Packers at 49ers
Despite the loss of emerging receiver Michael Crabtree, the Super Bowl runner-ups handily take care of the Packers. Aaron Rodgers gets his, but a Jordy Nelson coming off a minor knee surgery limits the downfield passing attack and a questionable defense is picked apart by Colin Kaepernick.
While Kaepernick is rightly given plenty of attention for his legs, it takes away from the attention he deserves for his arm. A 98.3 passer rating, 8.3 YPA and 10:3 touchdown to interception ratio prorated over an entire season is awfully similar to Tom Brady’s 2012 numbers (98.7 passer rating, 7.6 YPA, 34:8 ratio).
For the Packers to pull out a victory, their defense will need to reclaim the tenacity of their Super Bowl campaign. Otherwise the 49ers are too deep, too good and too well coached for the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers to take home the victory.
San Fransisco: Taylor, Colin, Julia, Jake, Stu, Owen and Rory
Falcons at Saints
Want to make money off a local Burlington bookie? Take the over on the points scored in this game. It will be played in the Superdome, on turf, featuring two prolific offenses and uninspiring defenses. Sean Payton returns, unleashing whatever it is he was cooking up during his year off. If you need a straw to break your camel’s back, former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan takes over as Saints defensive coordinator. Touchdown Falcons!
While points are a given, the winner is a toss-up. I’m taking New Orleans because of the home field, Sean Payton’s return and a lack of trust in the Falcons winning meaningful games. Some things to watch for: Julio Jones is entering his third season — how big of a leap will he take? Stephen Jackson tries to revive his career after 2,395 carries. The New Orleans backfield hierarchy, will Darren Sproles receive more carries with Payton back in the fold?
Atlanta: Taylor, Colin, Owen, Julia, Stu
New Orleans: Rory, Jake
Dolphins at Browns
Two inexperienced but talented teams square off in Cleveland as both try to move past the shortcomings of seasons past. Two second-year quarterbacks will try to solidify their roles in their respective franchises. It will be interesting to see what improvements they’ll make in their second season.
Despite the Browns’ loss of exciting player Josh Gordon, who is working his way back from a two game suspension, I’m still leaning toward Cleveland here. I expect the Browns pass rush to make quick work of the Dolphins O-line, as
they struggle to give Ryan Tannehill enough time to find downfield threat Mike Wallace.
A player to watch is hard-court-to-gridiron Jordan Cameron, who has earned the opportunity to solidify himself as a go-to weapon in this offense. Norv Turner and tight ends coach Jon Embree have always utilized the tight end position well and Cameron’s talent is tantalizing.
Miami: Taylor, Colin, Rory
Cleveland: Owen, Julia, Jake and Stu
Possibly the game with the widest range of outcomes, the Eagles travel to Washington for Monday night football. There are no shortages of question marks for this game: Will RG3 be ready coming off an ACL tear having played no preseason games? Will Chip Kelly’s offense be as otherworldly as advertised? Will Mike Vick find anyone to throw to other than Desean Jackson?
I think a few things will be true in this game: The Redskins defense will struggle to adapt to Chip Kelly’s offense, as they will be the first and only team to game plan for Chip Kelly’s offense without any game tape to work off of. I also think the Redskins ground game will gash the putrid Eagles defense. If RG3 limits turnovers and keeps control of the game, my guess is that Washington will take this one at home.
The PickWashington: Taylor, Colin, Owen, Julia, Rory, Jake and Stu