By Lawrence Edwards
Alright folks it’s that great time of the year again… FOOTBALL IS BACK and we are kicking things off with a great matchup Thursday night when the defending champs take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough. Today I’m picking what I believe to be the best match ups slated to kick off the season. So let’s start predicting!
Riding high off an improbable yet amazing comeback win in Super Bowl 51 – a game that I’m sure left Falcons players and fans feeling like they were hit with the black plague – the Patriots are looking to catch up to the Steelers as they kick off the 2017 season taking on a formidable foe. The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their 2016 season with their own come from behind win against the San Diego Chargers and went on the finish the season with a 12-4 record. There are some in Chief land who still don’t believe in Alex Smith, well that’s the problem, your belief should be in Andy Reid’s offense. For all his game managing ways, Alex Smith has a pretty good defense with him and last year’s YAC leader Travis Kelce. Last season Travis Kelce finished with 85 receptions for over 1100 yards and 4 TDS. The most surprising number… He was targeted 117 times. Although he wasn’t much of a target threat, gone is Jeremy Maclin on the outside which opens the door for an even bigger opportunity for Kelce. This game should be great; the Chiefs would love to begin their journey to dethrone New England with a win on the road. Gronk vs. Kelce TD celebration battle should be good to watch too. The Chiefs have playmakers and we know Andy loves to feed them, but even with the ability of Kelce, Hill and rookie up and coming RB Kareem Hunt, I don’t see Bill and Tom losing a home opener fresh off a statement SB win.
Chiefs 24 Pats 34
Russell Wilson is healthy, Jordy Nelson is Healthy and Aaron Rodgers is still great… Sprinkle in a little Eddie Lacey revenge and you have all the ingredients for game to be remembered. Russell Wilson suffered from an injury plagued and banged up season last year, yet he still helped his team continue their dominance over the NFC West and keep their playoff streak alive. Despite still getting in the playoffs, The Seahawks were knocked off in the divisional round by last year’s runner up Atlanta Falcons. The Packers had an up and down season (by their standards up and down is still good with Rodgers) in 2016. They dealt with mediocre production from the running game during the first half of the season and were staring at a 4-6 record with 6 games left to go and Detroit and Minnesota looking to keep them out of the playoffs (which doesn’t happen). Then it happened Rodgers spoke “I feel like we can run the table” once Ty Montgomery took over for Lacey it provided a little spark to go with Rodgers words and they did exactly that. A-Rod ripped off an impressive 15TDs and 0 INTs the last 6 games of the season. Ty Montgomery, a former WR, was converted to RB mid-season and showed great promise. He became a pretty good weapon for A-Rod out of the backfield and not to mention Rodgers had a healthy Jordy Nelson. The Pack would go on to knock off two NFC East contenders in the Giants and Cowboys. They were also knocked by last year’s runner up, however in the NFC Championship game. Bottom line, both of these teams are looking to add some more hardware to their trophy cases and both have dynamic offenses and quarterbacks. Had this game been in Seattle I would have went with Seattle here, but I can’t go against the magic man Rodgers on his home turf!
SEA 28 GB 34
Yea most fans in Giants and Cowboys nation are probably tired of seeing these two teams face off every year in Dallas in week 1… IT’S GETTING REPETITIVE GUYS… But who can blame them this time after the way these two faced off and overall performed last season. Basically I can see why they decided to match them up again in week 1 this season. Tony Romo goes down in comes a rookie QB and a rookie RB to try and lead Dallas back to the post…Not going to happen! pfft WRONG! Not only did Dallas make the playoffs they were the best team in the entire NFL last year during the regular season, that’s right even better than your current champs up north in New England. I mean with that offensive line no one expected a disastrous output like the one they had with Matt Cassell in 2015, I mean come on it was Matt Cassell. However I’m sure not one soul expected the 13-3 finish and no.1 seed in the NFC and best record in the NFL, well maybe Dallas fans did. Keep in mind only two of those losses, both from their current opponent – more on that later- were legit. That 3rd loss came when positioning was already locked up and starters resting, had it not been for those pesky Giants may Dallas fans would be bragging about an undefeated season last year… bullet dodged for non-Dallas fans… Despite all their regular season magic and, what I believe was Dak Prescott’s best performance to date to mount a comeback for Dallas against Green Bay in the playoffs, Dallas went 1 and done. Now for the Giants they finished with an impressive 11-5 record thanks in most part to the defense which went from butt to what! No one saw the Giants D having the type of season they did last year finishing 10th in overall defense. The offense, however, took a few steps back from what we saw during Ben McAdoo’s first two seasons as OC. It was mainly due to the O-line and the Giants predictable play calling. So far during the preseason the O-line has shown some improvement. At this point any improvement is good news to Giants fans. To battle some of the woes the Giants use a quick strike offense which helps eliminate pressure. The Giants have the kind of defense that just any improvement on the line to allow Eli and company to work could get them back to the playoffs a 2nd time under McAdoo. Odell’s status is still up in the air for this game but I expect him to play based off how Ben has been about the situation. This game won’t break any scoring records. Based off the way last season went, I’m giving this one to the Giants. The offense will do just enough to pull out the win in a close one with the defense being the stars of the show again.
NYG 20 DAL 17
Of all the games being played on Sunday, this one is my favorite. We get to watch two quarterbacks who are the future of the NFL face off. Last year both of these teams had their teams in the playoff picture late in the season but only one made it. Both teams also lost their starting QB’s at the end of the season to a broken leg; this hurt the Raiders the most. Raider nation was riding a huge high after making the playoffs for the first time since their 2002 SuperBowl loss to the Tampa Buccaneers. Only problem was, after leading them to the water, Derek Carr was not there to help them drink. The playoff berth was bitter/sweet (much more on the bitter side) with the loss of Carr. Before that some had pegged Oakland as a potential threat to the Patriots last season, with him being back healthy and new addition Marshawn Lynch the Raiders are looking to make that “potential” threat to an actual promise. The Titans had their playoff destiny in their own hands going into a game many expected them win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Murphy’s Law was in play that game, Mariotta when 8-20 for 99 yards and 1TD before breaking his leg after being sacked by Sheldon Day in the 3rd quarter. The Titans lost the 38-17 and lost their starting QB for the season. They needed a massive amount of help to make postseason, which did not happen, even had it did, they would’ve been in same situation as the Raiders. Both of these teams are similar to me. They both have solid up and coming young QB’s, pretty good WR groups, good backfields, although the Titans have a huge leg up on them with the combo of Murray and Henry, outstanding offensive lines and both have playmakers on defense in Jurell Casey and Brian Orakpo for the Titans and Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin for the Raiders. They both are susceptible to the pass though, so this game could turn into a shootout between these two young QB’s. I want to go with the Raiders here but I think Tennessee takes a huge step forward this season and that leg up in the running game will help Tennessee secure the victory here.
OAK 31 TENN 34
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