Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 1

Aug 24, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) greets Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the preseason game against at Sports Authority Field .The Broncos defeated the Rams 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) greets Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the preseason game against at Sports Authority Field .The Broncos defeated the Rams 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions article is back as the 2013 NFL season kicks off tonight with a rematch of their AFC Divisional Round classic, as the Baltimore Ravens travel west to take on the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football.  Since the NFL schedule includes a Thursday Night Football matchup from week 1 through week 15 this article will appear every Thursday to ensure we get all the games covered.  It seems like it has been forever since the Ravens shocked the Broncos at Sports Authority Field en route to their Super Bowl victory, but I am sure for Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos this day couldn’t come soon enough.  There are plenty of intriguing week 1 story lines such as the AFC Championship game rematch, Packers @ 49ers in a rematch of the game that made Colin Kaepernick a household name, and plenty of divisional matchups.    So let’s get to the predictions and hopefully start this season off on the right foot.  Note: I have listed the games featuring NFC West teams in bold in the spreadsheet at the bottom to make them easier to find.  Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!

Ravens @ Broncos (TNF). The NFL picked a heck of a game to kickoff the regular season with, one that is ripe with storylines for the mainstream media to beat to a bloody pulp.  Instead of going over the same old storylines let’s get straight to the reason I am picking the Broncos in this game.  With so much change for each of these teams due either to suspension, injury or free agency it really comes down to Peyton Manning.  One of the finest signal callers of his or any generation Manning leads an offense that is LOADED with talent while Flacco just may struggle without Boldin and Pitta to be his security blankets.  Broncos win 31 – 23.

Patriots @ Bills.  As a Rams fan I am going to be rooting for Danny Amendola to have a big game/year while keeping my fingers crossed that this will be his year to avoid the injury bug.  Hopefully he at least survives the season opener to provide Tom Brady with a reliable target early in the season.  It wont matter much who Brady throws to as the New England Patriots are just a better team than the Buffalo Bills.  The news that E.J. Manuel will be starting for the Bills provides them with some hope, as he was easily the Bills best QB in preseason, but the Patriots should win this one fairly comfortably.  Patriots win 27 – 10.

Titans @ Steelers.  The Tennessee Titans will hit the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 1.  The Steelers largely underperformed last season, and a large part of that was due to injuries on both sides of the ball.  The Titans seem to still be struggling to find their way with young QB Jake Locker and the unpredictable running of Chris Johnson.  The Steelers are possibly a playoff bubble team in the AFC while the Titans are likely a 3rd place finisher in the AFC South.  The loss of Mike Wallace in free agency and the knee injury to Heath Miller may slow down the Steelers offense making this one a bit of a slugfest.    Steelers win 17 – 14.

Bucs @ Jets.  When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to take on the New York Jets it will mark a homecoming for Darrell Revis.  It seems that Revis will be healthy and ready to go for the week 1 showdown with his old team, who will be starting Geno Smith at QB.  The Bucs have plenty of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball with the likes of Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Doug Martin.  They have also put considerable effort in improving their atrocious pass defense from 2012, and it should be enough for a comfortable win for the Bucs and Revis in his return to New York.    Bucs win 21 – 10.

Chiefs @ Jaguars. Andy Reid and Alex Smith are both looking for a fresh start with the Kansas City Chiefs, while Blaine Gabbert is undoubtedly beyond excited to have Maurice Jones-Drew back for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Many have the Chiefs as a surprise playoff team, and with the talent available on the roster it’s no real surprise.  The Chiefs offense boasts the 2013 #1 overall pick at left tackle, Jamaal Charles at running back and Dwayne Bowe at receiver.  The Jaguars on the other hand will be relying on the #2 overall pick from the Draft, Luke Joeckel, to keep Gabbert upright to find Cecil Shorts downfield (Justin Blackmon is suspended).  In the end the Chiefs just have a deeper and more complete roster than the Jaguars.   Chiefs win 27 – 13.

Seahawks @ Panthers.  There probably isn’t a team in the NFL with more hype surrounding them than the Seattle Seahawks, and yet I am tempted to go with the Carolina Panthers in this one.  Seattle’s struggles with 1:00 kickoffs on the East coast have been well documented, add in the fact that they will be without Chris Clemons (injury) and Bruce Irvin (suspension) and they may have a hard time containing Cam Newton.  Then there is the fact that Pete Carroll coached teams always seem to lose a game or two that they shouldn’t and an upset here wouldn’t be all that surprising.  Even with all that the Seahawks are just a better team, this may end up being an early season thriller but the Seahawks should be able to hold on. Seahawks win 28 – 24.

Bengals @ Bears.  The Chicago Bears should still be fielding a formidable defense even without Brian Urlacher, one of the best linebackers to ever play the game, roaming the middle of the field.  The Cincinnati Bengals have some high hopes for the 2013 season and getting a win on the road at Soldier Field would be a great place to start.  It will be interesting to see how Marc Trestman’s offense looks, and if he can help improve the sometimes inconsistent play from Jay Cutler.  Overall I trust the 2012 playoff team operating in the same system over the team with an entirely new coaching staff.    Bengals win 21 – 13.

Dolphins @ Browns.  The Miami Dolphins and Ryan Tannenhill hope to win the duel of the 2nd year QB against Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland Browns.  The Dolphins made a big free agent push in the offseason, and could take a step towards being competitive in the AFC East race.  The Browns have plenty of talented young players on both sides of the ball, and will likely lean heavily on Trent Richardson.  This game should go back and forth, but a big play from Tannenhill to Wallace should turn the tide in the Dolphins favor.  Dolphins win 24 – 21.

Vikings @ Lions. The Detroit Lions will be hoping to recover from a very disappointing 2012 season, while the Minnesota Vikings are likely looking to ride all world running back Adrian Peterson into the playoffs for a second straight season.  I would never bet against Peterson, but I just can’t see him reproducing the same numbers that he was generating down the stretch in 2012.  The Lions defensive line is one of the most impressive in the entire NFL, which should make Christian Ponders job difficult.  In the end though I would bet on Peterson over the Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection every day of the week.  Vikings win 17 – 10.

Raiders @ Colts. The Oakland Raiders have named Terrell Pryor as the starter for their week one road trip to take on the Indianapolis Colts.  That is probably a wise move considering the state of the Raiders offensive line, they need a mobile quarterback that has a chance of surviving a 16 game season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Andrew Luck and the Colts have a minor regression on offense without Bruce Arians, but it sure wont happen against the Raiders.  As a Rams fan I have sympathy for what I expect Raiders fans will go through this season.  Colts win 31 – 10.

Packers @ 49ers. Have the Green Bay Packers figured out how to defend the read-option offense over the offseason?  The last meaningful game that the Packers played in was their divisional round loss to the san Francisco 49ers featuring Colin Kaepernicks record breaking performance.  The 49ers are going to be looking for a wide receiver to step up in Michael Crabtree’s absence, but even with uncertainty on the perimeter they should still be able to run the ball well behind the best offensive line in the NFL.  This could turn into a shootout between two talented QBs but the 49ers advantages in the running game and on defense should give them the edge.   49ers win 30 – 27.

Cardinals @ Rams.  Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer look to start their Arizona Cardinals tenures off right as they travel to the Gateway to the West to take on the St. Louis Rams.  Last season the Rams defense feasted on the Cardinals quarterbacks for a total of 11 sacks, 9 of which came in their Thursday Night Football beat down at the Edward Jones Dome.  While the Cardinals haven’t done much to improve their offensive line (1st round Guard Jonathan Cooper is on the IR), they did sign Carson Palmer who is one of the least sacked QBs over the past 5 years.  Palmer is a savvy veteran who will be able to see where the pressure is coming from and get the ball out quick to limit the Rams sack numbers, but pressures and hurries will likely come early and often.  The Rams on the other hand have one of the best offensive lines they have had in a decade, with explosive young playmakers lined up all over the formation on both sides of the ball.  There may be some rookie mistakes made by this young team, but there will almost certainly be plenty of fireworks as well.  Everyone is chomping at the bit to see electric rookie receiver Tavon Austin, who should have plenty of opportunities to impact the game as a receiver, runner or punt returner.  Sam Bradford has looked very sharp so far this preseason and with his familiarity with the offense, and the addition of dynamic playmakers like Jared Cook and Tavon Austin he could be set for a huge season.  I expect Austin to have at least one 30+ yard punt return, as well as Givens having a 50+ yard reception as the Rams dazzle the home crowd en route to a comfortable season opening victory.  Rams win 31 – 13.

Giants @ Cowboys (SNF). The New York Giants have yet to lose at Cowboys Stadium and I don’t think that trend will change in week 1.  The Dallas Cowboys are once again one of the more talented teams in the NFL but that hasn’t necessarily translated to W’s over the past decade.  Eli Manning will be looking to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to have big seasons to help open things up for the dynamic second year running back David Wilson.  This should be a very good game to wind down the first Sunday of NFL football so go ahead and get your popcorn. Giants win 24 – 20.

Eagles @ Redskins (MNF).  Chip Kelly will make his NFL coaching debut as the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Capital to take on the Washington Redskins in the first game of the Monday Night Football double-header.  The biggest question regarding this game is how does RGIII play coming off of his knee injury?  Having no preseason reps could mean a little bit of rust for the young superstar.  If that knee is fully healed and he returns to early 2012 season form the Redskins should win this game comfortably.  I expect there to be a little bit of rust, and for Michael Vick to have a bit of a career revival in Kelly’s offense to make this a great Monday Night Football kickoff game.     Redskins win 27 – 21.

Texans @ Chargers (MNF). The Houston Texans will be traveling to take on Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.  Rivers has been struggling a little bit with turnovers and inconsistent play over the past couple of years, and a large part of that has been because of a lack of playmakers and a deteriorating offensive line.  Unfortunately for Rivers the Chargers have had a run of bad luck with wide receivers this preseason, and also didn’t really address the offensive line issues.  The Chargers will also be playing their first game for new head coach Mike McCoy, so perhaps McCoy’s offensive gameplanning can help Rivers return to form.  In this game there are far too many question marks surrounding the Chargers to predict anything but a comfortable victory for the visiting team.  Texans win 31 – 14.

NFL Week 1 Matchups


Ravens @ Broncos (TNF)


Patriots @ Bills


Titans @ Steelers


Falcons @ Saints


Bucs @ Jets


Chiefs @ Jaguars


Seahawks @ Panthers


Bengals @ Bears


Dolphins @ Browns


Vikings @ Lions


Raiders @ Colts


Packers @ 49ers


Cardinals @ Rams


Giants @ Cowboys (SNF)


Eagles @ Redskins (MNF)


Texans @ Chargers (MNF)


Last Week


Overall Record