Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens – Thursday, Sep 5, 8:30pm EST [Sep 6, 10:30am EAST]
Winner: Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos, despite perhaps losing some pieces on defense, have added even more weapons on offense in former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Jacob Tamme. On the other side of the matchup, the Baltimore Ravens have lost many key players across the board in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and more. This will most likely mean they will not be able to repeat their victory versus the Broncos from the 2012 playoffs.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots come into this matchup as the strong favourites, per usual. Tom Brady lost wide receiver Wes Welker this off-season to Denver; however, while not fully replacing him, has a new receiving threat in former St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Patriots also lost tight end Aaron Hernandez to off-the-field issues this off-season and at least for now do not have the services of prolific tight end Rob Gronkowski due to injury. Despite all this, Tom Brady and co. usually find a way to come out of division matchups with a ‘W’ in the stat-sheet.
Cleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Miami Dolphins
For the first time in recent memory, the Cleveland Browns are not being completely written off as a failure even before they play a regular season game. That being said, despite their improvements and comparatively (to previous years) stable quarterback situation, they will still need to prove they can beat even middle-of-the-road teams in order to be taken seriously. The Miami Dolphins bring in former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace to assist sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the aerial attack, among other moves. Miami will likely come out on top in this matchup, but watch for Cleveland to put up a fight while fighting to prove themselves.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Another intriguing divisional week one matchup. The New Orleans Saints will likely be much improved this season as Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton returns after a lengthy suspension, keeping him from interacting with the team during the 2012 season. The Saints defense is showing improvement, which is crucial, having been ranked dead last in total defense during the 2012 season. Meanwhile, the offense is expected to pick up right where they left off, with All-pro quarterback Drew Brees at the helm, and running back Darren Sproles standing beside him.
The Atlanta Falcons have yet again improved their offense this off-season with the addition of former St. Louis Rams veteran running back Steven Jackson. With the Falcons’ already incredibly efficient passing attack, this addition at running back may be what pushes this team over the playoff hump and into the Super Bowl. This team is looking incredibly dangerous to play against, hence the strong possibility of coming out of this divisional matchup with a victory.
New York Jets vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Temba Bay Buccaneers
The New York Jets have shown once again during the pre-season why it will take a stretch of the imagination to put them anywhere near the playoffs, or a winning record in 2013. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been injured, and rookie Geno Smith has been forced to start in week one versus the Buccaneers. It is quite likely that Smith is not adequately prepared for the start, and would be much better off sitting behind a veteran for now. The Jets as a whole seem to be fairly unprepared for this upcoming season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely come away with a win in this matchup, regardless of their play.
Pittsburgh Stealers vs. Tennessee Titans – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Pittsburgh Stealers
The Pittsburgh Steelers have sured-up their offensive line this off-season, the biggest improvement coming from the return of tackle David DeCastro from a season long injury during his rookie season. Improvements in the offensive line will in-turn improve the running game and passing game respectively. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being on the field longer will also help in the quest to return to the playoffs. Needless to say, the Steelers win percentage when Big Ben is on the field is significantly better than when he is not, this is why the Steelers often begin the season with a number of wins, but trail off towards the end of the season when Roethlisberger often becomes injured. Along with Roethlisberger simply being on the field, the Steelers aging yet still powerful defense will likely be enough to suppress most of what the Tennessee Titans throw at it. The Titans will need to start the game fast and catch the opposing defense by surprise in order to come away with a victory in this one.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
The Detroit Lions have been a very unstable team of recent, winning one year and losing the next. To repeat the years of success, the Lions defense will need to step up in an attempt to give the offense some kind of support in their endeavours to outscore their opponents, rather than stop them from scoring. The Minnesota Vikings also need to improve in order to repeat their success of last year, which was almost single-handed achieved due to Adrian Peterson’s historic season. The recent off-season addition of former Green Bay Packers veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings will definitely assist in the Vikings’ attempts to return to the playoffs, and will hopefully help improve the quarterback play in Minnesota. The unorganised Lions will most likely contribute to the Vikings’ efforts to come away with a win in this matchup, but this game is none-the-less a toss-up.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
Many consider the Oakland Raiders to be the least talented team in the league today. A few pieces along the defensive line may be all the Raiders have in the way of being able to stop opposing offenses such as the Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts. The Colts much improved offense and defense from only a couple of years ago will likely come away with an easy win in this week one matchup.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Sunday, Sep 8, 1:00pm EST [Sep 9, 3am EAST]
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The top two teams from this year’s NFL draft face of in this matchup. This may sound like a “cripple fight”, so to speak, however it most definitely is not. The additions of former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, GM John Dorsey, former 49ers veteran quarterback Alex Smith, mixed with the large pool of talent the Chiefs already possessed, poise the team for a bounce-back season, beginning with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Look for Jamaal Charles to have a big day while running against the Jaguars defense, as well as the Chiefs defensive playmakers, including Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Eric Berry and more.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals – Sunday, Sep 8, 4:25pm EST [Sep 9, 6:25am EAST]
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
If the Arizona Cardinals defense can carry on its success from last season, the upgrade made to the quarterback position, in former Bengals veteran Carson Palmer, will be extra effective and may finally be what this team has needed to find prolonged success in the form of wins. The St. Louis Rams will also be fighting hard in this season opener in order to establish a foundation for the season, a season which is widely considered quarterback Sam Bradford’s “make it or break it” season. Here, the Cardinals just edge out the Rams, but there is room for a swing in the Rams’ direction.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers – Sunday, Sep 8, 4:25pm EST [Sep 9, 6:25am EAST]
Winner: San Francisco 49ers
This matchup of two superpowers of the NFC will be a good, long battle. The Aaron Rodgers led packers offense will likely put up more points on the 49ers defense than most teams would manage to do, however, the 49ers’ combination of a dominant defense and prolific offense can be expected to be too much for the Packers, namely, their improved, but slightly lacking defense. The 49ers come away with the victory in this one, but don’t expect this to be the game which decides the Packers’ fate this season.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants – Sunday, Sep 8, 4:25pm EST [Sep 9, 6:25am EAST]
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Monday, Sep 9, 6:55pm EST [Sep 10, 8:55am EAST]
Winner: Washington Redskins