Week 1 NFL Predictions

Phillip Rivers and the Chargers take on Arizona in Monday Night Football

Having started the season 1-0 after the rampant Seahawks overwhelmed Green Bay in Seattle, here are American Football Focus’s predictions for the other 15 games on the week one NFL schedule. To find out what we think will happen over the course of today and tomorrow just keep reading..

New Orleans @ Atlanta
Week one immediately throws up a heated division battle with this tussle in Atlanta between two NFC South foes, with both offenses expected to be able to put up a lot of points. New Orleans defense was much improved in 2013, however, while Atlanta could struggle to contain the Saints high powered attack which now boasts first-round receiver Brandin Cooks. It should be a close game in the Georgia Dome, but expect the visitors to come out on top with Drew Brees lighting up the scoreboard. Saints 34, Falcons 28

Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Another intra-division contest pits the reigning AFC North champion Bengals against the Ravens, who will be without Ray Rice due to his ban for domestic abuse charges. It’s hard enough to score points on the Cincy D as it is, so Baltimore could struggle to put enough points on the board to overcome the Bengals, even at home. Andy Dalton is yet to win a game in Baltimore in his young career; that could change in week one. Bengals 27, Ravens 17

Buffalo @ Chicago
The Bills have had a torrid pre-season thus far, with QB E.J Manuel struggling to complete more than 50 percent of his passes while head coach Doug Marrone has fallen out with a number of his players. Chicago meanwhile boast one of the top wide receiver combinations in the league and with Jay Cutler at the controls the Bears offense could have a field day versus a Bills secondary minus the departed Jairus Byrd. Bills 16, Bears 31

Washington @ Houston
Jay Gruden leads his Redskins into Reliant Stadium for the first game of both his and Texans coach Bill O’Brien’s head coaching careers. Robert Griffin III could be in for a rough ride with both J.J Watt and Jadaveon Clowney breathing down his neck; however Ryan Fitzpatrick faces a similarly tough assignment and in a close game Washington should just about prevail. Redskins 23, Texans 17

Tennessee @ Kansas City
Andy Reid’s Chiefs are the heavy favourites at Arrowhead Stadium, even if they are expected to regress from their play-off campaign a year ago. Alex Smith should continue to command an efficient offense with running back Jamaal Charles as its star, while the defense shouldn’t have too many problems against a tame Titans attack. Titans 13, Chiefs 28

New England @ Miami
Tom Brady and the Patriots head to Florida to take on the one division opponent that has occasionally given them trouble over the past decade or so. However with Rob Gronkowski healthy and the New England defense looking improved on last year Bill Belichick’s crew should start the season with a win. Patriots 24, Dolphins 18

Oakland @ New York Jets
Rookie Derek Carr starts at quarterback for Oakland in the Meadowlands, where he’ll be tasked with the tough assignment of coping with Rex Ryan’s varied blitz packages. The Raiders did little to improve over the off-season while the Jets have shown gains on offense with Geno Smith looking sharp in the exhibition season and Eric Decker giving him a legitimate threat at wide receiver. Former Titans back Chris Johnson could also enjoy a renaissance as Ryan’s boys start the season with a comfortable victory. Raiders 10, Jets 26

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia
The defending NFC East champion Eagles should have little trouble coming through week one unscathed against the Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field, although Jacksonville has a chance to be much improved in 2014. Nick Foles could carry on where he left off last season even though DeSean Jackson is gone, thanks to the return from injury of Jeremy Maclin and the addition of Darren Sproles. Jaguars 17, Eagles 31

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Browns coach Mike Pettine resisted the urge to start Johnny Manziel in week one in Pittsburgh, which could be a blessing in disguise for the rookie with the Steelers defense sure to pack a punch after a poor season in 2013. Minus Josh Gordon Cleveland will struggle to move the football on Pittsburgh, although the Browns defense should at least keep the score respectable.
Browns 14, Steelers 23

Minnesota @ St. Louis
The Rams hopes for the season were dashed with the season-ending injury quarterback Sam Bradford suffered, while the Vikings will lean on Adrian Peterson as heavily as ever on offense. It might not be a pretty game, but there will be plenty of defense on show and it’s unlikely either side will pack enough of a punch to pull away from the other. AP makes the difference. Vikings 17, Rams 16

San Francisco @ Dallas
San Fran head to Big D without Aldon Smith (suspension) and NaVarro Bowman (knee injury), which could make life tough for the rest of the defense with Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant a tough trio to contain. It could be up to Colin Kaepernick to keep pace with the Cowboys offense throughout the day, a challenge he’ll relish against a porous Dallas defense that hasn’t been notably upgraded since the end of last season. Narrow road win. 49ers 31, Cowboys 28

Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Cam Newton leads the Panthers into Tampa in another NFC South contest, against Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers. The Bucs defense should be improved with cover-two guru Smith in charge, and Josh McCown will improve the overall offensive output of the team. Unfortunately for the Bucs they’ll be coming up against the Luke Kuechly led Carolina defense, which is probably the second best in the whole of football after the Seahawks. It should be a fascinating game, but expect the Panthers to come through as they get their division title defense off to a winning start. 
Panthers 20, Buccaneers 16

Indianapolis @ Denver
Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis in an attempt to avenge the loss he suffered at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Colts last season. The Broncos may be without Wes Welker this time around but their defense should be improved with the additions of Aqib Talib, Demarcus Ware and T.J Ward in free-agency. The Broncos will be keen to get their Superbowl humiliation out of their minds as quickly as possible; expect them to do so with a home win in week one. Colts 24, Broncos 35

New York Giants @ Detroit
Eli Manning and the Giants have “enjoyed” a torrid pre-season, with Manning and his receivers failing to show any improvement on the miserable season they suffered through in 2013. Detroit had their own problems last year but with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooking up it’s difficult to see the Giants defense holding the Lions to a respectable output. Big home win.
Giants 16, Lions 31

San Diego @ Arizona
Phillip Rivers goes head-to-head with Carson Palmer in the desert in a battle of two gunslingers, though Palmer has the advantage of being able to target Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald in the passing game. Ryan Matthews and Andre Ellington will provide the ground options for both sides but if either side has the defense to keep the opposition quiet it’s Arizona, who’s secondary is led by the all-pro corner Patrick Peterson. Rivers might keep it close, but he’ll be hard pressed to get the road win in this tough match-up. Chargers 17, Cardinals 20

What do you think will happen in week one? Have your say in the comments or tweet @fredjstanley

  

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