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NFL Week 1 Early Predictions
Updated: June 2019

It really won’t be all that long. With the 2019 NFL Draft underway, teams will move through OTAs (organized team activities) and into summer training before you know it. Then, the new season will kick off on September 5 when Green Bay travels to Chicago for an NFC North showdown. Here’s how Week 1 may play out.

 

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The Packers head into Chicago with a new head coach, Matt LaFleur. A quarterback-friendly head coach, La Fleur should get the most from Aaron Rodgers and help Green Bay avoid another disappointment like 2018. What stands in their way though is the NFL’s best defense. Last year, Chicago led Green Bay in Week 1 before Rodgers rallied. Don’t expect that to happen again… Chicago 27, Green Bay 24.

 

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It’s Game 1 for the “new” Cleveland Browns with Odell Beckham Jr. offering up an All-Pro target for second-year QB sensation Baker Mayfield. The Titans, 9-7 last year, missed out on a playoff berth losing in the final week of the season. Tennessee has won the last two in the series, but it’s a new Browns team that is playing at home… Cleveland 28, Tennessee 17.

 

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If there is any question about how the Baltimore Ravens will win games in 2019, you will see the answer in Week 1. New RB Mark Ingram and QB Lamar Jackson are going to run the football and pound on opponents … like Miami. The Dolphins will struggle in Year 1 under new head coach Brian Flores… Baltimore 30, Miami 17.

 

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The Falcons schedule is brutal to start – Vikings, Eagles, Colts, Titans, and Texans – and a win over Minnesota might be needed to avoid an 0-5 beginning. The Vikings are hopeful to have a healthy Dalvin Cook to have some semblance of a running game. QB Kirk Cousins and WR Adam Thielen are two of the very best. Vikings win at home… Minnesota 34, Atlanta 28.

 

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The Jets have won four of the last six against Buffalo and now have the makings of the league’s best running game. Running back Le’Veon Bell joins the Jets giving them one of the top two or three backs in the league. Buffalo is still in rebuilding mode after going 6-10 last year. The passing game was awful which led to just 16.7 points per game (30th in the NFL). Home field advantage… N.Y. Jets 20, Buffalo 17.

 

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It’s a great way to start the new season – an NFC East rivalry game. Will it be first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins at quarterback for the Redskins? The Eagles Carson Wentz should be at 100 percent and ready to continue Philadelphia’s dominance over Washington. The Eagles have swept the season series over the Redskins in each of the past two seasons. Look for it to happen again… Philadelphia 28, Washington 17.

 

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The reigning NFC champs return all of the skill players that made their offense one of the best in the NFL. RB Todd Gurley should be healed from a knee injury that slowed him in last year’s postseason. After a disappointing 2018, Carolina (7-9) hopes to start the new season with a victory. The Panthers have beaten the Rams six of the last seven times the two teams have played, including the last three times in Charlotte… Carolina 35, L.A. Rams 31.

 

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The Chiefs should pick up right where they left off last year. The status of WR Tyreek Hill will have an effect on the offense. If he is not in the lineup, the Chiefs will be down one star leaving TE Travis Kelce and QB Patrick Mahomes to pick up the slack. Jacksonville, 5-11 last year, will have a new QB in Nick Foles and will be rebuilding… Kansas City 38, Jacksonville 20.

 

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Two of the bigger surprises a year ago, the Colts and Chargers square off in Week 1 this year. Indianapolis has one of the best offensive lines in the league and should be able to protect QB Andrew Luck and open holes for the likes of Marlon Mack. The Colts were also strong defensively and will have to deal with Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers and RB Melvin Gordon. In a game this close, the advantage goes to the home team… L.A. Chargers 30, Indianapolis 27.

 

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New head coach Zac Taylor gets introduced to the NFL in a tough way. Playing at CenturyLink Field is no fun for anyone let alone a rookie head coach. The Seahawks lost DE Frank Clark, but still return a ton of talent on defense. Russell Wilson is the game’s highest-paid player and the Seahawks stadium is among the loudest in the league. Welcome to the NFL, Coach Taylor…Seattle 30, Cincinnati 20.

 

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The Giants season opener could spell out their season. They must travel to Dallas where they have lost the last five of six against the Cowboys. Dallas returns the bulk of its defense and Ezekiel Elliott and company will continue to run the ball at will. New head coach Pat Shurmur may eventually have to pull the plug on Giants QB Eli Manning in favor of No. 6 overall draft pick Daniel Jones… Dallas 23, N.Y. Giants 17.

 

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Both the Lions and Cardinals finished last in their respective divisions a year ago. Detroit has beaten Arizona each of the last two times the teams have played. That includes last year’s 17-3 Lions victory. Like last year, this year’s game is in Arizona which has a new coach – Kliff Kingsbury – and likely a new quarterback in No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray. It won’t matter… Detroit 24, Arizona 14.

 

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There is a new vibe in San Francisco. They will need it to open the season with a win over Tampa Bay. Last year, the Bucs beat the 49ers 27-9. Tampa Bay won in 2016 by 17 points. The 49ers have not played well on the road – 0-8 last season – but with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback and rookie Nick Bosa at defensive end, they get off to a good start in 2019… San Francisco 20, Tampa Bay 13.

 

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The Steelers and Patriots have played in each of the last four seasons. They faced each other in the 2016 season AFC title game too. New England has won four of five games, but Pittsburgh won last year 17-10. The Steelers will be without WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell. The offense won’t be the same. Plus, Pittsburgh will not be at home… New England 28, Pittsburgh 24.

 

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Two division champions from a year ago meet in Week 1. The two teams have only played each other four times with each team winning twice. The Texans won the last meeting in 2015, 24-6. Both teams are favored to win their divisions again. The Saints led the NFL in point differential last season (+151). Expect them to score more than Houston behind QB Drew Brees in this one… New Orleans 35, Houston28.

 

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Monday night in Oakland and the Raiders host AFC West rival Denver. The Broncos will have Joe Flacco under center while the Raiders will offer up new wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Raiders went defense-heavy in the draft in an attempt to bolster that unit. It will pay off in Week 1 at home… Oakland 28, Denver 24.

 

 

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