Finally, after all the talk of air in balls and the end of Deflategate, the gates to the greatest show on turf can finally be opened as the road to Super Bowl 50 begins in earnest. All roads lead to San Francisco now.
What to expect from this season though? The reinstatement of Tom Brady for the entire season means the Patriots remain the big noise of the AFC with challenges coming from Indianapolis, Baltimore and if Arian Foster stays healthy perhaps Houston. On the other side of the conference battle, the Seattle Seahawks remain the team to beat with the Green Bay Packers although the loss of Jordy Nelson will remove a potent weapon for Aaron Rodgers.
The great thing of week 1 is the thrill of the new and that anything can happen with new rookies, players on new teams and the excitement of another season upon us.
Throughout the season I hope to bring you in this blog, a preview of the match of the week, picks for every game, upset special and fantasy focus advice.
Match of the Week
New York Giants at Dallas CowboysA familiar match up between two heated rivals, who feel they have a chance to win the division this season. The Cowboys give the impression of going all in this season in an attempt to win their first Super Bowl since the mid 1990s, they signed Greg Hardy on free agency and took a chance with Randy Gregory in the draft; whilst releasing DeMarco Murray after a career year. Can the OL protect Tony Romo from getting hit and can Dez Bryant remain open and score enough points as even though they improved last season, you will always score against this Cowboys defence.
Which brings us to the Giants, who have just as impactful a QB-WR duo in Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. who was Rookie of the Year last year. Will ODB suffer with second season syndrome or will the Giants make strides again for a playoff run with an improved defence; and a good draft means the Giants are one of three teams in a chance to win this division along with the Redskins, sorry I mean the Eagles.
Since Jerryworld opened, Eli Manning has a good record there, able to deal with the large crowd that puts too much expectation on a team. It will be high scoring but I fancy the Giants to ride out of Dallas with a big road win to start their season.
(winner in capitals)
Pittsburgh @ NEW ENGLAND
GREEN BAY @ Chicago
Kansas City @ HOUSTON
Cleveland @ NY JETS
Indianapolis @ BUFFALO
MIAMI @ Washington
Carolina @ JACKSONVILLE
SEATTLE @ St. Louis
New Orleans @ ARIZONA
DETROIT @ San Diego
Tennessee @ TAMPA BAY
Cincinnati @ OAKLAND
BALTIMORE @ Denver
NY GIANTS @ Dallas
PHILADELPHIA @ Atlanta
MINNESOTA @ San Francisco
Some of my selections will no doubt raise some eyebrows, yet the most pressing upset for me is the visit of Andrew Luck and his deflated Colts visiting Rex Ryan's Bills on the opening week. Whilst the Colts have the better QB, he may not face a more pressing defence than the one Ryan will throw at him this weekend in the Bills' home opener. This will be a test of Luck's receiver core, can TY Hilton step up as the number one. If it becomes a shootout, I cannot see Luck being able to find enough people open. The Bills meanwhile have a few better offensive options in Shady McCoy and Sammy Watkins in the deep, despite the less than heralded Tyrod Taylor starting.
- Take the Bills defence
- Jimmy Graham (Seattle) as a legitimate red zone target
- Devante Adams (Green Bay) will get a lot of targets and looks v Chicago
- Alfred Blue (Houston) with Arian Foster out week 1,
expect a lot of touches for Blue v Kansas City
Follow me on Twitter @JamieGarwood. Let me know what you think