Football fans, rejoice.
It’s been more than seven months since Super Bowl 50 and meaningful games are set to start again this weekend.
One of the best parts of the early part of the NFL season is watching everyone overreact to things not worth overreacting to.
When the Seahawks lost their first two games last year, everyone assumed they weren’t the team we thought they were. Of course, they went on to go 10-6 and clinch a Wild Card spot.
How about the Falcons? They started the year 5-0 before losing eight of their final 11 to miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
In Week 1, don’t worry so much about the outcome of the game as much as how everyone plays in those games. For each team’s starters, keep in mind it’s their first full game of action in months.
Also watch out for the upsets this weekend that shake up the standings into orders you wouldn’t normally see them.
Where will each team be at this time next week?
Let’s take a look.
Thursday, Sept. 8
Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
The first game of the season is a Super Bowl 50 rematch. The Broncos got the best of the Panthers in that game, but this year they have Trevor Siemian taking over the offense, a man who has as many NFL starts as I do.
Now the Broncos are asking him to go head-to-head against Cam Newton and beat him in one of the most-watched games of the season?
He won’t have to worry about Josh Norman interrupting any passing lanes, but I still don’t see the rookie winning this one.
Q’s Pick: Panthers, 27-17
Sunday, Sept. 11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)
Jameis Winston is back with experience in Tampa’s offense and Doug Martin is still one of the best running backs in the game, so the Bucs can feel confident in that. They also beat the Falcons both times they played last year.
This one should be one of the closest games of the day.
Q’s Pick: Falcons, 24-20
Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-0)
Will Sam Bradford be the answer for the Vikings as they defend their NFC North title? He might be an upgrade over Shaun Hill but that isn’t saying much. Thank goodness Minnesota has Adrian Peterson or the team could be in for a long season.
Both team’s defenses are decent but I have to give the edge to the team with the better quarterback.
Q’s Pick: Titans, 27-23
Cleveland Browns (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
Robert Griffin III to Terrelle Pryor might be a really crazy quarterback-to-receiver connection, but it’s so crazy it might work. The Browns are improving, and while they aren’t a good team yet, they’re better than a bad team. The Cavaliers have a title but the Browns won’t for awhile.
On the other hand, the Eagles are putting Carson Wentz on the field after he spent the preseason either hurt or with the third-string team. The first rookie to start an Eagles game at quarterback in the team’s history has to perform when his first reps with the first-string team come on their first possession of his first game.
Don’t count the Eagles out of this one, but don’t be surprised if Cleveland wins.
Q’s Pick: Browns, 24-19
Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Andy Dalton is back and that means Bengals wins will be as well. It’s just a shame they can’t seem to do anything once the postseason rolls around.
Cincinnati is mad about how their year ended last year though and the Jets are the first thing in their path of redemption.
Q’s Pick: Bengals, 30-21
Oakland Raiders (0-0) at New Orleans Saints (0-0)
I’ve said it since last year, the Raiders are the most underrated team in the NFL. They are just a few pieces away from being serious players in the AFC West.
The Saints’ already stellar passing attack got an upgrade by adding Coby Fleener at the tight end position.
Q’s Pick: Saints, 26-17
San Diego Chargers (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
When looking at the AFC West, the Chiefs have the best chance to upend the Broncos for the division title.
The Chargers only won four games last season and while they might improve that number, their first win won’t come on Sunday.
Although, Jamaal Charles isn’t playing so… wait… nah…
Q’s Pick: Chiefs, 31-17
Buffalo Bills (0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
The Ravens are going to be motivated to improve on last year’s dismal 5-11 record, but unless the Bills play some really bad football, I don’t see that first win coming on Sunday.
Q’s Pick: Bills, 30-23
Chicago Bears (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
Add the fact that the team is defending their third AFC South title and you have a pretty good Texans team.
The Bears are on the road and lack the pure talent to keep up with the Texans. The only thing that could go Chicago’s way is if the Texans’ newcomers fail to gel early in their first game together.
Q’s Pick: Texans, 31-20
Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
After Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, Moses opened the Red Sea and the Packers’ path to the division crown became as clear as a windshield.
The Jags will hope to be the bugs that smear that windshield to start the season, but they don’t match up well enough on either side of the ball.
Oh, and Jordy Nelson‘s back, so, there’s that.
Q’s Pick: Packers, 34-17
Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
It’s just, they’re visiting the Seahawks, a team with high-expectations who once again have a shot at the Super Bowl.
Seattle was vulnerable at home last year but their offensive line — a longtime weakness — finally looks halfway decent.
Q’s Pick: Seahawks, 31-20
New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
One of the most fascinating rivalries in football is back in full form.
The player to watch will certainly be Dak Prescott and if he can perform as well as he did in the preseason. He should have Dez Bryant healthy enough to throw to and the combo could become lethal as the season progresses. Dak and Dez? Sounds like a new TV series.
The G-Men have a play-making receiver of their own, a guy named Odell Beckham Jr. and I’ve gotten in trouble picking against the Giants before, but I think the Cowboys will rally around their rookie quarterback in front of their fans.
Q’s Pick: Cowboys, 24-19
Detroit Lions (0-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
The Colts have Andrew Luck back, and that’s really all that needs to be said here.
The Lions have to start learning what life is like without Calvin Johnson, and that’s really all that needs to be said there.
Q’s Pick: Colts, 29-20
New England Patriots (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Sunday Night Football brings a Tom Brady-less Pats team into the desert where the Cardinals look to redeem themselves after falling a game short of the Super Bowl last season.
David Johnson was a sensation for the Bird Gang last year and he’s in line for another strong campaign this year.
Q’s Pick: Cardinals, 30-24
Monday, Sept. 12
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
Brown will likely be covered by Josh Norman in his debut with Washington but I think the former gets the better of that matchup.
On the other side of the ball, Mike Tomlin thinks the Steelers’ secondary is questionable at best.
Q’s Pick: Steelers, 27-21
Los Angeles Rams (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
Well, not exposed like that, just not dressed in an NFL uniform.
What will be exposed is the lack of depth the 49ers have at quarterback. Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem and will now sit on the bench behind Blaine Gabbert, who won’t play well against
St. Louis Los Angeles’ solid defense.