After we wet our appetites with the Giants vs. Cowboys, we’ll then have to wait until Sunday and Monday for the main course.
The 53-man rosters are set. There are no real surprises in the AFC West in regard to guys who did or did not make their respective teams.
With that, here are the previews and predictions for each of the three games this weekend that will involve AFC West teams.
Falcons vs. Chiefs
This should be somewhat of a shootout. Kansas City has the potential on defense to be an elite unit, however, they failed to show that during the preseason. Matt Cassel looks comfortable in the offense and has a nice little arsenal of receivers to get the ball to. A healthy Jamaal Charles and a resurgent Peyton Hillis should combine to form a formidable rushing attack that could take pressure off Cassel and the passing game.
The Falcons bring an plenty of their own weapons to KC, highlighted by Julio Jones, who many believe could be the NFL’s next premier receiver. Solid but not over powering on defense, it will be interesting to see how they match up with Kansas City’s skill players.
Opening weekend in front of one of the most passionate fans in the NFL might be enough for the Chiefs to come out on top in this matchup of up and coming teams.
Prediction: Chiefs 27-24
Steelers vs. Broncos
We finally caught glimpses of the old Peyton Manning during the latter part of preseason. It looks like he is starting to get comfortable with his receivers, which should equate to a huge offensive improvement for Denver. The Pittsburgh defense didn’t do much to improve, and I would imagine an offense led by Manning with give them more trouble than one led by Tim Tebow.
Defensively, The Broncos will bring a healthy pass rush against a suspect Steeler line. With questions marks at running back and Mike Wallace just reporting to camp this past week, it could be a long night for Big Ben and the Steelers.
Prediction: Broncos 31-13
Chargers vs. Raiders
San Diego is still operating sans feature back. This will put pressure on Rivers to carry the team with a receiving corps he has yet to build any real chemistry with. He’ll have his old security blanket in Antonio Gates, but other than that, the Charger offense will be looking for new guys to step up. The biggest question mark Oakland has is the secondary, and they will be tested.
Offensively for Oakland, Carson Palmer will need to exploit mismatches against San Diego’s corners. If he can do so with any success early on, that should give Darren McFadden and company plenty of room to maneuver while trying to avoid ultra-talented young San Diego defenders Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes.
The Black Hole will be hyped as always for Monday Night Football, and I think the passion will carry over to the team.
Prediction: Raiders 24-20