Skip to main content

NFL Week 1 viewer's guide

The season opener between the Seahawks and Packers is over, but we still have a full slate Sunday and a juicy Monday night doubleheader to look forward to. Luckily, Kevin Patra is here every week to fill you in on the key storylines for each matchup. Consider this your handy guide as you settle into your couch for all the NFL action.

Expect a heavy dose of Toby Gerhart. The free-agent signee should tote the rock plenty in Week 1 as the Jags try to keep the Eagles' offense off the field. (The countdown to the Blake Bortles era officially starts.)

Chip Kelly's offense had 4,110 passing yards and 2,566 rushing yards in 2013. Nick Foles comes off a magical statistical season and gets a plum matchup with a shallow Jags' D. We get our first glimpse of how big a leap the offense can make in Kelly's second season.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 Nick Foles will build on his 
 impressive 2013 

Are the Jaguars a solid choice to be one of 2014's dark horse picks?

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Eagles.

Coming off an ACL tear, Brian Hoyer struggled on throws of 10-plus yards this preseason, completing just 3 of 13 passes. If that doesn't improve, it's going to be a long, long, long day against Dick LeBeau's defense.

Speaking of the Steelers' defense, Ryan Shazier will be a rare rookie starter for the legendary coach. He's one to watch, but the entire unit will need to shake off some wanting preseason performances.

Pregame reading material
How prepared is Pittsburgh for Manziel-designed plays?
Markus Wheaton expects to be a factor downfield for the Steelers
Browns coach Mike Pettine: No quick hook for Brian Hoyer
What will life be like without Josh Gordon?

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Steelers.

The Vikings have playmakers that belie their 2013 record. None brings more intrigue than Cordarrelle Patterson. Our "No. 1 Making The Leap" candidate is looking to extend his five-game touchdown streak (tied for the NFL lead with Jamaal Charles and Dez Bryant). Get this man the ball in space!

Who doesn't like watching a sledgehammer slamming into a cinderblock wall? That is what watching Adrian Peterson ram into St. Louis' dominant defensive line is going to be like in this battle of wills.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Vikings.

Bill Belichick finally has playmakers on the defensive side of the ball to allow his creative juices to flow. It will be interesting to see how he utilizes the uber-skills of Darrelle Revis. Oh, and in case you haven't been following football for the past six months, Mr. Robert James Gronkowski is expected to finally be back.

Ryan Tannehill's move-it-or-lose-it year starts Sunday. The battered quarterback must prove he can guide coordinator Bill Lazor's shiny new system -- especially if the deep-ball issues persist. He'll get a stiff test in Week 1.

Pregame reading material
Tom Brady seems to think Logan Mankins' presence will be missed
New England is a popular pick to make it to Super Bowl XLIX
Will Miami's offense be quicker than it was in the preseason?
Knowshon Moreno is hopeful he can pick up in Miami where he left off

Who will win? Four of five Around The NFL writers pick the Patriots.

Raiders fans got their wish: Derek Carr will debut his explosive arm in Week 1, the first Raiders rookie signal-caller to receive that honor. He'll have to overcome Rex Ryan (7-3 against rookies as a head coach) and a plethora of blitzes.

A thousand eyes and one will be on Geno Smith's every dropback. As important will be a Jets front seven tasked with protecting a hollow back end. Last year it allowed Oakland to rack up 150 yards on the ground. You can bet the Raiders will ride Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden a lot with the rookie at the helm.

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Jets.

Jamaal Charles led the Chiefs in rushes, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season. He'll be even more important for quarterback Alex Smith in Week 1 without the suspended Dwayne Bowe.

Much will be made of Jake Locker's play, but we want to see how the Titans' new 3-4 front takes on a suspect Chiefs offensive line. Ray Horton has a history of dominant defenses, but it hasn't looked the part thus far as he tries to mold 4-3 players into his style.

Pregame reading material
Alex Smith will play Week 1 armed with a new contract
Around The NFL considers Alex Smith a bottom-tier franchise QB
Ryan Succop will kick against the Chiefs, who recently cut him
Rookie Bishop Sankey should see some carries in his first NFL action

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Chiefs.

It's all about the new coordinators in this matchup. Hue Jackson looks to be more ground-heavy with Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill. On defense, Paul Guenther has a tougher task replacing Mike Zimmer. Getting a healthy body-mover in Geno Atkins will make life easier.

The Ravens will unfurl a new offense under coordinator Gary Kubiak -- one of the more underrated play-callers. His style should meld with Joe Flacco's strengths. How the team handles life without Ray Rice in Week 1 will be something to watch.

Pregame reading material
NFL Media's Gil Brandt: Ravens to miss playoffs again
Can Bernard Pierce handle the load while Ray Rice is suspended?
How will Hue Jackson's Bengal coast O fare?
Margus Hunt can be a monster if he picks up where he ended the preseason

Who will win? Four of five Around The NFL writers pick the Ravens.

The younger, revamped Saints' offense gets to take flight in the Georgia Dome. New Orleans went 9-1 in games played indoors in 2013. Drew Brees with a healthy Jimmy Graham, hyped rookie Brandin Cooks and a friskier Mark Ingram should put on a show.

It was a year ago against the Saints that Falcons owner Arthur Blank began the storyline about his team not being tough enough. We'll get our first sense of whether an offseason chanting about toughness paid off.

Pregame reading material
Mike Tice says the Falcons' O-line "won't be punked" by anyone
Can the Falcons overcome their defensive shortcomings?
The Saints recently signed linebacker Junior Galette to an extension
Drew Brees says he wants to play until he is 45

Who will win? Four of five Around The NFL writers pick the Saints.

Out of the gate, the DeSean Jackson-effect should be fun to track. His speed demands attention, which should open up better looks for Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed et al. But Robert Griffin III must be better from the pocket for that effect to make a difference.

All the hype for the Texans is on the Jadeveon Clowney-J.J. Watt duo. It will be a joy to watch the two dynamic pass rushers wreck havoc for a whole game. Houston is trying to overcome a bungled quarterback situation to become the third straight team to parlay the No. 1 draft pick into a playoff appearance (2013 Chiefs, 2012 Colts).

Pregame reading material
J.J. Watt looks to continue his dominance
Is Ryan Fitzpatrick on the hot seat with the Texans trading for Ryan Mallett?
Will Brandon Meriweather's absence have a major impact?
RGIII experiencing mechanical problems

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Redskins.

EJ Manuel needs a better showing after five truly terrible preseason outings. Having Sammy Watkins full-go should help. Facing a questionable Bears secondary could be an even bigger bonus as the Bills try to win for the first time ever in Chicago (0-5 all time).

We want to see if Jay Cutler is even more polished in his second year under quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman. Santonio Holmes was an intriguing add next to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall if he picked up the offense in only a couple of weeks.

Pregame reading material
C.J. Spiller will do some kick returning
E.J. Manuel wasn't named a Bills team captain
Can Ka'Deem Carey turn things around from a lackluster preseason?
Santonio Holmes is poised to be a great comeback story

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Bears.

Cam Newton is recovering from ankle surgery and dealing with injured ribs. A flak jacket isn't going to help if Bucs super defensive tackle Gerald McCoy continually rips apart a questionable Panthers offensive line to level a quarterback who can't move properly.

The Bucs' offensive line is an even bigger problem. Josh McCown can produce with Tampa's weapons, but he might be under siege by one of the best front sevens in football. No quarterback can complete passes when he's on his back.

Pregame reading material
Bucs OC Jeff Tedford is still on the mend
Logan Mankins trade should help Bucs' shaky O-line
Can Cam carry the Panthers?
Cam is a game-time decision as he recovers from rib injury

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Panthers.

The 49ers' starting offense scored six points in three preseason games. However, this is no time to panic. Frank Gore barely played, offensive linemen missed time and Colin Kaepernick didn't have his full complement of receivers. Look shaky against the Cowboys, however, and we'll revisit.

All eyes will be on Tony Romo coming off a backiotomy. The quarterback needs to take advantage of a 49ers D missing key pieces.

Pregame reading material
Jerry Jones still isn't happy about passing on Johnny Football
Is Rolando McClain a great story or indictment of Cowboys' D?
Losing Aldon Smith has major implications on the Niners' D
The Niners will let due process play out regarding Ray McDonald

Who will win? Four of the five Around The NFL writers pick the 49ers.

Manning vs. Luck 2.0. This time it takes place at Mile High without game-changing pass rusher Robert Mathis. Luck is going have to toss the ball a ton to keep pace with Manning's offense.

The Broncos' high-flying offense might get the highlights, but it's the beefed-up defense with new additions DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward that we want to see in action.

Pregame reading material
Peyton Manning will miss Wes Welker during his four-game sabbatical
Will he miss the Broncos' suspended kicker too?
Robert Mathis left a note to his teammates while he serves his suspension
Will Trent Richardson answer the bell?

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Broncos.

As if learning a new offense wasn't hard enough, the Giants' offensive line continues to be a failure in patchwork. Both starting guards are injured and New York is set to toss out a rookie against Ndamukong Suh. This could get ugly for Eli Manning.

Matthew Stafford displayed some improvement in the preseason. However, after throwing multiple interceptions in each of his last five home games in 2013 (including a loss to the Giants), he'll have to show he can do it in games that actually count.

Pregame reading material
Nick Fairley cleared up his weight issues with a private chef
Will the defense be an issue again for the Lions?
Rookie Odell Beckham hasn't seen much of the field yet
Can the Giants be effective with their new O?

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Lions.

The Chargers' defense got on a hot streak down the stretch in 2013. They'll have a tough time continuing that run when Bruce Arians tosses an offensive arsenal at them, complete with a healthy Larry Fitzgerald, newcomer John Brown and a whole lot of Andre Ellington.

On the flip side, we'll get to see if the reports of a faster-moving Chargers offense can dice and slice as efficiently as it did a year ago against a Cardinals defense that lost key playmakers.

Pregame reading material
Antonio Gates: Malcom Floyd the league's most underrated this decade
Chargers tight end Ladarius Green is Making the Leap
Will Larry Fitzgerald's contract situation affect him?
Rookie John Brown should be a big factor for the Cards early

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Chargers.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content