[Indianapolis @ Buffalo]
There seems to be chatter that Buffalo has a legitimate chance of beating Indianapolis, much in part to their terrifying front four and dual threat project at quarterback. It would be easy to pick Indianapolis in this match-up, seeing as they’re a consistently good team. However, Buffalo’s defense did make both Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning look like Geno Smith last season. Not to mention Indianapolis’s defense isn’t anything extraordinary. It will be interesting to see Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for Buffalo in his first career start after four years as a back-up to Joe Flacco. Do I think he’ll be anything special? Not likely, but we’ll see. With the uncertainty of Buffalo’s offense, I feel more inclined to favor Indianapolis in this game.
[Cleveland @ New York (Jets)]
Two dismal franchises who are constantly subjected as the butt of many jokes. One of these teams can say that literally. Both have aged veteran back-ups as starting quarterbacks. Both have pretty good defenses. New York has debatably better running options and undebatably better receiving options. Mix in the fact that Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are the starting cornerbacks for New York’s defense and it’s hard to pick against them, especially when they’re playing at home. I expect a defensive game, but who knows what will happen with these two teams.
Winner: New York
[Carolina @ Jacksonville]
Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. With Kelvin Benjamin lost for the year, the starting wide receivers for Carolina’s offense are Ted Ginn and Philly Brown. When you combine their receiving stats from last year, it amounts to 35 receptions, 486 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Let me reiterate: Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. Their defense, however, is quite stout… when they want to be. Last year, their defense started out awful, giving up an average 374 yards per game. After their bye week, that average dropped to 265 yards a game. If that defense continues to flourish, it should be an easy game. Who are they facing an—oh. Jacksonville? Yeah, they shouldn’t have any problems.
[Green Bay @ Chicago]
Oh, woe is the Green Bay Packers, who lost their #1 receiver in Jordy Nelson during the preseason. How can they possibly go up against the 30th ranked defense two years running with a two-time MVP at quarterback and Pro Bowl weapons at running back and wide receiver?
Winner: Green Bay
[Kansas City @ Houston]
Now this is an interesting match-up. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding both of these teams. Houston has the benefit of J.J. Watt, but do they have any other stars on the defensive side to pick up the slack? They got Vince Wilfork in the offseason and re-signed Kareem Jackson. And what of Jadeveon Clowney? Will he be the force they expected when they drafted him #1 overall in 2014? The offensive side isn’t any more clear. They released Andre Johnson, their all-time leading receiver, and are starting veteran Brian Hoyer at quarterback. If one were to ask if the Houston Texans improved during the offseason, I’m not sure many would answer positively.
On the contrary, Kansas City looks a little more optimistic. Jeremy Maclin has looked to be a stud throughout the preseason and Alex Smith is a lot more reliable than Brian Hoyer. On defense, not much has changed. Still more Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and the return of Derrick Johnson should provide a fierce defensive nightmare for the Houston offensive line. It’s an interesting match-up ripe with uncertainty, but I have to go against the home team.
Winner: Kansas City
[Miami @ Washington]
[Seattle @ St. Louis]
Seattle hasn’t always been at their best away, but St. Louis has shown inconsistency with their production year-in and year-out. Their defense has always been good, but never great, despite great talent amongst every position. Nick Foles is definitely an upgrade at quarterback, but will it be enough to get St. Louis past the hump? Against Seattle in their opener, who have largely retained their roster from last year (save one member), I don’t think they’ll get off to a great start.
[Detroit @ San Diego]
Another interesting match-up. Two teams who had overall good seasons last year, though San Diego wishes Philip Rivers didn’t get injured halfway through the season. With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games of the season, Philip Rivers has very few targets to choose from. On the flipside, can Detroit’s defense continue their surprise surge from last year? I believe this will be a close match-up, but I think Detroit’s offense will be the deciding factor in its outcome.
[New Orleans @ Arizona]
Arizona had a lot of offseason signings both offensively and defensively, molding their team into something new, while retaining their old ways. Carson Palmer is back starting and looks to continue his winning ways. I still feel Arizona doesn’t have as many weapons as they could have, but will take advantage of what they have. New Orleans is historically less dangerous on the road, and Arizona’s defense is fairly good in its own right. Drew Brees or not, I don’t expect New Orleans to exceed twenty points. Oh, and their defense doesn’t look good either.
[Baltimore @ Denver]
Baltimore’s preseason left much to be desired. Their defense didn’t look up to the team’s standards, giving up 21 points against Philadelphia’s starting offense in their second game. Questions are starting to arise for John Harbaugh’s former Super Bowl-winning team. However, Baltimore has a tendency to do more with less, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up finishing the season with a winning record. However, against the high-flying offense (despite a declining Peyton Manning) and pass-rushing defense of the Denver Broncos, I don’t think their season will start with a win.
[Cincinnati @ Oakland]
Is this game gonna be nationally televised? No? Okay, cool.
[Tennessee @ Tampa Bay]
The #1 pick going against the #2 pick. Or more accurately, they’re going against each other’s defenses, but you can’t sell tickets that way. The coincidence is definitely uncanny, regardless. Neither of these teams have looked all that spectacular in the preseason, though I believe Tampa Bay has more playmakers on both sides of the ball. As much as I’d like to see Tennessee flourish with Marcus Mariota, I don’t think they have all the pieces in place to do so yet. Despite this, I think the game will be close, with Tampa Bay pulling out by a field goal or two.
Winner: Tampa Bay
[New York (Giants) @ Dallas]
Oh, boy! Remember last year when Odell Beckham had that amazing catch against Dallas? I wonder what he’ll do this time! Holy shit, football is awesome! Remember what the final score for that game was? Dallas winning 31-28. That shouldn’t change.
[Philadelphia @ Atlanta]
Philadelphia, out of any other team, had the best preseason for me. Sam Bradford looks like a great pick-up and its defense looks like it can hold its own. I’ve been impressed with Chip Kelly’s alterations to this team and was at first very skeptical of his decisions. I can’t wait to see how the season plays out for them.
Hopefully Bradford doesn’t tear another ACL. Atlanta is another team I thought looked good in the preseason. Their offense hasn’t skipped a beat with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ chemistry, and their defense looks to have improved dramatically from last year. Aside from the past two years, Atlanta has also been very good at home, so this will be a tough match-up. In the end, however, I think Philadelphia has the edge with its front seven.
[Minnesota @ San Francisco]
Honest question: does anyone believe that San Francisco will finish the year with a winning record, taking into consideration all the players they lost in the offseason? This team is the very definition of uncertainty. Former head coach Jim Harbaugh is gone. Patrick Willis is gone. Justin Smith is gone. Aldon Smith is gone. Anthony Davis is gone. Chris Borland is gone. Michael Crabtree is gone. Mike Iupati is gone. Perrish Cox is gone. Frank Gore is gone. Combine all those players together and that’s a total of 21 Pro Bowl appearances. San Francisco looks like a defeated franchise right now.
And the Vikings look like a rising power.
(I have a link to Odell Beckham’s catch highlighted under “amazing catch,” but WordPress doesn’t want to show it for some reason.)