It's finally here; the full slate of games, in week 1 of the NFL regular season. Welcome to NFL Gameday, where I'll be walking you through the breakdown of all the remaining games for this week. I'll spotlight the "water cooler games'. These are the games that you must watch because everyone will be talking about them come Monday. Here you will get a fresh prospective and one that will prepare you for all of Sunday's and Monday's games, So, on Sunday mornings, wake up, grab your bagel, make your coffee, fire up your Internet, and let me walk you through what you can expect from your most favorite day of the week. Get ready, because anything is possible on Any Given Sunday!
Broncos vs Jaguars
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I don't expect much out of either one of these teams in 2010. I actually picked both to finish last in their divisions. The Jags are in the toughest division in the NFL this year, in my opinion. David Garrard shouldn't be a starting quarterback and Jack Del Rio will be unemployed at the end of the year. Maurice Jones-Drew is the best thing the Jags have going but they will run him into the ground due to the fact that Garrard can't get a solid passing game going. Jacksonville has a top notch wide receiver in Mike Sims-Walker but he doesn't get as much recognition as he deserves due to the fact of not playing with a legitimate quarterback. Kyle Orton is about a notch better than Garrard. Orton still doesn't win games for you. He will need Knowshon Moreno to stay healthy to take off some of the pressure so he can throw his 15 screens a game and have them work. Orton also needs the Broncos first pick in this year's draft, Demaryius Thomas to get and stay healthy. Thomas will need to develop quickly to be able to supplement some of the offense that Denver lost when they traded Brandon Marshall. Denver lost the NFL's sack leader from 2009, Elvis Dumervil for the whole season this year. It's not believed that Robert Ayers could replace Dumervil's production. Mike Nolan is also now in Miami and the only decent part of the Bronco's defense is the secondary. The Jags defense has been woeful the last few seasons. There sack leader last year had 3 sacks and is no longer with the team. They over drafted on a defensive tackle that they could have gotten later. They will struggle to stop the run and the pass. Prediction: Denver Wins
Browns vs Buccaneers
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By no means do I think Jake Delhomme is a great quarterback. With that being said, I do feel that the Browns have finally gotten a quarterback that can keep them in games. I actually like what the Browns are doing. I don't think they will make the playoffs or anything crazy like that but they will upset a few teams this year and beat the bad teams in the league. The Bucs definitely tried to strengthen their D this off season. I like the young receivers that they added but they are a young team and are still a ways away. Browns Win.
Bills vs Dolphins
I really like where Miami is headed. Chad Henne will develop into a solid starter thanks to the trade that brought Brandon Marshall to Miami. Anthony Fasano will also have a big year, getting favorable match ups thanks to all the focus being on Marshall in the redzone. Everyone is so interested in the Jets D that they aren't seeing how good this Dolphins D is going to be with Mike Nolan as the new D coordinator and the talent that they have for him to play with. Buffalo is the worst team in the NFL. I love what CJ Spiller can do but this is the Barry Sanders situation all over again. You are putting an elite running back behind a garbage offensive line with no quarterback and an aging Lee Evans. The Bills defense doesn't have the talent to stop the wildcat, Ricky Williams' power running, and Brandon Marshall. I've heard people struggling to pick this...Please! Dolphins Win, BIG!
Falcons vs Steelers
Pittsburgh still has a lot of talent, even with Big Ben out. Dennis Dixon doesn't have enough playing time under his belt to come in and play the game that the Steelers faithful want him to so bad. Dixon has a unique skill set. He'll beat the defense with his feet and land some decent passes throughout the game but then he'll follow that up with some inaccurate passes and some that he shouldn't have let leave his hand. Mendenhall will help ease the workload with his mix of speed and power rushing style. Falcons have a talented team but have holes at several positions. I still don't understand why they didn't get a solid #2 to go along side Roddy White. Also, Atlanta's secondary is going get exposed a lot this season. Dunta Robinson hasn't been the same since his surgery a few seasons ago. They completely overpaid for him but that's not the worst part. He's still their best player in the secondary by far. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Dixon won't be able to manipulate this weakness as well as Ben would be able to. I love the Falcons Linebacker core as this is the strength of the defense. Falcons Win.
Lions vs Bears
Does anyone really know what to expect from Jay Cutler in Mike Martz' offense? No. But, I'm more worried about Matt Forte bouncing back from that sophomore slump than Cutler though. Forte looked like a completely different back in 2010 then he did as a rookie. The Bears have more secret offensive weapons than any other team. Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu will both have big seasons. Chicago might have messed up in drafting Chris Williams. I see a lot of weaknesses in his game. If he can't protect Cutler, expect 26 more picks in 2010. I know the Bears added Julius Peppers but I don't fear this D like most people who are building it up. The Lions are a team on the rise. This team is headed to the playoffs by 2012. Matthew Stafford has everything that makes a quarterback great. They have given him tall receiving threats in Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Tony Schaffer. Adding Avid Best will give them a running game that they haven't had since Barry left. This will open up the pass even more. The Lions front 4 will remind of the Titans front 4 from 2 seasons ago. They just need to strength the secondary and they will have the Titans complete D from 2008. Detroit Wins. That's right Detroit Wins.
Panthers vs Giants
The Matt Moore era begins but for how long. Does he feel Jimmy Clausen breathing down his neck? How will he handle this? The running game won't be an issue for Carolina, we all knows that. This is a young talented team. They finally have some young receivers to put opposite of Steve Smith. These receivers still need to develop through this year. Everything that I said about the wide receivers goes ditto for the whole defense. This is a team built for the future. Everyone is so caught up with the McNabb and Philly situation and the Dallas having the Super Bowl in their hometown that the Giants are being left out in the cold. Not so fast. Eli is still there, they have speed and power in the backfield in Jacobs and Bradshaw and little known DJ Ware, who is a secret weapon. There are 4 young and very talented wide receivers that have elite speed, good hands, and Ramses Barden is 6'6, a serious redzone threat. There are veterans across the O-line, tight end, and the whole defense. The biggest glaring weakness is at linebacker. Giants Win.
Raiders vs Titans
Don't look now but the Raiders are on the way back up. Jason Campbell sows up the most important position on any roster. Zach Miller is really undervalued but I'm sure he doesn't mind not getting the attention of the defense. Rookie, Jacoby Ford will make people fear him in the return game and the receiving game once he gets his reps. They do need to get Michael Bush back because Darren McFadden can't carry the running game. This Raiders defense could be a TOP 10 in the NFL this year. No, I haven't lost my mind. Rookies Lamar Houston and Rolando McClain are pro ready and will step in be a huge improvement at DE and MLB. As said before, I believe that the AFC South is the toughest conference in the NFL. The Titans are a huge reason why. Vince Young and CJ2K are perfect for each other. Their games compliment the others. There is a weakness at receiver still, with 2nd year WR Kenny Britt looking like he's sliding into that sophomore slump. Their defense still looks monstrous like every other year. There is just too much speed on Tennessee's side of the ball on offense and the Raiders will be hurt if Bush doesn't play. Can you believe this, after all the positive Raiders talk...Titans Win.
49ers vs Seahawks
Let's talk worst conference in football. The NFC West is so bori...zzzzzzzz...Oh, sorry I dozed off. What I was saying is the NFC West is so boring. But, the Seahawks could be playing Trojan horse. If the former Trojan coach, Pete Carroll can get all this talent on the same page. The offense and the defense both have solid starters at all positions but there isn't anyone that makes you think superstar, Earl Thomas could become that guy but he's not right yet. San Francisco would actually be exciting to talk about if it wasn't for their quarterback Alex...zzzzz. Sorry, it happened again, didn't it. I was saying Alex Smith is the main thing holding this team back. I rather see Troy Smith get a start. There's no need to talk about a Mike Singletary defense. We know they'll show up. Despite Alex Smith, 49ers Win.
Cardinals vs Rams
zzzzzz...Damn, NFC West. Couldn't even make to the opening. Derek Anderson is now the starting quarterback. Do I need to still go on? Beanie is beat up and this will give the bulk of the workload to Tim Hightower. They are going need both backs healthy. This won't be a high power offense like the last several years. The strength of this team will be the defense in 2010. Congrats goes out to Buffalo. They might not be the worst team. St. Louis might win the award again. Donnie Avery is out and they will run Stephen Jackson into the ground by week 5, with a rookie quarterback. With all these great picks that they have been getting every year, how do they have no talent. Cardinals Win.
Chargers vs Chiefs
San Diego has been the class of the AFC West for the last several years. They appear to be headed that way again this season. The rookie Ryan Matthews will get his first NFL action in primetime on MNF. The Chargers still have so much talent but Rivers will pay for not having his left tackle out there with him. This Chargers D has fallen off from where they were a few years ago. The Chiefs might be the most underrated team this season. They have 2 great running backs and a solid D. If Matt Cassel can get back into a comfort zone with Charlie Weiss coming in, then Kansas City might steal this division. Upset alert, Chiefs Win.
WATER COOLER GAMES
Ravens vs Jets
The Rex Ryan Bowl. This are two beat em up defenses. I wouldn't want to play offense in this game. But, if you are, the Ravens is a good offense to play for. They have a tremendous ground game led by Ray Rice, the dark horse to win the rushing title this year. Now, Flacco has Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmanzadeh to throw to in the passing game. Both of these teams all of top offensive lines. Everything I said about the Ravens can basically be cut and paste to the Jets offense, except for one big thing. Flacco is a much better quarterback than Mark Sanchez. Ravens Win.
Packers vs Eagles
I really don't know where to start with the Packers. They are the most complete team in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers will impress everyone this year and be the top QB. Jermichael Finley is a top 5 tight end and he benefits from playing with 4 great receivers. This 3-4 defense gets pressure and can embarrass even the best QBs. Kevin Kolb is the real deal and won't be the reason why the Eagles fail. This is a high power offense but they have to stay healthy. There isn't a lot of depth at receiver or running back. Solid defense that creates turnovers and gets pressure on the quarterback. The Packers O-line has to be better this year. Packers Win.
Colts vs Texans
Peyton Manning could be the greatest regular season quarterback of all time. He manipulates the offense into what he wants them to do. There just has to come a point where he can't do it all by himself. Joseph Addai had one good year and has been mediocre since then. The Colts O-line is horrific. I know Peyton managed around it last year and was only sacked 10 times but each year he's getting a second slower and these younger athletes are getting a second faster. I'm underwhelmed by the Colts defense and Bob Sanders is at the end of his career. The Texans are hungry and have to make the playoffs this year or their coach is gone. They had the #1 passing attack last year and have the best receiver in football. They also have a running game this season with Arian Foster which should get their play action clicking like it did in Denver for Kubiak. This defense is a top 5 D, if the young corners can continue to play like they did at the end of last season and the preseason. Changing of the guard. Texans Win.
Bengals vs Patriots
Tom Brady is aging like Peyton Manning and Brady don't get to know what the defense is running any more. Moss seems back to his angry, Oakland Raiders self. Wes Welker is coming off injury but they have the replacements for both of these guys. They have a rookie, Devin McCourty starting at a CB. They run a old folks home out of the backfield. It will be tough for these young corners to cover veteran receivers like T.O. and Ochocinco and the young slot receiver Jordan Shipley. The Bengals are paced to make a run at the division with the Ravens. Jermaine Gresham should be unstoppable with the receivers and stellar running back Cedric Benson getting the bulk of the attention. Bengals will rise and fall with the play of Carson Palmer. The Bengals have solid corners with Leon Hall, Jonathan Joseph, and Pacman Jones in the nickel. This should help give the Bengals a favorable matchup against Moss and Welker. Bengals Win.
Enjoy the rest of your pregame rituals and I'll see you back here next Sunday morning...just please put on pants next time. I hope you enjoyed NFL Gameday Week 1 and don't forget to read NFL Rage each week where I'll be venting about some of the bonehead decisions that will take place during Sunday's games. - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX once a week as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk.
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