It’s been 214 days since Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning rode into the sunset with a second Lombardi, leaving the Broncos with a rookie starting under center. Tom Brady will sit for the first four games, Josh Gordon returns, Manziel is going back to school, and professional football is back in Los Angeles. It feels like someone new was suspended every day since training camp began. Oh, and Tony Romo is already hurt.
The first week of college football welcomed us with open arms and a ton of drama, giving the NFL a lot to live up to. Week 1 is upon us, my darlings, and it feels so damn good to be back.
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos
This is all I’ll say about the last time the Panthers played the Broncos:
Poor Cameron. Unluckily for him, that pesky Denver Broncos defense is back. Yes, they’re starting a rookie. Yes, their receiving core isn’t great. Yes, their running backs are questionable. But none of that matters because DEFENSE.
The Panthers lost Josh Norman in free agency to that team in Washington D.C., but that shouldn’t stop Carolina from giving Trevor Siemian a warm welcome to the NFL. The Panthers boasted the 2nd rushing offense in the league last year, but again that #1 ranked Denver defense is right there waiting.
Denver’s defense will come out roaring, but their offense won’t do enough to keep them on top.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons haven’t had a winning season since 2012. After reading that, I felt bad for Matty Ice. He seems like such a good guy who can’t catch a damn break. Unfortunately for Matt Ryan, the Falcons are tied with the 49ers for the toughest strength of schedule. With a shaky, young defense the offense will need to step up and be the reason the Falcons don’t collapse this season. The whole point of football is to score more points than your opponent and if Ryan can clean up his red zone efficiency and turnovers, the Falcons might just have a chance to do so.
The Buccaneers drafted a kicker in the 2nd round. Not only did they draft a kicker in the 2nd round, they traded up to get him. Tampa’s offense finished fifth in the league last season and as long as Winston can avoid a sophomore slump in year two, the Bucs might be a surprise. They’ve added a few weapons on defense, notably Robert Ayers (9.5 sacks last year with the Giants), four-time Pro Bowler Brent Grimes, and a few good rookies in the draft.
So put these two teams together and what do you get?
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans
Teddy. My sweet, sweet Teddy. I am not a Louisville fan. Nor am I a Vikings fan. But I have an insane amount of love for Teddy Bridgewater. I always have and I don’t know why. When he went down with the knee dislocation and all that garbage, my heart sank. I want him to succeed! This was supposed to be Teddy’s year! DAMN YOU, FOOTBALL GODS!
So now the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford. They also have vet Shaun Hill. But they also have Adrian Peterson. If All Day can have a monster season and their defense stays healthy and keep up the type of play that led them to the playoffs last year, the Vikings might see themselves as alright.
I have not heard a single piece of “buzz” from the Titans all off-season. I had no idea the stadium was renamed. Did you? All I know is they have DeMarco Murray and Heisman-winner Derrick Henry on the roster. If Mariota can stay healthy, they might have themselves a little something this year. Their defense is poop, however.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles drafted Carson Wentz number 2 overall in the draft and in pure Philly phasion, he’s already injured. The Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings. Wentz is all they’ve got. Rib fracture or not, Wentz will be playing against the mighty Browns. Wentz only played in the first preseason game, where he was injured.
On the other side of this week one matchup, Robert Griffin III is the man under center for the Browns. RGIII is made a of tape and glass, so unless he can stay upright and throw to rookie Corey Coleman, look for the Browns to be garbage again. The team isn’t even focused on this season, but are already looking forward to the 2018 season with their stockpile of draft picks in the next two drafts. Browns gonna Brown.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Andy Dalton is my QB in my friends & family fantasy league. I panicked and waited too long on a QB. I’m terrified that my season is basically in the hands of Andy Dalton. A ging. They resigned AJ Green, but they’ll be without Vontaze Burfict for the first three games. AJ Green is the only receiver they have.
The Jets brought in Matt Forte and Ryan Clady (Boise State alum, #bleedblue) and signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets had the fourth ranked defense in the league last year and will likely continue that trend this season. If they can get moving on offense, they’re posed to give the Bengals a game.
Winner: New York Jets
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints
The Saints boast the 31st ranked defense in the league last year. That’s 31 out of 32. That’s not good. However: Drew Brees.
The number 1 passing offense last season, Drew Brees will be just fine when it comes to keeping this high-flying offense going, as long as the offensive line isn’t TOO terrible to him. But their defense still blows. A lot.
Oakland seems to be everyone’s dark horse for this season. They’re seemingly stacked on defense, adding Kelechi Osemle, Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, and Reggie Nelson. Add that to Khalil Mack. Derek Carr is getting better with every game and as long as he’s throwing to Amari Cooper, the Raiders deserve to be the dark horse of the 2016 season. Their only downfall is the fact they play in the West, where teams like Denver, Seattle, Arizona, and Kansas City will be tough to beat out for a playoff spot.
Winner: Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers finally signed draft pick Joey Bosa to a contract after a drawn out media circus, but he may not be ready to play – shocking. Phillip Rivers and his 15 children are back, but their defense and offensive line are garbage.
Alex Smith and his deep receiving core that includes Jeremy Maclin and TE Travis Kelce sneakily won all 10 of their final games last season. Jamaal Charles is back, but Justin Houston is out until late this season, if at all. Look for them to handle the Chargers week one.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
I had no idea Buffalo had the number one rushing offense in the league last season. Does no one talk about this because there are bigger circuses like snow and the Ryan brothers in Buffalo? Tyrod Taylor is sketch still, but Sammy Watkins is seemingly healthy and if he stays that way, Watkins could finally put up the numbers he was expected to.
Joe Flacco is back and they added safety Eric Weddle. Flacco also has a new weapon in Mike Wallace but have lost TE Benjamin Watson for the season with an Achielles. The Ravens just miiiight slip into the playoffs in a Wild Card spot thanks to Joe Flacco.
Winner: Buffalo Bills – why not?
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans
The biggest story this offseason is JJ Watt’s back surgery, which last I heard they’re saying he’ll play this weekend against the Bears. JJ Watt is a damn freak of nature. And it’s beautiful. The Texans took a page from ‘Fixer Upper’ and fixer-upper-ed their offense. Brock Osweiler is under center, with Lamar Miller, rookie receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. Could this be the offense they’ve been looking for? We don’t even know what Osweiler can really do, but I want his agent. $72 million contract for someone who didn’t play a whole lot last season, but when he did, he looked alright.
Bears are injured. They lost Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte. Alshon Jeffery and healthy Kevin White lead the receiving core, but can Cutler stay solid and lead this injury-ridden team?
Winner: Houston Texans
Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars
This one just isn’t fair. Oh and Jordy Nelson is back.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks
All I can see in my head is that awful offensive line just letting Ndamukong Suh just run through and pummel Russell Wilson. However, that’s all the Dolphins have in my eyes until they can prove otherwise. Tannehill is a fine QB and with Arian Foster starting, that might be a little something-something. Tannehill’s former college teammate, Michael Bennett is hungry for money and Tannehill might pay for that. Bobby Wagner cannot be stopped. Seattle’s defense is out for blood and Russell Wilson is looking better than ever. Sorry, Dolphins.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Romo really wants to be Peter Griffin huh pic.twitter.com/IiPrbdluQs
— #PatsNation (@DisRedd) August 27, 2016
Cowboys are 15-4 over the last two seasons with Romo. They’re 1-12 without. However, Dez Bryant is healthy and Ezekiel Elliott is posed to have a break out rookie season. Rookie Dak Prescott is the leader under center for now. They did sign Mark Sanchez just in case….
The NFC East is just garbage. And I don’t know enough about the Giants quite yet except this:
Winner: Odell Beckham Jr.
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts
Megatron retired. Stafford and OL’ JIM BOB COOTER have apparently rebuilt the playbook now that he’s gone. The Lions aren’t shabby at receiver without Calvin Johnson – Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin. Defensive line is pretty great and the Lions are only playing 3 games outdoors this season – what kind of a stat is that? If the o-line can protect Stafford so he can get to his receivers, they’ll be alright.
Andrew “flip-phone” Luck is back and healthy for the Colts. As long as Luck stays healthy and the offensive line play has gotten better they might be a contender for the playoffs this season.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
I saw a tweet today calling this matchup “SUPER BOWL 51 PREVIEW”. While that’s not certainly out of the realm of possibility, that is not true. Jimmy Garoppolo will start the first four games while Tom Brady serves his deflategate suspension, but luckily Arizona seems to be the biggest competition during those first four games. Brady will come back and have to salvage what damage was done during the first four weeks – or not. We’ll see….
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins
Antonio Brown. Ben Roethlisberger. One of the best offensive lines in the league. The Steelers have seemingly everything going for them. Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first three games and Martavis Bryant is suspended for the entire year. De’Angelo Williams should be able to handle the first three games and Bell will come back like a beast. Steelers are definitely in contention, but time will tell.
Washington signed Kirk Cousins to a deal, got rid of RGIII, and added Josh Norman. With big names on the roster like Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, you’d think they’d be good to go on offense. They just might be, but that front office is in such shambles that it shakes down the chain of command. I’m interested to see how Norman fits in here, but Washington surely has a chance to repeat as NFC East champs.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
With their back-up quarterback taking the spotlight from how horrible the team is, the 49ers look to just survive a talented NFC West and get through the year without injuries or distractions. So far, not so good.
The Rams are back in LA and there’s a ton of hype around this team who spent their #1 draft pick on a guy who is starting the season 3rd on the depth chart. Todd Gurley has been called the best running back behind Adrian Peterson. Robert Quinn is healthy and that defense will be a force to be reckoned with again this year. The only problem? Offensive production and playing in the NFC West.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
That’s it. That’s week one. Maybe we’ll get more information out of this weekend so I can write an actual preview next week. I wish you the best of luck in your fantasy leagues and to your team of choice (unless it’s the Cowboys –sorry). Football is back and so am I.