The NFL season is almost upon us and Pundit Arena’s Eoin Purcell discusses what to expect from week one.
It has been over seven months since the last meaningful snap in an NFL game. For most teams it has been even longer. In that time there have been thousands of stories published, headlines created, contracts signed, practices attended, careers ended, careers started, tweets sent and so on.
All the work that has been put in over the past seven months has been building towards this moment, Week One of the 2014 NFL regular season. Man does it promise to be a good one.
Game of the Week
Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks
There are a number of mouth-watering matchups in store this week in the NFL, but we don’t have to look any further than Thursday night in Seattle for our game of the week.
This will be the Superbowl champions’ first match in front of their famous home crowd, aka the 12th man, since winning the Vince Lombardi trophy last February. That alone is reason enough for the atmosphere inside the CenturyLink Field to be electric.
Add to that the fact that the visiting team is the Green Bay Packers, many people’s favourites to dethrone the Seahawks and win the Superbowl this year, and instantly the stakes get much higher.
Don’t expect this match to be the highest scoring match of the week. Don’t expect highlight reel play after highlight reel play either. Seattle are a team who run the ball well and play strong defence, not a team who pass for 400+ yards and multiple touchdowns. With Eddie Lacy in the backfield Green Bay are transitioning slightly from a pass heavy offence to a more balanced attack. Spectacular plays aside, this match promises to be a heavyweight contest featuring two genuine title contenders. What a way to kick off the new season.
1) New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
Divisional rivalries always have more of an edge than regular matches, and this NFC South rivalry is no exception. Both of these teams have hopes of winning the division and this match provides the ultimate opportunity to draw first blood in the division.
Can Drew Brees and his high powered Saints offence steal a win on the road or will Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Falcons bounce back in style from a disappointing 2013 campaign?
2) Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos
This is one of the most interesting match-ups this week for so many reasons. The Denver Broncos’ last match was a humiliating defeat in the Superbowl last February. For everybody involved in the Bronco organisation Sunday night cannot come soon enough.
This match could very well be a preview of the AFC championship match come next January. On top of that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, widely regarded as the greatest QB to ever play the game, spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before being cut due to neck injuries.
This match promises to be a physical, offence first match which could go either way.
Predictions For Week One
1) JJ Watt will show everybody why he deserves his $100 million contract extension. If rookie Jadaveon Clowney is healthy enough to play, it will take some of the Washington Redskins focus off JJ Watt.
That’s a big mistake on Washington’s behalf. Expect Watt to set up camp in the Redskins’ backfield Sunday, helping himself to at least two sacks.
2) The Cincinnati Bengals will lay down a serious marker in Baltimore against the Ravens. Following a disappointing playoff performance last season people are questioning the ability of Bengals QB Andy Dalton.
Expect Dalton and the Bengals offence to come out firing against Divisional rivals Baltimore and rack up 40+ points in Week One.
3) The New England Patriots will continue to dominate their AFC East rivals with a commanding victory over the Miami Dolphins. Tom Brady should have his favourite receiver TE Rob Gronkowski available.
When this duo is healthy, nobody in the AFC East can touch the Patriots.
4) Drew Brees will become the early frontrunner for league MVP. While this writer expects the Saints and Falcons to have a very close match, he also expects Brees to do the only thing he knows how;, throw for 350+ yards and multiple touchdowns.
5) Despite the departure of WR Desean Jackson, Philadelphia’s high tempo offence will steamroll the Jacksonville Jaguars. LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and company will continue to thrive in Chip Kellys college football style offence, and the Jaguars will have no answers.
The only certainty this week is that the long wait for football will finally come to an end, and this writer, for one, is happy about that.
Eoin Purcell, Pundit Arena.
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