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NFL Week One: Sheldon’s picks

SHELDON LONGLEY

Published: Sep 06, 2013

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NFL WEEK ONE

 

Thursday’s game

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m.

What a way to kick off the new season! The Broncos and Ravens playoff thriller from a year ago, will be on display this week when the these two teams meet in Week One. As a result of an important function, I missed last year’s shootout between these two teams but I certainly won’t miss this one. What makes this game even more interesting, is that with both of these defenses being weakened from a year ago, this game promises to provide more fireworks on the offensive side. Peyton and the Broncos are just too potent for me to go against them at this particular point. They’re still fuming over that playoff loss from a year ago, and will definitely have revenge on their minds this time.

Broncos 34, Ravens 30

 

Sunday’s games

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

The big question for the Patriots this year, will be: Can Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman make up for the absence of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. In addition to that, Aaron Hernandez was released after involvement in the Odin Lloyd murder case, and Rob Gronkowski figures to miss at least the first three games of the season. Every time I try to put a spoke in the Patriots’ wheel, they somehow find a way to recover though. Tom Brady will have a new bunch of receivers to throw to this year, but I have a feeling the All-Pro quarterback will find a way to get it done. Besides, they’re opening their season against the lowly Bills.

Patriots 30, Bills 17

 

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.

Seattle promises to have one of the better teams in all of football this year. Their defense is certainly top notch, and led by Marshawn Lynch and Ryan Wilson, their ground and pound offense will be a force to reckon with. Newly acquired receiver Percy Harvin will be out for about half of the season, and the Seahawks will miss some production on the offensive side with him out, but their defense should be able to carry the team until his return. Cam Newton and the Panthers are up-and-coming, but the Seahawks defense will dictate he pace of this game on Sunday.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 14

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

With a full year under their belts in Chicago, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall should be more productive this year. They’re arguably top five in the league, in terms of quarterback to receiver tandem. However, the Bengals’ duo, Andy Dalton to AJ Green, isn’t bad either. I think this game will be one of the more competitive ones of the week, possibly coming down to a late field goal before it is decided. I’m going to roll the dice and go with the visiting team in this one. The Bengals could very well be a playoff team in the AFC again this year, and they’ll prove their worth on Sunday.

Bengals 20, Bears 19

 

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.

When it rains, it pours! Just when my Fins figured to make a significant move in the AFC East this year, they lost starting tight end Dustin Keller for the season. Now, there’s no doubt that quite a bit of the load is going to be on Ryan Tannehill’s shoulders this season. The Dolphins’ second-year signal caller will have to prove that he has what it takes to be a top notch quarterback in this league, in order for the Dolphins to make the playoffs. I think he will show tremendous improvement, especially with Mike Wallace spreading the field and the reliable Brian Hartline catching everything in sight. Somehow, someway, the Fins will challenge the Pats for supremacy in the AFC East this year.

Dolphins 23, Browns 13

 

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

The Lions figure to be one of the surprising teams in not just the NFC, but the entire league this year. Led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, they were second in the league in passing last year. The latter broke Jerry Rice’s single season mark for receiving yards, and Stafford almost duplicated his 5,000-yard passing season from 2011. They’ll be potent again, and the addition of Reggie Bush will add firepower on the offensive side for sure. In addition to that, the Lions’ defense is quickly maturing. This bunch will certainly be too much for the Vikes to handle this Sunday.

Lions 33, Vikings 17

 

Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.

Here are two teams obviously headed in the opposited direction. The Colts are poised to be a serious contender in the AFC while the Raiders are slipping further and further into oblivion. The season hasn’t even started yet, and football fans everywhere have a clear idea of what they’re going to get from these two teams. Quite frankly, the Raiders are going to stink! What sealed their fate, for me, was when Terrelle Pryor won the starting job at QB over Matt Flynn. They might as well had kept Carson Palmer. Al Davis must be rolling over in his grave right now. Don’t expect for the Colts to show any mercy on Sunday.

Colts 37, Raiders 10

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Quite a few analysts are picking the Chiefs to be the darkhorse team for the 2013 season, and with good reason. In addition to bringing in Alex Smith, Anthony Fasano and Donnie Avery, they maintained Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. On defense, they acquired Sean Smith to line up next to the steadily consistent Brandon Flowers. I don’t see the Chiefs overcoming the Broncos in the AFC West this year, but they turn a few heads and pull off a few upsets.

Chiefs 24, Jaguars 16

 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.

Game of the Week! With Sean Payton back to lead the Saints, and the ‘Dirty Birds’ threatening to challenge again, this game certainly shapes up to be one of the better games on the schedule in Week One. It’s a also a huge rivalry game, with both of these teams playing out of the NFC South Division. I think the division will be won between these two teams for sure. The Saints will be playing with a chip on their shoulders this season, but in their demise a year ago, the Falcons took charge and aren’t prepared to relinquish their grip on the divisional title. I think the Falcons will win the division, but the Saints will be fired up to take the season opener.

Saints 30, Falcons 27

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

The Jets is a team in complete disarray. Unless Bahamian descent Geno Smith has sensational rookie season much like Andrew Luck, RG3 and Ryan Wilson of a year ago, I really don’t see much hope for the Jets. Mark ‘Butt Fumble’ Sanchez is expected to miss at least the first three weeks of the season, but that might be a blessing in disguise for the Jets. Meanwhile, the Bucs will only go as far as Josh Freeman will carry them. I like what Doug Martin gives them in the running game, and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are a formidable duo at wide receiver, but they’ll probably still be looking up at the Saints and the Falcons in their division at the end of the day. The Jets shouldn’t pose much of a problem on Sunday though.

Buccaneers 24, Jets 13

 

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

Everyone is wondering what kind of team the Steelers will bring back this year - will their defense be as potent as it was a year ago? With defensive guru Dick LeBeau guiding this unit again, and a healthy Troy Polamalu to go along with guys such as Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foote, I don’t see why it can’t be. Led by their ‘Steel Curtain’ defense, and ‘Big’ Ben Roethlisberger as steady as they come under center, I think the Steelers will be a force to reckon with once again. They should certainly be able to contain Chris Johnson and the Titans in the season opener.

Steelers 23, Titans 13

 

Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams, 4:25 p.m.

The Rams appear to be a team on the rise, while the Cards appear to be a team in disarray. They won their first four games last year, before falling into a season-ending slump, and don’t appear to be much of a threat this season either. The Rams, on the other hand, might have lost all-purpose back Steven Jackson but they could be deadly in the passing game and their young defense is capable of having some impressive outings. Sam Bradford is one of the better deep passers in the league, and now he has All-Pro tackle Jake Long to protect his blind side. The Rams will be a force to reckon with, but I’m not sure if they are ready to challenge the Seahawks and Niners in the NFC West just yet.

Rams 28, Cardinals 16

 

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.

This playoff rematch from a year ago promises to deliver quite a bit of thrills. The Niners is a bonafide Super Bowl contender, and it will be interesting to see if the Packers could get back to that level, particularly without their best receiver Greg Jennings. Their running game was inexistent a year ago, but they might have to rely more on that aspect of their offense, in 2013. It will be hard pressed to get any kind of offense going against that swarming defense of the Niners though. I think the read-option offense of the Niners will create problems for the Packers’ ‘D’, and the Niners defense will be more than enough to limit the production of Aaron Rodgers and the pack.

49ers 27, Packers 20

 

N.Y. Giants at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.

The Giants are a perfect 4-0 against the Cowboys in their new stadium, but I have a feeling this particular trip will be different. Each of those four victories for the Giants have been by slim margins. The Cowboys are poised to end that run. Can this finally be the year the Cowboys live up to their pre-season expectations and go deep into the playoffs? Well, first of all, they would have to make the playoffs. I see another disappointing season for the Boys where they fall short of their goals, and then somehow try to validate Tony Romo’s shortcomings and his big contract at the end of the season. I don’t have them making the playoffs again this year, but somehow I think they’ll sneak past their nemesis, the G-men, on Sunday.

Cowboys 30, Giants 27

 

Monday’s games

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins, 7:10 p.m.

The Redskins are poised to win the NFC East this year, but everything rides on the health of their franchise quarterback. A healthy RG3 is set to start Week One, but whether or not he remains healthy for the duration of the season is another issue. If he does, I think that they will definitely be a force to reckon with, not just in the regular season, but the playoffs as well. Led by RG3 and Alfred Morris, the Redskins will have one of the better rushing attacks in the entire league. They led the league in that department last year, averaging almost 170 yards per game on the ground. It will be interesting to see how the Chip Kelly led Eagles will look this year, but they’re a year or two away from seriously challenging for a playoff spot. The Skins will get an early jump on their divisional foes with a huge win on Monday night.

Redskins 27, Eagles 20

 

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers, 10:20 p.m.

The Texans come into the 2013 season as one of the favorites in the AFC to get to the Super Bowl. I think they’ll fight off a charging Colts team to take their third consecutive AFC South title, and will challenge the Broncos among others for a spot in Super Bowl XLVIII. In Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, the Texans have top five players at their respective positions, and their defense is much improved, but their real test will come in the postseason. The Chargers shouldn’t present much of a challenge on Monday night, even though they’ll be playing at home. The Texans dynamic duo of Foster and Johnson will just be too much for them to handle.

Texans 30, Chargers 20

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