The first week of the 2009 NFL season is here and the quest to be crowned Super Bowl champion is ready to begin. With 16 game slated, there are sure to be several less than stellar games mixed in with a handful of great ones. Here are those five must-see games from Week 1 in the 2009 NFL season.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
September 10 at 8 p.m.
The start of the 2009 NFL season is here and what better way is it to start than with a showdown between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will have the bulls eye painted on their back from day one and would not want it any other way.
The key matchup for this game will be the Steelers offense versus the Titans defense. The Steelers will be relying upon the tandem of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall to slice their way through a Titans defense that lost Albert Hayensworth, a key component to their success.
If the Steelers offense is able to control the line of scrimmage and run effectively, it will open the passing game for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The last time these two teams met, the Titans were able to apply constant pressure on Roethlisberger and keep him out of sync with his wide receivers.
In the end, the Steelers defense is going to be too much for a less than stellar Titans offense. Good thing because who knows what will happen if LenDale White tries to follow through by stomping on a Terrible Towel while on Pittsburgh’s home turf.
Prediction – Pittsburgh 21, Tennessee 13
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons
September 13 at 1 p.m.
This matchup will feature two teams who had rebounded in 2008 and earned a playoff spot after winning a combined total of five games in 2007. The Miami Dolphins will bring their Wildcat offense against the Atlanta Falcons who will be countering with a potent offense led by second year quarterback Matt Ryan.
When the Dolphins take the field, everyone watching and waiting to see when they unleash their newest version of the Wildcat offensive formation. Especially when rookie Pat White is in the game. The Falcons can take away some of the success if they are able to identify the formation and respond accordingly. Otherwise the Falcons defense will be in for a long day.
The key to this game will be if the Dolphins defense can take away the dominant running game of the Falcons. If the Dolphins are able to limit the damage done by running back Michael Turner, they will force the Falcons to win the game through the air. Ryan is a capable quarterback but is still learning the nuances of the NFL passing game and he will not be as effective without the play action pass.
The final determining factor will be who wins the turnover battle. The Dolphins were among the best in 2008 when it came to protecting the ball while the Falcons defense was near the bottom when it came to creating turnovers. When the game is done, the Falcons will eke out a win over the Dolphins as they attempt post back to back winning seasons.
Prediction – Atlanta 21, Miami 17
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
September 13 at 1 p.m.
This battle between two of the top teams in the NFC is the perfect way to kick off week 1 of the 2009 NFL season. The Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers are looking to get the season started off right with a win.
All eyes will be on the Eagles offense and how well quarterback Donovan McNabb will perform with more weapons at his disposal, especially in the passing game. If the offensive line is able to give McNabb time to throw, he should have no problem against a Panthers defense that allowed 211 yards per game in 2008.
Panthers fans are hoping running back DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are at 100% come game time. If the duo is going to perform up to the expectations they created in 2008, the Eagles defense is the perfect litmus test.
The final piece to the puzzle will be the performance of quarterback Jake Delhomme against the Eagles defense. If he is able to limit the turnover and manage the game, the Panthers should be in a good position to win the game.
Even with Steve Smith on the receiving end, the Panthers quarterback will be under constant pressure from the attacking defense and will have at least one costly mistake. The Eagles will come away with a win in the waning minutes and continue their trek to a NFC East division crown in 2009.
Prediction – Philadelphia 24, Carolina 20
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
September 13 at 8:30 p.m.
When this game takes place on Sunday night, NFL fans will have the chance to watch two of the top quarterbacks in the NFC not named Drew Brees. The problem is only one of them can come out on top when the game is over.
The Chicago Bears paid a lot to bring Jay Cutler and are hoping for him to turn their passing offense into one of the best in the NFL. High hopes for a team where the leading receiver in 2008 was their running back Matt Forte. The Bears wide receiver will find little success against the Packers secondary that is eager to get after the ball.
The Packers are ready to rebound from a disappointing season and will have quarterback Aaron Rodgers ready to lead the charge. Expect Rodgers learning to continue as he finds even more success in 2009, especially with the help from wide receiver Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.
The determining factor in this game will be the Packers running game, led by Ryan Grant, versus the Bears front seven that was suspect in 2008. If the front four can fill the gaps, the Bears linebackers will be able to key in on the ball carriers.
The Packers defense will be up to the challenge and be ready to take away the long ball from Cutler. Though the game may be close early, the winning team will be decided by the third quarter.
Prediction – Green Bay 31, Chicago 21
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
September 14 at 7 p.m.
If you are looking for a lock for week 1 of the 2009 NFL season, then look no further. The New England Patriots will be welcoming back quarterback Tom Brady while the Buffalo Bills will be introducing their newest weapon, wide receiver Terrell Owens.
The Patriots running back by committee should be able to find some running room against a Bills defense that was less than stellar in 2008. If the Bills are able to slow down Fred Taylor and company while providing a pass rush, the game will be put in the hands of Brady, which could be a dangerous option.
With Marshawn Lynch out due to a suspension, running back Fred Jackson will be shouldering load. If he is able to find success against a suspect front seven, then the Bills might be able to slow down the Patriots for a little bit.
The last factor for this game will be the pass rush of the Patriots versus the Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. Edwards showed us something last year at the beginning of the season. If he is able to replicate that production he could be in for a three touchdown night between Owens and wide receiver Lee Evans.
Barring another injury to Brady, the Patriots are going to remind the rest of the NFL that they are back and ready to make a return trip to the playoffs.
Prediction – New England 31, Buffalo 10