Football is back! The season officially gets underway tonight with a matchup of storied NFL franchises as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers roll into Chicago to take on Khalil Mack and the Bears. We take a deeper look at this matchup and some of the other notable week-1 games.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, The Packers have been the class of the NFC North for the better part of this decade, but last year thanks to injuries, rifts between coaching staff and players, along with an improved division, it was Chicago who represented the NFC North in the playoffs.
Arguably, The Bears feature the top defense in the NFL with perennial Pro Bowler Khalil Mack at the forefront of that stout unit. He drove the Packers absolutely nuts last year in the season opener, a game that the Packers miraculously came back to win. But Rodgers was not the same all year due to the beating he took that night.
Green Bay comes into Soldier Field with a new head coach, Matt LaFleur. He brings an entirely new offensive system that we have yet to see Rodgers execute this preseason. With Rodgers at the helm, Green Bay is never out of it. We like them to upset the Bears tonight thanks to a classic Aaron Rodgers comeback.
Final Score prediction: Packers 27, Bears 24
Here are our other notable matchups from week-1:
Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings
With a new cast of coordinators, the Falcons look to get back to their winning ways in 2019 after a disappointing and injury ridden 2018 season. Just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, their defense should be back to normal and they still have an explosive offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Devonta Freeman.
Meanwhile, the Vikings choked away their playoff chances down the stretch last season despite having one of the top defenses in the NFL. Major question marks surround Kirk Cousins who has an elite level contract, but has not lived up to expectations. With a healthy Dalvin Cook and the likes of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on the outside, the Vikings have as good a chance as anyone to win the NFC North this year.
Final Score prediction: Falcons 24, Vikings 20
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
There is no love lost between these two teams. The New York Giants aren’t expected to have a good season, but almost anytime the Giants matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s a grudge match. And this will be Eli Manning’s last trip to Jerry-world (AT&T Stadium; formerly Cowboys Stadium) where he famously signed his name in the locker room after winning the first-ever game played there.
The Odell-less Giants have a new look offense with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard carrying the load as coach Pat Shurmer gets to roll out his system for a second year. Meanwhile, the Cowboys, who are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, are happy to have Ezekiel Elliot signed and back to go along with their other potent offensive pieces and that dangerous pass rush. The key this season for Dallas will be whether Dak Prescott can lead the aerial attack like the Super Bowl caliber quarterback he’s expected to be.
Final Score prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 24,
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Fresh off their sixth Super Bowl title, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots begin the march for their number seven Brady-era championship without familiar face, Rob Gronkowski. It will be interesting to see how they fill the void, but we know for sure this is the Patriots and someone will step up.
They welcome into town the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, who like the Giants, cleaned house of some toxicity by trading away Antonio Brown and not resigning Le’Veon Bell. There is no reason the Steelers shouldn’t be good this year, as their defense is improved and they still have Big Ben, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Connor and a powerful run-blocking offensive line. The problem is, the division is stronger with the Browns as the mainstream favorite and the Ravens lurking in the shadows. Weeks 1-4 are a great time to play the Pats as Belichick typically uses the first four games as warm-ups.
Still, the Pats own the Steelers, especially since they’ve been in Foxboro. We expect the Pats to take this one as they raise yet another banner before kickoff.
Final Score prediction: Patriots 26, Steelers 23
Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints
The final game on our notable slate is one of the two Monday Night Football games for week-1, New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The Saints return with their prolific offense led by Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas. It goes along with an up and down defensive unit that has the potential to be very good, but has to prove it. The Saints were a bad pass-interference no-call away from making the Superbowl last year. As a result, the League changed the rule; pass interference can now be challenged by coaches in 2019. They’ll be hungry to get back as their Brees window is closing.
The Texans decided to go all-in, especially after hearing Andrew Luck retired. They traded a ton of draft picks to Miami for offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and wideout Kenny Stills while trading away Jadeavon Clowney, who they had no intention on signing to the mega deal he’s likely to get when his contract is up. Deshaun Watson can be a top 5 NFL quarterback if given the protection and Tunsil should provide just that for the former Clemson Tiger.
Defensive end JJ Watt is nearing the end of his NFL career and wideout DeAndre Hopkins is in the prime of his career. The time is now for the Texans, but they’ll have to wait until week-2 for their first win of the season. New Orleans is just too good at home in primetime.
Final Score prediction: Saints 31, Texans 26
The remaining games of the week are as follows. Enjoy the week-1 games, good luck to your fantasy teams and check back in for our week-2 preview
- Kansas City Chiefs vs Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans vs Cleveland Browns
- Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins
- Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles
- Los Angeles Rams vs Carolina Panthers
- Indianapolis Colts vs Los Angeles Chargers
- Cincinnati Bengals vs Seattle Seahawks
- San Francisco 49ers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Detroit Lions vs Arizona Cardinals
- Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders