By Joel Deering
It’s that time of year again! The 2018 NFL season is here! The preseason is over and we’re finally on to the games that actually matter. Every game means something from this point on. Who will start off on the right foot in 2018? Here are my pick for Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season!
Falcons vs Eagles (Thursday)
Nick Foles has been the named the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. The Super Bowl MVP starts the season for the defending champions as they look to win another championship. Matt Ryan is the opposing QB, and if I had my choice between the two QB’s I’d for sure pick Ryan over Foles, but this matchup comes down to more than who has the better QB. The Eagles reloaded their roster all around this offseason, and I expect them to be a dominant team again this year, regardless of who’s playing QB for them. The reigning champs start off their 2018 campaign with a win.
Bengals vs Colts
Andrew Luck is back for the Colts this year, but I think he may take some time to get back to his old self. I think the Bengals could be a team who ends up being a lot better than we all expect them to be. I’ve seen predictions from them winning their division to being last place. In other words, no one really knows what the Bengals are. What I do know is they’re playing a defense that was one of the worst in the NFL last year. I think they’ll be better this year, but A.J. Green and the Bengals get the best of them in Week 1.
Bills vs Ravens
There’s more to this game than who’s the QB, but who the QB is does play a big factor in this game. The Bills are starting Nate Peterman in Week 1. The Ravens have Joe Flacco. Flacco hasn’t looked great in recent years, but he will still outplay Peterman. If they quickly make the switch to Josh Allen, it will be the same result. The Ravens had one of the better defensive units in the NFL last year, especially when they played against bad teams. Against bad teams they dominated. I expect the Ravens defense to feast against the Bills offense.
Buccaneers vs Saints
The Buccaneers are widely considered as one of the worst teams heading into the season, while the Saints are considered Super Bowl contenders. That alone should tell you who I’m picking. With the weapons Drew Brees has, it’s not going to be hard to out duel Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don’t expect the Saints to take a step back on defense this year either.
Texans vs Patriots
Some believe the Patriots are taking a step back this season, but they still have Tom Brady. Until they actually show signs of declining, I’m probably going to pick them in most matchups, but not in this one. The Texans should be an improved team. Watson is back to toss a bunch of TD’s, and the defense is expected to be back at the top of the league. JJ Watt and the defensive line will get after Tom Brady in this game. They try to replicate what the Eagles did in the Super Bowl, and it works. Don’t worry Patriots fans, you’ll probably still go 13-3.
49ers vs Vikings
Jimmy Garoppolo’s undefeated record as a starter comes to an end in Week 1 of the 2018 season. The 49ers are expected to be improved this year, but they have a very tough Week 1 matchup. The Vikings have one of the best defensive units in the NFL. That should be enough to get them the win. They should also have a pretty good offense though. I expect Dalvin Cook to have a great season, while Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen should pick up where they left off. Sorry about your undefeated streak Jimmy.
Titans vs Dolphins
I’ve said this several times, but I expect the Dolphins to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. When you lose several of your best players, you’re not going to be a better team. The Titans were a playoff team last year, and I think they had a good offseason. I’m not sure they’ll be in the playoffs again this year, but I think they’ll be in the mix to get in. Derrick Henry starts off on the right foot as the starting RB, running all over the Dolphins defense on their way to victory.
Jaguars vs Giants
I think this will be a very exciting matchup to watch. Odell Beckham vs Jalen Ramsey. Leonard Fournette vs Saquon Barkley. Then there’s the underwhelming Blake Bottles vs Eli Manning matchup. I’m going with the Jaguars because I think their defense is better than the Giants’. Sacksonville gets after Manning.
Steelers vs Browns
I expect the Browns to be a much more competitive team this year, but their losing streak continues. Do they have anyone to cover Antonio Brown? Does anyone? That will be a big factor in this game. I think the Browns defense will get after Roethlisberger, but not enough to stop him from getting Brown the ball. The Steelers defense was pretty good last year, so we’ll see how close the Browns get to scoring 40 points on them. Yes, I’m calling out Jarvis Landry.
Chiefs vs Chargers
Patrick Mahomes has some great weapons to throw to, which will help him during the season, but this is his first real NFL game as the guy in Kansas City. Who’s coming to get him on the other side? Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Those two players alone should be enough to rattle the young QB into some mistakes in this game. I think the Chargers pick up where they left off last year and play good football as they try to make a playoff run.
Cowboys vs Panthers
Both teams have problems on the offensive line. Dallas is missing their starting C Travis Frederick, and the Panthers are missing, well………. everyone. I personally don’t think the Panthers will be as good as they were last season. In Week 1 they’re going against Ezekiel Elliott, who is primed for a big season. When Dallas gets their running game going, they’re a pretty good team. I expect the Dallas defense to make more plays against the Panthers beat up line than the Panthers defense against the Dallas line.
Redskins vs Cardinals
How long will it take Sam Bradford to get hurt? I think he’ll survive this game, I hope. The Redskins should be a much improved team this year, at least offensively. They have Alex Smith, who was one of the best QBs last season. He’s got new weapons on the ground and in the air. Can someone on the Cardinals offense step up to help Larry Fitzgerald? I’m not so sure.
Seahawks vs Broncos
Seattle is expected to take a step back this year after losing so many key players on their defense, but they still have one player who can keep them in games. Russell Wilson. Wilson played at an MVP level last season, and I expect him to do the same this year. That’s what it will take from him every game for the Seahawks to be contenders. The Broncos got Case Keenum to fix their QB problems, but I kinda think he was a one year wonder.
Bears vs Packers (Sunday Night)
The Bears will be an improved team this season, but not improved enough to beat Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers seemed primed for a huge season after missing so much of last year. He just signed the largest contract in NFL history, and he’s going to show us why he’s worth it. Chicago plays in a tough division, and unfortunately they start off the season against the best QB in the division and possibly the NFL.
Jets vs Lions (Monday Night)
The Sam Darnold era officially starts for the Jets. Can he out duel Matthew Stafford? Darnold doesn’t really have anyone to throw to, while Stafford has two receivers coming off 1,000 yard seasons. The Lions also have one of the better corners in the NFL, so that will make things even harder for Darnold to get his passing game going. Don’t expect the Jets to go down easily, but I do think the Darnold era starts off with a loss.
Rams vs Raiders (Monday Night)
Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks. Can they put all the new pieces together? Their Super Bowl run starts now, but so does the Jon Gruden era in Oakland. Nobody expects the Raiders to be good this year, but can they surprise us? Can Jon Gruden work some magic? Maybe in later weeks, but not in Week 1 against the Rams. Todd Gurley will pick up where he left off last season, Jared Goff will continue to get better, and the defense will perform well from the start.