By Doug Halberstadt
Week one of the 2014 NFL season is in the books. It’s always difficult to predict what will happen in the first games of the year. Most teams usually don’t reveal much of their true identity during the preseason. With little real information to go on, I finished the opening week of the season 9-5, with only the two Monday night (Sept. 8) games left to be played at press time. I could improve to 11-5 with Detroit and Arizona wins.
It was a rough start to the year for Chicago and Green Bay fans. Both teams lost their openers and came up short of expectations. This week won’t be any easier for Chicago. They will have to go on the road to face the 49ers Sunday night, Sept. 14. San Francisco is coming off a double-digit road win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears’ defense still hasn’t proven they can stop the run when the game is on the line, and their secondary still resembles a block of Swiss cheese. Look for the 49ers to improve to 2-0 and Chicago to fall to 0-2.
Speaking of cheese, the Packers will spend Sunday afternoon hosting the Jets. This will be the perfect opportunity for the green and gold to rebound from their week one shellacking. Seattle’s skill position players are far superior to those playing for the Jets. That should make things a little more manageable for the Packers. Green Bay will win at home.
Like the Bears, the New Orleans Saints lost in overtime. This week, they’ll be on the road again when they roll into Cleveland. The Browns won’t have the same results the Falcons did. I look for New Orleans to bounce back with a vengeance.
Buffalo hosts Miami. Both teams came away with unexpected wins last week. The fish knocked off the Patriots, and the Bills won for the first time ever in Chicago. I’m thinking if Miami can beat New England, they shouldn’t have much trouble with the Bills. Go with the fish.
After losing to Miami, the Patriots will have a chip on their shoulder this week when they visit the Vikings. I don’t see Tom Brady letting his team get embarrassed two weeks straight. I like the Patriots to pick up their first win of the year in Minnesota.
I’m giving the Panthers the nod over the Lions in the battle of the big cats — primarily because of their home-field advantage. Another big-cat team, the Bengals, are at home against the Falcons this week. Atlanta knocked off the Saints by a field goal in overtime last week. Cincinnati went into Baltimore and came away with the win. I think the Falcons have the stronger momentum and will beat the Bengals, and it shouldn’t take them an overtime period to get it done.
It was a short week for the Cardinals and the Giants. Both teams played on Monday night. The Giants will have the advantage of not having to travel this week. I’m taking New York over Arizona.
The Titans are coming off an upset win over the Chiefs. They will try to stay undefeated when Dallas comes calling this week. The Cowboys lost at home to San Fran. I’m not sure it will qualify as an upset this week, but I think the Titans will win again.
Two teams looking for their first win of the year will face one another in our nation’s capital. The Redskins will have home-field advantage over the Jacksonville Jaguars. That should equate to two road losses in a row to start the season for the Jags.
Seattle impressed the nation with their opening-night win over the Packers last week. Many people believe if the Seahawks can stay healthy, they have a great chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions. They came out of week one without any serious injuries. This week, they are in San Diego to take on the Chargers. Until I see them lose a game, I’m taking Seattle. There’s no reason not to, especially against the Chargers.
Another pair of teams looking for win No. 1 are the Rams and the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is the favorite in this one. Rightfully so. I like them on their home field over St. Louis.
Perhaps second only to Seattle as far as having a true home-field advantage are the Broncos. It’s very tough for teams to come into the Mile High City and knock off the defending AFC champions. The next team to find that out will be the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos will drop the Chiefs to 0-2 and make it two in a row in front of the home crowd.
Houston is looking to start the season perfectly. They will have to win this week on the road against the Raiders. I think they can get it done. The Texans will prevail and hand Oakland a loss in front of their faithful fans.
The Colts will be playing their first two games of the season in prime time. This week, they are hosting the Eagles on Monday Night Football. They will be looking to bounce back from their Sunday night loss to the Broncos. I don’t see the Colts losing back-to-back nationally televised games. They should pick up their first win of the year in front of their home fans and the millions watching across the country.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 10-16, 2014, issue