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AFC Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks For Week One

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 05:48 AM PDT

Thursday Night:

New Orleans at Green Bay – The kickoff to the 2011 NFL season with two NFC powers at Lambeau Field. The home team always seems to win this game, and while the Saints are very good, I think the Pack will use the emotion as well as a big game from Aaron Rodgers against the Saints secondary to outscore Drew Brees and the Saints passing game. Green Bay 35 New Orleans 27


Philadelphia at St.Louis- It would not be good for Andy Reid and the NFC’s “Dream Team” to get off to a 0-1 start, and it won’t happen in St.Louis. Mike Vick will exploit the Rams defense with some big plays downfield, and while Steven Jackson will get yards against the Eagles defense, the Eagles will put up enough points to take home an opening day win. Philadelphia 27 St.Louis 21

Buffalo at Kansas City – Last season the Chiefs were a surprise team, but it’s going to be tough to do it again in 2011. Against the Bills at home though, the Chiefs should be able to start the year with a win, though they have to remember last seasons OT win that nearly ended with a tie. Matt Cassel is nursing sore ribs, and the Bills will look to run against the Chiefs to keep their offense off the field. This is going to be closer than people think. Kansas City 16 Buffalo 10

Atlanta at Chicago – Two solid NFC teams battle in Chi-Town in the opener, and the Bears need this game playing a 13-win NFC team from a year ago at home. They have to get Matt Forte in space against the Falcons LB’s, and Jay Cutler needs to protect the ball against the Falcons D. Look for a solid game from Cutler, and for the Bears D to harass Matt Ryan into a couple picks. Chicago 24 Atlanta 14

Detroit at Tampa Bay – The sleeper game of the day, many think one of these two teams will make the postseason in the NFC. The Lions defense needs to make plays, and when they can get to Josh Freeman bring him down. The heat could be a factor, as it’s expected to be at or near 90 for this battle. The Bucs will look to get the ball to Mike Williams, and their D should be able to handle Matt Stafford, though Calvin Johnson could have a big game against the Bucs secondary. Could come down to the end. Tampa Bay 27 Detroit 24

Tennessee at Jacksonville – What a shocker this week as the Jags dumped QB David Garrard just five days before the season started. Now it’s Luke McCown with Blaine Gabbert waiting in the wings. Chris Johnson may not play as much as normal as he missed all camp and preseason with a holdout. The Jags D will force a couple Matt Hasselbeck mistakes, and the day will belong to Maurice Jones-Drew, who will torch the Titans D in the hot Florida sun. Jacksonville 19 Tennessee 10

Cincinnati at Cleveland - The “Battle of Ohio” in Cleveland between the other two teams in the AFC North, the Browns and Bengals start the year both hoping to get off to a good start. It’ll be Andy Dalton for the Bengals, and he’s going to be tested by Joe Haden and T.J. Ward in that Browns secondary. If the Bengals are going to win, they will need Ced Benson to have a big day. Colt McCoy will make just enough plays to get it done, as the Browns get Pat Shurmur his first NFL win. Cleveland 24 Cincinnati 14

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - An AFC North slugfest in Baltimore, it’s a playoff rematch that the Ravens really need to win. The Steelers seem to have their number in big games, and it’s usually due to Ben Roethlisberger outplaying Joe Flacco. That will be the case again Sunday, as the Steelers D will get a big turnover or two as they take home another key win against the Ravens. Pittsburgh 17 Baltimore 14

Indianapolis at Houston – No Peyton Manning = no chance for the Colts. There’s panic in Indy, and rightfully so, as I can’t see a Manningless Colts team winning more than 4-5 games all season. This won’t be one, as even if Arian Foster isn’t 100 percent, the Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson connection will do enough to hold down the Kerry Collins led Colts to get a win at home. Houston 23 Indianapolis 13

New York Giants at Washington – Rex Grossman is the Skins starter at QB, and the Giants will look to pressure him into mistakes and Eli Manning will look to spread the field against the Skins D. Washington needs to run the ball, and then try to force a turnover or two from Manning to create short fields. This is a tough one to call, but the Giants are the better team on paper, and should do enough for a win. New York 21 Washington 17

Minnesota at San Diego – Last season the Chargers had big numbers and stats, but they never played up to their potential, and for the first time in a few years missed the playoffs. They will host the Vikings and new QB Donovan McNabb here, and need to make sure they hold down Adrian Peterson, who will look to put up big numbers against the Chargers run D. Look for Philip Rivers to have a big day vs the Vikings pass D, and the Chargers D to stop McNabb and the Vikings. San Diego 29 Minnesota 17

Carolina at Arizona – Cam Newton’s debut vs the new look Cardinals with Kevin Kolb. The Cards have been flying under the radar this offseason, and with Kolb at the helm, they should be able to handle the Panthers in this opener. Look for Kolb and WR Larry Fitzgerald to combine for a big day, and the Cards D led by new DC Ray Horton to get to Newton and force a couple mistakes. Arizona 31 Carolina 17

Seattle at San Francisco – Who knows how the 49′ers will come out with new coach Jim Harbaugh? They still have Alex Smith under center, and Frank Gore will still be the workhorse back. Some think the Hawks are the worst team in the NFL, but even without a big name QB, they will look to get to Smith and force a couple big mistakes. The Niners are the better team though, and they will get a couple big plays from Smith and Gore to take home the win. San Francisco 20 Seattle 7

Dallas at New York Jets – Last year the Jets lost their opener to the Ravens, but not this time to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Dallas won’t have much luck on offense against a Jets D that will have a big year in 2011. Mark Sanchez will look to go downfield to Santonio Holmes and Plax Burress, and should have success against a Dallas D without Terrance Newman. The Jets at home will get the win going away. New York 27 Dallas 17


New England at Miami – The Pats did a lot this offseason to cement their place as the best team in the AFC, and Monday night in the opener in Miami will put a show on to impress the Florida faithful making the trip to see them. Their D will get to Chad Henne, and Reggie Bush won’t have much success as the feature back in this opener. Look for Tom Brady and co. to have a big night in the heat and walk out with a big opening night win. New England 35 Miami 17

Oakland at Denver – The Raiders have a new coach and hope that their momentum of an 8-8 season will carry over against Kyle Orton and the Broncos and their new coach John Fox. The Broncos looked to do upgrades across the board on defense this offseason, and should get pressure on Jason Campbell. The Raiders will use Darren McFadden to run all day, but the Broncos won’t allow him to get big chunks of yards like last season. It’ll come down to the wire, but the Broncos will get a late FG to win it. Denver 24 Oakland 23

Sources: Cowboys Rookie OT Smith Not Ruled Out For Sunday Night?

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 05:12 AM PDT

Ninth Overall Pick From Southern Cal

Cowboys first-round draft choice Tyron Smith, who suffered a hyperextended knee during the latter end of practice according to Calvin Watkins of, still hasn't been ruled out for Sunday night's contest against the Jets.

An MRI exposed no structural damage to Smith's knee and he still has a small chance to play in Week one at MetLife Stadium on September 11.  Early rumor believed said he was out two to four weeks; which still might be the case.

If the USC product cannot play in the Big Apple, Jeremy Parnell will take his spot at right tackle.

To read the rest visit Cowboys Gab

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Tennessee at Jacksonville

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 08:29 PM PDT

It's almost here, it's so close I can almost taste it. Kickoff of the 2011 season is less than mere hours away. While Thursday signifies the kickoff, the first full Sunday of football is this Sunday.

Though it will be a solemn Sunday as we all reflect on the 10 years that have passed since the twin towers in New York City were attacked, passion and desire to win will never be higher. In the normally tough AFC South, where quarterbacks are usually a very solid position, this offseason has shaken that notion to its core.

Two teams take the field with two new quarterbacks when the Tennessee titans and Jacksonville Jaguars meet at Ever Bank Field. Both teams have new veteran starters, the Titans have Matt Hasselbeck and the Jaguars go with Luke McCown, and both teams have rookies waiting in the wings to win the starting spot, Jake Locker in Tennessee and Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville.

The biggest factor in this game other than the play of the quarterbacks is going to be how will Titans RB Chris Johnson do in his first game action, as he held out most of the pre-season asking for a new contract. The Jaguars have a re vamped defense, that they hope will help slow down one of the best backs in the league.

It's almost Johnson is also learning a new offense as Chris Palmer has taken over as offensive coordinator, and Mitch Munchak is the new Titans head coach. The Jaguars also have a versatile running back of their own in Maurice Jones-Drew, who most believe will be used more heavily now that the team has decided to part ways with quarterback David Garrard and go with Luke McCown to start this season.

These two teams split the season series last year, with the road team winning the two games. With new QBs and a re-vamped defense for Jacksonville, there are plenty of things to watch for in this game, but ultimately I believe that the veteran presence of Matt Hasselbeck will give the edge to the Titans, that and Chris Johnson actually playing in the game will be too much for the Jaguars to overcome, especially with the turmoil that has brought onto the team will Garrards departure only days before the game.

My take on the game is that the Titans win this one by a score of 17-10, as Johnson will ultimately be too much to overcome.

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Cincinnati at Cleveland

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:11 PM PDT

The 2011 NFL Season kicks off Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium with the “Battle of Ohio” as the Browns host their interstate rival – the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals come into 2011 looking a little bit different, with a rookie QB in Andy Dalton, along with a new core of WR’s now that Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are long gone. Rookie A.J. Green will be a target of Dalton, along with Andre Caldwell on the other side.

Dalton was taken in the 2nd round out of TCU, and with the decision by Carson Palmer not to come back to the team, it will up to Dalton to lead the Bengals. Look for Marvin Lewis and new OC Jay Gruden to be as simple as possible with the game-plan, only allowing Dalton to throw maybe 15-20 times in this opener.

If the Bengals are going to compete, they will need a big day from workhorse running back Ced Benson, who is back after a 1111-yard 7 touchdown season in 2010. In the December 19th game a season ago Benson went off for 150 yards and a TD vs the Browns, and that’s the type of effort he and the Bengals will need Sunday.

For the Browns, Colt McCoy is now the unquestioned starter at QB, and he will have to also be careful with the ball, keeping it away from Bengals CB’s Leon Hall and Nate Clements. Last December McCoy was 19-for-25 for 243 yards and two scores in the Browns 19-17 loss at Cincy.

Peyton Hillis had 102 yards in the first meeting with the Bengals in 2010, but in game two the Bengals D held him in check to the tune of 49 yards on 14 carries. If Cincy is going to pull off the win on the Lakefront, they will need to hold him and Montario Hardesty down and force McCoy to throw.

As usual with Browns-Bengals games, this will come down to the team that makes more bigger plays as well as what team can force if any turnovers. The Browns have the advantage at home, and even though McCoy is a young QB, Dalton is younger, and in his first NFL regular season game, the Browns D will force more mistakes than the Bengals.

Browns 23 Bengals 14

1260 WNDE Host Jake Query’s Source: Peyton Manning Done For the 2011 Season

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 12:33 PM PDT

Radio host Jake Query from 1260 WNDE in Indianapolis says a reliable source told him that Peyton Manning had another surgery Sunday or Monday, has not received a diagnosis yet but is done for the season. He then mentions having two sources.

This news would immediately make the Colts an attractive destination for both David Garrard or Carson Palmer. That is, unless the Colts have had a dark outlook since before they added Kerry Collins, meaning they figured there was a good chance Collins would need to play more than a few games.

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Buffalo at Kansas City

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 12:26 PM PDT

By Chiefs Gab Columnist Jeremy Housewright

Week one's opener for the Chiefs looked like an easy contest early in the summer, however, a 0-4 preseason, injuries to Tony Moeaki and Matt Cassel, and a revamped Buffalo defense makes this a very interesting contest to watch.

Let's start with the preseason. It really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but Chiefs fans are undoubtedly concerned at the lack of offense the first team displayed when in games. Kansas City played their starters well into the second half against Green Bay and still couldn't get a win. Again, it really doesn't matter if they got the win or not, but if Jamaal Charles fumbles like he did against Green Bay it will be game over for the Chiefs.

The injuries are a big concern for Chiefs fans right now. First, Tony Moeaki is lost for the season to a torn ACL. Moeaki was poised to have a breakout season, after a pretty good rookie campaign. The Chiefs love to use their tight end, so now what? That's one weapon lost. Rookie wide receiver Jon Baldwin may not be available. He's still recovering from a scuffle with teammate Thomas Jones.

The loss of Baldwin really doesn't bother me. Baldwin is looking like an internal problem for the Chiefs. The kid needs to mature quick, or Kansas City better part ways quick. They don't need another Larry Johnson in their locker room. The biggest hit could come of Matt Cassel is unable to go Sunday. Cassel was hurt in the exhibition contest against the Packers. He reportedly suffered a broken rib in the game.

I would not count Cassel out until he is in street clothes on the sideline. Chiefs' fans know that Cassel is not just their best option under center, he's the only one. While Kansas City fans are glad the Brodie Croyle era is over, it's not any better to have Tyler Palko or Ricki Stanzi leading the team. I'm predicting Cassel will play, but watch those ribs. If he takes a couple shots, he may be in trouble.

We cannot forget about the Bills in this equation. Buffalo added Marcell Dareus, Nick Barnett and Shawn Merriman to their front seven this season. How much will that improve a run defense that has been amongst the NFL’s worst for the past three seasons? I think it will help, but not much. Merriman, who was a Chief Killer when he played with the Chargers is past his prime.

Barnett, once a solid backer, is also aging and not what he used to be. The Bills defense will be tested right out of the gate. Charles torched them for 177 yards on 22 carries in last year's meeting. The Chiefs pulled out a 13-10 overtime thriller. The Chiefs rushed for 274 yards as a team in that contest.

Finally, it's time for my week one prediction. Like I said, this game looked to be an easy win for the Chiefs when the schedule was released. After a 0-4 preseason, as meaningless as it may be, fans will panic if the Chiefs get upset at home right out of the gate. While I think we may be in for another tight one at Arrowhead, I will go with the Chiefs in this game by 7. KC 16 Buffalo 9

Does Offense Really Take Longer To Gel Than Defense?

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 12:19 PM PDT

The conventional wisdom says that defense is ahead of offense during the early part of the NFL season. I have always doubted that assertion, or at least the absolute confidence that NFL analysts have in the assertion. The table below compares total yards per game during the first two games of the regular season to rest of the season's total yards per game. If during the first two games of the season, the league averaged 600 yards/game and during the rest of the season the yards/game was 500, then the score would be 1.20. A score of 1.00 means there's no difference.

I guess the assertion may be true; I can’t confidently say it’s not.  Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, offense early in the season has been better than later in the season in only 8 of the 33 seasons.

Could The Raiders Have Interest in Former Jaguars QB David Garrard?

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 11:36 AM PDT

The Raiders are famous for picking up castoffs. With the sudden release of David Garrard by the Jaguars yesterday, the Raiders might have some interest in Garrard according to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times.

The 33-year-old Garrard could give the Raiders the third quarterback they are without, push Kyle Boller for the backup spot and help mentor rookie quarterback Terrelle Pryor along the way.

Some might make the case of starting Garrard ahead of Campbell, who turns 30 in December. The Raiders are too close to the season to make a change right now.

Raiders coach Hue Jackson said he is interested in making any move that makes the Raiders better and gives them a chance to win more games. Signing Garrard meets those criteria.

Pete Carroll Says Seahawks Not Interested in David Garrard

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 11:21 AM PDT

I generally take tweets from unconfirmed accounts and random people with a grain of salt, but throughout the off-season user “incarceratedbob” has generally been dead on about free agency news.

According to his tweet, the Seahawks are one of four serious suitors for Garrards services along with the 49ers, Dolphins, and Redskins:

@incarceratedbob Source: David Garrard has been contacted by 6 NFL teams (Dolphins/49ers/Seahawks/Redskins) the most serious at this time”

That list makes a ton of sense, Garrard would be an upgrade at quarterback for every one of those teams.

I will keep things updated on this throughout the day, including the merit of this twitter rumor. With as many as six teams interested in his services, look for something to maybe get done within the next 24-48 hours.


Pete Carroll has addressed the David Garrard issue stating that the team is set with Tarvaris Jackson and the current quarterback situation

The fact that Jackson was also named an offensive captain today pretty much cements that.

Until Jesus rescues this offense, consider the Seahawks one of those teams feeling lucky.

Colts QB Manning Officially Out for Sunday’s Opener at Houston

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 10:30 AM PDT

Peyton Manning won’t play in the Colts’ Week 1 game against the Texans, team vice chairman Bill Polian said and the team confirmed on Wednesday.

"It's going to be a little different without Peyton. He's one of a kind," coach Jim Caldwell said. "When you look across our league, most teams have had quarterbacks that have missed time. Ours has just been highly unusual."

The Colts earlier this week released a statement saying the quarterback was doubtful to play and was told not to practice as he tries to recover from offseason neck surgery.

Sunday’s game will be the the first time the NFL’s active iron man and four-time MVP has missed a meaningful game after 227 consecutive starts including the playoffs.

"To say I am disappointed in not being able to play is an understatement," Manning said in a statement released by the team. "The best part about football is being out there on the field playing with my teammates. It will be tough not to be out there playing for the organization and our fans.

“I simply am not healthy enough to play, and I am doing everything I can to get my health back. The team will do fine without me, and I know for sure that I will miss them much more than they miss me."

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