Outside of the Denver win over Pittsburgh, the AFC West made the national highlights for all the wrong reasons in Week 1.
First you had the Falcons putting on an offensive clinic against the Chiefs. We followed that up with Manning being Manning against the Steelers. And then came the Monday night debacle where the Raider miscues and blunders overshadowed the fact that the Chargers won the game.
I went 1-2 with my AFC West picks for the week, with Oakland long-snapping away my chance at a winning record. That said, let’s take a closer look at what went down the first week of the season.
Falcons vs Chiefs
The Chiefs were never really in this game, as they were outclassed from start to finish. The offense wasn’t terrible, but the defense didn’t do them any favors with a complete inability to pressure Matt Ryan or cover any of his receivers. Julio Jones looks as if he is ready to take the torch from Andre Johnson and join Megatron as one of the game’s two elite receivers. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing outing from a unit that I truly thought had a shot of being elite in 2012.
Steelers vs Broncos
While the rest of the nation is falling in love again with Peyton Manning, I’m gonna pump the breaks right now. Was he efficient? Yes. Was he better than Tebow? Sure. Was he Peyton Manning circa 2007? NO.
Don’t get me wrong, he is an upgrade to the Denver offense, however, he beat a shorthanded, aging and hobbled Pittsburgh team that will struggle mightily to win eight games this season.
We’ll know much more about Denver and Manning after next week’s visit to Atlanta.
Chargers vs Raiders
Hold on while I grab a fire extinguisher to blast the still smoldering remains of this dumpster fire of a football game.
Not counting Shane Lechler getting blown up twice, 8 different skill players touched the ball for the Raiders on 67 plays. 28 of those touches were by Darren McFadden. That wouldn’t be bad if they were mostly carries, but they weren’t. McFadden caught a team-high 13 passes for 86 yards. That’s not something you want week-in, week-out from what is supposed to be a vertical passing game.
I know the Raiders were dealing with injuries at the receiver position, but you cannot be a successful one-man team in the NFL. Ask Jacksonville how that works out for them. Dennis Allen needs to work on balancing this offense and not overworking his best player. We’ve seen how this team functions without McFadden. I’d rather not visit that place again if we can help it.
As far as the Chargers, they didn’t exactly blow me away either. Philip Rivers had a pedestrian day, they had no rushing game, and the defense only had to stop one player. Ryan Mathews can’t come back soon enough for this team.
WEEK 2 PREDICTIONS
Chiefs vs Bills
Buffalo is not Atlanta, this we know for sure. I fully expect the Chiefs to rebound and take advantage of a Bills team that got a serious reality check in week one. If only for a week, the defense should look good and the offense should put up decent numbers.
Prediction: Chiefs 30-10
Raiders vs Dolphins
This could be your season, Raider Nation. Anything but a sound win over the Dolphins spells trouble for the rest of the year. I expect the Oakland defense to pin pack their ears and pressure Tannehill all day. Palmer should be able to actually complete a pass to a receiver this weekend, opening up the field for McFadden to have a nice day carrying the football.
Prediction: Raiders 24-13
Titans vs Chargers
I was in Nashville on Sunday and saw the Titans in person. Locker is hurt but says he’ll play. I doubt that, but who knows. Chris Johnson looked anemic running the ball. The defense was borderline awful and a rookie wideout is their best hope. I see Rivers and the Chargers putting their foot down and coming away with a big win on Sunday.
Prediction: Chargers 31-6
Broncos vs Falcons
Hot-lanta will be on fire Monday night when Peyton and the Broncos visit the Georgia Dome. I expect the Broncos to pressure Matt Ryan a little better than the Chiefs did, however, I don’t see anyone, even Champ Bailey, shutting down Julio Jones. Atlanta lost Grimes at corner but still have Asante Samuel. Peyton should be more comfortable in a dome, but will have a hostile crowd to contend with. This one will be a barn burner to the end.
Prediction: Atlanta 34-31
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