All is forgotten when Odell Beckham pulls in an acrobatic catch or when a team comes back from a 28-point deficit. It’s why we watch this game, it’s certainly not to cringe each time we see or hear from Roger Goodell. In some respects, the NFL is broken and it truly rests with the owners not taking the sanctity of the game seriously. What they need to understand is that they are the caretakers for the game and as a group, they need to take steps to better the game while they are on their watch. My advice would be to take some time to step back from concession sales and merchandising and instead, purposely take a high level, long view of the game. I understand that the game will go on, it’s bigger than me, it’s bigger than them, but sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forward and the hardest part is taking that initial step.
How to read the table: The table shows how a team will do Passing and Rushing in the upcoming week of the NFL. Red is HOT, Yellow is WARM, White is NORMAL, Light Blue is COLD and Dark Blue is FREEZING COLD. Play players from teams that are Red and Yellow, avoid players from teams that are Light or Dark Blue and expect average days from teams that are White.
|Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots – Thursday 8:30pm|
Unfortunately, the opening game of the season will be all about Deflategate. If I could pay money for a broadcast that pledged to not discuss anything about it, I’d pay. I just want to watch football. I don’t really care if all of the air leaks out of the balls, just play the games. I want to see how the Patriots “revamped” secondary tries to keep up with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, I want to see Tom Brady feed the ball to Gronk. With LeGarrette Blount suspended for a game, I want to see who if anyone, steps up from the Patriots backfield. I’m curious how DeAngelo Williams looks spelling Le’Veon Bell for the first couple of games this season. Both teams went through some changes on their offensive lines, I’m very curious to see how those lines hold up. There are a lot of questions to answer and for a fan of the game, I just want to watch football. Is that really too much to ask?
The Patriots are going to look rusty, particularly on defense, as it will take a few games for the Patriots to find their stride this season. Expect the Steelers to pass at will with a big game from Ben Roethlisberger. The Patriots will focus on trying to take Antonio Brown away, it’s what they do, but that will leave Markus Wheaton wide open half-way down the field for some big strikes. The Steelers will miss Martavis Bryant in this one, as this game is a poster child opportunity for the WR2 for Pittsburgh. Thankfully for the Patriots, the Steelers secondary will somehow find a way to be even worse than the Patriots secondary. It could be a long year for the Steelers defense this year.
Favorite: New England Patriots by 3
Prediction: New England Patriots 31 – Pittsburgh Steelers 23
|Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills – Sunday 1:00pm|
We already have a good idea about who the Colts are. Andrew Luck and what he does, won’t change a lot between last year and this. It gives the Bills a lot to go on in the film room for a Week 1 opponent. The Bills on the other hand, give opponents almost nothing to go on. Tyrod Taylor was just named the starting quarterback, they just cut stalwart Fred Jackson and their schemes are completely different. If I were the Colts, the only tape I’d have is to study some of Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes while with the Jets to try and get some idea of what they will try and do. It’s actually a tough assignment for the Colts, opening their season in Orchard Park against a team they know practically nothing about. The Bills defense has the potential to be scary good as the Colts offensive line will struggle to protect Andrew Luck as the Bills know how to get after the quarterback. Defensively for the Colts too, they will struggle with their assignments as the Bills will put on a clinic in run blocking on their way to victory.
Favorite: Indianapolis Colts by 2.5
Prediction: Buffalo Bills 27 – Indianapolis Colts 23
|Cleveland Browns at New York Jets – Sunday 1:00pm|
Both teams are in transition but the Browns seem a bit further behind. Rex Ryan left some decent building blocks in New York and while they will struggle to put up numbers in the air, the Jets will tear gaping holes through the Browns on the ground. Expect the trio of Chris Ivory, Zac Stacy and Bilal Powell to be the reasons why the Jets win this. Look especially for Powell to be a sneaky play in PPR leagues as he’ll get a lot of looks in the passing game. The Jets defense, very quietly, is one of the better units in the league, expect them to give the Browns offense all they can handle to open their season. It won’t be a pretty stat line for your Brownies. Also, expect a low scoring game as neither one of these teams will want to throw the football.
Favorite: New York Jets by 3
Prediction: New York Jets 23 – Cleveland Browns 17
|Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars – Sunday 1:00pm|
There are only two things you need to know in this contest: Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers Defense. The Panthers Defense will make a statement early this season and will ultimately be a top-3 performer in 2015. Blake Bortles will have his days but this will not be one of them. This is not the week to get cute and start a Jaguar. Really. It’s not.
Favorite: Carolina Panthers by 3.5
Prediction: Carolina Panthers 20 – Jacksonville Jaguars 17
|Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins – Sunday 1:00pm|
Washington is going to be just fine on the ground in this one. They have a very talented 3rd-down running back in Matt Jones (who may also get some early down work) and Alfred Morris is still quite capable. But where it all goes so horribly wrong for Washington this week is when Miami throws the ball. Ryan Tannehill is severely underrated this drafing season and the Dolphins have a lot of new shiny weapons to work with. If they can muster any kind of a ground game and their secondary holds up, they can absolutely challenge the Patriots for the AFC East and the Patriots haven’t been challenged in a while.
Favorite: Miami Dolphins by 3.5
Prediction: Miami Dolphins 23 – Washington Redskins 20
|Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears – Sunday 1:00pm|
I know on paper this looks like a Packers blowout, but “not so fast!” I say. The Packers will be one of the best teams in the NFL again yes, and the Bears will have too many holes to fill to be a contender, but this is a rivalry game, in Soldier Field, opening game of the season. Both teams won’t look sharp but the Bears defense will do a decent job containing the Packers with a “bend but don’t break” game plan and some unusual pressure on Aaron Rodgers. The Packers will have some uncharacteristic key turnovers that will keep this game close and the Bears special teams will out-play the Packers special teams unit which will give the Bears a chance. It is still the Packers game to lose but it will be a nail-biter and will end up being one of the better games of the weekend to watch.
Favorite: Green Bay Packers by 6.5
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24 – Chicago Bears 23