Nov. 26, 2019
NFL Week 1 Preview
The first 16 NFL games of 2019 are just about here. Before you fall into your favorite chair and turn on the game, you could use a little preview. You need to know which games you need to tune in for and what to expect when you settle in for that 3 hour venture. That's exactly what I'll do for you today. I've got 4 games lined up, starting with a classic rivalry to open up the NFL's centennial season.
Packer vs Bears
For the 2nd year in a row the Bears and Packers will start their seasons by facing off against each other. I'm sure many of us remember last year's opener when Aaron Rodgers led a 20-point comeback in Lambeau. The Bears were able to put that behind them and claim the division with a 12-4 record, including a win over Green Bay, but that week 1 loss still hurt.
This time around, the setting is much different. The Bears are now the big boys in the North, and the Packers are the ones with the rookie coach and a lot to prove. If Matt LaFleur wants to make a good first impression, a win here would go a long way. Claiming a win on the road against their biggest rival who boasts the league's best defense would be an impressive way to start a coaching career. If he pulls this off, a lot of heads will be turned in Green Bay.
LaFleur may get off to a strong start Thursday night. I can see him having a few tricks up his sleeve for this Chicago defense after having months to prepare. This Packers offense could get hit on a few drives in the first half to get ahead of, or at least keep up with the Bears. However, when the 2nd half rolls around, the Bears should be able to make the adjustments necessary to stall Green Bay's attacks. The Bears should have relative ease scoring on a poor Green Bay defense, and they should walk a away with a much desired win over their most hated rival.
Bears win, 27-24
Chiefs vs Jaguars
It's always a treat to watch one of the top offenses take on one of the top defenses. Mahomes put Kansas City on another level last year, scoring over 35 points per game. It takes a special defense to hold them back. One of those defenses very well may reside in Jacksonville where the Jaguars have held opponents to under 20 points per game each of the last two seasons. Last season the Jags only held the Chiefs to 30 points even. That may not seem too great, but the Chiefs past that mark 10 times in 2018. With a Jacksonville venue, the Jags' D could fair even a little better this time around.
I have little doubt in the Jaguars defensive ability, but I do have doubts about their offense. Nick Foles should be a clear improvement at the QB position, but there is little to no support around him. The O-line gave up 53 sacks last year. Leonard Fournette is coming off an injury, and even healthy his worth is questionable. Dede Westbrook is the only solid target in the passing game. This offense needs more than just Foles in order to succeed. They should get enough production to grind out a fair amount of wins this year with a great defense behind them, but they can't outscore Kansas City, even against KC's sorry excuse for a defense.
Chiefs win, 28-26
Steelers vs Patriots
Under Brady and Roethlisberger the Patriots and Steelers have been the most successful teams in the AFC this century. Year after year these two are in the running to take home the Lamar Hunt Trophy, and also the Lombardi Trophy after that. In fact, in 12 of the last 18 seasons one of them has taken home the first of those to trophies, and 8 of those times they took home the other as well. Because both teams have a habit of winning division titles, they play each other a lot. This game is practically ingrained in the NFL schedule, and it's one that we look forward to.
Unfortunately, this game kinda has a history of disappointing far too often. In the 13 games they've played since Roethlisberger came into the league, only 4 of them have been determined by 7 points or less. It is also a very lopsided rivalry, with New England winning 9 of the 13 games. With Pittsburgh seemingly on the decline with multiple star players leaving recently, it's hard for me to see this game living up to the usual hype. I still think it's worth watching to see a couple great QB's and intelligent coaches take the same field, but I have relatively low expectations for this one.
Patriots win, 34-23
Texans vs Saints
Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Alvin Kamara, J.J. Watt, and Cameron Jordan. Those are the stars that will all be sharing the field on a Monday night at the SuperDome. Both the Texans and the Saints have as much talent as anyone, and both are in serious contention to finish at the top of their respective conferences. These are simply two of the best that the game has to offer, and the fact that we get to see them face off in the opening week is a gift.
Although they are still a top level contender, the Texans have made some questionable moves in the last week. They gave away Jadaveon Clowney to Seattle for scraps, and they also overpaid for Laremy Tunsil in an attempt to give Watson a little protection. I don't think these moves significantly hurt this team, but I don't think it helps them as much as the front office thinks it does. I'm not sure what morale is like in that locker room, but something tells me not everyone is so happy right now. The Texans were already put in a tough position plying the Saints in their home stadium, and these moves probably won't help. I think both teams score some points and give a good show, but the Saints should walk away with the win, just as they so often do on their own turf.
Saints win, 31-26