Updated: Oct 1, 2022
16. Giants vs. Titans
Regression or Refreshing
The Giants were terrible last year, and they have alleged boy genius Brian Daboll. Maybe he can help Daniel Jones put it all together and take advantage of all the potential he has flashed. If he can just be consistent, the Giants can take advantage of the loaded receiver core and the return of Saquon Barkley.
On the Titans side, they have lost their number one receiver, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones, but they drafted a young receiver, Treylon Burks, and acquired Robert Woods from the Rams. They also acquired a rookie QB, Malik Willis, after Ryan Tannehill's terrible playoff performance. Can Ryan return to form, or will the Titans regress under him? Which running back will make the bigger impact after being injured last season, Derrick Henry or Barkley? This game could definitely be closer than it appears, but I'm going with a more proven commodity. Mike Vrabel has shown he is a coach you want to have in a jam, and the Giants coach still has a lot to prove.
15. Texans vs. Colts
The Texans are a little underrated. They had a nice draft. They brought in Lovie Smith, who made it to a Super Bowl with the Bears. Davis Mills was way better than expected last year and will only get better. The team could be a lot friskier than people expect. The Colts are the team that everyone may be overlooking. The AFC is stacked, but the Colts could be Super Bowl contenders with the addition of Matt Ryan. He is everything they have been looking for. Ryan has an accurate and strong arm, but he's not reckless with the ball. He is a leader on and off the field. The first task on the way to the playoffs is picking up this divisional victory from the Texans. However, will the Texans be a trap game that trips up the Colts, who have a QB learning a new offense? I'm going with the team with the higher ceiling.
14. Saints vs. Falcons
The Dirty South
These are two division rivals with relatively new coaches. The Saints come in as the better team, but anything can happen in these NFC South matches. Who will complete their revival? Will Marcus Mariota be the one who makes a splash and shows everyone he is a worthy starting QB? Or will Jameis Winston prove all the people that have written him off wrong? Will Michael Thomas return to form? Will Damien Williams get back to the RB he used to be? Who will make their comeback in this game? I'm going with the team that is more stacked on both sides.
13. Ravens vs. Jets
Who is on Notice?
The Jets are popularly thought of as the team that won the draft, and the Ravens are the team many people thought had the worst draft night. Ravens have been very disrespected because of the injuries last year. People quickly forget what the Ravens are capable of at full strength. The Ravens have the chance to come out of the gate, punch the Jets in the mouth, and remind everyone who the hell they are.
The Jets have made some very nice additions on offense and defense, and they have a chance to show the world that this is not your dad's Jets. They can prove they are a serious team and they are ready to compete. Also, this could become a bit of a revenge game for Joe Flacco. How sweet would it be for him to show he can still play against the team that gave up on him first? I'm going with the team with a more proven track record and QB.
12. Patriots vs. Dolphins
Now or Never
The Dolphins have given Tua Tagovailoa everything he needs, and now he either has to sink or swim. Last year, he owned the Patriots with less talent, but that was with former Patriots assistant coach, Brian Flores. Now, Tua has more talent, but he has a rookie head coach, Mike McDaniel. Can he still dominate the Patriots? On paper, Tua should win this game, but the Patriots are anything but an easy game.
The Patriots have some turmoil of their own. The highlight of their receiving core is DeVante Parker, the receiver that the Dolphins let go. Will Parker make the Dolphins regret letting him go to the rival? Also, Matt Patricia is the offensive coordinator for the Patriots, which does not bold well for the Patriots. Bill Belichick is on the clock. Tom Brady has already won a Super Bowl with another team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The narratives will start if Bill goes out and has another bad season without Brady. Bill has already never won a Super Bowl as a head coach without Tom Brady. Can Bill reverse this downward trend by reversing his luck against the Dolphins? Or will the Dolphins cement themselves as a team to beat in the AFC early? I'm going with the team I believe is more talented overall.
11. Eagles vs. Lions
Big Improvement or Big Disappointment?
Both the Lions and the Eagles have made major improvements in the offseason. The Eagles roster is stacked, and they were already a playoff team before they improved. Can Jalen Hurts take the next step and make the Eagles genuine Super Bowl contenders? The Lions lost a lot of games last year, but they were all really close games. After free agency and the draft, they are a better team than last year. If more of those close games go their way this year, they could go from laughing stock to a playoff team. Starting off with a loss in a winnable game would be triggering for Lions fans. Losing to the Lions for the Eagles will definitely piss off the rowdy Philly fans. So who will capture the momentum, and who will disappoint their fanbase? I'm going with the team I believe is more stacked with the QBR I believe in more.
10. Steelers vs. Bengals
For Real or Fluke?
Last year, the Bengals made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but they also had a lot of favorable circumstances. The Ravens were injured to hell, the Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger at QB, and the Browns had an injured Baker Mayfield, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb. The AFC was wide open, and the Bengals took advantage. Now that the division is tougher than ever, can the Bengals prove their run wasn't a fluke?
The Steelers have probably gotten better now that they have a young QB that makes their offense more three-dimensional. They should still be the underdogs to the Bengals, but they are a good test of how good the Bengals really are. The Steelers are a stacked roster, and they will catch teams this year just like they caught the Buffalo Bills last year. The standard is the standard. Will the Steelers catch the Bengals? Will Mitch Trubisky prove that the league was wrong about him or will the Bengals prove that they are exactly who they say they are? I'm going with the team with the higher ceiling.
9. Chiefs vs. Cardinals
Where is the Ceiling?
Kyler Murray just got paid after having one of the worst playoff performances we have ever seen. Murray will be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks of the season due to a PED suspension, but he will be reuniting with his college teammate Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. Every year Kyler has gotten better. Can he do it again and keep the Cardinals going while Hopkins is gone?
On the other side, Patrick Mahomes has lost Tyreek Hill and the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu. Will they look the same? Will Mahomes be just as good as ever, or is this the beginning of the decline? Who will be crushed under the weight of their missing players, and who will rise to the occasion? Both teams are talented, so I'm going with the best QB coach combination.
8. Packers vs. Vikings
King of the North
This is more than just a divisional game. This is the battle for the new top seed playoff contenders in the season. Can the Packers hold off the Vikings and remain elite, or will the Vikings overcome the Packers and dominate the division this year? I'm going with the more talented team. I think there will be a changing of the guard in the NFC North.
7. Commanders vs. Jaguars
So We Meet Again
Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson basically got each other kicked out of Philly. Now, they have both rebounded on new teams. You have to imagine they would both like to stick it to each other, and give their fanbases comfort and hope for the rest of the season. I'm counting on the Super Bowl winning head coach getting the last laugh.
6. Broncos vs. Seahawks
Who Was It?
Who was responsible for Russell Wilson's success with the Seahawks? Was it Pete Carroll or Russ? We are going to find out on Monday Night Football. Did Pete Carroll cause Russ's decline, or was Pete the only reason the Seahawks looked good? We will see when Russ returns. I'm going to ride with the team with Mr. Unlimited, Russell Wilson, under center.
5. 49ers vs. Bears
The 49ers passed on Justin Fields so that they could pick Trey Lance. Now, the 49ers are handing the keys to the franchise to Trey Lance. In Lance's first game, he plays Justin Fields. Fields is looking to make the 49ers regret not picking him in the draft, and Trey Lance is looking to prove the 49ers right for drafting him.
Interestingly, Lance is coming to this game with the better team as the worst QB, and Fields is coming into this game as the better QB with the worse team. I'm picking the upset in this one. It's week one and Trey Lance's first starting season with the team so it's possible the 49ers get caught lacking.
4. Browns vs. Panthers
Who Won the Breakup?
Baker Mayfield needs to beat the Browns, who dumped him last year and signed Deshaun Watson to the highest QB contract in the history of the NFL. The Browns sent the message that Baker was not good enough and Baker had to give up money to get on a team. Watson has been suspended, so Baker gets the easiest chance he will probably ever have at revenge on the Browns. Baker gets to take a shot at the Browns when they are shorthanded.
The Browns, on the other hand, have to beat Baker. Not only would a loss for Baker prove without a doubt that the Browns made the right choice, but it would help them stay above water while Watson is gone. Panthers are a winnable game in the first half of the season, which makes this a must-win game for the Browns. Despite both teams deficiencies, I will pick the team I believe has the best roster to win.
3. Bucs vs. Cowboys
Nowhere to Hide
Both the Cowboys and the Bucs made the playoffs last year. Both teams were strong last year, but have lost a lot of talent since then. Cowboys and Bucs opened the year last season and played an excellent game that showed they were both great teams. Now, it's time to see if they are still as good as people think they are. Both teams have a chance to instill faith in the fans and show that they are a force to be reckoned with. Both teams also have the opportunity to reveal they are shells of their former selves. I'm going to go with the team led by the QB most famous for making his teammates better.
2. Raiders vs. Chargers
Playoff Shootout, Part Two
Justin Herbert is a very talented QB. Anyone who has ever seen him play can attest to that. He is being compared to the Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allens and Lamar Jacksons and Joe Burrows. The only problem is he hasn't done anything yet and belongs more with the Derek Carrs of the world right now. Last year, Carr and Herbert played in a shootout for the playoffs, and Herbert lost.
The Raiders have loaded up since then, but so have the Chargers. They meet again in the first game of the season, fighting over a divisional victory in the toughest division in football. Who got better? It's a tough call, but I'm going with the team I think improved the most overall.
1. Bills vs. Rams
Can You Survive the Hype?
There is no team in football more hyped than the Buffalo Bills. People have seen how great they played in the playoffs vs. the Patriots and Chiefs, and they made great off-season moves. However, people seem to have forgotten the baffling losses from last year. Bills lost 6-9 to the Jaguars. Can they finally take the next step and leave games like that behind?
Then, there are the Rams, the Super Bowl Champions. Are they the real team to beat, or do they have a Super Bowl hangover? Has Von Miller given the Bills the edge, or has he been replaced with Bobby Wagner? Will it be the surging Bills or the defending champs standing tall when all is said and done? I'm going with the team that has the edge at defense.