DAVE TEES’S NFL PREVIEW/PREDITIONS FOR WEEK 1 – PART TWO
San Francisco 49ers (0-0-0) vs. Green Bay Packers (0-0-0) – Sunday September 9th at 4:25pm EST. on Fox
The San Francisco 49ers will be looking to build on the success on the 2011-2012 season, where they made it to the NFC Championship. The defense remains mostly intact from last season, which was one of the leagues overall best defenses. The offense gets a major boost with the additions of wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, plus running back Brandon Jacobs. Quarterback Alex Smith will have more targets to throw the ball to this year, which will help a lackluster passing game that wound up costing the 49ers a Super Bowl spot.
The Green Bay Packers were shocked on their home turf last year when the New York Giants came to town and sent them packing from the playoffs. Perhaps the biggest loss for the team is that up backup Matt Flynn, who moved onto the Seattle Seahawks. The addition of running back Cedric Benson could prove to be a wise move as the running game was pretty much absent last season. The always talented defense of the Packers may be in question in this game, with starters Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji entering the game injured.
Prediction: This game will be about the suffocating defense of the San Francisco 49ers versus the magnificent offense of the Green Bay Packers. However, the X factor will be the improved offense of the 49ers as they pull away to win a close one 38-35.
Seattle Seahawks (0-0-0) vs. Arizona Cardinals (0-0-0) – Sunday September 9th at 4:25pm EST. on Fox
The Seattle Seahawks are looking to rebound from a terrible 2011-2012 season, where they finished third in the NFC West. Perhaps the biggest shocker coming out of Seattle in the pre-season is that rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has been named the starter. The passing game should be much improved this season with Golden Tate, Percy Harvin and Zach Miller catching the ball. The defense of the Seattle Seahawks will be called into question, especially with the much improved offenses of their other divisional rivals.
The Arizona Cardinals ended their pre-season by ending the quarterback controversy when they named John Skelton the starter over Kevin Kolb. Outside of the great Larry Fitzgerald, there are not plenty of other great targets for Skelton to throw the ball to. The Cardinals defense played decently last season, but will have to play even better considering how lackluster the offense will be. Running back Beanie Wells should come into his own this season as he will have to carry a lot of the offensive load left behind from Larry Fitzgerald.
Prediction: The Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals are in no way playoff contenders this season or the next few. These two teams will be battling for second place in the division and it will be the Seahawks getting the victory over the Cardinals 17-3.
Carolina Panthers (0-0-0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0-0) – Sunday September 9th at 4:25pm EST. on Fox
The Carolina Panthers were one of the NFL’s best surprises last season, more notably the play of then rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Cam Newton has a great backfield behind him, as well as the great Steve Smith playing on the receiving end. The Panthers defense was a letdown last season, but have made enough improvements that they should be more competitive this season. Also, just in case of a potential sophomore slump from Cam Netwon, the bench of the Panthers features backups Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have been less than stellar last season, but will be in the playoff hunt this season due to some offensive improvements. Those offensive improvements mainly come with wide receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Dallas Clark. Although running back Doug martin is a decent player, he will not make the strides necessary for the Buc’s to have a good running game. The Buccaneers have always been known to have a top ranked defense and this year’s team will be no different from past ones.
Prediction: The Carolina Panthers have a real opportunity to make the playoffs this season, much like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do. While both teams made plenty of offensive improvements this season, the Panthers are further ahead and will beat the Buccaneers 32-17.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-0) vs. Denver Broncos (0-0-0) – Sunday September 9th at 8:20pm EST. on NBC
The Pittsburgh Steelers will start the season off without any controversy, unlike last season after the Ben Rothlisberger incident. Wide receiver Mike Wallace finally returned to Pittsburgh after a contractual dispute, but the lack of training camp will affect him. Ben Rothlisberger will have to pass a lot more this year, because the rushing game will be weaker with Jonathan Dwyer as running back. The staple of Pittsburgh throughout the years has been the defense and it will be just as good this season.
The Denver Broncos made a lot of news in the off-season when they traded away quarterback Tim Tebow and then signed the great Peyton Manning. Manning did not look back recovering from his neck injury and even toasted the San Francisco 49ers in the pre-season. Manning will get a lot of help in the backfield, with the excellent Willis McGahee returning after an excellent 2011-2012 campaign. The Denver Broncos defense was pretty good last season and with veterans like Champ Bailey returning to the field.
Prediction: This game is just like the 49ers versus Packers in that it features a great offense taking on a great defense. This game will wind up like the Denver Broncos versus the 49ers pre-season game, with Denver dismantling the Pittsburgh Steelers 49-25.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-0-0) vs. Baltimore Ravens (0-0-0) – Monday September 10th at 7pm EST. on ESPN
The Cincinnati Bengals were the surprise of the NFL last season, being led by rookies Andrew Dalton and AJ Green. Those two will get even bigger help from the backfield this year with BenJarvus Green-Ellis taking the handoffs. Former Niners safety Taylor Mays has been added to the Bengals defense, which should boost an already good offense. The question surrounding the Bengals this years is whether or not that they can carry the momentum gained last season to this season, which will give the Bengals a second playoff run.
Not much has changed this season in Baltimore, as the Ravens offense and defense return with very few changes. Running back Ray Rice will be returning as one of the more prominent running backs in the entire NFL this year. The always dominant Baltimore Ravens defense returns with charismatic leader Ray Lewis again in control. Last season, the Ravens were only a few steps from a Super bowl appearance and this year they will be making another run.
Prediction: The Cincinnati Bengals are primed for a second playoff run, but they must defeat teams like the Baltimore Ravens to ensure their success. While that will eventually happen, it will not happen this Monday as the Ravens will a defensive clash 17-10.
San Diego Chargers (0-0-0) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-0-0) – Monday September 10th at 10:15pm EST. on ESPN
The San Diego Chargers have been the more consistently disappointing team in the NFL during the past few seasons. This year, tight end Antonio Gates looks to be relatively healthy and that should help make the Chargers offense even more dangerous. The Chargers defense is still as good as past seasons and that should be helpful if the offense can step up this year. The issue with the Chargers in past seasons has been the mental game and that their most unpredictable factor this coming season.
Last year, the Oakland Raiders pulled off a spectacular move when they acquired quarterback Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals. With a full training camp in Oakland, Carson Palmer should be even more prepared to take the Raiders into the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders have also been known for their defenses and they will look to end their recent struggles this season. If quarterback Carson Palmer can return to his old form this season, the AFC West has gotten a lot more competitive.
Prediction: This game could set the pace in the AFC West and these two teams will be the front runners at seasons end. Carson Palmer will be in form by seasons end, but he will fall short in week one as the San Diego Chargers defeat the Oakland Raiders (28-17).
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