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Sept. 8, 2005

NFL: Week One predictions

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor and Abe Schwadron, Online Managing Editor
Poor Izzy has gone to St. Andrews for college. Nick is gone as well. Bushnell has defected to print (traitor...). So you're left with me and a couple of green recruits. As we march on to Super Bowl XL (Xtra-Large?), I introduce to you Phillip Allen, Abe Schwadron and Josh Zipin as the other members of SCO's "expert" panel. Already onset by laziness, Phil and Josh have not given me their takes on the game, just their picks. Whatever. At least I have Abe to count on, right?

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Thursday, September 8, 2005
Raiders at New England – 9:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
New England New England New England New England


Pratik says: The first game of the season features the defending champion Patriots against the losers – I mean the Oakland Raiders. Sure, the Patriots lost Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi. Sure, they lost Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis. But ask yourself, do you really think the Raiders will beat the Patriots? Didn't think so…

Abe says: The defending champs should have no problem bulldozing the Raiders, whose defense will struggle to stop RB Corey Dillon, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season. Oakland's equally weak secondary will lose tight end Daniel Graham, one of Tom Brady's favorite targets, in the red zone. Solidifying their linebacking corps in the offseason, New England has the defensive schemes to stop one of the most talented offensive teams in the league. LaMont Jordan will struggle to get the ground game going in his first start with Oakland, and if any team in the league can stop an offense with wide receivers like Jerry Porter and Randy Moss, it's the Pats - just ask Peyton Manning.

Sunday, September 11, 2005
Chicago at Washington– 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Washington Washington Washington Washington


Pratik says: Ha ha…it's the Bears' three ring circus coming to an NFL city near you. But really, you gotta feel sorry for the fans in Chicago. They haven't had a consistent, great quarterback in ages and they won't have one now. Not that the Redskins have had one either, but Ramsey is still miles ahead of Orton. Chalk this one up as an easy win for the 'Skins.

Abe says: If the Redskins weren't the Redskins, this game would be a no-brainer. But Washington's uncertainty at quarterback is cause for concern. Still, the 'Skins should beat the Bears without breaking a sweat. Running back Clinton Portis should get a big enough push from his O-line to break into the open field. And if the Bears stack the line, quarterback Patrick Ramsey will have the opportunity to go deep to speedy yet undersized receivers David Patten and Santana Moss. The poor Bears will start rookie Kyle Orton at quarterback. It'll be a cold winter in Chicago.

Cincinnati at Cleveland – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati


Pratik says: Cincinnati has the potential to be the best offensive team in the league behind Indy and KC and I think that they will show that against the worst team in the league. Cleveland must be reeling. The Ravens have won so much since moving out of Cleveland and the Browns, well, haven't. Expect a blowout as the Browns have the chance (once again) to go 0-16. And don't even get me started on Kellen Winslow, Jr…

Abe says: The Browns are the Browns. Even with new head coach Romeo Crennel, the Browns will have trouble hanging with the Bengals, who rebuilt their offense and will annihilate the Browns with their aerial attack. Quarterback Carson Palmer has perhaps the best set of wide receivers in the NFL, with Chad Johnson, T.J. Howdoyouspellhisname and Kelley Washington splitting out. Rudi Johnson, the Bengals' workhorse, will run right over the Browns, who despite replacing their entire defensive line will not have the defense to slow many teams, especially not the high-powered Bengals. Look for a blowout.

Denver at Miami – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Denver Denver Denver Denver


Pratik says: Denver has the talent to be a great team, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot. Mike Anderson is the latest running back in the vaunted system that has churned out 1000-yd rushers by the truckload. Miami has a great defense, but it's abysmal offense (they're starting GUS FREROTE!?!?!) will lead to their demise.

Abe says: The Broncos will roll into Miami and put a hurting on the Fins. Why? Two words: Gus Frerotte. Frerotte, who spent all of last season holding a clipboard on the sidelines in Minnesota, will be the starting QB in Miami to start the season. Even after losing future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice to retirement, Denver has the depth at wide receiver to burn the Dolphins secondary. As for the Dolphins offense, it's non-existent. Broncos' linebacker D.J. Williams will have a field day with Miami's tight ends and as long as Denver can stop the run, they should coast to a victory.

Houston at Buffalo – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Buffalo Houston Houston Buffalo


Pratik says: Willis McGahee gets to prove whether or not he's the real deal. The offense, starting a rookie quarterback in J.P. Losman, will rest solely on his shoulders. With more rest and time for his injured knee to heal, McGahee may actually be better than he was last year. Houston's D is good, but not great so as long as Losman doesn't make too many mistakes, the Bills should be in good shape. David Carr will continue his ascent to the top-tier of NFL quarterback's with another good game, but the Bills defense is smart enough and talented enough to make sure their offense doesn't have to do too much.

Abe says: Houston has one of the most underrated offensive units in the NFL. Quarterback David Carr threw for more 3,500 yards in 2004, and has shown the big arm the Texans had hoped for when they made Carr the franchise's first-round pick in their inaugural season. And RB Domanick Davis rushed for 1,188 yards and totaled 14 touchdowns last season. Davis is also a threat in the passing game; he caught 68 balls in 2004 and will force the Bills to play the screen pass. Wide receiver Andre Johnson has become a big-time receiver, and will torment the Bills' DBs. As for Buffalo, even the NFL's second-ranked defense and a healthy Willis McGahee can't make up for the mistakes of a rookie quarterback- J.P. Losman- in his first start.

New Orleans at Carolina – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Carolina Carolina Carolina Carolina


Pratik says: Football seems trivial at this point for all of the New Orleans area, but the Saints now have a higher purpose, it seems, than simply winning football games. Maybe this catastrophe will force the talented but unpredictable team to focus and play up to their potential. However, I simply can't go against the Panthers who are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Once again, though, our thoughts and prayers go out to the unfortunate souls victimized by Hurricane Katrina.

Abe says: The Panthers are a scary team. Their front four on D, Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker, Kris Jenkins and Brentson Buckner, will make New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks uncomfortable all afternoon, and Carolina's secondary won't make it any easier for Brooks to get rid of the ball downfield. Panthers' wideout Steve Smith will return after missing almost all of '04 with a broken leg, and should provide instant offense. The Panthers need production out of their running backs, Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster in week one, but this matchup comes down to New Orleans' last-ranked defense against Carolina QB Jake Delhomme's crafty offense.

New York Jets at Kansas City– 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
New York New York New York New York


Pratik says: My friends keep saying that Chad Pennington's the real deal. I don't know if he is or not, but he is going up against Kansas City. They may have added lots of defensive talent during the offseason, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Abe says: The Chiefs are shaky on defense and have no receivers for the Jets to fear other than tight end Tony Gonzalez, who likely will be wrapped up by linebacker Jonathan Vilma. The Jets have a consistent running game, and the re-acquisition of wideout Laveranues Coles has energized quarterback Chad Pennington, who is coming off an arm injury. The Jets' D will key in on Priest Holmes from the start and force Trent Green to throw to anyone but Gonzalez. Chiefs' fans should pray for another miracle from Dante Hall.

Seattle at Jacksonville – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Jacksonville Seattle Jacksonville Jacksonville


Pratik says: For years now, people have been saying that Seattle is ready to explode in a big way. We're still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jacksonville, under Byron Leftwich, is about to go crazy. Mark my words; he will be a great quarterback - if not by the end of this year, then by the end of next.

Abe says: Seattle has one of the NFL's best running backs, Shaun Alexander, whereas the Jags will go with the aging Fred Taylor in the backfield. One hit on Taylor and his career could be over. The Seahawks have an experienced quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck and a capable batch of receivers in Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Joe Jerevicius. Jacksonville has a strong-armed QB in Byron Leftwich, but his receivers are less than spectacular. The Seahawks DBs, including second-year safety Michael Boulware and corner Marcus Trufant, who combined for 150 tackles and 5 intereceptions in 2004, will challenge the Jags' passing game and Seattle will give Jacksonville a steady dose of Alexander on offense.

Tampa Bay at Minnesota – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Minnesota Minnesota Minnesota Minnesota


Pratik says: Minnesota may very well be the most improved team of the year. They are a trendy pick for the Super Bowl as well. Tampa Bay just hasn't been the same ever since they finally won way back in 2001. Expect the Vikings to win in a blowout.

Abe says: The Bucs offense has made huge improvements in recent years, adding lightning-fast WR Michael Clayton and drafting RB Cadillac Williams. However, coach Jon Gruden has named Broncos and Dolphins reject Brian Griese the team's starting quarterback. The revamped Vikings defense will devour Griese, and recent addition Fred Smoot will lock down Clayton. As for Minnesota, quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wideouts Nate Burleson, Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor will beat the Bucs with their speed and their ability to air it out in their home dome.

Tennessee at Pittsburgh – 1:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Tennessee Pittsburgh


Pratik says: If this was any team other than the Titans or the 49ers, I'd pick them, but it is the Titans so I have to go with Pittsburgh. Seriously though, Pittsburgh is in big trouble after losing both Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis to start the season. They are going with Willie Parker at running back, who does not fit in at all with the Steelers smash mouth type of offense and Roethlisberger has looked downright awful in the preseason. However, Tennessee is another team, like the 49ers, that is rebuilding this season, so expect the Steelers to eke out a victory in a very close game. Also, watch for Norm Chow's innovative additions to the Tennessee offense.

Abe says: Despite the addition of running back Travis Henry, the Titans won't have enough to get by the Steelers, who will smother Henry and the Titans. An aging Steve McNair and a rag-tag group of second-tier wide receivers are no match for a Steelers defense ranked first overall in 2004. Though the Steelers are nagged by injuries to running backs Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, starter Willie Parker will be injected into the lineup. Parker has the ability to pop off a couple of 50-yard runs a game. Pittsburgh's special teams are also tremendous, with WR Antwaan Randle El, the NFL's second-best kick returner (see: Hall, Dante).

Arizona at NY Giants – 4:15 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Arizona New York Arizona New York


Pratik says: For some reason, I seem to be the only one that doesn't think Eli will make the leap into an elite QB early on this season. Undoubtedly, he has the physical tools to compete in the league, but I think that he has to mature quite a bit more in his decision making process before he can truly join that top-tier group.

Abe says: The Giants' Tiki Barber (if he can only hold on to the ball) will kill the Cards in week one with screen passes, and New York's new wideout Plaxico Burress will help second-year QB punish Arizona in the red zone. The Cardinals' Kurt Warner will struggle in his first start since playing for the Giants in '04. Antonio Pierce, Michael Strahan and the rest of the Giants' improved defense will stop rookie runner J.J. Arrington. The only possible misstep for New York? Their secondary, which can be burned with three-receiver sets.

Dallas at San Diego - 4:15 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
San Diego Dallas San Diego Dallas


Pratik says: I can't wait for LT to stick it to Demarcus Ware. Ware has been a beast in the preseason, I just want to see LT run him over once. Is that too much to ask?

Abe says: Without tight end Antonio Gates in week one due to a team suspension, the Chargers lose their best receiver. That means the Chargers will rely almost entirely on LaDainian Tomlinson. LT is a monster, but he can't pass the ball, too. QB Drew Brees will have trouble moving the ball through the air, and the Cowboys will use their great linebackers, Dat Nguyen and rook DeMarcus Ware, to stack the line and make WRs Keenan McCardell and Reche Caldwell beat them. As for the 'Boys, RB Julius Jones will carry the bulk of the load, and QB Drew Bledsoe at least has capable wideouts to toss to in Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson and new addition Peerless Price.

Green Bay at Detroit - 4:15 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Detroit Detroit Detroit Green Bay


Pratik says: Get ready for a total score approaching 100. These two mediocre defenses play explosive offenses. If you love the forward pass, this is the game for you. If you want stifling defense, go watch the Bears/'Skins game. By the way, Detroit is gonna win because of their crazy offensive balance (three gamebreaking wide receivers and a running back who can burn you or run over you) and because their defense is slightly better than the regurgitated, aging moldy Swiss cheese defense the Packers are fronting.

Abe says: The key to this game is plain and simple: the Packers are old and have no defense, while the Lions are young and have one of the most talented teams in the league. Lions quarterback Joey Harrington has been given all the help he can get on offense, with a solid line, a top rusher in Kevin Jones, a big target at tight end (Marcus Pollard) and three first-rounders at wide receiver: Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams. The Lions' defense is not perfect, but the line will put pressure on Packers QB Brett Favre, who loves to scramble but can make bad decisions and threw 17 interceptions last season.

St. Louis at San Fraqncisco - 4:15 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis


Pratik says: St. Louis. Because they're playing the 49ers.

Abe says: The 49ers drafted Utah QB Alex Smith first overall in the NFL draft after finishing with a 2-14 record in 2004. The Niners are rebuilding, and have hired new head coach Mike Nolan to turn the team around. So, logically, Tim Rattay will start at quarterback. Huh? Rattay threw as many touchdowns as he did interceptions last year (10) and finished with a QB rating of 78.1. The Rams couldn't have picked an easier week one opponent. Steven Jackson begins his assault on the NFL against San Fran.

Indianapolis at Baltimore – 8:30 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Indianapolis Indianapolis Indianapolis Indianapolis


Pratik says: In the second best game of the week, Manning and Co. take on the Ravens. Now, when Deion Sanders is your third string corner and when you could actually have a chance to have 11 Pro Bowlers on defense, that means that your defense is pretty good. When your third string wide receiver is Brandon Stokely and you could have 11 Pro Bowlers on offense, that means your offense is pretty good. So, I'll call it a push between the Raven's D and the Colts O. The key to the game is the fact that the Colts D is better than the Ravens O. Who doesn't think that Kyle Boller is gonna screw up somehow in this game? Exactly. Indy wins on the strength of something that Boller does that he shouldn't have done.

Abe says: In a possible AFC Championship preview, the Colts and ravens square off in prime time. It's the ultimate battle of offense versus defense, and the Colts will get off to another hot start by beating the Ravens. The Ravens playmakers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis won't affect Peyton Manning, who doesn't make mistakes like other QBs. Manning and his boys will spread the field and utilize every offensive weapon they possess. The list is as long as their scoring summary from 2004: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokley, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark…

Monday, September 12, 2005
Philadelphia at Atlanta – 9:00 p.m.

Pratik's Pick Abe's Pick Phil's Pick Josh's Pick
Atlanta Atlanta Philadelphia Philadelphia


Pratik says: This one is going to be good. There's Vick and T.O. and McNabb and Westbrook and Dunn and Duckett and Kerney and Trotter and Kearse and … I could go on, but I won't. It'll be a close game, but frankly, I think that this is finally the Falcons' year where everything clicks into place and they get to the Super Bowl. Philadelphia's team is too fractured to function properly. Vick will get it done because for all the whining and griping about him not being a "pure" passer, he wins games and ultimately, that's all that matters.

Abe says: In a great Monday Nighter, two of the NFC's best go at it in ATL. Michael Vick is the most electrifying player in the NFL, and he will spark the Falcons in week one. The Falcons' running game is too much for Philly, who won't be able to stop the run-happy backfield of Warrick Dunn, T.J. Duckett, and Vick. McNabb and Terrell Owens are a sick hook-up, but the stifling Atlanta D will stuff the run and force WRs Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown to beat them. In the battle of the flying mascots, the Dirty Birds win out because of their stellar D, and, oh yeah, this guy named Vick.



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  • umm guys on September 8, 2005 at 7:56 PM
    You pick nine game unanimously. How about some difference of opinion...
  • robb on September 8, 2005 at 8:19 PM
    good job guys but no one takes kc at home? i guess jets will be good this yr but still someone should have taken kc w/all their weapons- gonzalez, priest, trent green...
  • Mike Bushnell (View Email) on September 8, 2005 at 9:03 PM
    Print is still part of the SC umbrella! Lemme pick!
  • jingie on September 9, 2005 at 12:30 AM
    OMG!!!!! Respect the Ravens. Mark my words, the Baltimore secondary will tear apart the Indy passing game. Ravens win easy 23-13.
  • jinjie 2 on September 9, 2005 at 6:59 PM
    OMG!!!!!Sike!!!!!!! the raves are going to win? how you figure? Don't forget about james. even if the ravens slow james, he will make them respect him which will open it up for peyton and those receivers (harrison, wayne, stokley, clark?, and even james). also indy's d is decent enough to stop the the ravens o.
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