By ZACHARY WOHLEKING
After much anticipation, the NFL has returned and fans everywhere are ready to celebrate by holding down a spot on the couch all Sunday long. Fans will be rewarded, as Week 1 has plenty of fantastic matchups that will have everyone watching on the edge of their seats. As a fan, the beginning of the season is an exciting time because it is impossible for your team to be in a hole yet, so every team has playoff hopes (until about a quarter of the way through the season). Meanwhile, if your team is pegged for a run this year, Week 1 will give them the chance to prove themselves and allow fans to see what all the hype is really about. This is a fun time to be an NFL fan, and as a fan I could not resist the opportunity to predict all the upcoming games for Week 1.
Patriots VS Chiefs
Thursday kicks off our season with the defending champs taking on a scrappy team from Kansas City. Both teams are talented and saw success in the previous season, but when it really comes down to it, you cannot go wrong picking the defending champs. Brady has been solid, even more solid than in years past, which is a scary thought because he has been phenomenal for a long time. He boasts an 83 QBR from last season and shows no signs of slowing down. Anyway, enough Brady praise, he gets enough of that. It will be a great matchup, but the Patriots should be able to handle the Chiefs.
Jets VS Bills
This is where it gets fun: opening Sunday, football all day. Starting us off we have and old-time rivalry matchup of the two poorest playing teams from New York. This has always been a fun rivalry and both teams are usually pretty scrappy. This great rivalry game should be a good one, but expect the Bills to pull out ahead.
Jaguars VS Texans
A battle between two teams that were not that exciting last season, this game has the potential to be competitive and entertaining, as these teams are division rivals. Jacksonville struggled last season with a terrible 3-13 record. Not much to really say about this other than Jacksonville has a really cringe-worthy quarterback situation. So that discord will probably play a role and lose them the game, but we will see.
Steelers VS Browns
This matchup pits a great franchise against one that often struggles. If you do not know which one is which then you probably live under a rock. But in all seriousness, this game will further exemplify just how far the Browns have to go before they can really be competitive.
Lions VS Cardinals
Both middle-of-the-road teams looking to come up and show that they can compete and maybe even make a playoff run, this game should be a great indicator of what is to come from both teams. At the end of the day, I pick based on the better quarterback more often than not when both teams are similar like this. Matthew Stafford of the Lions should be the X factor here.
Bears VS Falcons
Anyone who doesn’t have the Falcons winning this game is probably a Bears fan. The Falcons will want to come out strong after losing in the title game last season. They look just as good as last year, but with a new Offensive Coordinator, you have to wonder if they will have the same explosiveness they did last season. Overall, they will definitely have enough firepower to withstand Chicago.
Raiders VS Titans
It is very exciting to see Marshawn Lynch suiting up for the Raiders this season. It is definitely must-watch television every time this man gets handed a football. This matchup makes for a good competitive game that the Raiders can dominate while still being entertaining to watch.
Ravens VS Bengals
Two middle-of-the-road teams from last season, this rivalry has always produced good competitive outings so it should be a fun one. Joe Flacco is always a fun quarterback to watch as well so it will definitely be worth at least checking out.
Eagles VS Redskins
It is time for one of these teams to step up this year. Whether they will or not is still to be determined, but a good start would be winning this game against a division rival. I know many of you want the Redskins here, but I’m going with my gut.
Colts VS Rams
The Rams are in a new arena with a new fanbase so that will be interesting to watch. With Andrew Luck likely sidelined for this game, it should be a closer game than originally anticipated, but the Colts should still able to pull away.
Panthers VS 49ers
Both are lower tier teams, but the Panthers will definitely have the upper hand here. Cam is always fun to watch when he can actually have time in the pocket, and against this defense, he will. So keep an eye out for a few Newton highlights during this game.
Seahawks VS Packers
Solid squads with good depth and quarterbacks. This should be an even, fun matchup against similar teams who are looking to make a leap as this season continues. It should be a really competitive matchup — star this one because it will be a battle.
Giants VS Cowboys
Both teams had great seasons last year, and both have star-studded receivers and solid signal callers. This game is a highlight reel waiting to happen. This game is prime-time and should be competitive. I know I will be watching it.
Saints VS Vikings
Starting off Monday night, we have two subpar teams battling it out. Should be an interesting matchup.
Chargers VS Broncos
Chargers look like they have just not done enough to be a more successful team this year in a very competitive division. Just because the Broncos are a middle-of-the-pack team does not mean they will not be able to handle the Chargers.