NFL Preview – Week 1

NFL Preview - Week 1
Who needs Christmas when you've got the NFL season on its way?

By Kyle Soppe


We are only a matter of days away from the first Sunday of the 2011-2012 NFL season. Here I preview the top 5 games of the weekend, and predict every game on the slate.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens(-2.5) – These two divisional rivals square off in an important season opener that could go a long way toward determining who earns a home playoff game. They split last year’s series, playing two very hard fought games that came down to the wire. Both teams feature elite running backs with diverse styles, but neither has had much success in this rivalry. Joe Flacco’s game is maturing fast, and I believe he is ready to perform equally to that of his counterpart, Big Ben Roethlisberger. He has more receiving weapons in his arsenal, and should be able to manage a few successful long drives in this game. The underrated addition this offseason for the Ravens was Vonta Leach, who gives them the physical force to bang with Pittsburgh’s aggressive style. This old fashioned, bloody their nose game ends with the Ravens getting the last laugh, in a 20-17 win,

Indianapolis Colts (+8.5) @ Houston Texans  – With an ailing Peyton Manning, Houston has their best chance to find themselves atop the division. The Texans aren’t fully healthy either, with Arian Foster battling a hamstring injury, but they are more equipped to handle life without their All Pro. Indy struggles stopping the running game, so expect the Texans to pound the ball, regardless of who is in the backfield. If the Colts decide to stack the box, Andre Johnson will make them pay dearly with big plays. A healthy Manning and this is a coin flip, but without the 4 time MVP anywhere near full health, the Texans finally beat the Colts: 31-24.

Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Chicago Bears – Two division winners from a year ago that are headed in very different directions. The Bears won 11 games last year, but the schedule turned out to be quite favorable, and the record doesn’t reflect their true talent level. The Falcons, however, are on the upswing with stars like Roddy White and Michael Turner pacing their offense. Young Matt Ryan is among the games most promising QB’s, and will benefit from the addition of rookie WR Julio Jones. Da Bears can’t score enough to keep up with the high flying Falcons: Atlanta wins going away 31-17.

Seattle @ San Francisco (-6) – Unfortunately, when NFC West teams do battle, we are forced to crown a winner. Seattle figures to struggle with new QB Tavaris Jackson at the helm, and the ever inconsistent Marshawn Lynch at running back. Mike Williams and Sidney Rice is an underrated receiving duo, but with a quarterback who has a hard time throwing spirals, let alone hitting covered receivers, their talent will be underutilized. The 49ers have a few playmakers in Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, and that should be enough to win this one. No real winner in this game: Seahawks lose 10-20.

Dallas Cowboys (+4) @ New York Jets – The Jets talk a big game, but I like the Cowboys to bounce back from a rough 2010. Felix Jones will provide balance, allowing Tony Romo to find his talented trio of pass catchers in Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant. The J-e-t-s play as solid a defense as anybody, but I am not too sold on their offense and Mark Sanchez. Demarcus Ware will be in the backfield and around the ball all night long, forcing Sanchize into mistakes and rushed decisions. This Sunday Night game shouldn’t lack trash talking or end zone dances, with the ‘Boys getting the final one: 24-20.

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) – The Jamaal Charles show takes center stage: Chiefs 27-13

Tennessee Titans (+3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars – A motivated Chris Johnson will be worth the monster contract, for this week at least, and lead the Titans to a 20-14 win

Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5) @ Cleveland Browns – The Dog Pound will carry the bad Browns in over the awful Bengals: 17-13

Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) @ STL. Rams – The Eagles will remind old Rams fans of their “greatest show on turf” years, led by Kurt Warner. Birds fly away in this one: 31-14.

Detroit Lions (+1.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Both are teams headed in the right direction. Success starts with ability to run the rock, and the Buc’s struggle at stopping the run: Lions 24-21.

Minnesota Vikings @ San Diego Chargers (-9) – AP can’t do it all, and while McNabb is an improvement over past years, the Vikes can’t match the Chargers potent offense. Bolts win 35-17.

New York Giants (-3) @ Washington Redskins – The Giants get to the QB as well as any team, and run the ball effectively. Two things that the Skins will have no answer for: G-men 24-10.

Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) – Two new quarterbacks in this one; I trust the one with NFL experience. Larry Fitzgerald corrects QB errors, and they will run the ball efficiently: Cards 24-17.

New England (-7) @ Miami Dolphins – I like Miami to surprise a little bit this year, but not against a Belichick team with this much time to prepare. Pats win going away 31-17.

Oakland @ Denver (-3) – The Broncos have more consistent players than the Raiders, who depend on long plays. The thinner air at Mile High won’t help the Raiders speedsters. Broncos take it 28-20.


Total Record (1-0)                            Against The Spread (1-0)

19 Responses to "NFL Preview – Week 1"

  1. Wally   September 9, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Good work, Kyle. Duh Bares might lose to ATL, but I think they’ll make it closer than 31-17 since they’re at home. Somehow I don’t see them giving up 31 points at home with that defense. Now …. scoring more than 20 might be an issue for the offensively challenged 🙂

    Texans “finally” beat the Colts??? Finally??? They beat ’em last year in the opener!!! C’mon, Man!!

    Bold pick on the Lions … but, hey, why not??

  2. Casey   September 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    The Colts are going to score 24 points? Is the Houston defense that weak? 🙂

    I know it’s Septmeber – the month when Tony Romo most resembles an NFL quarterback (not that Mark Sanchez particularly resembles the position established by the likes YA Tittle and Otto Graham)- but the Jets are going to make him (Romo) uncomfortable. Or, another way of looking at it – Romo will have to get comfortable being on his back. Jets win that one. I am not sure of the score.

    Can we do an over/under on the total points scored by the Seahawks-49ers and the Bengals-Browns?

    I am going under 20 for Seattle-San Fran.

    Kyle – picking the G-Men could be hazardous to your health. Then again they are playing the group owned by Daniel Snyder.

  3. Wally   September 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    If the Colts score 24 points, I think many of them will be in garbage time or thru defense/special teams scores. The Texans defense … as crappy as it was last year … will be very much improved this year under Wade Phillips and with some new free agent talent in the secondary. Probably not a great defense, but somewhere in the middle of the pack. With their offense, an average defense should be good enough to put them at the top of their division and into the playoffs … esp now that Peyton Manning is on the shelf for several games if not the whole season.

  4. Kyle Soppe   September 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Wally – The Texans won last year, this much is true. But it was only the 2nd W against the Colts in 9 years, so when i say “finally” I am implying that they are finally the better team, and should win the game. Also, for the record, this was written before Manning was declared out, but im sticking to the Colts covering the spread.

    Gotta like the over of 20 Casey, but not by much. I will take the over on 20 in a different category (number of years this game sets back football)

  5. Smitty   September 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Let’s not get carried away with the Eagles in this game. Steve Spagnuolo helped shut down Michael Vick in the past and he should be up to his defensive schemes in this one. Rams have a good group of defensive ends led by Chris Long and you can be sure they are going to rush up the field and force Michael Vick to stay in the pocket. They are going to force Vick to beat them by throwing the ball. Last year the Rams were one of the best in limiting opposing teams to pass plays of 40 yards of less, allowing only 5 all of last year.

    I think the Eagles will win – I just think it is going to be very close – 17-14.

    I also don’t think Jamaal Charles is going to run wild this year on the Bills. The line and linebacker corp have been upgraded and I think they are going to make a conscious choice to have Matt Cassel beat them.

    Good stuff Kyle!!

  6. Rey   September 10, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Kyle – Hilarious piece. It’s been a while since we’ve had some good satire on ‘The Pine.’

    I agree with all of your picks. How many NCAA teams do you think could beat the Browns and Bengals? Heck – I like Baylor over them both and they’re not even ranked yet, are they???

    Aaron Rodgers is like the Clint Eastwood or Sam Elliot of our time. He’s a gunslinger, he’s oozing with confidence and masculinity, and best of all, it’s rumored that Michelle Beadle once courted him.

  7. Rey   September 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Houston is stomping Indy right now 34-0. Buffalo is up 20-7 on Kansas City. Many people did say that KC would feel the void left by Weis. Oh – and watching Baltimore hand it to Pittsburgh 29-7.

  8. Casey   September 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Rey – I am glad you mentioned it first. The Chiefs without Weis as the coordinator look lost on offense. Someone send for Dorfman, all the Chiefs can do is “Flounder.”

    The Ravens doing it with defense and running the ball. What a novel idea.

    What was all that about the Bills needing to draft a QB?

  9. Casey   September 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    When is the next Buffalo mayoral election? Chan Gailey is on his way to that election.

  10. Kyle Soppe   September 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I might miss every single game this week 🙁

    Obviously the Bills are very impressive this week, but im not sold. Da Bears, Texans, and Ravens are among the most impressive this week thus far.

    Is it possible for Peyton Manning to win a 5th MVP? his “value” to the Colts was painfully obvious today

  11. Wally   September 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Break up the Bills! Heck … break up duh Bares, too. Who saw that coming??

  12. Casey   September 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    From the mind of Jim Caldwell: “This job was a lot easier with Peyton under center.”

  13. Rey   September 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    How are the Bears so doggone good at defense? Imagine if they had a potent offense each year.

  14. Casey   September 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Eli with a rushing touchdown. Cue up CCR. I see a Bad Moon Risin’.

  15. Rey   September 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Why were the philandering versions of Ben Rothleisberger and Tiger Woods more competitive? There is something morally imbalanced about that. Of course that’s assuming that either of them are faithful companions now.

  16. Rey   September 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Wow – did anyone see Cam Newton threow that pick to #58 just now? He was running and then saw Newton coming at him full speed and slid rather than go toe-to-toe with him. Newton still laid him out in mid-slide. How many quarterbacks have ever evoked fear in a linebacker like that????

  17. Smitty   September 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Eli threw a pick-6.. He is in mid-season form.

  18. Kyle Soppe   September 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Rey – Cam newton is a man. Physically he is a linebacker. Id slide too. haha

  19. Rey   September 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Is it me, or does Chad Henne look really good throwing the ball? His passes have the deft touch of a…Tom Brady pass, I guess.

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