Thursday, Sept. 4
Green Bay Packers (27) @ Seattle Seahawks (31), 8:30 p.m.
- The Seahawks' defense is loaded at every position, but so is the Packers' offense. Richard Sherman will look to shutdown Jordy Nelson, but Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will be put to the test facing Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin.
- Marshawn Lynch nears 30 years of age, but he will look to expose the Packers' defense early on. The linebacking corpse in Green Bay is one of the more well-rounded groups in the league, but unless the defense penetrates the line and gets to Lynch in the backfield, he will put his second level skills on display.
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the x-factor of this game. If he can successfully keep Lynch's rushes contained, and stay atop of Harvin in coverage, the Packers may pull out a win. Justin Britt will provide a solid tackle for Seattle, so he is defintely note-worthy. He may initially struggle with the Packers' pass rush, but should adjust well.
Sunday, Sept. 7
New Orleans Saints (35) @ Atlanta Falcons (24), 1 p.m.
- Desmond Trufant played well last season, but with no other starting calibre corners on the roster, the Falcons will have a hard time stopping the Saints passing game. Josh Wilson will struggle to contain the up-and-coming Kenny Stills.
- The pickup of Champ Bailey will not help the Saints' situation at cornerback, leaving Keenan Lewis as the lone top flight cornerback on the Saints' roster. Patrick Robinson has been a bust, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste does not look to start Week One. The duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones is deadly, but Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro should keep them from blowing the tops off of the defense.
- The Falcons picked up four starters - Jake Matthews, Ra'shede Hageman, Dezmen Southward, and Prince Shembo - and they all look to contribute, but Brandin Cooks of the Saints looks to make the biggest impact. He will be able to attack the Falcons defense both deep and beneath, those of which he can turn into big gains.Cooks will light up the secondary and show why the Saints traded up to get him.
Minnesota Vikings (20) @ St. Louis Rams (23), 1 p.m.
- The Rams have a formidable front seven, but if Adrian Peterson can beat the ends to the outside, and avoid the uber athletic Alec Ogletree, he will find some room. It looks like the Vikings will have an easier time passing the ball, as they have a good group of receivers to go up against a below average secondary.
- Zac Stacy, the 5-foot-8 and 224 pound running back, should be able to power his way through the weak front seven in Minnesota. On the other hand, the Rams receiving corps may struggle against the Vikings strong secondary that consists of Captain Munnerlyn, Xavier Rhodes, and Josh Robinson.
- Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald should prove solid in their first regular season game, and Anthony Barr should get his "Welcome to the NFL" moment. Teddy Bridgewater can determine the outcome of this game, though. If he proves to be pro-ready, he will give the Rams a run for their money.
Cleveland Browns (13) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (24), 1 p.m.
- Miles Austin and Nate Burleson looks to start outside with Andrew Hawkins in the slot, so the Browns will be underwhelming in the passing game against the Steelers, So the running game led by Ben Tate will fuel the offense in Cleveland.
- The Browns have a great group of cornerbacks, so the Steelers as well will have to rely on their running game. With Le'Veon Bell to lead the way, the Steelers have the upper hand on offensive talent.
- Justin Gilbert will help the Browns shut down the Steelers passing game, while the Steelers' first two picks, Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt, will certainly make a moderate impact in their first game. Johhny Manziel may win the starting job, but whether he does or not will only affect the Steelers game plan, not the outcome.
Jacksonville Jaguars (10) @ Philadelphia Eagles (35), 1 p.m.
- Cecil Shorts leads a solid receiving corpse, while the Eagles boast a deep group of cornerbacks. The Eagles also has an adequate front seven, so Toby Gerhart will have to show up. The only matchup the Jaguars' offense has over the Eagles' defense is the deep ball; the safeties in Philadelphia are certainly below average.
- With Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball projected to start at cornerback for the Jaguars, the Eagles should have their way in the passing game, as they have a great group of receivers, as well as a solid quarterback in Nick Foles. The Jaguars' front seven is also quite lackluster, so LeSean McCoy will have his way on gameday.
- If Blake Bortles is to win the starting job, then he will struggle against the Eagles' defense. The Jaguars' two second-round receivers will struggle as well. The impact rookies for the Jaguars are actually the two cornerbacks, one of which was undrafted; Aaron Colvin and Rashaad Reynolds will be tested. I see the two rookie receivers in Philadelphia matching up with the rookie corners in Jacksonville. With Marcus Smith unlikely to start, then Jordan Matthews, the "high floor" guy, will make the most of an impact for the Eagles.
Oakland Raiders (14) @ New York Jets (17), 1 p.m.
- Kyle Wilson, Dee Milliner, and Ras-I Dowling will struggle to cover the deep receiving corpse in Oakland, but can the Raiders quarterback deliver? With the front seven strong in New York, neither Darren McFadden nor Maurice Jones-Drew will find running room.
- Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley are both reliable targets, but the Raiders have a solid group of corners that can shut them down. The Jets can give Chris Johnson the rock, as the Raiders do not have a strong defensive line, but Khalil Mack and Sio Moore are both capable of sealing the edges and shutting down the run game.
- The Raiders will trust Khalil Mack to produce opposite of Sio Moore, while the Jets will trust Calvin Pryor to keep Denarious Moore and the other receivers in Oakland in front of him. Gabe Jackson is also a notably rookie that may start Week One. He may have trouble facing the great line in New York, but if he can provide some push, the Raiders may be able to run the ball. Derek Carr looks to win the starting job by Week One, and he should given Matt Schaub's lack of pocket prescence. The Jets will provide a lot of pressure, and Carr is capable of standing strong and getting the ball to his targets.
Cincinnati Bengals (20) @ Baltimore Ravens (17), 1 p.m.
- The Ravens boast a strong front seven, but a weak secondary. The Bengals have a plethora of receiving targets, so they should be able to pass the ball with ease. Still, though, Giovani Bernard may find running room, as long as he finds a way to beat the Ravens' linebackers to the outside.
- Like the Bengals, the Ravens have plenty of reliable targets, but the Bengals have a solid secondary. If Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce can return to their past form, they can lead the Ravens to a victory. The Bengals also have a weakness in the back-end of their defense too, and Torrey Smith is well-known for blowing the tops off of defenses.
- Darqueze Dennard will look to cover one of the Ravens' top flight receivers, while Will Clarke and Russell Bodine will show coaches that they can start. Given the talent in the Ravens' front seven, Jeremy Hill should be given plenty of reps, to see if he can produce up the middle. On the opposite side, C.J. Mosley should prove to be solid in the run and pass game. Terrence Brooks, though, can prove to be big or bad in this game. If he contains A.J. Green, he will earn a lot of respect from the coaches, and perhaps the win.
Buffalo Bills (20) @ Chicago Bears (28), 1 p.m.
- Many people are starting to question C.J. Spiller's ability as a starting running back. The Bears had one of the worst run defenses last year, so if Spiller can not get it done in Chicago, Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown may begin to get more reps. The Bears have a good secondary, so E.J. Manuel may struggle.
- Stephon Gilmore is the lone bright spot in a disappointing Buffalo secondary. With the 5-foot-8 Nickell Robey being the second best player in that secondary, watch Jay Cutler unload the ball to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery nonstop. With a solid line, and an outstanding group of linebackers, the Bills will look to shut down Matt Forte.
- Sammy Watkins should start alonside Mike Williams, which matches up pretty evenly with the secondary in Chicago. Kyle Fuller, the newest member of the Bears secondary, will look to get plenty of reps, as the Bills will likely put three to four receivers out on the field most of the time. Cyrus Kouandjio's impact will probably go unnoticed, but he will jump in and provide an immediate upgrade.
Washington Redskins (28) @ Houston Texans (17), 1 p.m.
- With both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon set to play, Houston will have trouble stopping the pass. Jonathan Joseph can shut down one of them, but who will cover the other one? Brandon Harris is probably the most ready to start, but he can't keep up with Jackson or Garçon. If I was Harris, I would just hope that the pass rush gets to Robert Griffin III. Alfred Morris, though, will likely struggle against the strong line in Houston.
- Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins make up a nice duo, and also faces a favorable matchup, going up against DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson. Whoever is throwing them the ball, though, may not be quite ready. Arian Foster faces a below average defensive line, but a good linebacking corpse.
- Jadeveon Clowney will be depended onto provide pressure on Griffin before Jackson and Garçon get passed the defenses, but there is another rookie in this situation. Morgan Moses may be lined up in the way of Clowney. If that is the case, though, Clowney will find his way around the big and slow Moses.
Tennessee Titans (14) @ Kansas City Chiefs (16), 1 p.m.
- Kendall Wright and Nate Washington look to start, but with Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper - two surprisingly athletic corners considering their size - set to cover them, the Titans may have to rely more on their second-round rookie, Bishop Sankey. Sankey is an overall, good player, but you can not rely on a rookie running back in their first game. Beyond Smith and Cooper, the Chiefs do not have a reliable cornerback - no, Phillip Gaines is not pro-ready - so when Justin Hunter comes in and plays outside, Kendall Wright can play in the slot and expose the opposing corner.
- The Titans do not necessarily have a good front seven, but behind Jurrell Casey - the All-25 defensive tackle - there are three very athletic linebackers: Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers, and Zaviar Gooden. Brown and Ayers start at outside linebacker, and Jamaal Charles will have to beat them to the outside, which can be a troubling task. Instead, the Chiefs should expose the Tennessee secondary that no longer contains Alterraun Verner, who led the squad with five interceptions last year.
- Taylor Lewan will help keep the pocket clean, while Bishop Sankey will give some production, and Dee Ford can start and produce immediately, but the main impactor of this group of rookies in game one is D'Anthony Thomas. Beyond Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery, Alex Smith does not have a single receiver who had more than 15 receptions. Thomas has a good chance to play in the slot, and the Titans do not have anyone quick enough to keep up with him.
New England Patriots (31) @ Miami Dolphins (13), 1 p.m.
- Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen make up a good one-two punch, and considering the strength of the Miami pass rush, running the ball may be their best option. The Patriots' have a deep receiving corpse, but Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan are proven corners, while Jamar Taylor has been very promising.
- The Patriots also have a proven duo of cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. With Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller being Miami's best two backs, this is a troublesome situation for the Dolphins.
- No rookies in this game look to make a notable impact.
Carolina Panthers (14) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28), 4:25 p.m.
- Alterraun Verner and the rest of Tampa Bay secondary do not have to worry about much going into this game, as Carolina's receiving corpse is far below par. The duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been dangerous in the past, but Cam Newton is a threat on his own.
- The twin towers will be facing an imcumbent secondary that is led by Charles Godfrey. The Panthers' best pass rusher, Greg Hardy, is also expected to miss time. Doug Martin is expected to return, but Luke Kuechly will look to keep him in his place.
- If the Panthers are to get anything going, Kelvin Benjamin must produce; the Panthers were given plenty of flak for not getting a high-profile receiver after losing Steve Smith. Kony Ealy is also expected to show up big in the first regular season game; with Greg Hardy out, the Buccaneers will certainly expose that. The Buccaneers first two picks, who are both 6-foot-5, should have a great first game, but they can not get too confident, this is the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers (24) @ Dallas Cowboys (17), 4:25 p.m.
- Any 49er running back should be able to find running room, going up against a weakened Dallas defense that no longer have their two best players: DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee. The 49ers should also find success in the passing game, as the Cowboys simply can not put enough players on the field to cover Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Stevie Johnson.
- Given the 49ers have one of the best front sevens - even without NaVorro Bowman - watch for the Cowboys to air it out this game. Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, and Chris Cook look to begin the season opener atop of the depth chart, so Tony Romo and his targets should do fine.
- The 49ers have contemplated having Jimmie Ward play in the nickel position, while Chris Borland is expected to fill in for NaVorro Bowman, who may not be ready to play Week One. Zack Martin will have to protect Romo against the San Francisco pass rush, but luckily, he will not be lined up opposite of Aldon Smith; Tyron Smith receives that daunting task. DeMarcus Lawrence and Anthony Hitchens may not quite ready to play Week One, but they may be forced into the starting lineup.
Indianapolis Colts (28) @ Denver Broncos (21), 8:30 p.m.
- The Colts may have the best trio of wide receivers, while Broncos have a pretty good trio of cornerbacks. The Broncos' defensive line, though - aside from DeMarcus Ware - will not create much pressure, so Trent Richardson should be able to find plenty of holes, as long as he stays between the tackles.
- The Broncos may have an even better trio of receivers, and the Colts do not have the corners to match up, with Vontae Davis being the only capable cornerback. With Montee Ball expected to break out this year, the Colts linebacking corpse must step up.
- Jack Mewhort may start, and if he does, he must open holes for the running game. Bradley Roby can decide this game; if he is not up to the task, the Colts get the upper hand, and if he is, then the Broncos have a much better shot at winning. Aqib Talib can shut Reggie Wayne down, while Chris Harris can work with T.Y. Hilton in the slot, but Roby will be in charge of keeping Hakeem Nicks in check.
Monday, Sept. 8
New York Giants (14) @ Detroit Lions (20), 7:10 p.m.
- Victor Cruz will surely start as the Giants' number one receiver, but after that the order is shaky. The Lions have plenty of average corners, so Cruz is probably the only one that will make a notable impact. The Lions have a scary, up-and-coming front seven, so the Giants may have a lot of trouble running the ball.
- On the other hand, the Giants' front seven is weak, and Jon Beason might be injured again. Reggie Bush should not have too much trouble running through the New York defense. Now, their cornerbacks show plenty of promise, but going up against the best receiver in the NFL, along with not-too-shabby Golden Tate, they may have a hard time.
- If Odell Beckham produces as expected, or above expectations, then the Giants may have the win, but he will have to outperform the Lions' rookie pass catcher, Eric Ebron.
San Diego Chargers (10) @ Arizona Cardinals (17), 10:20 p.m.
- Patrick Peterson can shut down Keenan Allen, while the rest Cardinals defense is good enough to stop any of the Chargers' running backs. Vincent Brown must show up, as well as Ladarius Green, in case Antonio Gates does not have juice left in the tank.
- Jason Verrett looks to be the number one corner for the Chargers, but he is surely not capable of containing Larry Fitzgerald, and it is questionable if he can contain Michael Floyd. Lucky for the Chargers, though, the Cardinals do not have much of a run game, as Andre Ellington is expected to get the rock.
- Jason Verrett is the biggest impactor here; if he can cover well enough to keep up with one of the Cardinals' receivers, then the Chargers may have a chance.