It’s finally here, folks. After enduring the long drought from the Super Bowl to college football kick-off weekend, the National Football League will once again fill our televisions come Sunday. As the season kicks off, here are previews of a few of the more interesting week one matchups.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday at 8:20pm
As is tradition, the first game of the season pits the defending Super Bowl champion against a conference foe at home. Coming off a storybook season in which they captured their first Super Bowl in franchise history, all eyes are on the Eagles to see if they can repeat last season’s success. Playoff hero Nick Foles will still be the man behind center for Philadelphia as star quarterback Carson Wentz continues to rehab his torn ACL that he suffered late last season. The injury bug has bitten the Eagles quite badly early on in the 2018 season, as number-one wideout Alshon Jeffery won’t be playing week one and neither will key reserve Mack Hollins. On the other side, the Falcons are still reeling from the almost inconceivable loss to the Patriots two years ago. The Falcons regressed slightly, falling from 11 wins in 2016 to 10 in 2017, but still managed to make the playoffs where they met, and lost to, the Eagles. Looking for revenge, I predict Matt Ryan and the Falcons to score an upset in the battle of the birds.
Falcons 27 Eagles 21
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers, Sunday at 4:25pm
The Panthers have had a roller coaster of campaigns over the last several years. In 2015, Cam Newton was the dominant MVP and led Carolina to 15 wins and the Super Bowl where they came up just short. In 2016, the Panthers looked awful and limped home to a 6-10 season and missed the playoffs. Last year was somewhat in between. The Panthers were able to return to the playoffs posting a 10-6 record, but Newton wasn’t quite at his MVP caliber self. The Panthers ended up being taken down by New Orleans in the wild card by a score of 31-26. The Cowboys have endured a similar fate the last couple years. In Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s first year with the team, Dallas looked incredible. They finished 13-3 and took the NFC east crown. Despite a loss to the Falcons in the playoffs things looked promising. However, their season last year was almost over before it even started with Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, and Dallas missed the playoffs at 9-7. Look for Carolina to make their home field advantage count in this one and take the day.
Panthers 24 Cowboys 17
Houston Texans at New England Patriots, Sunday at 1:00pm
Seemingly a favorite to take the Super Bowl crown every year, New England and the ageless Tom Brady once again seem poised to make a deep run in the postseason. Despite probably playing the best game of his remarkable career in Super Bowl 52, the Patriots came up just short and are out for revenge. The receiving corps of New England is undoubtedly their biggest question mark at the moment with Julian Edelman being suspended for four games and the retirement of off-season signee Eric Decker. There will be a large burden on Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead to carry the Patriots passing game from the backfield.
On the other side, Houston has to be happy to be getting the services of Deshaun Watson back. Watson probably would have won Rookie of the Year had he kept up the level of production that he was performing at before his unfortunate knee injury. The bad news is that he hasn’t looked all that great this preseason.
The good news, however, is that he is fully healthy and isn’t even wearing a brace on the surgically repaired knee. All things considered, the power of Belichick prevails in this one.
Patriots 31 Texans 20