I have watched a ridiculous number of preseason games this NFL preseason, thanks to the NFL Network, which re-airs every single pre-season game, over and over. The 2009 National Football League Season is just days away. Here are the matchups and my predictions:
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Thu 8:30 NBC) – The 2009 National Football League season kicks off with this game featuring the defending Super Bowl champions at home on Heinz field and the Pittsburgh Steelers will not disappoint. Mike Tomlin said it best when he said Pittsburgh is unlike every other team in the NFL (regarding their player personnel, management and how they’re run). The Titans miss Albert Haynesworth in the middle of the defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers win in a great game to start what’s bound to be an amazing NFL season.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (Sun 1:00 CBS) – In spite of the Colts’ changes at the coaching positions, including the loss of Tony Dungy to retirement, Peyton Manning finds a way to start the Indianapolis Colts with an important divisional win. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, the game will require a healthy David Garrard at quarterback. However, the Jaguars season may not depend on a healthy David Garrard as Luke McCown was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a trade for an undisclosed draft pick.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints (Sun 1:00 FOX) – I have petitioned the NFL to prohibit television of the New Orleans routing of Detroit. If you saw the New Orleans preseason game annihilation of the Oakland Raiders, you’ll have an idea of what to expect in this game. Drew Brees threw for over 5,000 yards last season. I fear the worst for Detroit Lions in this game, but I don’t think they’ll lose all their games this season. The New Orleans Saints will win a high-scoring NFL affair.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers (Sun 1:00 FOX) – I love what the Philadelphia Eagles did in acquiring Mike Vick, but he will not make his NFL re-debut with the Philadelphia Eagles until at least week 3. With the addition of Mike Vick, I think they will be an explosive force to reckon with in the NFC this season. With or without Mike Vick, the stable Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Andy Reid make it look easy against a good Carolina Panthers team that made it to the playoffs last year.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sun 1:00 FOX) – The Dallas Cowboys will start their lackluster 2009 season with a lackluster performance in week one. Pacman Jones will be gone. T.O. will be gone. The popcorn will be gone. But, the Dallas Cowboys’ problems will remain. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers win because the Dallas Cowboys lose. Not to discredit a solid Buccaneers team, not at all, they may even be responsible for a defensive touchdown.
New York Jets @ Houston Texans (Sun 1:00 CBS) – Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback for the New York Jets! It will be his day and the New York Jets will steal one on the road from the questionably healthy Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans, especially if defensive mastermind Rex Ryan has anything to say about it, and he will since he brought Bart Scott with him from the Baltimore Ravens to help implement his schemes. Prognosis: Matt Schaub leaves game less healthy than he starts, due to blitzes and defensive schemes of Res Ryan; New York Jets win with the help of running back Thomas Jones.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens (Sun 1:00 CBS) – If a game could use a prognosis, this is it. The Kansas City Chiefs just lost their newly appointed franchise quarterback Matt Cassel. They previously let Tony Gonzalez escape to the Atlanta Falcons. The Baltimore Ravens should return to the playoffs under the leadership of second year quarterback Joe Flacco, who has a rocket arm that can toss the football 70 yards. The Ravens lost defensive guru Rex Ryan, but Ray Lewis and company have it down by now. Joe Flacco leads the Baltimore Ravens to a decisive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in week 1.
Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals (Sun 1:00 CBS) – AKA Kyle Orton and Josh McDaniels (without Brandon Marshall) vs Esteban Ocho Cinco and Carson Palmer’s Return of the Offense. I can’t imagine how the Denver Broncos win this game, in spite of the Cincinnati Bengals’ mediocrity. Chad Ochocinco impresses. Where will Brandon Marshall be watching the game from? And, how long will Josh McDaniels survive as a head coach? Seriously, Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos are giving Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders a run for their money as the poorest run NFL franchise. Look for Carson Palmer and Ocho Cinco to hook up several times and for Ocho Cinco to start the NFL season right with a new end zone touchdown celebration.
Minnesota Vikings @ Cleveland Browns (Sun 1:00 FOX) – A great game to watch. Brett Favre plays with the Minnesota Vikings for the first time in the regular season. Running back sensation Adrian Peterson starts his third season. The Minnesota Vikings will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North and and start an exciting 2009 NFL season visiting the Cleveland Browns led Brett Favre’s last coach, Eric Mangini. Either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson will start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, but Eric Mangini is remaining tight-lipped about who it will be, in accordance with his Bill Belichick roots. It doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, because Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre will be too potent a combination this season for many teams; Minnesota Vikings win.
Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons (Sun 1:00 CBS) – As much as I want to choose the Miami Dolphins to beat the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan is very impressive and the game is in Atlanta. But, the Miami Dolphins implemented the wildcat offense in the NFL last year and will build upon it with Pat White this year. Bill Parcells and Tony Spagnoulo might just have some tricks up their sleeves. I anticipate this game going back and forth. But, Matt Ryan will lead the Atlanta Falcons down the field late in the game to win an exciting NFL matchup.
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants (Sun 4:15 FOX) – When Jim Zorn called the Washington Redskins soft after they lost 23-0 against the Baltimore Ravens in their first pre-season game, the team responded with impressive performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. Quarterback Jason Campbell has the new luxury of being in the same offense for two seasons in a row, for the first time in his five year NFL career. He also has a good teacher in Jim Zorn, who looks poised to let Campbell air it out some more this season. I look for Jason Campbell to have a breakout year. Eli Manning will have trouble finding a consistently reliable target. The Washington Redsksins win as Campbell starts the year in stellar fashion against the New York Giants.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals (Sun 4:15 FOX) – I’m excited about Mike Singletary coaching the San Francisco 49ers, but I’m more excited about Larry Fitzgerald. His playoff run and Superbowl performance will only bolster his performance. While some NFL teams get the Superbowl hangover, the impressiveness of the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff run and end of season run (they ended the regular season winning 5 of their last 6) will give them needed confidence heading into the 2009 NFL season. The Arizona Cardinals beat their divisional rivals the San Francisco 49ers led by quarterback Shaun Hill and no Michael Crabtree (still holding out).
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (Sun 4:15 FOX) – The Seattle Seahawks have arguably the best home field advantage of any team in the NFL. Matt Hasselback is healthy. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is now a Seahawk. On the flip side, Stephen Jackson is a beast. But, the St. Louis Rams lose on the Seattle Seahawks home turf.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers (Sun 8:20 NBC) – Everyone knows Jay Cutler will join the Chicago Bears offense this NFL season. But, Lovie Smith returns to his defensive roots and will be more involved by calling the defensive plays, which is the key to the Bears’ improvement in the game and the season. Rod Marinelli is also thrown into the mix. The Packers will still be adjusting to their new 3-4 scheme, which moves Aaron Kampman from DE to OLB. The Chicago Bears wins a divisional battle over the Green Bay Packers.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots (Mon 7:00 ESPN) – Tom Brady. Randy Moss. And the rest, here on Belichick’s isle… even though Teddy Bruschi retired. I don’t care if there is T.O. or popcorn or jujubes, it’s going to be a cold day for the Buffalo Bills and a cold winter for T.O. The New England Patriots just about return to their record-breaking form of 2007.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (Mon 10:15 ESPN) – The Oakland Raiders have one chance in this game – Darius Heyward-Bey… over and over again. Historically, the equation has worked for Al Davis before, although it was a long time ago. We won’t dwell on the past, the San Diego Chargers win, in spite of Shawne Merriman’s troubles off the football field.
2009 NFL Week 1 Matchup Picks Recap:
- Steelers over Titans
- Colts beat Jaguars
- Saints handle Lions
- Eagles beat Panthers
- Bucs over Cowboys
- Jets manage Texans
- Ravens route Cheifs
- Bengals beat Broncos
- Vikings crush Browns
- Falcons squeak by Dolphins
- Redskins beat Giants
- Cardinals over the 49ers
- Seahawks handle Rams
- Bears beat Packers
- Patriots demolish Bills
- Chargers handle Raiders