When healthy, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Bryant give the Steelers arguably the NFL’s best 1-2 offensive punch.
The NFL’s 97th season opens with a rematch of Super Bowl 50 as the Carolina Panthers meet the World Champion Denver Broncos. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be taking a seat for four games for his role in the Deflategate Scandal. Out in the Bay area, San Francisco 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick will take a knee during the national anthem for the foreseeable future in protest of injustices to minorities and then a seat on the Niners bench as he waits for named starter Blaine Gabbert to cough up the starting job.
A new day has dawned in Philadelphia as quarterback, No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz and new head coach Doug Pederson hope to put the nuclear tenure of Chip Kelly behind a scarred fan base. In The Steel City, the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t miss a beat as the air and ground attack featuring Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Bryant anchored by Ben Roethlisberger will put the Black and Gold in prime position to hoist their seventh Lombardi Trophy this February in Houston.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos (8:30) – Both teams come into the season opener with something to prove to themselves. The Broncos transitioning from a Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning to a quarterback in Trevor Siemian who’s never thrown an NFL pass. The Broncos defense knows any chance of returning to the Super Bowl rests on their overall effort. The Panthers have to get over a disappointing showing last February, deal with the pre-game pomp and circumstance and come out making a statement. Does Siemian have a better chance against the Panthers defense or does Cam Newton solve the Broncos pass rush the second time around?
Prediction: Panthers 22 – Broncos 16
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons – Two teams who will be in the mix for second place in the talented NFC South. Jameis Winsto and Mike Evans are one the best young QB/Receiver tandems in the game. What can Atlanta’s wideout Julio Jones do for an encore this season?
Prediction: Bucs 24 – Falcons 20
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens – The Bills have an opportunity to get an early jump on the division with Tom Brady on ice for the first month of the season. The Ravens are in somewhat of a transition, but are no less dangerous.
Prediction: Bills 20 – Ravens 17
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans – This Texans team is really put together and they’ll need to stay intact in what will be a dogfight to win the AFC South. There is no grace period as free agent quarterback Brock Osweiler will be asked to lead now. In Chicago, Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford have 227 carries between them. Saying they’re going to miss the departed Matt Forte is an understatement.
Prediction: Texans 29 – Bears 13
Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars – The overall success of the Jags this season depends on the improvement of second year running back T.J. Yeldon and a flourishing young defense. The Packers are in the mix as usual, but need a focused Eddie Lacy and a healthy Jordy Nelson to go the distance.
Prediction: Jaguars 26 – Packers 21
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs – The status of the Chiefs Jamaal Charles, who is recovering from a torn ACL last season is up in the air. The Chiefs have the backups to get by but receivers remain an issue. I believe Phillip Rivers will have one of his better seasons simply because second-year running back Melvin Gordon is going to make life so much easier for him.
Prediction: Chargers 27 – Chiefs 17
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints – I’m really excited about what the Raiders could be this season, David Carr and Amari Cooper are the truth and with the help of Khalil Mack and an improving defense should put Oakland in position to make the postseason. Not many big names for Drew Brees to throw to this season, but how many years have we been saying that?
Prediction: Raiders 29 – Saints 24
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets – The Jets are a team I believe can cause some problems if they could somehow get into the playoffs. The Bengals finally look poised to make a Super Bowl run. Injuries and the Pittsburgh Steelers stand between Cincy making it to Houston.
Prediction: Bengals 31 – Jets 20
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles – The birth of the Carson Wentz Era in Philly will coincide with the hopeful re-birth of Robert Griffin III in Cleveland. The Eagles defense hasn’t looked this scary since the days of the late great Jim Johnson.
Prediction: Eagles 23 – Browns 17
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans – Life without Teddy Bridgewater is going to be a struggle for the Vikings who believe they can still make waves with Sam Bradford at the helm. Expect Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray to rush for 1,300
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks – The NFL’s Blackest team makes a statement before and during the game. Ryan Tannehill is going to have a better than advertised season, it simply gets off on the wrong foot against the Seahawks.
Prediction: Seahawks 28 – Dolphins 15
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott are the unquestioned future of the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants payed a boatload in the off-season to land some top defensive standouts. They pay off handsomely in Week 1.
Giants 33 – Cowboys 21
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are counting on the health of Andrew Luck and the 33-year old legs of Frank Gore to stabilize a potentially high-scoring offense. The Lions have a good mixture of youth and seasoned talent for Matt Stafford who seems to throw for 4,000 regardless of who’s catching the rock.
Prediction: Lions 29 – Colts 24
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals – Young Jimmy Garoppolo gets a very rude awakening to the NFL courtesy of a Cardinals defense still steaming from the NFC Championship game.
Prediction: Cardinals 24 – Patriots 13
Monday, September 12, 2016
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington (7:10 pm) – The Steelers will be without LeVeon Bell for two games, but DeAngelo Williams has proven he’s more than capable to pick up the slack. There’s plenty of tape on Kirk Cousins out there now, so we’ll see what he’s made of.
Prediction: Steelers 30 – Washington 20
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (10:20 pm) – Colin Kaepernick will be the starter in Frisco before they face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 (Oct. 6). I don’t know what Jeff Fisher sees or doesn’t see in No.1 overall pick Jared Goff to place him third on the depth chart. Fisher has proven he isn’t the smartest guy when it comes to QB.
Prediction: Niners 23 – Rams 10