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Sept. 10, 2004

NFL: Week One predictions

by Isamu Bae, Page Editor and Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Thursday September 9, 2004
Indianapolis at New England – 9 p.m.
Wekick off the NFL 2004-2005 season in the land of the defending SuperBowl champions with a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Indianapolis
New England
Indianapolis
New England


Izzy says…
Withthe infamous defensive back rule change, the Colts are going to havethe upper hand in this rematch. Now, quite famous is Ty Law's ratherrough handling of Marvin Harrison. Well, that is not going to happenanymore. Marvin Harrison is going to be able to run free and thePatriots do not have the speed in their secondary to stop Harrison.Harrison is not the only weapon, either, as the Colts have capabletools with Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James and his backup, Dominic Rhodes.Also, the colts have 2 capable tight ends in Marcus Pollard and DallasClark. Their defense is finally coming together as Tony Dungy's secondmasterpiece, and I cannot imagine that the Patriots can create as muchoffense as the Patriots. Not even close. Even Bill Belichik will notfind an answer for Marvin Harrison and that will be far too much tohandle.

Pratik says…
This game is basically a match up ofoffense versus defense: Indianapolis with the best offense in theleague and New England with their confusing 3-4 defense. With the newrule that declares that defensive backs aren't allowed to grab thereceivers after five yards, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will runwild all over the field. However, Tom Brady is not without his weaponsand I predict that an Adam Vinatieri field goal will be the differencein this clash between the Colts and the Patriots.
(New England + 3)

Sunday September 12, 2004
Arizona at St. Louis – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
St. Louis
St. Louis
St. Louis
St. Louis


Izzy says…
Notonly do the Cardinals not have Anquan Boldin, their receivers not quitedeveloped with Josh McCown. The Cardinals do not have anything near thesecondary required to stop "The Greatest Show on Turf". While it isobvious the Rams' offense is no longer what it used to be, it isdifficult to forget that the Rams, despite the aging Isaac Bruce andMarshall Faulk, clearly can be one of the best running teams in the NFLafter drafting Stephen Jackson. Not much to say here, just as steamrollvictory for the Blue and Gold.

Pratik says…
Arizona is ayoung team that is under the able tutelage of Dennis Green, formerly ofthe Minnesota Vikings. However, they have been handicapped by an injuryto last year's offensive rookie of the year Anquan Boldin and by aninjury to the third pick of the NFL Draft, Larry Fitzgerald. Also, theyhave a very weak backfield with geriatric Emmit Smith and fumble-proneTroy Hambrick leading the way. St. Louis is on a high after Pro Bowltackle Orlando Pace returned from his contract holdout on Monday tobolster a beleaguered offensive line. Marc Bulger and Torry Holt willstrike fear into the hearts of the young Arizona defensive backfield,still reeling from the loss of Pro Bowl safety Dexter Jackson. Ipredict an easy win for St. Louis with at least one touchdown for TorryHolt and Marshall Faulk.
(St. Louis +14)

Baltimore at Cleveland – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore


Izzy says…
TheRavens defense has only gotten better with the addition of DeionSanders, and their pass rush gaining more with Terrell Suggs becoming afull-time starter. Even the absence of Peter Boulware is not a problembecause of the emergence of rookie Roderick Green. While this year isbeing hailed as the Year of the Passing Offense, I think Jamal Lewis,Musa Smith and Chester Taylor can grind it out on the ground enough forthe Ravens to dominate. Let's not forget that the Browns have notparticularly improved. Their offensive line STILL is abysmal and theirdefense more so. It's the Lewis and Lewis show again.

Pratik says…
Ina rematch of last years epic in which Jamal Lewis broke the single gamerushing record, expect the Ravens to dominate once again as Lewistramples the Cleveland defense and the Ravens defense led by NFLDefensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis to shut down Cleveland'sovermatched offense. If anything, Baltimore's championship caliberdefense has gotten better from last year's version as they return allof their defensive starters for another year of punishing opposingoffenses. I predict a cakewalk for Ray Lewis and the Ravens.
(Baltimore +10)

Cincinnati at New York Jets – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
New York Jets
Cincinnati
Cincinnati
New York Jets


Izzy says…
Althoughthe Bengals look great, Carson Palmer is going to have some roughoutings in the beginning and the Jets definitely are contenders with ahealthy Pennington. Marvin Lewis has yet to show the full extent of hisdefensive savvy (not the right personnel, perhaps?) and may surprise usall off the bat, but Pennington, with his receiving duo of Santana Mossand Justin McCareins, along with the running tandem of Curtis Martinand Lamont Jordan, will simply out-produce the Bengals in an offensiveshoot-out.

Pratik says…
Cincinnati is rejuvenated after arespectable 8-8 season last year. Also, the preseason has shown whyCarson Palmer was the NFL's number one pick last year and he shouldhave a field day playing catch with speedy wideout Chad Johnson. TheJets are lacking talent on the defensive side and with virtual unknownsplaying at linebacker; Cincinnati should cruise to a win.
(Cincinnati + 7)

Detroit at Chicago – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Detroit
Detroit
Detroit
Chicago


Izzy says…
TheBears' cornerbacks are injured. That really is all you need to knowabout this game. I am fully behind Joey Harrington this season- I trulybelieve that he is going to get into his groove, reach close to hispotential and start hitting Charlie Rogers, Roy Williams and Az-ZahirHakim. Also, having Kevin Jones to run the ball doesn't hurt. Theirsecondary is not much better, but playmaker Dre Bly should be enoughfor Lions to break their streak of a record 26 straight road losses.

Pratik says…
Detroitwith its young, explosive offense goes up against the besieged ChicagoBears. With the addition of Adewale Ogunleye over the offseason, theBears diminish the impact of the loss of Phillip Daniels and they havestandout middle linebacker Brian Urlacher patrolling the short zone,but other than these two, the Bears defense is in big trouble. Theirsecondary is like a sieve, and other than Urlacher, they have no trulyscary defensive force like Ray Lewis on the Ravens. Detroit has anoffensive tune-up this week and easily dispatches the struggling Bears.
(Detroit +10)

Jacksonville at Buffalo – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Buffalo
Buffalo
Jacksonville
Buffalo


Izzy says…
Jacksonvilleis good. Its offense looks pretty solid with emerging Byron Leftwich,Jimmy Smith, Reggie Evans and Fred Taylor. But even without formercoach Gregg Williams, the former #2 defense will continue their successand the offense will pick itself back up with a return to the powerrunning game, fueled by the tough Travis Henry and the return of WillisMcGahee. The running game will allow Drew Bledsoe to open up his cannonof an arm again, and with Lee Evans running the deep routes, there islittle doubt the team will have a field day against an overmatched Jaxsecondary.

Pratik says…
Jacksonville is one of the teams towatch this year with the potential to make the playoffs. The one majorweakness the Jaguars have is inexperience at quarterback as ByronLeftwich is entering only his first full season as a starter in theNFL. However, Leftwich has many veteran targets to throw too includingwideouts Jimmy Smith and Troy Edwards along with tight end Kyle Brady.Also, Leftwich has a talented running back in Fred Taylor to keepdefenses honest. However, the Jaguars face a very experienced team inthe Buffalo Bills. With a highlight reel offense comprising of DrewBledsoe, Eric Moulds, Travis Henry and Josh Reed, the Bills have theability to run up the score in a hurry. The Bills also had the secondranked defense last year and have a lockdown cornerback in TroyVincent. I predict the Bills will come out on top in a close one inRalph Wilson Stadium.
(Buffalo +6)

Oakland at Pittsburgh – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Oakland
Pittsburgh


Izzy says…
Sayall you want about Duce Staley. He is not as good as he thinks. But heis an asset offensively that coaches would love to have. Now theSteelers have Staley and Jerome Bettis, giving them a powerful runningcombination- one that could enable them to get back to their winningroots. Tommy Maddox will find that the increase in running will open upthe deep routes for his great receivers in Hines Ward, Plaxico Burressand Antwaan Randle El. Aside from their secondary and offensive line,the Steelers actually look fairly set. Thankfully, they are up againstan old, aging team that, despite the addition of Warren Sapp and TedWashington, will struggle to pressure the quarterback, even against theSteelers. The Steel-men will be able to match the Raiders through theair and hold the upper hand on the ground.

Pratik says…
Thisis an interesting match up of two very similar teams, both coming offseasons in which they underperformed badly. The venerable Rich Gannonand the incomparable Jerry Rice who lines up at wideout lead Oakland'soffense along with running back Tyrone Wheatley and the speedy JerryPorter. Pittsburgh counters with newly acquired running back DuceStaley and standout wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward. Inthis close game, give the edge to Pittsburgh with the home-fieldadvantage at Heinz Field.
(Pittsburgh +3)

San Diego at Houston – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Houston
Houston
San Diego
Houston


Izzy says…
Asmuch as I love LaDainian Tomlinson and everything he brings to thefield I still dare not touch the Chargers as a winning pick on ANYgiven week. I think they can go 0-16 this year. They have no offensiveline, no receivers, no secondary and no defensive line. Theirquarterback situation is still iffy (I stand by Drew Brees- he wasn'tgiven much to work with last season, and drafting Phillip Rivers willbe a mistake the Chargers will rue) and their linebackers are mediocre,leaving the team with LT and… well, LT. The Texans, on the other hand,are a good, young, up-and-coming team. David Carr is expected to breakout with his receivers Andre Johnson and Jabar Gaffney. Domanick Davisand Tony Hollings provide a one-two punch at tailback that many teamswould love to have. Their secondary is coming together with theaddition of Dunta Robinson, and their pass rush gained with Jason Babinand Robaire Smith coming in. Look for the Texans to dominate- like theyseem to always do in season openers.


Pratik says…
Whatcan I say about San Diego? They are the first team in recent times witha legitimate chance of going 0-16! Other than LaDanian Tomlinson, thereare no stars on this team. Phillip Rivers, the Chargers first-roundpick, was involved in a holdout until late August, which severelyhandicapped him in the competition for the starting quarterback spot.Houston, like Jacksonville, is another sleeper team that has an outsidechance of making the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they are in oneof the toughest divisions in the league, the AFC South with the likesof Tennessee and Indianapolis. However, the Texans have my candidatefor breakout player of the year, David Carr and a bevy of talent onboth sides of the field. The Texans are especially strong at widereceiver with Corey Bradford and Andre Johnson both capable ofstretching the field deep or taking the hit over the middle on theslant. I predict Houston crushing the Chargers, but Tomlinson willstill get at least one touchdown.
(Houston +10)

Seattle at New Orleans – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
New Orleans
Seattle
Seattle
Seattle


Izzy says…
Everybody'sdarling is the Seahawks this year after they came so close to the NFCChampionship game. But show me their run defense. The 'Hawks claim tobe better with the addition of Marcus Tubbs, but I doubt one rookie DTis going to save their horrible run stuffing abilities. This is a greattest against one of the best young RBs in the league, Deuce McAllister.I'm going to go with Deuce on this one. The Saints have been one of themost curious teams of late, always coming out with a bang and fallingin the end. Imagine this- if the Saints could only maintain theirseason for 16 games instead of 10, they would have made the playoffsboth times for the past two seasons- over the Tampa Bay Bucs and theCarolina Panthers. The health of Donte Stallworth is going to be keyfor the Saints this season, but his health is not in question this game.

Pratik says…
Expectthis game to have upwards of 42 points total as two high-poweredoffenses go at each other in New Orleans. Seattle welcomes back WalterJones, an essential part of their defense to aid in this titanic clashof offensive firepower. Seattle's offense is comprised of running backShaun Alexander, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and amazing wide receiversDarrell Jackson and Koren Robinson. Also, the Seahawks boast a talentedtight end in Jerramy Stevens. The Saints counter with running backDeuce McAllister, quarterback Aaron Brooks, tight end Boo Williams andwide receivers Donte Stallworth and Joe Horn. As Seattle's defense isbetter than New Orleans, give the edge to the Seahawks in this one.
(Seattle +7)

Tampa Bay at Washington – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Mike's Pick
Washington
Washington
Washington
Washington


Izzy says…
Withthe 2002-2003 Super Bowl Champions looking nothing like, coach JonGruden will face the task of meshing this team back into contenders.Joe Gibbs returns to the NFL after his hiatus to return to the Redskinsback into their glory days. I think Gibbs will win this one out. I'mnot sold on Charlie Garner returning to form- even back in Gruden'soffense. Mike Alstott will be more of a key than Gruden will like. Thismatch up, interestingly enough, faces off Monty Kiffin against GreggWilliams, both some of the greatest defensive minds in the league. Ithink Williams simply has more tools than Kiffin and the same goes forGibbs against Gruden on the offensive side of the ball. Landslide winfor the 'Skins.


Pratik says…
Tampa Bay is the literalpaper tiger, they have a defense to fear by reputation but with theloss of two key components, strong safety John Lynch and defensivetackle Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay will be hard pressed to stop any halfwaydecent running back, much less Clinton Portis. Also, Tampa Bay isreally suffering at the wideout position with Keenan McCardell stillembroiled in a holdout and Keyshawn Johnson gone in a trade to Dallasfor Joey Galloway. Although Tim Brown came over from the Raiders infree agency, he is nowhere near the player McCardell is and as a resultCharlie Garner (also from the Raiders) will be carrying the offense onhis shoulders. Washington, in all likeliness, will be a run heavy teamrelying more on Portis' legs than Mark Brunell's arm. However, JoeGibbs was a disciple of Don Coryell under the "Air Coryell" system withthe Chargers, so don't be surprised if Brunell throws a couple of deepballs to Laveranues Coles, one of the NFL's fastest men, or RodGardner. I predict an easy win for Coach Gibb's first game back withthe Redskins.
(Washington +10)

Tennessee at Miami – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee


Izzy says…
Watchthis bite me, but who in their right minds would pick the Dolphins,especially in this match-up? It was supposed to be interesting, withRicky Williams facing one of the league's stingiest rushing defenses,but now the Sammy Morris versus? Come on, the Titans could run passrush all day and not care about the rushing offense at all. I have alot of respect for Jay Fiedler, but with a blitz every down I don'tknow if he'll be able to stay on his toes long enough behind hisoffensive line. I think the Titans could almost sleep through this one.

Pratik says…
Hereis the biggest blowout of week one. A dominant Tennessee teamquarterbacked by resilient Steve McNair has the clear edge over Miamiin all aspects of the game, except maybe the kickers. I suggest thatMiami fans spare themselves the agony and watch another game.
(Tennessee +17)

Atlanta at San Francisco – 4:15 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
San Francisco
Atlanta
San Francisco


Izzy says…
Notonly is Michael Vick's health up in the air after all (Hamstringinjury), it looks like DeAngelo Hall's injury will hurt the Falconsmore than they like. The Niners will look to pound the ball and chuckit long as Dennis Erickson looks to implement his offense full-time assoon as possible. The Falcon's defense was in question all of lastseason, and the return to a 4-3 scheme will probably not help themagainst the pass much. Their offense is their forte, but the defense isthe Niner's forte as well, and I'm going to go with the Niner's offensevs. the Falcon's defense as the deciding factor in this one.

Pratik says…
Thewhole city of Atlanta is waiting in anticipation of this game againstthe 49ers to try and figure out what's wrong with Michael Vick. In allof his preseason games this year, Vick has only thrown 29 passes andlooked uncomfortable in the new West Coast offense being implementedunder new head coach Jim Mora. In fact, backup Matt Schaub out ofVirginia has looked like the veteran whereas Vick has looked like aninexperienced practice squad caliber player. However, the Falcons willwin easily because the 49ers are really struggling. The 49ers are theChargers of the NFC led by Tim Rattay and Kevan Barlow, the onlydifference makers they have on the team. With a defense that hasvirtually no star players, expect an ugly game finishing in an Atlantawin.
(Atlanta +7)

Dallas at Minnesota – 4:15 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota


Izzy says…
Evenwith Michael Bennett out, the Vikings offense is going to explode thisgame. As good as Terrence Newman is, I think Randy Moss is going tohand him a good old fashioned whooping this game, as he will likely dothe whole season. Roy Williams will continually be forced to help outagainst Moss, which in turn will let the Vikings' ridiculously deeprunning corp to turn itself loose against the 'Boys. Meanwhile the'Boys will be riding the old arm of Vinny Testaverde while hopingKeyshawn Johnson can turn it loose and Julius Jones can cope with theburden of being an NFL starter in a real game. That's quite a bit tohope for, especially since the Vikings look to improve on their 28picks last season with the addition of dominant corner AntoineWinfield. Keyshawn Johnson is not fast enough to take advantage of thenew DB rules, and that will tip things totally in the favor of thePurple.

Pratik says…
Dallas, with the number one defense lastyear, returns all of its players on defense. That's a good thingbecause they'll need each and every one of them to battle with RandyMoss and Minnesota's supercharged offense. With the new rules limitingthe defensive backs from making contact with the wide receivers,however, Minnesota should throw their way into a win.
(Minnesota +7)

New York Giants at Philadelphia – 4:15 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Philadelphia
Philadelphia
Philadelphia


Izzy says…
PartThree of the 'Wide-outs running wild' series brings the camera crew toPhiladelphia to watch Terrell Owens wide open in the secondary. DonovanMcNabb finally gets his passing weapon and Brian Westbrook seeks toprove he is capable of the full load as a running back. All of this isagainst the Giants. They dumped Kerry Collins and picked up Kurt Warnerto start for their team, their defense is no improvement from last yearand Jeremy "New definition to all-hype all-injury" Shockey is not goingto change anything. The Eagles' Achilles Heel will be their youngsecondary and their constantly fluctuating pass-rush… but the Giantsare not the team that will challenge that seriously. Philly fans, getready for the first Eagles blowout win in a while.

Pratik says…
Forthe New York Giants, things started going downhill ever since thatmissed field goal in the playoffs against San Francisco and haven'tstopped yet. With Kerry Collins gone as quarterback, Kurt Warner,former Super Bowl MVP of the Rams, steps in to fill that role with theopportunistic Eli "I Don't Want the Chargers" Manning standing ready inthe wings. The defense has a great defensive line and cornerbacks, buthas no standout linebackers, an increasing priority for defenses asoffenses are relying more and more on short passes to generate yardage.For the Eagles, this is a do or die year; anything less than the SuperBowl will be unacceptable in the "City of Brotherly Love". With thearrival of Terrell Owens comes an elite receiver for Donovan McNabb toplay catch with and with the new no contact rule, there is no stoppingthe combination of speed and strength that is Terrell Owens. I predictthat T.O. will systematically dismantle the New York secondary and theEagles win in a blowout.
(Philadelphia +14)

Kansas City at Denver – 4:15 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Denver
Kansas City
Kansas City


Izzy says…
Ok,I'll be the Devil's Advocate here. Who is Trent Green going to throwto!? Their wide-outs are all injured! They have a high-powered offenseand all, but they can't do it without anyone CATCHING the ball otherthan T-Gonz (Tony Gonzalez) and Priest Holmes. Not against JakePlummer, Rod Smith, Ashlie Lelie and Shanahan's 1000 Yard RushingMachine system. The Chief's defense will be mediocre at best thisseason while the Broncos are desperate for a jump to the upper tier.The Broncos made their moves, the Chiefs have not. All the Broncosreally need to do this game is to contain Priest Holmes. I think theBroncos are going to surprise many with a win here.

Pratik says…
Thereis one reason why Kansas City will win the game: Priest Holmes. Denverhas no one on defense that can take Holmes one-on-one. Expect a lot ofrun blitzing by the Broncos to try and neutralize Holmes, but DickVermeil will use Tony Gonzalez and Eddie Morton effectively enough toburn the Broncos if they try to stack the box to stop the run.
(Kansas City +10)

Monday September 13, 2004
Green Bay at Carolina – 1 p.m.

Izzy's Pick
Pratik's Pick
Nick's Pick
Green Bay
Carolina
Carolina


Izzy says…
Actually,these two teams are beginning to look similar. Both teams wish to leanon their defense and run the game to victory. There's a simpledifference on both sides of that wish, though. Carolina has a betterpass-rush due to their front four. But Green Bay, potentially, has abetter secondary. Mike McKenzie is key, however. Carolina has StephenDavis and Deshaun Foster, but now have a questionable offensive line.Green Bay has Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Tony Fischer, with asolid, elite offensive line. And finally, if the above two fail, thePanthers have Jake Delhomme throwing to Steve Smith. The Packers, onthe other hand, have the great Brett Favre throwing to the probablebreak-outs of Javon Walker and Robert Fergusen, along with the reliableBubba Franks. Rhe Packers are going to pull an upset with this one, andthe Panthers are going to regret not upgrading their offensive line andsecondary.

Pratik says…
In what may be the last season forlegendary quarterback Brett Favre, Green Bay sports an explosiveoffense with game breakers at every position and a decent defense toattempt to compete in the tough NFC North with their archrivals, theMinnesota Vikings. Carolina however are defending NFC conferencechampions because of their dominating defense and the lack of respectgiven to the Panthers will be turned into a motivational tool byunderrated coach John Fox. Expect a great Monday Night match up at Bankof America stadium with the Panthers winning on the strength of homefield advantage.
(Carolina +3)



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  • Ravi Umarji on September 10, 2004
    Wow Pratik, you got the New England game exactly right.
  • soultaker on September 13, 2004
    Yeah you got the jags' just right
  • jon on September 13, 2004
    how bout them browns!!!!!
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