America’s greatest fall festival is back, as the NFL kicks off it’s 2012 campaign this morning. While I haven’t had time to write much in the way of previews, predictions or anything much off the diamond this year (where I’ll actually be during most of these games), there’s always time to make the weekly prediction sprint around the league.
I missed the Dallas/New York game, so I can’t count that one, so the season will be short one in the end.
Season Record: 0-0
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears: Andrew Luck has a tough spot to debut in, but he’ll get plenty of chances to air it out, as the Bears should run up the scoreboard, air and ground. Bears win.
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: The Browns enter the regular season still working on roster like it’s the preseason. But it’s go time now, and the Eagles have a lot to prove this year. They’ll get started today. Eagles win.
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans: The Pats weren’t the steadiest they’ve ever been in the preseason, but Titans don’t have the pass rush to shake them. Patriots win.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs: Going to be closer than it would seem, if only because of Arrowhead. But it’s the regular season and the Falcons have more firepower. Falcons win.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings: This should be a matchup of the two of the best backs the game has in Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, but with both curbed for the most part, it won’t be much of note. But the Vikings still have a bit more, so they open with a W, and some hope from AP. Vikings win.
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: NOLA isn’t the most hospitable place to visit, football-wise, on a usual week. However, with the Saints reveling from the justice handed down via the overturned suspensions this week, and emotions at a high, expect a rough intro for Robert Griffin III. Saints win.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: The Bills bettered their rush and are a team that has started quick out the gates the last few years. The Jets have been more circus than serious so far. Bills spring one on the road to start up the year fast again. Bills win.
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions: The Rams are starting two rookies on the outside at corner. They’ll get baptized into their post-college life by Megatron. But at least it can go nowhere but up from here, even if their record doesn’t. Lions win.
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans: With or without Arian Foster, this should be the beating of the week. Texans roll and Matt Schaub makes a triumphant return from injury. Texas win.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Game of the week easy, with the league’s toughest defense taking on its most dynamic offense. This will be a tough go for both sides, but Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau isn’t what you want to try to start a year off that ended so startlingly for the Niners back in January. The Pack wins late in the fourth.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: The two teams with the most shocking QB decisions of the preseason tie up in week one. While it isn’t an attractive matchup on paper, this could be still be a tight one. Seahawks pull it off late.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Bucs: Cam Newton had a hell of a debut as a rook, and his sophomore start shouldn’t be too bad either. The Bucs aren’t anything exciting on D, while the Panthers could have one of the most improved offenses in the L. Panthers win out.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: It’s time to see what it’s going to be regarding Peyton Manning’s return, and the Steelers are about as gritty of a test as you’ll get. But these Steelers are slowing and shorthanded on D, running by committee and still jelling at receiver. For all of these reasons, the Broncos get the W.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are problems at home, major problems. And the Bengals will have to deal with being a target instead of a surprise this year. The Monday Night stage awaits them, and a 0-1 start does too. Ravens walk.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: The Chargers are without Ryan Mathews (or anything else on the ground) and are walking into an extra-hostile Oakland for the Monday Night week one finale. The Raider defense has some issues, and Philip Rivers can stretch the field with or without a run support. Chargers win.