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- Week 1 Predictions: Moss & Brady

Chris Pokorny September 7, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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The 2005-2006 NFL season is officially here. It is Week 1 and there are alot of great games lined up for us. There are so many questions to be answered this year, but Week 1 may be a bit more revealing than we think. Last year, 15 out of the 16 winning teams finished the season with the same or better records than their opponents in Week 1. The only exception was when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Ravens. Although teams can often rebound, the first week of the season can set the tempo and chemistry for the rest of the season.

In a place like Miami, Gus Frerotte's performance against the Broncos may determine whether he keeps his job, or whether Sage Rosenfels will be breathing closer down his neck. In Cleveland, the Browns need to decide who their starting running back will be this season. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers need to find out if Willie Parker can handle the load that Jerome Bettis has had in the past. In Philadelphia, the Eagles need to find out if they have the right type of chemistry on their team. In San Francisco, the 49ers need to see if Tim Rattay should continue to start over Alex Smith.

Last year, Ben Roethlisberger took over for Tommy Maddox early on and led the team to victory. Two years ago, Jake Delhomme took over in Week 1 and led his team to the Super Bowl. If you're going to make a season changing decision, it's better to make it early. We all know how things ended up in Cleveland last year when Butch Davis lost his team completely, when Josh McCown was replaced in Arizona, and when Eli Manning took over for Kurt Warner. All of those moves took place near mid-season and ruined any chance of their teams making the playoffs.

Now, let's start off with the games of the week for Week 1(Red = Prediction).

Thursday Night Kickoff
Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots
If you're not pumped up for this game, then you're watching the wrong sport. The NFL is kicking off with possibly the best team in the NFL - the New England Patriots. It's tough to beat a team that's won three Super Bowls in the past four years. The Patriots are 16-0 during the regular season and undefeated in the playoffs the past two seasons when playing in Foxburo. If there's a team that has a chance to come in and beat the Patriots, it has to be a team that's fresh. It has to be a team that will be tough for the Patriots to study because they have brought something new to the table. The Oakland Raiders fit that bill perfectly.

The Raiders have added Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan to their team, which will pick up their offense tremendously. Moss and Jerry Porter are both Pro Bowl caliber receivers. In the slots, Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel gained the experience last year to be considered threats. Jordan has always been a successful backup runner in New York, having a very high yards-per-carry average. The Patriots have lost both of their coordinators. The fact is though that the Patriots still have the playmakers such as Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Deion Branch, and a defense that can succeed with Troy Brown as a slot cornerback. The Raiders will pose a great threat to New England, but they won't be the one to end New England's home-field advantage. Patriots win a good game.

Arrowhead's Resurgence
New York Jets vs. Kansas City Chiefs
For the past few years, the Chiefs could not become a dominating team because as soon as their offense did great, their defense would do them worse. The Chiefs made some key defensive pickups in the offseason including Patrick Surtain, Sammy Knight, Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell. Offensively, the Chiefs have all they need to succeed still in Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez and a healthy Priest Holmes. Larry Johnson showed plenty of explosiveness last year to make him the perfect guy to go in when Holmes needs a play off.

The Jets best move in the offseason was getting Laveranues Coles back on their team. It was obvious that Coles had much better chemistry with Pennington than Santana Moss did. The Jets lost backup LaMont Jordan in the offseason, but they picked up former Chief Derrick Blaylock to back up Curtis Martin, the rushing leader from last year. The signing of Ty Law could prove to be an underrated move, and drafting Mike Nugent will hopefully eliminate their kicking woes. Although the Jets will be a tough team this year, the Chiefs' offense will be a little too much in this one. Chiefs win a semi-shootout.

Dream Offense vs. Dream Defense
Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens
Playing on the road against one of the most feared defenses in the NFL is never easy - unless you're Peyton Manning. While it won't be "easy" as mentioned, Manning and the Colts' offense proved to be very dangerous last year against any team except the Patriots in postseason. The Colts will get a boost after announcing that Brandon Stokley will be returning to action this week, coming off of a four-game injury during the preseason. While the Colts defense is not overwhelming, they made some decent pickups and will not be intimidated by Kyle Boller.

The Ravens' defense has switched to a "46" formation and will be as good, if not better, than they always are. The story for the Ravens is that they have finally taken steps to improve their offense. The Ravens added Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton in the offseason, and will have a healthy Todd Heap. In my opinion though, the Ravens will not be going anywhere until they find a suitable replacement at the quarterback position. Kyle Boller is not good enough to get the ball to his receivers, and he does not do well under pressure. Colts win by scoring around 20, but Ravens can't score enough to come close.

NFC Championship Re-Match
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
Ever since tasting defeat in the NFC Championship game last year, the Falcons have to be seeking revenge on the first Monday Night Football game of the regular season. The Falcons are hoping that Michael Vick becomes a better passer than in recent years. The team cut Peerless Price in hopes that Michael Jenkins will fit the roll better. Atlanta has the tools of being a Super Bowl contending team.

Despite losing Todd Pinkston and Correll Buckhalter for the season, the Eagles seem like the same type of team as last year. Lamar Gordon will be a good replacement for Buckhalter, and Greg Lewis is more of a receiving threat than Pinkston anyway. McNabb to Owens, despite being a non-verbal connection, is too tough to cover. This game should come down to the very last second, but the Falcons will win round two at their home.

And now, the rest of the week...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Buccaneers have not been very impressive since there Super Bowl victory a few years ago, but they showed some signs of life last year. Brian Griese and Michael Clayton opened some eyes on offense. Carnell Williams may have to battle Michael Pittman for playing time. The Buccaneers still have room need to improve before they can compete with a team like the Vikings. Losing Moss won't really affect Culpepper, as shown in the preseason. Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson will do just fine against the Buccaneers and pick up the victory. We all know the Vikings can do well early in the season, but what about later in the year?

Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills
The Texans did not take a big enough step in the offseason to push their team into contention. The Bills, meanwhile, hope to build on the success that they had in the second half of last season. Switching to J.P. Losman this year will not hurt the Bills chances of winning. Although Bledsoe came on strong last year for Buffalo, he often made costly interceptions or fumbles. Losman may not be better at the moment than Bledsoe, but he won't cause any "drop" in production. Willis McGahee was one of the most impressive running backs last year and will be the key to the Bills' playoff chances this year. Bills win by a great start for McGahee.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns
By selecting the Browns, I am trying to make a "non-homeristic" decision. The Bengals have a reputation for starting slow under Marvin Lewis. Their offense could be the best in the AFC North, but that won't matter if the chemistry isn't sharp in Week 1. The Browns have a lot of questions, but they also have a lot of depth. They have three running backs with the potential of being starters, and are deep at the receiving position. The Browns have continued to adjust to the 3-4 formation and will do just enough to beat the Bengals in what will be considered a shocker by many.

Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Although I'm not too high on the Steelers chances of being as dangerous as last year, this is a game that they should win. Ben Roethlisberger will likely enter his sophomore slump, Plaxico Burress is gone, and Willie Parker is the starting running back. What will carry the Steelers? Their defense will lead them to success in this game. Tennessee will struggle to get things going to the running game, and while McNair will have a decent game, he will throw a costly interception at least once in this game. The Steelers' offense will chime in with a clutch score or two, which will be enough to pick up the win.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a tough pick to make because the Jaguars have very high hopes for this season. Their defense will continue to be strong, and their offensive production will be better this year. The Seahawks best move was to get rid of Koren Robinson, allowing them to stay away from part of their history of dropping the football. Shaun Alexander is close to as good as it gets. People seem to forget that this was one of the highest rated teams in football last year before they had a consistency issue. Seahawks win the game in the last few minutes.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
I won't be choosing the Panthers to lose very often, especially since I consider them the best team in the NFC. This will be an exciting re-match of when the Saints spoiled the Panthers chances of making the playoffs in Week 17 last year. New Orleans will likely be playing 16 away games theoretically, so it will be tough for them. They seem to do well on the road, but the Panthers are fully healthy this year. The addition of Rod Gardner and the return of Steve Smith will jumpstart a Panthers offense that was on fire without either of those men last year. Panthers win in convincing fashion.

Denver Broncos vs. Miami Dolphins
Unfortunately for Gus Frerotte, I don't think it'll be a very good opening day for the Dolphins. While I agree with Frerotte being the starting quarterback, there is nothing that will "wow" the Broncos' defense, which is one of the league's best. The Dolphins also have a pretty strong defense, which could pose a threat to the inconsistent Jake Plummer. Plummer has too much talent around him though to lose this game, despite it being on the road. Denver wins in a fairly lopsided game.

Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins
If you're into a game of punting and defense, this could be the game for you. This will really be a match-up of which offensive weapon means more to their team: Clinton Portis for Washington or Mushin Muhammad for Chicago. Both players will have successful seasons despite being on lackluster offensive teams. Kyle Orton has showed promise but will not have a whole lot of sparkling moments against the Redskins' defense. Neither will Patrick Ramsey against the Bears, so the Redskins win since they have better experience.

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers
The Cowboys took a lot of steps in the right direction this offseason. Drew Bledsoe should make better decisions that Testaverde did, and Peerless Price is back with his old quarterback as a backup. On the other side of the football, Demarcus Ware could be the defensive rookie of the year as he showed a ton of potential during the preseason. The Chargers still need to prove themselves this year, because you never know if a team is a one-hit wonder. Antonio Gates will be suspended for this game, but LaDanian Tomlinson will do enough to get the win.

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
On paper, the Lions seem like one of the best offenses in the NFL. They have three excellent young receivers, a good tight end this year, and a young running back. What's missing? A quarterback, at least in my opinion. Joey Harrington has done nothing over the years to impress me, and it will cost the Lions in this game. Everyone thinks that the Packers will fall this year. I've been hearing that almost every year, and it's getting old. Brett Favre and the Packers will win this game due to Harrington's poor play. Fortunately for him, there is no one to really "replace" him at the moment.

Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants
The Cardinals must get off to a hot start this season if they want to be neck and neck with the Rams and Seahawks near the end of the season. Kurt Warner will be facing his team from last year, so this can be considered a game of mentor vs. student. Eli has not shown enough yet for me to believe that he can make a difference in a game at this point. The Cardinals have too much depth at the receiving position for the Giants to cover, which will allow the Cardinals to pick up the road win.

St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
I know that the Rams typically have not been as strong on the road as they have been at home, but this game has blowout written all over it. The Rams have all of the tools they need offensively - a good quarterback, two great receivers, two great running backs, and 2 good slot receivers. It should be a run and gun system for the Rams, while the 49'ers will struggle offensively. Tim Rattay won the starting job, but it wouldn't make any real difference who plays between him and Alex Smith.

That's it for the predictions this week. Like last year though, it's time for my survivor pick. Every week, I will pick a team that I think is a "lock" to win. To make things tougher though, I cannot pick that same team to win during a winning streak of picks.

Since this is week one, I can select any team of my choosing. Therefore, I am picking the St. Louis Rams to defeat the San Francisco 49ers. It was pretty clear that I feel this game will be a blowout. However, I do feel it's wise to select the Rams here since they do have some consistency problems under Mike Martz.

I usually have an average predicting record after Week 1 of the season, so hopefully I made some better decisions this year. It's great to have the NFL season back, and it all starts with Moss and Brady on Thursday - don't miss it.

-Chris Pokorny

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