NFL Round 1 - Sunday Preview

NFL Round 1 - Sunday Preview

Tampa Bay (0-0) @ Atlanta (0-0) - Georgia Dome

A Week 1 NFC South Divisional showdown takes place at the Georgia Dome on Sunday with the Falcons hosting the Buccaneers. The Falcons will be looking for a similarly fast start to the season after they started 2015 at 5-0 before falling in a hole by losing 8 of their final 11 matches to miss the playoffs. Matt Ryan has thrown for over 4000 yards in each of the last 5 seasons, however he will need to be more consistent this season if the Falcons are to improve. Jameis Winston enters his second season as the Buccaneers franchise quarterback looking to build off a promising rookie campaign. Winston meshed well with Dirk Koetter, last season's Offensive Coordinator, who has been promoted to Head Coach when the Glazers fired Lovie Smith after the Bucs went 6-10.

Verdict  - Falcons 27 Bucs 23

I have picked the Falcons to finish last in the NFC South, however I think they can sneak a home win here. They often start fast at home and with the Bucs under new coaching I think they might take a few weeks to get things together.  Expect Matt Ryan to play pretty well and lead his side to a close victory. 

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) @ Tennessee Titans (0-0) - Nissan Stadium

Minnesota Vikings  new signing Sam Bradford is likely to be thrown straight into the fire at Nissan Stadium on Sunday against the Titans after he was dramatically traded to the Vikings. With Teddy Bridgewater suffering a shocking season-ending knee injury, Bradford will be seen as a steady hand that can guide a talented Vikings team back to the playoffs. The Vikings will be relying heavily on Adrian Peterson to run rampant against a leaky Titan's run defence. The Titans will be looking to put a nightmare 2015 behind them where they went 3-13 and were cast adrift at the bottom of the AFC South. Second-year Head Coach Mike Mularkey and second-year rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota have a few more weapons around them and will be expected to be far more competitive in 2016. 

Verdict - Titans 23 Vikings 20

I'm going with a home upset for the Titans here. I have tipped them to win 6 games this season so I think a home game against a quarterback thrown into the fire represents a great opportunity for the Titans. I think Adrian Petersen is a big chance to run for over 100 yards, but I see Sam Bradford having a costly turnover or two to hand the Titans a win. 

San Diego Chargers (0-0) @ Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) - Arrowhead Stadium

The Chargers head into the Arrowhead Stadium cauldron for an AFC West Divisional matchup against the Chiefs to kick off 2016 for both sides. The Chiefs swept the Chargers last season and will enter this game as heavy favourites. After starting last season 1-5, the Chiefs went on a remarkable 11 match winning streak before bowing out to New England in the Divisional Playoff Round. The Chargers had a nightmare 2015, finishing a long last in the AFC West and will be relying on Phillip Rivers and a few new signings to elevate this team back into contention this year. 

Verdict - Chiefs 33 Chargers 10

I just see this as a beat down for the Chargers. Arrowhead is a really tough place to play and the Chiefs will be really fired up for their home opener. Expect Alex Smith and the Chiefs' offence to control the clock and spend well over half the game in possession on their way to a comfortable win. 

Oakland Raiders (0-0) @ New Orleans Saints (0-0) -Mercedes Benz Superdome

The Raiders travel to New Orleans for a high octane match with Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Sunday. After 14 years straight without a winning season or a playoff appearance the Raiders are being tipped by many to finally break through by many experts in 2016. With a franchise quarterback in the making in Derek Carr entering his 3rd season, a big offensive line and some weapons to throw to, the Raiders are on the rise. It's just a question of whether they can equate their talent to wins. The Saints are coming off back-to-back 7-9 seasons with their favourite duo in veteran quarterback Drew Brees and experienced Head Coach Sean Payton looking to make the Saints relative again. The Saints' offence has still put up decent numbers recently, however their defence has been exceptionally poor and will need to improve dramatically if they are to get back to the playoffs. 

Verdict - Saints 37 Raiders 34

I think this has all the hallmarks of a shoot-out on the fast track in the Superdome. Both sides like to fling the ball down field and play at a high tempo. Combined with some questionable secondary play, I think these teams will trade touchdowns all afternoon before the Saints prevail with a late field goal. 

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) @ New York Jets (0-0) - MetLife Stadium

The Bengals and Jets will be looking to put bitter memories of their last games of 2015 then they lock horns on Sunday. The Bengals fumbled away a last minute loss to bitter division rivals the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card Game. The loss dropped them to 0-7 in the playoffs under Marvin Lewis and they will be expecting to get right back to the playoffs with the talent on their roster here. The Jets have missed the playoffs the past 5 seasons however at 10-6 were unlucky to miss out in 2015. Under rookie He'd Coach Todd Bowles the Jets far exceeded expectations before bombing the last game against Buffalo to miss the playoffs. 

Verdict - Bengals 30 Jets 20

I'm not sure Ryan Fitzpatrick can have the same stellar year he put together last season. The Bengals just look the better side for mine however will not have things all their own way is a hostile environment. I just think they look like they have more points in them then the Jets offensively. 

Cleveland Browns (0-0) @ Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) - Lincoln Financial Field

The Eagles and Browns are opening new chapters under new head coaches as they come together in Philly on Sunday. The Eagles were quick to terminate Chip Kelly's employment after the team underachieved last year in going 7-9. In his place comes Offensive Coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs the past 2 seasons Doug Pederson. Carson Wentz the rookie quarterback will be thrown into the fire after Sam Bradford was traded to the Vikings just last week. The Browns hired former Oakland Raiders Head Coach and Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson after a nightmare 3-13 season in 2015. Jackson will be looking for Robert Griffin III to provide some spark at quarterback after the high draft pick's career took a tumble in Washington.

Verdict - Eagles 17 Browns 19

I'm going with the Browns to cause an upset here although anything could happen in this game. I just think Robert Griffin has had longer to prepare then Carson Wentz and might provide a little more stable quarterback play. I expect both teams to be quite conservative and defence to dominate this game. 

Green Bay Packers (0-0) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) - EverBank Fields

The Jaguars will be looking to cash in on the renewed optimism around their young team by upsetting Green Bay in their home opener on Sunday. Whilst the Jaguars went 5-11 last season, they were far more competitive and have added more young talent to their roster. The Packers were slightly underwhelming last season despite making the divisional round of the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers had arguably the worst year he has had for a while, however with a fully fit Jordie Nelson back, he will be looking to put up better numbers.

Verdict - Packers 31 Jaguars 24

I think this will be a high quality game with the Jaguars really fired up for their home opener. Green Bay were awful on the road at times last season which makes you think they could get upset here. However I cannot take Blake Bortles over Aaron Rodgers in a head to head contest.