Jaguars to have a breakout season this year, but it’s not going to start versus the Packers, who are getting Jordy Nelson back and will be looking to take the NFC by storm again. The Jags may have one of the better AFC offenses, but they won’t be able to keep up with Aaron Rodgers defense-wise.
Sunday, 9/11 3:05 PM game
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks
Peter’s Pick: Dolphins
Peter’s Analysis: In most fan’s minds, this is a matchup between a very good team and a very bad team. In reality, these are two of the best teams on paper in the NFL. Both of them are loaded with big names on defense. The main difference is, the Seahawks love to win with a punishing run game. That may change now that they lost, Marshawn Lynch, who was considered one of the best backs in the league. The Dolphins like to air it out, but conversely, that might change now that they added one of the best backs in the league in Arian Foster. The Seahawks have proven to be vulnerable at home early in the season. I believe that trend will continued in week 1.
Will’s Pick: Seattle
Will’s Analysis: The Dolphins once again look to have a pretty good roster on paper, but it again may not matter—especially not versus a Seahawks team that is looking to successfully replace Marshawn Lynch with Thomas Rawls. The Dolphins do have a monstrous front four, so the Hawks should consider themselves lucky they have a QB who can run everywhere.
Sunday, 9/11 3:25 PM game
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
Peter’s Pick: Giants
Peter’s Analysis: Once again the Cowboys are loaded with talent on the field but full of questions in the locker room. The Giants have a few questions themselves, but ever since Odell Beckham Jr. has come around, Eli Manning has shown that side of him that resembles the greatest quarterback of all time. This year he has even more receivers at his disposal. Even on the road, this should be an easy victory for the Giants.
Will’s Pick: Cowboys
Will’s Analysis: The Cowboys always seem to play quite well in their Week 1 AT&T Stadium openers whenever they’re playing the New York Giants. Without Tony Romo, one might think that to change this year, but if Dak Prescott plays as well as he did in the preseason, they’ll come out and yet again surprise a one-dimensional passing Giants team.
Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts
Peter’s Pick: Lions
Peter’s Analysis: I think most of us have already forgotten, but going into last season, both of these teams were considered playoff contenders, both disappointed in a major way, and both bounced back to be somewhat respectable at the end of the season. So what separates them? Only one of them still has Jim Bob Cooter involved in their offense. The minute he took over as offensive coordinator, Matthew Stafford became a whole new quarterback and this team became almost unstoppable. Watch as Stafford uses his plethora of receiving options to pick apart the Colts defense and the Lions roll to victory as Andrew Luck struggles to find his groove against an underrated Lions defense.
Will’s Pick: Colts
Will’s Analysis: Andrew Luck will be looking to start the first year of his monster deal (and his first game returning from his injury) off with a vengeance, and the Lions—who will be scrambling to figure out who to throw the ball to in the absence of Calvin Johnson—will be the victims of it.
Sunday, 9/11 7:30 PM game
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals
Peter’s Pick: Patriots
Peter Analysis: I may be the only person in the world picking the Patriots in this game. The reasoning behind that is, I’m also probably the only person that believes Bill Belichick is the reason behind this team’s success and that it doesn’t matter who his quarterback is. There couldn’t be much worse odds for the Pats on the road and that’s exactly the kind of challenge “The Hoodie” lives for.
Will’s Pick: Cardinals
Will’s Analysis: It remains yet to be seen whether Garropolo can play well or not in the absence of Tom Brady, but it probably won’t matter either way in Week 1 against a Cardinals team that has one of the best offenses in football, not to mention their starting QB will actually be out on the field.
Monday 9/12 6:10 PM game
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins
Peter’s Pick: Steelers
Peter’s Analysis: If there is a game this week that could be considered a lock, I’m convinced this is it.The Steelers offense is basically unstoppable as long as Ben Roethlisberger is on the field and we saw what happened to the Redskins defense in the playoffs last year when they were forced to try to keep up. This one should be over almost before it begins as the Steelers often overlooked defense gives Kirk Cousins more than he can handle.
Will’s Pick: Redskins
Will’s Analysis: Here’s another contest that has the potential to be a barn-burner. Some are skeptical of the Redskins this year, but at least in Week 1 they have the advantage over the Steelers of home field and a more complete offense; considering that the Steelers will be working with a lot of backups on their side of offense with Le’Veon Bell suspended and Ladarius Green out.
Monday 9/12 9:20 PM game
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Peter’s Pick: 49ers
Peter’s Analysis: There is very little to like about this 49ers team and Chip Kelly’s recent reputation makes the task even harder. The Rams seem to have everything rolling in their favor with a stud running back, a new city and a new stadium. However, Kelly has reportedly won over his offense and has them believing in his system. Most of Gurley’s yards last year came in garbage time while defense where still figuring out how easy it is to stop him. My bet is, that before the Rams get to have their welcome home party the 49ers surprise them and hand them their first loss of the season on Monday Night in San Francisco.
Will’s Pick: Rams
Will’s Analysis: I don’t expect much from either of these teams this year, but the Rams at least have one superstar on offense in Todd Gurley and more stability on defense, and Case Keenum is more reliable (particularly in a run-first offense) than Blaine Gabbert. It’s difficult to see a scenario where the 49ers win this game—even though it’s actually one of their easiest on the schedule this year.
Thanks for following along with Peter and Will this season!
Please feel free to get mad, criticize, call names or whatever feels right.
But we would love to see your picks in the comments below!
Welcome to the start of the NFL season!
Good Luck to Your Team!!!