NFL Week 1 Predictions
Welcome to Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season, where the over/under on replacement referee gaffes is hovering around six for this week - we're taking the over. Our experts are back with a vengeance after Wednesday's dismal predicting display, picking what we think are the five most important games of the weekend.
Jeremy Bergman: Jets 16, Bills 13
After a summer of speculation, we come to a crossroads: one overrated team vs. one underrated team. Can you guess who's who? WRONG! Unlike the past three years, these Ryan-led Jets come into their campaign with their lowest expectations ever while many pundits have the Bills making a playoff run. What goes unnoticed in the hype for both teams is that Gang Green is returning maybe its best defense since 2009 while Buffalo's offense remains average at best. Bills cover, Jets squeak by.
Evan Budrovich: Bills 31, Jets 13
The New York Jets offense has looked anemic all preseason and I expect that trend to continue against the revamped Bills defense. Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson will have a field day against the Jets' offensive line. The Buffalo Bills will repeat their 2011 opening game performance against the Chiefs by demolishing the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Do I hear "J-E-T-S! Tebs! Tebs! Tebs!"chants in Week 1?
Aaron Fischman: Bills 24, Jets 17
Expect a tight AFC East battle. The Jets still have to prove themselves, offensively, before getting my vote of confidence.
Jacob Freedman: Bills 21, Jets 10
With both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller healthy, the Bills' running game should pose a fair threat, while free agent addition Mario Williams will anchor what could be an elite defense. Tebow magic or not, the better team will win come Sunday.
Max Meyer: Bills 31, Jets 13
The Bills' defense should be able to rattle Mark Sanchez and force multiple turnovers. The key matchup of the game is at the line of scrimmage: the Jets offensive line vs. the Bills defensive line.
Matthew Tufts: Bills 17, Jets 7
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills have a lot of hype coming from the offseason. Don’t expect them to be great, but a few big plays from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson will be enough to beat the Jets.
Bergman: Bears 27, Colts 17
Forget the Pack and the Lions! The Monsters of Midway have the most balanced offense in the NFC North with the resigning of Matt Forte and the signing of Brandon Marshall. And they'll put it on display versus a makeshift Indy defense in its first game under defensive-minded skipper Chuck Pagano. Against a slower Bears D, Andrew Luck will have a nice rookie opener with two scores to show for it, but it certainly won't be enough.
Budrovich: Bears 20, Colts 12
The Chicago Bears revamped their offense this offseason by reuniting Jay Cutler with his favorite receiver Brandon Marshall and by adding power running back Michael Bush. In Week 1, however, the Bears will struggle to mesh offensively and will need to depend on their defense and Devin Hester’s abilities on special teams to escape with a victory. Andrew Luck will play well by keeping his team in the game, but will not make enough big plays to win his first career NFL start.
Fischman: Bears 38, Colts 24
No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck has awfully big shoes to fill, and I’m not talking about the cleats of Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky. Luck will be a very good pro. He’ll probably be good from the get-go. Only problem? The Colts defense won’t be able to stop Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and company.
Freedman: Bears 20, Colts 7
Just like the Saints, a match-up against a rookie quarterback is just what the Bears ordered. Andrew Luck is supremely talented, but needs time to gel with his offensive personnel, and going against Brian Urlacher and the elite Bears defense is not the optimal way to start an NFL career.
Meyer: Bears 31, Colts 20
Andrew Luck will give Colts fans a lot of hope about the future of the franchise soon. But running into a stacked Bears team in his first week will not give him a win in his first career NFL start.
Tufts: Bears 24, Colts 14
Jay Cutler is back and now has an additional threat in Brandon Marshall. Look for the Bears to air it out early and force Andrew Luck to beat them. Spoiler alert: He won’t.
Bergman: Saints 23, Redskins 20
Possibly distracted by the news that their bounty-suspended players may be returning, I don't expect the Saints to start hot against the speed of RGIII and Orakpo. That being said, the N'awleans faithful still boast the best player on the field on Sunday: Drew Brees. And there is no way - NO WAY - that Breesy loses the Saints' first game since the bounty scandal. Too much pride on the line for the Saints to lose.
Budrovich: Saints 31, Redskins 14
The city of New Orleans has not experienced as tumultuous and troublesome an offseason since 2006, after Hurricane Katrina. Saints fans are ready to blow away the Redskins, with an intense atmosphere and dedicated enthusiasm. That being said, RGIII and company will struggle to move the football consistently enough to compete with Drew Brees’ offense. The Redskins will be fine moving forward, but on this night, the New Orleans Saints will reign supreme in the Super Dome.
Fischman: Saints 37, Redskins 24
The Saints must be happy about getting Jonathan Vilma back this season. He probably won’t play against the Redskins, but here’s something much more important: Andrew Christopher Brees is not about to be shown up by some rookie – even if he is RGIII.
Freedman: Saints 38, Redskins 17
After a tumultuous offseason, this is what the Saints needed. These Redskins won’t roll over and die, but Drew Brees and the rest of the offense will go hog-wild while the controversial re-addition of Jonathan Vilma will not make RG3’s debut easy.
Meyer: Saints 38, Redskins 24
Robert Griffin III will provide some fireworks in his first career NFL game. However, Drew Brees will show RG3 that he still has a long way to go before he's considered an elite quarterback.
Tufts: Saints 31, Redskins 13
Jonathan Vilma is cleared to play on defense, and Drew Brees will be leading an offense that can consistently put up big numbers. RG3 will learn to overcome pressure, but going pass for pass with Drew Brees isn’t going to happen in Week 1.
Bergman: 49ers 24, Packers 23
Two words: Randy Moss. Unlike Chad Ochocinco/Johnson and Terrell Owens, this ex-diva vet wideout made the team he started training camp with, and with flying colors. Moss will start against a porous Packers defense, which has yet to show improvement over last year's 31st-ranked finish. While the best offense and defense in the league cancel each other out on one side of the ball, the Niners O has a certain advantage over Green Bay's D. A late Alex Smith drive - he's clutch now, remember? - leads to a David Akers kick at the buzzer, and Green Bay loses two in a row at Lambeau.
Budrovich: Packers 21, 49ers 17
In a matchup of the two best teams, record-wise, from the NFC last season, the Green Bay Packers will find a way to grind out a victory against the defensive-minded 49ers. Aaron Rodgers will take the Packers on a fourth quarter game-winning drive, giving Rodgers the chance to finally spite his hometown team on the biggest stage. The Niners' defense, special teams and coaching staff are terrific, but those aspects will not be strong enough to defeat this hungry Packers squad.
Fischman: Packers 24, 49ers 17
San Francisco returns virtually everyone from last season’s best defense, but won’t possess the offensive firepower to keep up unless Alex Smith throws for three touchdowns, and I don’t see that happening.
Freedman: Packers 21, 49ers 17
The 49ers should be a defensive juggernaut this year, but their speciality is more on the line than in the secondary. Aaron Rodgers won’t have his way, but will do enough for the Pack to win their opener.
Meyer: Packers 28, 49ers 24
The game of the week will certainly not disappoint. I just can't go against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a close game, and I still don't entirely trust Alex Smith.
Tufts: 49ers 27, Packers 21
The 49ers defense will get one of its best tests of the season against a loaded Green Bay offense, headed by Aaron Rodgers. On the other hand, Alex Smith shouldn’t run into much trouble against a Packers defense that was exposed by the Giants in last year’s postseason. In the end, San Francisco’s defense will hold up, and they’ll march out of Green Bay with a statement win.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
Bergman: Steelers 21, Broncos 13
Sorry. Not buying it. I don't believe in Peyton Manning and the most famous neck in sports. Especially when he's throwing to Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Demaryius. I also refuse to believe that Mike Tomlin is going to let Denver push his club around twice in a row, even without the maligned
Budrovich: Broncos 28, Steelers 26
Peyton Manning is back in action, and he will return to the NFL with a solid victory over a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC. Without Ryan Clark in the lineup, the aging yet weakened Steelers defense will be exposed by Peyton Manning’s precise short passing game. Expect the Steelers to remain in the game, however, because Big Ben is a winner who will dissect the suspect Broncos pass defense. Roethlisberger will also enjoy the return of his star wide receiver Mike Wallace, who will catch one touchdown pass.
Fischman: Steelers 27, Broncos 23
The Broncos are really going to enjoy having Peyton Manning under center this season, but the Steelers will win a close game. Pittsburgh’s secondary is out-of-this-world-talented, and I think the Steelers’ running game will be fine without Mendenhall in Week 1.
Freedman: Broncos 31, Steelers 20
The eagerly-awaited return of Peyton Manning is finally here. Pittsburgh is weak in the run game, while top wideout target Mike Wallace might be rusty after missing almost all of training camp. Doubts linger about Manning’s ability to last 16 games, but he’ll give Broncos fans an opener to be excited about.
Meyer: Steelers 27, Broncos 17
Peyton Manning will have a tough first test against the Steelers defense. Expect Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to have big games against a rather ordinary Broncos secondary.
Tufts: Broncos 20, Steelers 17
Denver gets to showcase its prized acquisition on national television when the Steelers come to town to take on Peyton Manning and the revamped Broncos in primetime. An aging Steelers defense won’t be able to handle the Broncos aerial assault, but Ben Roethlisberger will keep them close as usual.
Aaron Fischman 1-0
Matthew Tufts 1-0
Jeremy Bergman 0-1
Evan Budrovich 0-1
Jacob Freedman 0-1
Max Meyer 0-1