The 2017-2018 NFL Season: Week 1
NFL season is here with Week 1 analyses and predictions below. Get your tickets to any of this season’s NFL games at Ticket Liquidator.
Thursday September 7th
The 2017-2018 NFL Season kicked off Thursday with a matchup between defending Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. The game was at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.
A surprising twist was thrown into preseason when receiver Julian Edelman tore his ACL and is now out for the entire season. Much like a Patriots team without Rob Gronkowski, this hurts the Patriots and could have an overall effect on the season. However, Gronkowski’s absence last season still did not deter the Patriots from winning without their iconic tight end. A Patriots team without Edelman will look to overcome the same. In an interview for Esquire, Gronkowski stated, “[Edelman’s] work ethic is second to none; the way he plays the game of football is unbelievable. You just can’t replace him. Other guys, including myself, are going to have to step up and take some of his role on.”
The result of the first game of the season was shocking. The Chiefs won 42-27 with QB Alex Smith coming in clutch with two long throws and RB Kareem Hunt showing up. The Patriots suffered from injuries including Amendola to the head and Dont’a Hightower to his injured knee. It was the most points and yards allowed in a game since head coach Bill Belichick began coaching the Patriots.
Sunday September 10th
Though neither the New York Jets nor the Buffalo Bills are teams that hold strong defenses, this is still shaping up to be an interesting Week 1 game that focuses the fandom in the state of New York. The Bills are known for their excellent rushing offense, and that may play to their strengths against the Jets. However, neither team is in the discussion for this year’s playoffs, as gaps on both teams lead to questions about the upcoming season. The Jet’s QB Josh McCown has a weak receiving team to support him. Their lineup is considered one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL, but we hope that latecomer Jermaine Kearse (WR) will help amend this issue.
Meanwhile, the Bills have attempted to remake their passing offense in the off season and will be returning with a new play standard to nail down. Their off season was full of trades and revamping, but fans wonder if it was too much too quickly for the team. This is still less of a concern than the Jet’s offensive lineup, so the prediction stands that the Bills will take the Jets by one or two touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are back and looking to prove themselves as a potential top seed in the AFC. The Patriots stand in their way, as they lost miserably to them in the AFC Championship game last season. However, the Steelers are a team shaping up to be a favorite going into the new season. They play the Cleveland Browns for Week 1. Focuses in camp include bettering the team against the pass, something that hindered them against the Pats last season. The Steelers are facing their own injury issues, as Safety Mike Mitchell is recovering from a lower-body injury that benched him all of training camp. He returned to practice on Monday, and this brings hope to fans that he will be ready for Game 1.
The Browns begins a new era with Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer at the helm. A lot of money went into revamping the Browns’ lineup during the off season, so Kizer will not be alone. Ten-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas holds down the rookies and newbies, as his claim to fame is that he has never missed a play. This totals to almost 10,000 consecutive snaps on the field. The Browns have one of the strongest offensive lineups going into the season, so this matchup will hopefully bring out the best in two very promising teams. Chances are the Pittsburgh Steelers will slide past the Browns with a victory.
Another in-state rivalry: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Miami Dolphins. This is an interesting, pivotal game for reasons unrelated to football but for broader issues. Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that is hitting the Caribbean, is set to hit Southern Florida this week. This could mean extreme, intense damage to areas such as Miami and other Southern Florida counties. Therefore, the home of the Dolphins and Buccaneers might be in jeopardy.
Though the storm itself should be gone by the end of the week, the wreckage and havoc from the storm could last for months afterwards. The event location was originally Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. However, the NFL released a statement on Tuesday saying that the game will not be played in Miami but rather moved to a neutral site or or rescheduled for later in the season. On Wednesday, the NFL announced that the game will indeed be rescheduled to Week 11 on Sunday, November 19th at Hard Rock Stadium.
As far as the matchups, the Dolphins are looking like a potentially great team this season that can take a victory over the Buccaneers. However, the drama over if and where the game is moved to is taking priority over the outcome of the actual game itself. Our thoughts are with the Florida teams and communities!
The Oakland Raiders are a team from the West Coast that are certainly making a statement going into this season. The Raiders are in the discussion of potential successes for the playoffs, but long before then, they face the Tennessee Titans in Week 1. The Titans will give the Raiders a hard enough time, hopefully making this one of the best matchups for Week 1. The game takes place at Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville.
The Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota led the team to the most-scored points in a season since 2003. Their offensive lineup falls in the middle of the pack for the overall NFL standings, but their red zone efficiency and rushing offense are strong points of the Titans. As far as defense, the Titan’s run defense was ranked 2nd in the NFL. These stats and standings demonstrate the the Raiders certainly do not have an easy first game, though the expectation is that the Raiders will win.
The Raiders have had their fair share of off season turmoil. Longtime Raiders player Sebastian Janikowski raised uncertainty about his future on the Raiders. However, he worked out with the team on Tuesday, so it’s hopeful that he will return to his team for the NFL season. Janiskowski’s general silence towards the media has not allowed fans to shape a potential outcome either way. Safety Obi Melifonwu and guard Denver Kirkland are both on injured reserved. Safety Erik Harris was invited to played with the Raiders after being cut from the New Orleans Saints in a last-minute save with Melifonwu’s injury. As far as good news: cornerback David Amerson is back from a concussion that occurred during preseason play against the Cowboys. Yet, the Raiders will still likely sweep this one up from the Titans with merely a touchdown or field goal separating the final score.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins for the Washington Redskins is looking to make an impact during Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins have a tough season ahead of them. If they’re looking to prove that they can fight through the East, they need to show up against the Eagles. However, Cousins is going to have his hands full if his offensive line doesn’t deliver. The Eagles are known for their defensive tackles, so Cousins doesn’t stand the opportunity to soar if his offensive line falls flat.
The Redskins also have a spotlight on their defense, as starting safety Su’a Cravens considered retirement in the off season only to return back. This threw off the steady lineup flow and could impact the Redskins’ defensive game. The exciting prospect of this game is that neither team is carrying the weight of major injuries at the moment. This is rare for a sport as physical as football, and many other teams are suffering their fates with injury-filled sidelines.
The Eagles haven’t beaten the Redskins since 2014, marking five straight losses. Therefore, the Eagles will be looking to change that trend with the help of Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. The defensive tackling duo is not to be underestimated, and their impact on the game’s outcome is extraordinary. Due to the defensive powerhouses, the Eagles should take this game over the Redskins.
This is another Week 1 matchup that is much more important than the game itself. The city of Houston has suffered severe water damage and destruction due to Hurricane Harvey that blew through the area last week. After back-and-forth, the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans game is officially at NRG Stadium. Players such as JJ Watts have made headlines going into the season not because of on-field play, but because of charity work and donations to hurricane victims. This game will truly be a beacon of hope for the city and team fighting through the struggle. The overwhelming support is on the Houston Texans to pull off the victory for their city. NRG Center is currently being used as a temporary shelter for displaced evacuees.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are boasting a young squad, which always poses hope and also risk with inexperienced players on the field. Receivers Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and Allen Hurns can pose a dynamic threat down field. However, QB Blake Bortles is not solid enough to fully manipulate the talent at his disposable, and his performance will shape the team’s Week 1 and entire season outcome.
The Houston Texans also have issues at QB, as Tom Savage is starting. However, first-round pick Deshaun Watson will most likely play for his rookie season. The usage of both QBs will certainly have an impact on the season. DeAndre Hopkins sits comfortably as one of the top receivers in the NFL. As far as defense, last year granted the Texans the top team in yards allowed on defense. Due to moral boost and spirit, I’d give the hopeful win to the Texans for Week 1.
The Arizona Cardinals are playing at the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field this Sunday. The Cardinals are one of the teams to watch for going into the regular season. That being said, the Lions have a chance to fight off the beginning of a fiery Cardinals season by finding the teams’ Achilles Heel. And by Achilles Heel, I mean Cardinals’ running back David Johnson.
QB Carson Palmer might consider retiring after this season, marking one of a few players on the latter half of their careers. Therefore, the Cardinals’ offense will be through Johnson. If the Lions can slow him down, they have a chance at gaining control of the game. The last time the Cardinals visited the Lions for Week 1, it began a horrendous season for the Lions. They’re not looking to repeated that performance on their home field again. Another one of the Cardinals’ weaknesses is their mature roster. Though a set of novice players is never ideal, a set of aging stars can also have its downsides.
Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford also needs to shape up and perform much differently than he did the last time the teams met for Week 1 (benched in the 3rd due to three interceptions). Therefore, his ability to show up and show up for multiple touchdowns with remain a pivotal factor in overcoming the Cardinals’ strength. The Cardinals should still come out with the victory over the Lions.
The Super Bowl LI team the Atlanta Falcons are facing the Chicago Bears for Week 1. Boy, that isn’t an easy task to start off the season for the Bears. The Atlanta Falcons dominated most of Super Bowl LI before giving it away to the Patriots in the 4th quarter. Therefore, the Falcons come back with a chip on their shoulder and a point to prove to the NFL community.
QB Matt Ryan still has powerhouse Julio Jones in his wheelhouse and running backs such as Devonta Freeman. The Falcons’ strengths, like the Patriots, stem from their strength all over the field instead of in just one or two positions. With Jones at one of the league’s most dominant wide receivers and overall players, the Falcons’ talent doesn’t even stop at there. Ryan is talented enough to make full use out of Jones, and Freeman is a power runner. These dynamic players and more make the Falcons a well-rounded squad without a reliance on just one superstar.
New offenseive coordinator Steve Sarkisian brings into question the new offensive tactics for the Falcons. Progression is always key on any squad, and analysts are predicting that both Freeman and RB Tevin Coleman will be on the field together this season. In regards to defense, the Falcons certainly hold depth there, as well.
For the Chicago Bears, they are improving. Though improving might not be enough, it still brings more to the field for the Bears’ athletic weaponry. Leonard Floyd will certainly put pressure on Ryan, making the QB’s decision rate quicker. However, the Bears have Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston on the injured reserve list for unknown amounts of time, which doesn’t help their starting lineup. The Falcons should easily win this over the Bears.
The Cincinnati Bengals open their season at home for the first time this decade. The Baltimore Ravens lost to the Bengals at the end of the 2016 season 27-10. Therefore, the Ravens are coming back with something to prove on the Bengals’ home turf. The Bengals, on the other hand, are looking to prove their worth. This is because they missed the postseason for the first time in years last season.
The Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco will start his tenth season with the Ravens. However, a back injury left him sidelined this summer, and he just returned to practice recently. Though his veteran status doesn’t merit extensive practice with the team, it’s always better to have an injury-free QB comfortable with this season’s lineup than one who comes back last minute. Other injured members include LT Ronnie Stanley and RB Danny Woodhead. Both should be helpful this season, but both missed training camp and preseason due to their injuries. Veteran LB Terrell Suggs is back for his 15th season with the Ravens. No one is quite sure when his career will end, but Suggs’ presence demonstrates a loyalty and longevity to the Ravens that is always exciting to see.
The Bengals will plan on pushing the Ravens’ improvised lineups including their strong secondary. The Bengals’ effect on their secondary will determine how skillful the offseason defensive improvements were for this coming season. In addition, the Bengals carry a weapon in A.J. Green, one of the NFL’s best receivers. His play on Sunday will be a huge additive to the Bengals’ offense if the Ravens can’t stop him. Tyler Eifert is another strong Bengals player who is among the best tight ends in the NFL. If these players can pull through, the Bengals will win a close game against the Ravens.
Indianapolis Colts are, for lack of a better term, unLUCKy for Week 1. QB Andrew Luck is officially out for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. Luck had right shoulder surgery in January after sustaining an injury in 2015. With their starting quarterback not in the lineup, the Colts will have to revamp and reconsider their first season move. Scott Tolzien will be his replacement. The Colts weren’t stellar in 2016, almost leveling out their wins and losses in a major chunk of the season. The Los Angeles Rams flopped in 2016, making their entire future unknown. They have not made the playoffs for twelve seasons. It’s sad to see a team in that sort of slump, and no better now that the Los Angeles Chargers are sharing their turf.
However, the Colts are not a strong defensive squad. This isn’t looking any better from last year to this year, as injuries have riddled their bench. The Rams’ defense could keep up last season, so this could be a strong point for the Rams. In all essence, these two teams are weak going into the new season. Though the Colts should be able to pull out a win, there’s a lot of work to be done on both ends to make any victory last long term.
The San Francisco 49ers will play the Carolina Panthers at home for Week 1. Rookie first-round pick Christian McCaffrey will make his NFL debut for the Panthers. In addition, Panthers QB Cam Newton has recovered from his March surgery that repaired a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Though he didn’t get a lot of preseason play time, Newton did play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Panthers walked away with a 24-23 victory. Newton seems to be ready for the season, and he’s carrying his team on a better shoulder.
49ers safety Jimmie Ward has been M.I.A. due to a hamstring injury, and he has not played all preseason. Ward’s ability to play certainly factors into the potential success of the 49ers’ upcoming season. The 49ers finished last in total defense in 2016, so Ward’s presence is certainly needed to help boost that weakness. The 49er’s new head coach in Kyle Shanahan will hopefully bring life back to the squad as well as a new defensive coordinator in Robert Saleh. That being said, the Carolina Panthers should easily sweep the 49ers due to player availability and talent on the field.
For the first time in five years, the Green Bay Packers open the season at home against the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers iconic QB Aaron Rodgers will take his team for the offensive end, but the question lies in the Packers’ defense. In a season where so many teams struggled on the defensive end, the Packers’ win against the Seahawks last season propelled their defense throughout the remainder of the season. The Packers were in the Top 5 leading NFL teams in interceptions despite injuries in the secondary. Can the Packers rally like that again in 2017? Ty Montgomery is another potential breakout player in the Packers’ mix. His conversion from receiver to running back included help from New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson. Rodgers is certainly expected to be a standout for his QB performance like years prior.
The Seahawks rest faith in rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Though he might not start the game, expect Griffin to play a majority of the the plays. One of Griffin’s weak points in preseason is not facing the ball for deep coverage. Footballs bounced off of his back during major plays that could have been interceptions. Therefore, Griffin still has areas of improvement, and facing Rodgers is no small feat for any player. In addition, the Seahawks’ RB position is a little up in the air, though Thomas Rawls should be expected to start against the Packers. The Packers should wiggle by the Seahawks to win this game by a touchdown.
One of the most anticipated Week 1 games: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Both teams are looking to shape up for the new season, though both aren’t without their pitfalls. A dramatic off season for the Cowboys left them with players on suspension and headlines flying through tabloids. In addition, QB Dak Prescott is officially filling in the shoes of former QB Tony Romo. They’re big shoes to fill, but Prescott wowed fans last season with his stellar performance after Romo got injured. The tricky situation is making sure that it stays that way. Many players have “sophomore slumps” where excellent rookie play falls sideways. Prescott needs to remain on point for the new season, and the Cowboys’ mixed-up offense needs to be able to stand up to the Giants’ defense.
The Giants are presenting one of the most intense defensive lines in the NFL. This will make it difficult for the Cowboys to gain firm footing. Their defensive lineup includes Damon Harrison and Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul has been an issue for the Cowboys for many years, and this season should be no different. The Giants are looking to be a possible NFC Champion contender, but it’s whether or not QB Eli Manning can step up and deliver an offense that stands as strong as the team’s defense. If the Giants offense has a solid game, look for the Giants to take this victory over the Cowboys by a very small margin of victory.
Monday September 11th
The Minnesota Vikings host the New Orleans Saints for the first game of the season. A special addition to the game is the Ring of Honor induction for former Vikings WR Randy Moss during halftime. In regards to the current team, the defensive line is returning mostly the same. Each year, they’re improving, which stands for a good, consistent focus for the Vikings’ defense. As for offense, QB Sam Bradford looks to continue to improve, as well. The offensive line switched up in the off-season, and it will be on Bradford to organize and command the new string. RB Dalvin Cook is a huge part of the new offense. He was the Vikings’ top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he will be making his debut for this game.
The New Orleans Saints acquired RB Adrian Peterson in the off-season, who signed on acknowledging that he’d split the role with Mark Ingram, the established Saints RB. This creates a confusing yet potentially dynamic offense set up for the Saints. Alvin Kamara and Daniel Lasco are other additions to the lineup that spark major interest. The Saints should win this game over the Vikings due to the amount of ammo on the field and bench.
The Los Angeles Chargers went through a crazy past year, transferring from San Diego to temporarily sharing a venue space with the Los Angeles Rams. They have not exactly been openly welcomed in L.A., and hopes are that a good season can change that. The Chargers are playing the Denver Broncos at the Broncos’ home field. The Chargers have an extraordinary offensive lineup including playmaker Antonio Gates. With one more touchdown, Gates will complete the most touchdowns by a tight end. In regards to injuries, Keenan Allen is back after an ACL injury took him out all of last season. In regards to defense, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward join on the field as Pro Bowl cornerbacks to lead the secondary and newbie safety Tre Boston.
Broncos’ QB Trevor Siemian is back under former Head Coach and new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders complete the major points of the offense. The Broncos came in fourth in the league for defense and top for passing defense. Therefore, they’re already starting from a good place on the other side of the field. Von Miller and Justin Simmons will be power players for the Broncos’ defense that lacks Demarcus Ware and T.J. Ward this season. That being said, it is likely that the Chargers will win over the Broncos.