By KCOU Sports Staff
Each week throughout the 2019 season, KCOU Sports will post an article including the staff’s picks for that week’s slate of games. Welcome to 2019 in the NFL and KCOU!
Here is the document featuring the game by game picks for each of the KCOU Sports staffers:
Thursday Night: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The NFL opens its centennial season with its oldest rivalry. The Packers hold the all-time series edge with a record of 97-95-6. These two teams split last season and KCOU staffers are submitting mixed returns on the opening week game in 2019, but the Bears supporters have been the most vocal.
“The Bears over the Packers is a no brainer. After Chicago’s season was cut short against the Eagles last season in the playoffs with the infamous “double doink” kick, the Bears will be primed for a commanding win at home against an NFC North rival that is struggling to find its identity.” – Teddy Maiorca
“The Bears defense is going to smother the Packers offense. Green Bay is in a transition phase and the most challenging defense they could face with new offensive head coach Matt LaFleur is the Bears. While the Bears lost Vic Fangio, they gained a strong defensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano. The Bears offense is definitely capable of beating the Packers if the Bears defense is as good as they were last season.” – Hal Estep
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
The perennially average Tennessee Titans head to the Dawg Pound week one in what is the first installment of the Super Bowl bound Cleveland Browns. Well, that’s what Clevelanders think anyways.
“The Tennessee Titans at the Cleveland Browns is a super important game for the Browns to establish their new identity and their Super Bowl campaign. After Baker Mayfield’s impressive rookie season and the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr., the team has high expectations and a very high ceiling. While there may be some bumps in the road, this first game will help paint an idea of the capabilities of this team.” – Gerald Hopkins
“I feel like the Browns game will be very interesting. It will be cool to see how much their off season moves have actually helped them in the long run.” – Madison Jones
“Don’t count out the Titans. They will surprise a lot of people that haven’t seen very many Tennessee games.” – Wilson Truong
“The Lock it Down hammer pick presented by Xavien Howard is a no brainer week one: Browns vs. Titans. Shocker, right? But let’s get straight to the point here: 2019 Titans football is losing football. What we have here is a clear case of polar opposites – one team primed to be in the big show sooner rather than later (CLE), and the other primed to be searching for the next “future” QB in the 2020 draft (not CLE). And if history has taught me anything, they’ll probably blow that one, too. The Titans offense will struggle to string together first downs, and defensively will eventually succumb to the tantalizingly relentless pressure from a restocked browns offense. Expect a 3 TD game from Maker of Playsfield, and an overall 34-13 victory for the pound.” – Daniel Virag (known Titans detractor)
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins
A Dolphin team in transition and John Harbaugh’s historical week one success does not bode well for Miami in the NFL’s first week.
Lamar Jackson is the guy in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. Win or Lose. Sink or Swim. Learn how to throw or Baltimore starts from square one. The Ravens begin their quest to find out what they have in Jackson in week one.
Miami announced Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback for week one. He’ll look to channel Fitz-Magic the way he did last season for Tampa. If he doesn’t, it could be a long season in South Beach. The Dolphins just traded away Kenny Stills, Kiko Alonso and Laremy Tunsil, officially entering full rebuild mode. Miami could be years away from competing, but they’re paying players just like Baltimore and of course the obligatory, “any given Sunday”.
“The Baltimore Ravens will implement a better run game this season with Mark Ingram. Ingram and Lamar Jackson will not only keep Ryan Fitzpatrick off the field, their defense will shut them down. Former Seattle Seahawk All-Pro Earl Thomas will be a big contributor for the Ravens defense opening week.” – Nick Catlin
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings
In one of the better week one games, Atlanta heads to U.S. Bank Stadium for a matchup between two disappointing teams from a year ago.
Last year Atlanta’s defense was decimated with injuries from the first snap on and Matt Ryan was unable to compensate despite putting up a very respectable season and as he continues to flourish in an offense full of playmakers.
Minnesota paid habitually average Kirk Cousins $28 million to lose a game in his own building in week 17 and miss the playoffs. Both teams are in jam packed divisions and hoping to get a leg-up in week one.
“Atlanta gets it done on the road against Minnesota. With the work Julio Jones has been showing in the off-season combined with a peaking Matt Ryan, they look primed to take a big win on the road in week one against what seemed to be a sluggish Viking secondary in the preseason. Both high-caliber offenses should make this shootout a fun one to watch but Atlanta takes it 38-28.” – Davis Suppes
“THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS WILL GO 16-0.” – Nash Walker
“I see the Falcons rebounding from a disappointing year last year. The defense is getting some major star power back in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, who missed most of last year with injuries. And as an offensive coordinator, I trust Dirk Koetter more than I do Steve Sarkisian to play to the strengths of the offense and run it effectively. I think the Falcons are in for a big year starting with a huge road win against the Vikings.” – Logan Franz
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
A pair of second year quarterbacks headline this week one matchup at MetLife Stadium.
Sam Darnold played very well down the stretch last year and is a main reason for optimism for fans of the J-E-T-S. He also gets to enjoy the exploits of having Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and Jamison Crowder on the outside.
Josh Allen had mixed returns last year. The former Wyoming Cowboy shocked the football world when he went in to U.S. Bank Stadium early last season and thrashed the Minnesota Viking defense, but also struggled mightily in the second half of the season. The Bills cut LeSean McCoy and will be going with Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary in the backfield.
“The New York Jets should look to grow this year with second year quarterback Sam Darnold having Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Look for first year coach Adam Gase to come in hot and beat the Josh Allen led Bills.” – Lucas Owens
“A very underrated Bills defense should spoil Le’Veon Bell’s return to football at MetLife Stadium. This one is going to be a defensive struggle with equally shaky offenses and two big question marks at quarterback. Sam Darnold and the Jets are going to have trouble moving the ball against this stout defense that was second in yards against a year ago. If the Josh Allen of the last five weeks of the 2018 season shows up for the Bills, and the O-Line holds up for Frank Gore, I can see Buffalo escaping with a W. 20-13 Bills.” – Cole Banker
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
In one of KCOU’s near unanimous agreements week one, the Washington Redskins visit Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles are one of the favorites to win the conference and are coming off a season in which they narrowly missed a repeat trip to the NFC championship game. The Redskins aren’t any of those things and may have the worst quarterback situation in the league for 2019. This one is obvious, but it is the NFL and nobody knows anything.
“I think Philadelphia will beat Washington easily. A lot of question marks for Washington. Journeyman Case Keenum will be the starter to begin the year over Dwyane Haskins. Left Tackle Trent Williams has been holding out during training camp. This game seems to me to heavily favor the Eagles at home.” – Ben Krakow
Redskins: 1 (Grayson Rainey)
Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina Panthers
Carolina started 2018 6-2 before losing 7 in a row and missing the postseason. Ron Rivera was given a pardon by upper management and returns for yet another year at the helm of the Panthers.
The Rams lost the Super Bowl last year and look to take the next step and win the Lombardi in 2019. They enter the season along with New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia as favorites to win the NFC.
“No Super Bowl hangover for the Rams in week one. Aaron Donald will stuff the run against Carolina. And adding a savvy veteran pass rusher in Clay Matthews to an already stacked defense doesn’t hurt either. Pairing this veteran defense with an explosive and creative offense that gets Jared Goff’s favorite target Cooper Kupp back for the season, look for the Rams to run the NFC West once again this season.” – Chuck Ryan
“Panthers over Rams because Kroenke is the devil.” – Lou Messmer (Stan Kroenke detractor)
“The L.A. Rams enter the 2019 season with high expectations, especially after making it to the Super Bowl last season with a high powered offense, tenacious pass rush led by Aaron Donald and a controversial no-call against the Saints. Todd Gurley’s health may be in question, but the explosive running talent of third round draft pick Darrell Henderson should fill in any gaps at the position. Carolina will no doubt test the Rams, but Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey fall just short in a shootout. Rams win with a late 4th quarter touchdown.” – Aaron Moser
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars
“New-look Jacksonville against same ‘ol Andy Reid” is a very interesting tagline in what should be a compelling week one matchup.
The Jaguars brought in Super Bowl Champion Nick Foles in the offseason and let former third overall pick Blake Bortles leave after five up and down seasons. Two years removed from the doorstep of a Super Bowl trip, they’ll look to return to 2017 form.
Kansas City had one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history last season. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are known commodities. Damien Williams and recent signee LeSean McCoy will form the backfield. Offseason addition Frank Clark looks to bring much needed pass-rush and Kansas City is a Super Bowl favorite.
“I feel strongly about the Chiefs. Mahomes and the offense will light up every opposing defense, and the Jags don’t have the offensive explosiveness to keep up.” – Christian McDonald
“In week one, I can legitimately see a gritty Jaguars team beating a Kansas City Chiefs team with a young superstar quarterback that may take them a little lightly. Adding Foles makes the Jags offense a legitimate threat with Fournette in the backfield. A stingy defense keeps most of its talent and I believe that they can contain an explosive Chiefs offense as I suspect a little rust on that golden arm of Pat Mahomes.” – Matthew McFarland
“Jacksonville’s strong defense will do just enough to hold the reigning MVP down; opening the door for their offense. The game rests on Nick Foles and the Jaguars offense to support the defense. This game will give us a good showing of how both teams will bounce back from disappointing ends to their seasons.” – Jordan Milewczik
Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Chargers
In another of our near unanimous picks; the Chargers host the Jacoby Brissett led Indianapolis Colts.
Andrew Luck’s untimely retirement made whomever was bullish on the Colts this season quickly backtrack. While the near unanimous decision may not be indicative of the talent levels on these two teams, the Chargers are the better team and should win.
Expect the public’s opinion on Indianapolis to change drastically early in the season, but we here at KCOU aren’t all that excited about Indianapolis heading out west for week one.
Colts: 1 (Grayson Rainey)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks
In what Vegas has pegged as the most lopsided matchup of week one, Zac Taylor makes his head coaching debut for Cincinnati in the hostile environment of CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks are almost 10-point favorites and we here at KCOU reflect agreement with the talent disparity in almost unanimously picking Seattle to win its home opener for the 11th straight year.
“The Seahawks game is a lock. There is absolutely no way the Seahawks lose to the Bengals. Andy Dalton is a subpar quarterback on a good day and the Seahawks defense will tear him apart.” – Nick Swanson
Bengals: 1 (Gerald Hopkins)
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
New York will start the season with Eli Manning at quarterback as sixth overall pick Daniel Jones lost whatever quarterback battle there may have been. The Giants disappointed last season, but look to improve under second-year head coach Pat Shurmur.
Dallas starts the season likely without Ezekiel Elliott, but feel confident in backup Tony Pollard to hold down the fort until Zeke’s contract dispute is worked out. They finished last season by losing in Los Angeles in the divisional round of the playoffs. Dak Prescott earned his first playoff win last year over Seattle at Jerry’s World. Dallas looks to build around their young quarterback.
“Elliot or not, the Cowboys will manhandle the Giants. I believe in the Cowboys defense this year after watching last season and the Giants offensive line is far below average. The lack of receiver depth for the Giants will make them even more one dimensional than last year.” – Chris Blake
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
In the game that will likely feature the least talent in week one, Matt Patricia takes his Lions to Arizona for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray’s respective NFL debuts.
The Cardinals offense was a dumpster fire in the preseason, but with number one overall pick Kyler Murray, they’re sure to always be an interesting dumpster fire.
“The Lions might be the most boring team in football. Matthew Stafford has been muddled in mediocrity in Detroit for eleven seasons now. He isn’t supported with many playmakers and their defense consistently finds themselves around league average. Expect another 6-10 campaign out of Detroit.” – Korbett Koselak (picked Detroit)
San Francisco 49ers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The returns of Jimmy Garoppolo and Bruce Arians headline this week one matchup.
Garoppolo returns from his second season ending injury in three seasons. Arians returns to the sidelines after a year hiatus from coaching.
Expectations for the 49ers offense run high as Kyle Shanahan finally has his healthy quarterback and a weapon in George Kittle.
Tampa Bay is using this season to figure out what they have in Jameis Winston. Beyond all else, this should be an interesting matchup in week one.
Sunday Night: Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
The defending Super Bowl Champions open their season on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh was left heartbroken when Baker Mayfield and Cleveland’s comeback attempt fell short against Baltimore in week 17 and left the Steel City out of the postseason. With Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both leaving this offseason; the Steelers locker room looks to remain chaos free this season and return to glory.
The Patriots are the greatest dynasty, sans 1920’s Yankees, in North American sports history. They’ve won six championships in a league where that just doesn’t happen. This is the youngest team Bill Belichick has fielded in a long-time in Foxboro despite trotting out ageless Tom Brady under center.
The Steelers look for a fast start to their season and New England looks for a good chapter in what they hope is chapter seven in their Super Bowl story.
“The Steelers and Patriots game is interesting. The Roethlisberger vs. Brady rivalry is always a big headline. The game could honestly go either way.” – Owen Holliday (picked New England)
“I feel very strongly about the Patriots winning at home against the Steelers. It should be another marquee matchup in the AFC as they are both powerhouses. However, the Patriots rarely lose at home and are even more talented this year with the weapons they have surrounded Tom Brady with.” – Justin Efebera
Monday Night: Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints
The Texans and Saints play game one of a Monday Night doubleheader in week one.
Both teams are coming off disappointing playoff losses a season ago. The Texans were lifeless in their Wild Card game against Indianapolis and the Saints were a pass-interference no-call away from going to the Super Bowl for the second time under Sean Payton.
Houston decided to finally protect Deshaun Watson when it traded for Laremy Tunsil from Miami. They also added Kenny Stills in that trade, while trading franchise-tagged pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle.
Mark Ingram signed with Baltimore in the offseason and Alvin Kamara is now the main man in New Orleans. They’ll look to return the playoffs after disappointing exits each of the last two seasons.
Monday Night: Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Team Hard Knocks plays host to Vic Fangio’s head coaching debut. The well respected defensive mind finally got a head coaching job when Denver came calling this past offseason.
Jon Gruden enters his second year in his return to coaching after a tumultuous year one at the helm of the Oakland Raiders. This will likely be our first site of Antonio Brown in a Raider uniform, so this game will surely be front page news no matter the result.
Edited by Korbett Koselak | firstname.lastname@example.org