The 2009 NFL regular season kicks off tonight. I will post NFL previews and predictions week to week for the third year in a row. NFL Week 1 is highlighted by rivalry games, tasty fantasy matchups, and a Monday Night Football double header. The waiting is over and it is now time to break down the highlights of Week 1.
The season starts with a tremendous rivalry game in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans open up the season. Even a Super Bowl can’t erase the memory of Titans players stomping on the terrible towel last season. These two teams may be in different divisions, but make no mistake that this is a rivalry.
Keep in mind that it is virtually impossible to get an idea of how any NFL team will look in Week 1. I can only base this game on a few facts and tidbits. The Titans are minus Albert Haynesworth this season. Kerry Collins has never put up back to back seasons like he had last season for the Titans. The Steelers didn’t lose too many key components to free agency. The game is in Pittsburgh.
[adinserter block=”1″]I expect a big game out of Willie Parker. Parker is a brittle back, but is at his best in the opening weeks. Case in point, Parker came out of the gates last season for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. Parker is a free agent this year and will be playing out his contract year. I look for Parker to be a candidate for Comeback of the Year at the end of the season.
The bottom line here is that I think Tennessee had too much change in the off season and not enough in the right places. I think the Steelers come out fired up and route the Titans. The Steelers are motivated by the towels and the loss last season. That won’t happen again. This is revenge, week 1 at home, defending champs, I go Steelers are the way with this one.
For me, the game this week is my Philadelphia Eagles opening up on the road in Carolina. The Eagles have gone from a Super Bowl favorite to a playoff question mark this pre season. The Panthers will play their first game since a very disappointing playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals. This has the potential to be a much better game than NFL fans are expecting.
I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t have a lot of faith in the Eagles this season. I think their offensive line is in shambles and Jason Peters may be a huge bust. Hello Julius Peppers! For a blitzing defense like Carolina, this has the potential to be a massacre. Brian Westbrook didn’t take a snap in the pre season and will have some rust on him. Stewart Bradley’s injury will make this defense susceptible and the Panthers are the right team to take advantage of this.
The key here is getting pressure on Jake Delhomme. The Eagles have done well against Delhomme the last few years with blitzes and pressure. However, that was a long time ago with different personnel and a different coordinator. The Eagles are always questionable against the run, and this year it may not even be a question. Carolina will undoubtedly have some big opportunities here unless the defense can put pressure on Jake Delhomme. If not, Delhomme and Steve Smith are going to beat these defensive backs all day long.
Unfortunately I see a bad Eagles loss here. I just think the Panthers have too many weapons on offense for the birds. This is one of those games that you really can’t pick on Week 1. There are just too many questions on the Eagles to make a pick either way with confidence. However, going with my gut I predict an Eagles loss and lots of chants for Michael Vick in South Philly bars.
Upsets are guaranteed in the first few weeks of the NFL regular season. Last season the Panthers and Bears shocked Chargers and Colts fans. I can see a few upsets in the making this weekend. Off the top of my head, I think Detroit is going to be a much better team than people are thinking. They will catch some teams off guard this season and the Saints can be one of them. As long as Stafford is starting, Detroit will be in the game and I see an ugly day for Saints fans.
The other major upset is Washington and the Giants. I will go on a limb now and tell you that I think the Redskins are winning the division. This team has the least questions of anyone in the NFC East. Tell me who is Eli Manning is going to throw to and maybe I’ll give the Giants another look. Jason Campbell looked real good in the pre season against first team defenses. I expect a lot of long balls this season from him to Santana Moss. I really like the Redskins and the fun begins on Sunday for Washington fans.
Fantasy Fix – I like to stay away from the obvious here. It is easy for me to write about playing Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson every week. So I try and take a look at some players you wouldn’t think about and sleepers. As stated above, I think Willie Parker is a great play this week at Tennessee. Do not treat this year’s Titans like last years. Mike Tomlin also said that Parker will not play in a time share and will be the goal line back. I see lots of goal line opportunities for him this week.
Once again I also love Santana Moss this weekend against the Giants. Everything I read and what I have seen says that the Redskins will be looking at the long ball this season. The Giants embarrassed the Redskins last season on opening night. I don’t see the same thing happening two years running.
I love Matt Schaub this season if he can stay healthy. I love him even more this weekend. Rex Ryan is going to run an aggressive defense in New York. The offense will be the problem this weekend. I have read a few interviews and Texans defensive players are salivating at the opportunity to play against Sanchez. I see Sanchez turning the ball over quite a bit and giving Schaub and the offense some great scoring opportunities.
[adinserter block=”2″]Fantasy Sleeper – Mike Bell may be a steal if Pierre Thomas doesn’t go. Bell is a decent back and may get goal line carries over Reggie Bush. As of today, it looks like Thomas isn’t going but watch the wire on Sunday. If the game gets out of hand, Bell could rack up some great yards in garbage time.
Week 1 Picks (Picks in BOLD)-
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Miami at Atlanta
Denver at Cincinnati
Minnesota at Cleveland
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Detroit at New Orleans
Dallas at Tampa Bay
Philadelphia at Carolina
Kansas City at Baltimore
NY Jets at Houston
Washington at NY Giants
San Francisco at Arizona
St. Louis at Seattle
Chicago at Green Bay
Buffalo at New England
San Diego at Oakland
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