2015 Insider Picks: Week One
The following Week 1 picks are the average score as selected by the staff of The Sports Quotient. If you think a game will have a different outcome, let us know in the comments!
Two AFC contenders face off in Week 1, as the Indianapolis Colts take on the Buffalo Bills. With Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton healthy and ready to go, look for a high powered passing attack by the Colts, led by quarterback Andrew Luck. On the other side of the ball, look for the Bills defensive line to dominate against the run, with support from Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham. The key to this game will be how Indianapolis' run defense is able to contain LeSean McCoy. After being decimated on the ground by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game last year, the Colts will have to be committed to stopping the run to hold back Shady.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is down a number one receiver, but that really shouldn't be a factor in this one. The Packers have owned this division in Rodgers' stay at starter, and he and the Pack have an opportunity to continue that dominance traveling to Soldier Field on Sunday. The Chicago Bears had a disappointing season last year, but they have hit the mini-reset button by letting go of Mark Tressman and hiring John Fox. Given departures, aging, and injuries, they are noticeably less talented on the offensive side of the ball. A defense that struggled mightily last season will need to play well for the Bears to have a chance in this one.
Kansas City Chiefs
Two impressive defenses square off in Week 1. Both offenses struggled last year in the passing game, and there are plenty of questions still to be answered there. Now that the Chiefs have acquired Jeremy Maclin, the WR touchdown drought should end. The Texans could struggle in that area without Andre Johnson, who joined the rival Colts in free agency. One of the biggest keys of the game will be how Texans QB Brian Hoyer will perform in his first game with the Texans. A strong performance from him could result in a Texan victory.
Another Week 1 defensive battle, the Panthers and Jags will likely struggle offensively for at least a few weeks. The Panthers are without WR Kelvin Benjamin, who will miss the season with a torn ACL. The Jags are still very young offensively, and it could take a while for their offense to gel. The kickers could be the difference in this one.
New York Jets
The Browns have various issues to address: poor quarterbacks, an awful defensive line, and no real offensive threat. To make things worse, the game is in New York. Their lone bright spark is the secondary, but that shouldn't be enough to prevent the Jets from winning this one easily in a low-scoring affair.
St. Louis Rams
St. Louis shocked the defending champs last year by playing them hard in their own build ing and coming away with the win. Expect this game to be played no differently. Although Nick Foles is no savior at quarterback, he is a million times better than what they were working with last season. The Rams defense should be as good as ever with their defensive line pressuring Seattle. But if anyone can handle the pressure, it's Russell Wilson, who even has a shiny new toy in Jimmy Graham. And by the way, that Seattle defense is no bunch of slackers either.
There are many questions entering this game for Washington. With the ever-lasting controversy surrounding RGIII, it will be interesting to see how the team comes together in Week 1 behind Kirk Cousins. Cousins has shown glimpses of being good quarterback but has also shown the opposite as well. On the other side, the Miami Dolphins are a team everyone has their eyes on. Ryan Tannehill is out to prove that he can lead the Dolphins into the playoffs and that he isn't only a "statistically good QB." Look for Tannehill to have a big game in this one, playing a Redskins team that seems a bit out of sort.
New Orleans Saints
A classic battle of offense versus defense. The Saints have attempted to retool their offensive line in order to protect Drew Brees and create a running game to rival their high-firing passing attack. The Cardinals defense is certainly up the test and will contain the Saints enough to give their offense a shot. It will come down to whether Carson Palmer can return from injury and break his preseaon struggles to play at a high level.
San Diego Chargers
Two high powered offenses take the field Sunday, with the Detroit Lions playing the San Diego Chargers. The Lions will look to balance their passing and rushing attack with Calvin Johnson and rookie running back Ameer Abdullah. On the other side, the Chargers are looking to lock down Calvin Johnson with the underrated cornerback duo of Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. The key to this game will be the Chargers' front seven stepping up and defending the run. If Corey Liuget is able to step up on the line, it could mean a strong victory for the team
Will Peyton be able to master Kubiak's offense? Will Baltimore be able to get it together? This one has more questions than answers, but is likely to be a thriller. In the end, never count out Peyton in a regular season game.
Two young quarterbacks look to face off this week as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Oakland Raiders. Andy Dalton is looking to break the narrative of being a game manager and would be hard pressed to find an easier team to take advantage of. On the other side, the Raiders are looking forward to a disruptive pass rush after signing Aldon Smith this past week. The key to this game will be if second-year quarterback Derek Carr can take the next step in his progression as a franchise player, and the Bengals defense will make sure he is tested. If he is able to establish a connection with rookie wide reciever Amari Cooper early on, it could mean a sold victory for the team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It's the tale of two rookie QBs playing their first ever NFL regular season game. This one should be decided by the QB play, as the teams are rather evenly matched.
New York Giants
As history has proven, a battle between Tony Romo and Eli Manning has always been entertaining. Each QB has shown that they can either perform outstandingly or inexcusably terribly. With that being said, Sunday night's match-up will be intriguing. Dallas' offense is out to prove that it can remain elite without former Cowboy running back DeMarco Murray, while the Giants are looking to prove that it isn't a two-headed race in the NFC East. Look for the return and impact of Sean Lee on the defensive end for the Cowboys, while the injury-plagued Giants secondary attempts to last against Romo and the Boys.
This game has all the pieces to be a shootout in the making: Chip Kelly's high-octane offense versus Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Can Dan Quinn turn Atlanta's defense into Seattle's? Doubtful. Get ready for a shootout.
San Francisco 49ers
Two franchises heading in two seemingly different directions face off in the final game of the NFL's opening season. Minnesota has been a sexy pick throughout the offseason, and rightfully so, to make a massive improvement and push for a playoff spot. On the exact opposite side of the card, the 49ers, who just missed the playoffs last season after three consecutive trips to at least the Conference Championship, are predicited to be on the decline due to their many big name departures. The Vikings need to win this game to validate the faith that so many have put in them.
Week 1 Record: 1-0
Season Record: 1-0