NFL GAMES OF THE WEEK – WEEK ONE

08Sep12

It’s my favorite time of the year.  The NFL preseason games are over and week one of the real deals are here.  All of the predictions have been made, the fantasy leagues have been formed and drafted, and the fans are perched on the edge of their seats, ready to root for their favorite teams or players to light up the scoreboard on Sunday.

It is also week one of my featured picks, where I will give you my choices for three categories – Game of the Week, Lock of the week and Upset of the Week.

I will work for countless hours, sifting through all of the team and player data for every single player in the league, searching for all thoughts and remarks made by every coach, even checking out the weather predictions for all games played outside, just to be able to make an informed decision.

Wait a minute.  That sounds a bit excessive.  Okay, I’ll put a lot of thought into it before making my picks.

Yeah, that sounds better!

Let’s get the season rolling.  We’ll start with the Lock of the Week.  I actually had two games to choose from this week, but have decided to go with Houston over Miami.

I know that Miami fans are very excited about this season because they have a future star in their rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the former Texas A&M star.  The irony isn’t lost on many fans that he will begin his professional career being rooted against by many of the same fans that cheered him on for the past few years.

The problem for Tannehill and his Dolphins is that they will be playing at the home of one of the best defenses in the AFC this year.  Add to that mix the fact that the Houston offense boasts one the top wide receivers in the league (Andre Johnson) and two of the top running backs (Arian Foster and Ben Tate) that put up monster numbers in both yards and points last year.  And all of that with their star quarterback out for most of the season and a rookie at the helm.

Now that the Texans have Matt Schaub back, the sky is the limit on offensive productivity.

The Dolphins have done some things to improve over last year, including cutting (not releasing – cutting!) an over-rated, egotistical wide receiver that can’t decide what his name should be.  I’m sure his fans (all three of them) would be happy to assist him with that issue!

Unfortunately for Miami fans, they are still a couple of years away from being a contender, and Houston is there already.  This game may start out slow, but look for the Texans to blow it wide open in the second half.

Next up, let’s take a look at the Upset of the Week.  Again, I was torn between two games for this one, but I am going with the Buffalo Bills over the host N.Y. Jets.

I know I’m rolling the dice on this one, but I just think that the hype of the quarterback situation for the Jets has done a very fine job of covering up the fact that the Jets are not a good football team.

          

Ultimately, I don’t think it will matter who starts for New York.  Neither Mark Sanchez nor Tim Tebow will be able to consistently move this offense down the field.  And unless the offensive line overachieves, Shonn Greene will go nowhere on the ground.

On the other hand, the Bills have the ‘potential’ to score big points, as they demonstrated early last season.  As long as Ryan Fitzpatrick plays well, the Bills will score enough to handle the Jets.

The problem with Buffalo is they have no depth on their roster.  They have a good list of starters at nearly every position.  However, once injuries begin to occur, as we know they will, they have no real backups to turn to.

But since this is week one, that should not impact this game.  Buffalo will come to town and steal this one from the Jets.

Last, but definitely not least, we have the Game of the Week.  At the risk of sounding redundant again, for the third time (how’s that for redundancy – okay, go get a dictionary, I’ll wait), I had to decide between two games for this one.

Ultimately, I decided to go with the Cincinnati  Bengals at the Baltimore Ravens.

I know, I know, how can I pick this as a game of the week when only a few days ago I picked the Ravens to win the Super Bowl and the Bengals to go 8-8 on the season?  (See NFL PREDICTIONS – THE ROAD TO SUPER BOLW XLVII, dated 9/2/12.)

Well if you read that post closely, you would also have noted that I called this the most physical division in football and three teams would be legitimate playoff contenders.  This game features two of those three teams!

The Bengals showed everyone last year that they are now a force to be reckoned with.  They have Andy Dalton back at quarterback after a very respectable rookie season.  They have built a solid, if not spectacular offense by picking up running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis from New England to go along with star wide receiver A.J. Green.

Their defense will be the key this week, as they are playing a very solid offensive unit in Baltimore.

The Ravens game starts with Joe Flacco at quarterback and Ray Rice at running back.  They have been together for a few years now and will not need to worry about growing pains, like the Bengals.  Add to the mix the high expectations of youngster wide receiver Torrey Smith to go along with the experience and toughness of Anquan Boldin, and you have a very solid offensive unit that will control the ball and put up points.

Add to that a Ravens defense that is solid year in and year out, and the result is a low scoring game, which heavily favors Baltimore.

The Bengals will need to shut down the Ravens’ offense in order to stay in this game.  If they plan on winning in a shootout, they will be disappointed.  Either way, expect a physical, bloody-nose football game from beginning to end.  The Ravens will come away with the victory, but they will wake up very sore on Monday.

There you have it, the first of many guaranteed picks for the season.  Okay, maybe not guaranteed, but pretty confident choices.  Fine, I get it, it’s week one.  Who knows what’s going to happen?

We’ll talk again next week!

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