San Francisco 49ers Schedule Analysis

2018 could be a return to glory for the red and gold.

For the San Francisco 49ers, the release of the 2018 NFL Schedule couldn’t have come soon enough. After a disastrous 1-10 start in 2017, the 49ers ended their season on a five game winning streak thanks to the emergence of new franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo. His play earned him a five year, $137.5 million contract extension, the richest in NFL history. With all the excitement surrounding him and one of the NFL’s marquee franchises, let’s take a look and analyze the 49ers schedule for 2018.

Week 1: at Minnesota Vikings (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 9th)

Week 2: Detroit Lions (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 16th)

Week 3: at Kansas City Chiefs (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 23rd)

Week 4: at Los Angeles Chargers (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 30th)

Week 5: Arizona Cardinals (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday October 7th)

Week 6: at Green Bay Packers (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST Monday October 15th)

Week 7: Los Angeles Rams 5:20 p.m. PST (Sunday Night Football, Sunday October 21st)

Week 8: at Arizona Cardinals (1:25 p.m PST, Sunday October 28th)

Week 9: Vs Oakland Raiders (Thursday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Thursday November 1st)

Week 10: New York Giants (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Monday November 12th)

Week 11: Bye

Week 12: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10 a.m. PST, Sunday November 25th) 

Week 13: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Sunday December 2nd) 

Week 14: Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 9th)

Week 15: Seattle Seahawks (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 16th)

Week 16: Chicago Bears (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday December 23rd)

Week 17: at Los Angeles Rams (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 30th) 

For a team that went from middling aspirations in 2018 prior to trading for Jimmy Garoppolo to now being mentioned as a possible contender, the 49ers start to the season couldn’t be any harder. Three of their first four games are on the road, and all four games come against teams that posted records of 9-7 or better in 2017, including the NFC runner-up Minnesota Vikings in Week 1. Within the first quarter of the season, we’ll know whether the playoff aspirations for the 49ers are legitimate or not. 

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The pairing of quartback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan could yield playoff results in 2018.

The 49ers then have a stretch where four of their next five games will be played in front of a national television audience. These games include a Lambeau Field showdown against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, a home divisional battle the next week against the upstart Rams, a battle of the Bay Area less than two weeks later against their cross town rival Raiders, and a classic NFC slugfest against a historical rival in the Giants. The 49ers five game wining streak at the end of 2017 caught the eyes of many, and they’ll be playing under the lights in prime-time five times in 2018. 

Of course, one would be remiss if they failed to mention the 49ers late season match-ups against the Seattle Seahawks. While the Seahawks have won the last 9 games is in the series, including the 2013 NFC Championship game where then Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had his miraculous deflection in the back of the end zone to linebacker Malcolm Smith for a game sealing interception send them to Super Bowl XLVIII. In 2018, Sherman will find himself on the opposite side of the rivalry, and look for him to perform at an All-Pro level against his former team in Weeks 13 and 15.

The end of the 49ers season resembles that of a homebody, as three of their last four games will be played at Levi’s Stadium. This includes a Super Bowl XXIV re-match against the Broncos, the aforementioned NFC West battle against the Seahawks, and a gimmie game against the lowly Bears. This could result in a nice end of the season run to the postseason should they take advantage of the home for the holidays crowd.

The 49ers are in a prime position in 2018 to not only move out of the basement of their division, but also be a surprise contender in the NFC. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan seems to have found his quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, as he elevated a putrid offense into the the best offense statistically in the NFL during the last five weeks of 2017. While trouble looms over linebacker Reuben Foster over his domestic violence case (and should’ve been cut already), the defense still boasts young talent in Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner along the defensive line, and the previously mentioned addition of Richard Sherman improves the secondary. Even with a tough start and a series of under the microscope prime-time games, the 49ers should be players for the postseason should everything fall into place.

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Jon Gruden: The Return

Sorry Jack, Chucky’s back.

Back in 1998, then Raiders renegade owner, the late Al Davis, made a bold head coaching move. He fired coach Joe Bugel after a terrible 4-12 season, the Raiders worst season since 1987, in favor of a young, fiery, unknown commodity by the name of Jon Gruden. Gruden was a hit with the Raider Nation, embodying the eccentric fan base to a T. The fans showed their adoration for the coach by bestowing him the nickname of “Chucky”, the killer doll and horror icon from the Child’s Play franchise.

Jon Gruden roams the sidelines during his first tenure with the Oakland Raiders.

Gruden’s tenure with the Raiders was immensely successful, posting a 38-26 record in 4 seasons as the Raiders head coach, and guiding them to the AFC Championship game in 2000. His stint with the Raiders came to an abrupt end, however, when Raiders lost in controversial fashion in what is now known as “The Tuck Rule Game” against the New England Patriots. Gruden lost a power struggle with owner Al Davis, the same man who had hired him to lead the Raiders to the promised land. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a king’s ransom, including Tampa Bay’s 2002 and 2003 first round draft picks, their 2002 and 2004 second round draft picks, and $8 million in cash.

A joyous Jon Gruden hoists the Lombardi Trophy after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated his former team, the Oakland Raiders, 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Gruden made Davis pay for his move, as the Buccaneers blew out the Raiders the next season in Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21. Gruden’s next six seasons as head coach of the Bucs weren’t nearly as successful, posting a 45-51 record, appearing in the playoffs twice, and no playoff victories. He was fired at the end of the 2008 season after a season ending loss, which knocked Tampa out of the playoffs, to the same Raiders that had traded him away six years earlier. Ironic.

Jon Gruden looking underwhelmed during a press conference while head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It didn’t take long for Gruden to land on his feet, as he was soon announced as the color commentator for ESPN’s flagship sporting event, Monday Night Football, and remained in that role for nine years. Gruden’s star power emerged even more during this time, as he was not only praised for his commentary inside the booth, but began hosting rookie QBs ahead of the NFL Draft in “Gruden’s QB Camp.” He starred in commercials for Corona and Hooters as well, and seemed like a man who was comfortable living his life without the stresses and pressures of coaching in the NFL. But the 3:17 a.m. wake-up calls and itch to coach again never left Chucky, and teams, both in the NFL and the NCAA, seemingly pursued him every offseason. But Jon didn’t feel the time was right to return. Until now.

Jon Gruden during a broadcast of ESPN’S Monday Night Football.

Following a colossally disappointing 6-10 season for the Raiders, a season in which before it began many believed Oakland would appear in the Super Bowl, head coach Jack Del Rio was fired. The team’s star QB, Derek Carr, lost confidence. The offense under the guidance of first year offensive coordinator Todd Downing looked broken. The Raiders had massively underachieved. Before Del Rio could even announce he was fired, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson reported Jon Gruden was set to return to the Black Hole, where his head coaching career began. Nearly 10 days later, Jon Gruden was introduced as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

“This is a big effing deal,” proclaimed Raiders owner Mark Davis at the introductory press conference. It absolutely is. Gruden’s contract is reportedly for 10 years and $100 million dollars. Mark Davis knew he had to make a splash and keep scorned Oakland Raider fans invested in the lame duck franchise for the next two years while they remained in Oakland before bolting to Las Vegas. The fate of the franchise depended on it.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis needed to make a splash head coaching hire for his “lame-duck” franchise or risk losing fans before the team’s move to Las Vegas.

It helps, however, Jon Gruden believes he has unfinished business with the Raiders, as he invoked horrific memories of his final game as a Raider, “The Tuck Rule” game. “(Tom) Brady fumbled that ball,” Gruden stated. He went on to say, “Yeah, there is unfinished business as a coach. I was traded, I was fired. I’ve missed the game terribly. But I’ve really missed the Raiders. And for my career to end on that night in New England? It still ticks me off. I’m just so thrilled to be back here.”

Jon’s love for the fanbase and the city of Oakland was also prevalent throughout the press conference. “A big reason why I’m here is my passion for the city of Oakland and this franchise. And the people in the Black Hole, if you’re out there listening. I can’t wait to see you guys, man. I really can’t.”, Gruden stated. While Gruden may have 100 million little reason as to why he’s back, it’s clear he wants to be a Raider again, and wants to deliver a winning football team to the city of Oakland before loading the moving trucks. So much of the love letter to Oakland in the wake of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas has seemed like a PR strategy, as evidenced by the acquisition of retired RB Marshawn Lynch, a native of Oakland, last offseason. But Jon Gruden epitomizes the Raiders and the East Bay’s attitude, so his adoration for the city and the franchise seems genuine.

Gruden didn’t make any promises in regards to producing a winner on the field, however, stating “I’m gonna do everything I can, no guarantees, no promises, but I want to win.” The Raiders will have to find a way to repair their offense, and must greatly improve their defense as well. Gruden seems to have taken steps in those directions already, as he announced Rams QB coach Greg Olson and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will be the offensive and defensive coordinators respectively.

It’s not often former head coaches come back to the NFL and succeed, only Dick Vermeil won a Super Bowl with the then St. Louis Rams in 1999 after taking a hiatus from coaching. It’s not like the Raiders have had much success at bringing back old coaches either, as evidenced by Art Shell. After coaching the team from 1989 through 1994 during their Los Angeles days, Shell was re-hired to coach the team in 2006, yielding a disastrous 2-14 campaign, their worst in franchise history.  History may not be on Gruden’s side, but the time was right to come back. “I just, in my heart feel this is the thing to do. This is what I want to do. This is the organization that I want to be a part of, and I’m all in.”, Gruden said.

Jon Gruden and the Raiders won the press conference. They’ve riled-up the Raider Nation and have them believing 2018 will be their year. They have reason to believe Gruden can guide the team back to championship contention despite his near decade-long absence from coaching. Win, lose, or tie, Jon Gruden will be a member of the Raider Nation forever, but only time will tell if Mark Davis’ desperate hire will pay dividends within the next 10 years. Much like at a high stakes poker table in a Las Vegas casino, Mark Davis is all-in on Jon Gruden.

Jon Gruden and Mark Davis pose for a photo after Gruden’s introductory press conference at the Raiders headquarters in Alameda, California on January 9th, 2018.

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

The wild wild (card) weekend.

After weeks of debating who would get in and who would be left out, the NFL Playoffs are upon us. They begin with what is typically the most unpredictable of rounds the NFL Playoffs have to offer, Wild Card Weekend. This round is reserved for seeds 3 through 6, with the 3rd and 4th seeds being division winners and the 5th and 6th seeds representing teams who may not have won their division, but won enough games to punch their ticket into the dance.

Only six teams in NFL history have ever won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team: the  1980 Oakland Raiders, the 1997 Denver Broncos, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2007 New York Giants, and the 2010 Green Bay Packers. The odds may be stacked against this year’s wild card teams, which include the Tennessee Titans, the Buffalo Bills, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons, but all of these teams have a reason to believe they can make it to Minneapolis and hoist the Lombardi trophy. Never count out the wild card.

Last Week: 10-6

Overall: 164-92

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday 4:20 EST)

Two of the NFL’s most boring/ “they won’t win the Super Bowl” teams face off in ESPN’s biggest money loser. In what could be Jon Gruden’s last game calling Monday Night Football/ Wild Card games for ESPN before he and “The Rooney Rule” breaking Raiders reunite, it’s the Chiefs suddenly resurgent offense that should carry them to victory. However, the Chiefs supposed home-field advantage in Arrowhead stadium hasn’t meant much in years past, as Kansas City is 0-5 in home playoff games dating back to the 1995 NFL Playoffs. Don’t be shocked if the impotent Titans lull the Chiefs to sleep and come away with an upset victory, but all bad things turn around eventually, right?

Winner: Chiefs

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (Saturday 8:15 EST)

The Los Angeles Rams are the biggest surprise to arise from the NFL this season. Head coach Sean McVay has turned the league’s worst offense in 2016 into the league’s highest scoring offense in just a year’s time, making him the favorite for coach of the year honors. RB Todd Gurley has been reborn into an MVP candidate, piling up 2,093 yards from scrimmage and scoring 19 total touchdowns. But at QB, the league’s most important position, the Rams tout a much improved Jared Goff, while the Falcons will trot out reigning league MVP Matt Ryan. From muscle memory alone, you’d think the Falcons have a clear advantage over the upstart Rams, who currently have only six players on their roster with playoff experience.

Winner: Falcons

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday 1:05 EST)

Bills mafia, the eccentric and dangerous fan base of the Buffalo Bills, rejoiced when Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to WR Tyler Boyd to send the Ravens home packing, while catapulting Buffalo into the playoffs for the first time this millennium. It came at the price of the sprained ankle of RB LeSean McCoy, who is a game-time decision for the match-up. The Bills offense desperately needs him, as the vaunted “Sacksonville”defense ranked 2nd in the league in total defense this season. If they can hold down Buffalo’s rushing attack, all the Jaguars need from QB Blake Bortles is to hand the ball off to potential offensive rookie of the year winner, RB Leonard Fournette, and not turn the ball over. That formula should result in a re-match against the Steelers in the Divisional round.

Winner: Jaguars

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday 4:40 EST)

New Orleans dominated their regular season meetings against Carolina, averaging nearly 33 points and winning those contests by nearly 16 points per game. The Saints have finally surrounded Drew Brees with a running game, compliments of the one two punch that is Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Saints defense has also improved greatly, as they were 10th in turnover differential the NFL at + 7. The Panthers are a seasoned veteran team, and QB Cam Newton bounced back from his awful 2016 season. He threw 22 touchdown passes and led his team and all QBs in rushing yards with a career high 754 yards, and is the Panthers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd option. For better or worse, Carolina goes as Cam goes, which isn’t the greatest position to be in against a future hall of famer in Drew Brees.

Winner: Saints

 

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 15 Predictions

The play clock is winding down.

The start of the final four games of the NFL’s regular season brought plenty of surprises to the league’s best, ranging from devastating injuries to head-scratching losses. There’s little time for teams to feel sorry for themselves, as week 15 of the NFL season brings us another sizzling slate of games that will decide team’s playoff fates.

Last Week: 9-7

Overall: 131-77

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (Thursday Night Football)

Oh the humanity of Thursday Night Football.

Winner: Colts

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (Saturday Afternoon)

Both of these teams are coming off of wins in week 13, something that seemed improbable just weeks ago. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has shown flashes of competency, but the Lions need this one to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Winner: Lions

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday Night)

Kansas City suspended their best defensive player in CB Marcus Peters last week and somehow it paid dividends, as the Chiefs demolished the Raiders. The Chargers have won 7 of 9 after starting the season 0-4. In a battle for first place in the AFC West, it’s the home field advantage Arrowhead Stadium provides that will make the difference.

Winner: Chiefs

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

Dolphins QB Jay Cutler looked like a competent QB against the Patriots and outplayed Tom Brady. Can he outplay any of the QBs Buffalo may trot out in unfavorable conditions?

Winner: Bills

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared to play, which should give Green Bay a boost in time for a potential playoff run. The Panthers, who are coming off a statement win against the Vikings, could be the team to benefit most from the recent slew of injuries in the NFC.

Winner: Panthers

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

The Browns were up by 14 last week against the Packers heading into the 4th quarter. The lost 27-21 in overtime. Even by Cleveland’s standards, that’s and ungodly choke job.

Winner: Ravens

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars boast a championship level defense and a stout running game led by offensive rookie of the year candidate Leonard Fournette. If QB Blake Bortles can avoid turning the ball over, Jacksonville could be a team no one wants to face this postseason.

Winner: Jaguars

Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings

Vikings coach Mike Zimmerman was once on Marvin Lewis’s coaching staff in Cincinnati. Come next year, the reverse may be the case.

Winner: Vikings

New York Jets at New Orleans Saints

The Saints are now a run first team, as they’re 9-0 when they run the ball 22 times or more. The loss to Atlanta last week is somewhat startling, but it’s not like the Jets are a force to be reckoned with.

Winner: Saints

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear and is out for the season. Backup Nick Foles is good enough to keep the Eagles afloat, but their Super Bowl chances are now slim to none.

Winner: Eagles

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins

Believe it or not, this used to be a classic NFC East tilt. The interesting story here is Redskins QB Kirk (*or Kurt?*) Cousins, who may be playing himself out of a long term contract after what has been a down year for him.

Winner: Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

If you had said at the start if the season a week 15 match-up between the Rams and the Seahawks would decide the NFC West, most would call you insane. The Rams are averaging 30 points per game this season, and head coach Sean McVay is in the running for coach of the year. The Seahawks are coming off a crushing loss to the Jaguars, and won’t be willing to give up their hold of the NFC West just yet.

Winner: Seahawks

Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo became the 2nd QB in the franchises’ history to win his first two road starts. There’s definitely some intrigue in the Bay Area now that he appears to be the QB of the future. The Titans are coming off a bad loss to an average Cardinals team, and need a win to keep pace with the Jaguars in the AFC South.

Winner: Titans

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

A game that will decide the top seed in the AFC comes at a time when both teams have major questions. The Steelers are missing LB Ryan Shazier badly, as the Ravens hung 38 points on them last week. The Patriots looked vulnerable in their AFC East tilt against the Dolphins, but do you really think the hoodie will allow the Pats to drop an important game such as this one?

Winner: Patriots

Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night Football)

What was thought to be a potential Super Bowl 52 preview at the start of the season is now a battle between two teams on the outside looking in as it pertains to the playoff picture. The Raiders came out flat and got demolished against the Chiefs no thanks to  struggling QB Derek Carr, while Cowboys QB Dak Prescott may have finally figured out how to play without RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Winner: Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night Football)

Just when you think the Falcons are DOA, they find a way to make you believe they can make a deep playoff run. Atlanta won despite Matt Ryan throwing 3 interceptions last week, something the Buccaneers can’t overcome with Jameis Winston under center.

Winner: Falcons

 

 

 

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 2 Predictions

Are you ready for some (*week 2*) football?

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season provided a couple of surprises, namely the New England Patriots looking vulnerable and the Jacksonville Jaguars looking like the 1985 Chicago Bears. It’s only the first game mind you, but that doesn’t mean week 2 of the NFL season won’t have its fair share of tricks up its sleeve.

Last Week: 9-6

Overall: 9-6

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals (Thursday Night Football)

Thursday Night Football, otherwise known as the plague of the earth, makes its unwanted return this week. This week’s snoozer features two teams known as “the kings of almost”, the Bengals and the Texans. Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw 4 interceptions last week, and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien pulled QB Tom Savage in favor of rookie QB DeShaun Watson since Savage is as mobile as a tree stump. Watson will lead the Texans to victory, and questions regarding if Dalton is the answer at QB for the Bengals will be asked more frequently.

Winner: Texans

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Had it not been for a blocked punt on their first possession, the Browns might have actually taken down the Steelers last Week. Browns QB DeShone Kizer looked poised considering it was his first career start, while Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw for a measly 171 yards. The Ravens defense is for real, but the Browns will show signs they are a much improved team in defeat.

Winner: Ravens

Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers

Bills head coach Sean McDermott faces off against his old team this week, and he’ll really want this win. Despite tossing 2 touchdowns last week, Panthers QB Cam Netwon looked rusty. Facing a tough Bills defense won’t help knock off the rust any faster, but the Bills played the equivalent of a college football team last week against the Jets. Sean McDermott is in for a real test this week.

Winner: Panthers

Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts

Cardinals RB David Johnson is out 2-3 months due to a wrist injury, not only crushing the hopes and dreams of his fantasy football owners, but also the Cardinal’s chances at contention. QB Carson Palmer looked like 38 year-old QB last week in a loss at the Lions, but they face a Colts team whose QB options are Jacoby Brissett and Scott ‘pick 6’ Tolzien. Maybe the Colts should give Colin Kaepernick a call…

Winner: Cardinals

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars stunned many by crushing the Texans last week. Their defense looked Super Bowl worthy, collecting 10 sacks, and rookie RB Leonard Fournette looks like the real deal. The Titans came out flat against the Raiders last week, but the Jaguars will come crashing down to earth because Blake Bortles is their starting QB. Hey, did Colin Kaepernick take the Colts’ call?

Winner: Titans

Upset of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs dominated the 4th quarter last week against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and Alex Smith finally discovered the power of throwing the ball down the field after 13 years. Eagles QB Carson Wentz knows of this power, and threw for 307 yards and 2 TDs last week against the Redskins. Without All-Pro S Eric Berry, the Chiefs could be exploited by Wentz.

Upset of the Week Winner: Eagles

New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

There isn’t enough crow to go around for all the dopes who picked the Patriots to go 19-0 this season. Father time looked like it finally caught up to QB Tom Brady, and the Patriot’s defense looked awful. Luckily, they play the Saints, who also have a near 40 year-old QB in Drew Brees, an even worse defense, and a has been RB in Adrian Peterson who has already started bickering with overrated Saints coach Sean Payton. Not a recipe for success.

Winner: Patriots

Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers were a blocked punt away from losing to the lowly Browns, and were rescued by Facebook Live’s favorite user, WR Antonio Brown, who had 11 receptions for 182 yards last week. The Vikings looked tremendous last week, as QB Sam Bradford finally played like the number one overall pick. This is going to be a slugfest.

Winner: Steelers

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bears looked better than advertised last week against the NFC champion Falcons. Bears rookie QB Mitch(*ell?*) Trubisky may have to wait a little longer behind current starter Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers on the other hand no thanks to the bumbling NFL begin their stretch of playing 16 straight games due to Hurricane Irma cancelling their week 1 match-up. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, who replaced Glennon, will get the better of his former teammate.

Winner: Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

The Dolphins also begin their stretch of playing 16 straight games because of the amazing incompetency of the NFL and Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, they’re playing the Chargers, who will have their home opener in a soccer stadium and find more creative ways to lose, while referees won’t remember which city they play in. By the way, how does being the RB coach of the Bills and a Rex Ryan protégé earn you a head coaching job again?

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Winner: Dolphins

Lock of the Week: New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

The Jets are tanking. The Raiders are Super Bowl contenders.

Lock of the Week Winner: Raiders

Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos

The Broncos were in control for much of their game against the Chargers, but needed a freeze the kicker timeout and a blocked field goal to win. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but QB Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys both lucky that RB Ezekiel Elliott isn’t suspended (*yet*) and are really good.

Winner: Cowboys

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams

Rams head coach Sean McVay had an impressive debut against the woeful Colts, and *gasp*, QB Jared Goff actually looked halfway competent. McVay will get a chance to stick it to his old team this week, and Redskins QB Kirk (*or is it Kurt?*) Cousins won’t like that.

Winner: Redskins

BONUS Lock of the Week: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Including the playoffs, the 49ers have lost to the Seahawks 7 straight times. The last time they won in Seattle at Century Link Field, Tarvaris Jackson started at QB for the Seahawks. The 49ers looked awful last week, and the Seahawks will want to beat up on the 49ers after looking impotent against the Packers in week 1.

BONUS Lock of the Week Winner: Seahawks

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday Night Football)

In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, the Falcon’s Super Bowl Hangover will officially take over. The Packers haven’t been known for their defense the last couple of seasons, but if they play half as well as they did against the Seahawks in week 1, QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons may be in for a long night.

Winner: Packers

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (Monday Night Football)

While the Lion’s offense looked explosive last week, the Giants offense was muted without WR Odell Beckham Jr. There is such a thing as a must win game in week 2, and this is a must win game for the Giants if they want to avoid their season going off the rails before it even starts. And by the way, the new “Are You Ready For Some Football?” theme doesn’t need Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo. Let ol’ redneck Hank Williams Jr. have the stage all to himself before he makes another ill-advised political comment.

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Winner: Giants

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 1 Predictions

The road to Super Bowl LII begins.

Every journey to a championship begins somewhere, and in the NFL, that genesis is in Week 1. Your week 1 winners of the NFL will be:

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (Thursday Night Football)

If you think the Patriots are going to lose on the night they raise their fifth championship banner at home, you don’t know football. There’s a better chance of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid miraculously learning clock management after being a head coach for nearly 20 years.

Winner: Patriots

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

The battle of New York kicks off what will be a rebuilding year for the Bills. But look on the bright side Buffalo, at least you’re not the Jets.

Winner: Bills

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

The Falcons’ Super Bowl hangover will experience some relief with a week 1 match-up against the Bears. The Bears may go into hibernation early considering their first eight games are against the Falcons, the Buccaneers, the Steelers, the Packers, the Vikings, the Ravens, the Panthers, and the Saints.

Winner: Falcons

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

While the debate over whether or not Ravens QB Joe Flacco is elite will rage on, it’s the Ravens lack of offensive talent that will be muted against a talented but undisciplined Bengals defense. Bengals QB Andy Dalton is elite when it’s not November or December.

Winner: Bengals

Lock of the Week: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

The Steelers Browns rivalry can be summed up in one photo… NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Lock of the Week Winner: Steelers

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

One of the more interesting match-ups of week 1 features two snakebit franchises who can’t seem to get out of their own way despite the talent surrounding them. QB Matthew Stafford of the Lions will rise above the snakebit nature of the Lions, mainly because Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is too old to rise above anything at this stage of his career.

Winner : Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Texans starting QB Tom Savage has yet to throw a touchdown pass in his career. Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has thrown 11 pick-sixes in his career, and he’ll throw another one Week 1 to once again have more pick-sixes than career wins.

Winner: Texans

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans

Two teams with no defenses of note will engage in an old fashioned shoot-out in the South. The combination of QB Derek Carr, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Crabtree, and TE Jared Cook, otherwise known as C4, will explode their way to a week 1 victory.

Winner: Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

QB Carson Wentz of the Eagles has some new toys to help avoid the dreaded sophomore slump after showing promise in his rookie season. Meanwhile, the Redskins still don’t know if their QB’s name is pronounced Kirk or Kurt.

Winner: Eagles

Upset of the Week: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams

When your starting QBs for the game are Scott Tolzien and Jared Goff, you know you’re in for a long day of unwatchable football.

Upset of the Week Winner: Colts

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

In what could be an NFC Championship game preview, it’s the Packers who will moan and complain about having to face a tough opponent Week 1. Even with a patch-work offensive line, QB Russell Wilson will hand the ball off to overweight RB Eddie Lacy for the game winning touchdown to stick it to his old team.

Winner: Seahawks

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers

Panthers QB Cam Newton will make a triumphant return to his 2015 MVP form in a dominant and dabtacular performance over the 49ers. 49ers QB Brian Hoyer “The Destroyer” will destroy the hopes and dreams of 49ers fans everywhere that their team will at least be competitive with a stat-line that will rival the awfulness of his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round back in January of 2016.

Winner: Panthers

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

Carrie Underwood (*I still miss Faith Hill*), the New York Football Giants, and America’s Team: The Dallas Cowboys. If that doesn’t spell Sunday Night Football, I don’t know what does. While all eyes will be on suspended Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, it’s Giants QB Eli Manning who will make the Cowboys fans packed in Jerryworld seeing stars.

Winner: Giants

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (Monday Night Football)

Newly acquired Saints RB Adrian Peterson will make his return to Minnesota Monday Night, but there’s no guarantee he’ll see the field since the Saints’ defense can’t stop a nose bleed.

Winner: Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos (Monday Night Football)

The Monday Night Football B-game will be called by Rex Ryan (*disaster looms*). The Chargers defense is for real, but using the reasoning of they’ve been unlucky the last two season as the reason why they will be better is fundamentally flawed. Plus, the Broncos have Von Miller, who’s really, really, ridiculously good.

Winner: Broncos