The 2012 NFL regular season kicked off with a bang between the Dallas Cowboys on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday evening.
As expected, the game went right down to the wire, but the Cowboys pulled off a slight surprising 24-17 upset to advance in the all-time series, 57-41-2.
And that was only the beginning of what looks to be an amazing slate of action in Week 1. Here are your predictions for all of Sunday’s showdowns and Monday evening’s double-header.
After finishing with a 170-86 regular season predictions record last year, how will I fare in Week 1? Leave your feedback and check out my predictions below.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (CBS, 1:00 p.m.)
There’s a lot on the line in this game and don’t expect Gang Green to suddenly start clicking on offense, though the New York Jets should begin to make some plays now that the games actually matter. Gotta go with Buffalo though, just as I did in my Bills season predictions, as the up-and-coming club gets off to a good start in 2012, winning a close contest on the road. Prediction: Buffalo 20, N.Y. Jets 16
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans (CBS, 1:00 p.m.)
While the Patriots often look soft on defense, one of the many things Bill Belichick is known for is toying with the confidence of young quarterbacks. Titans’ second-year starting signal-caller Jake Locker will have home-field advantage, but this test will still provide a tough task and in the end, Tom Brady and company will be too tough to stop in the season opener. Prediction: New England 38, Tennessee 17
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (CBS, 1:00 p.m.)
Ryan Tannehill might have a promising future for the ‘Fins. Only time will tell. But his first performance doesn’t look very promising. The Houston Texans are a little banged up, but they’re a much better team, entering the season with Super Bowl expectations and the Dolphins are 0-5 all-time against the Texans. Prediction: Houston 31, Miami 7
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears (CBS, 1:00 p.m.)
Quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall are staging their grand reuunion and hope to rekindle the fires they set together in Denver. Mission accomplished, as Chicago beats up the Colts at Soldier Field. Quarterback Andrew Luck will do great things in his first year, but the defense is still lackluster and the offense is a work-in progress. Prediction: Chicago 31, Indianapolis 10
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings (CBS, 1:00 p.m.)
How much will Adrian Peterson (aka A.P. or A.D.) and Maurice Jones-Drew (aka MJD) play in this game? That’s the question. Another question: how well will second-year signal-callers Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert perform after their struggles in their rookie season? Look for Ponder to move to 1-5 as a starter at home as the Vikings win in a slugfest. Prediction: Minnesota 13, Jacksonville 10
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions (FOX, 1:00 p.m.)
Coach Jim Schwartz faces his former boss, as Jeff Fisher heads into his first game as the head coach in St. Louis. Though this team has plenty of young pieces in place on both sides of the ball and a bright future ahead, the Lions look to dominate this game with a strong showing from QB Matthew Stafford and star receiver Calvin Johnson and a decent defensive performance. Prediction: Detroit 27, St. Louis 13
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns (FOX, 1:00 p.m.)
The Eagles enter the year with high hopes and need to get off to a fast start with their difficult schedule. The Browns are at home and are starting rookie signal-caller Brandon Weeden, who should seem more comfortable than some of the other first-year signal-callers at the age of 28. However, this game won’t be much of a fight after the first quarter. Prediction: Philadelphia 37, Cleveland 14
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (FOX, 1:00 p.m.)
This Week 1 matchup will be filled with emotion. Robert Griffin III begins an exciting new era in Washington and New Orleans tries to put the past of the offseason behind in its own dome. Look for RGIII and the ‘Skins to make things interesting, but Drew Brees and the Saints will stay on top of things in the season opener. Prediction: New Orleans 30, Washington 17
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs (FOX, 1:00 p.m.)
The ground game, return game and defensive performances should be interesting to see, but the aerial assault by these two teams will be the most entertaining element in this contest, which looks to be one of the best games of the weekend. Playing at Arrowhead is no day at the beach for opposing teams, but the triple-threat of Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Roddy White might be too much to stop for KC’s defense, especially with the loss of star cornerback Brandon Carr. Prediction: Atlanta 24, Kansas City 20
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (FOX, 4:15 p.m.)
Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson was nothing short of stellar in the preseason and could have the team competing for a Wildcard spot come December. However, getting your first career NFL start on the road against a division rival might be more of a tough task than expected. As for Arizona, John Skelton proved to be tough-as-nails and a winner winner chicken dinner last year. Look for the Cardz to keep things close for a while, but Seattle’s starting signal-caller and company pull ahead in the second half. Prediction: Seattle 41, Arizona 24
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (FOX, 4:15 p.m.)
Can the 49ers strike gold at Lambeau Field and knock off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to start the 2012 season? Of course, “any given Sunday.” Moreover, this team is considered one of the five best in the league entering the regular season, just like Green Bay. But look for the Packers’ offense to just slightly overpower the Niners’ dominant defense over the course of four quarters. Prediction: Green Bay 27, San Francisco 23
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (FOX, 4:15 p.m.)
This is one of the better games of the week, at least it appears that way on paper. The Panthers possess a prolific offense with quarterback Cam Newton leading the charge into Tampa Bay. But the Bucs have also bolstered their roster over the offseason and have high hopes for coach Greg Schiano and QB Josh Freeman, who comes off a very disappointing showing in his third year in the league. Look for a close contest and both teams to come out with a srtong sense of urgency, especially since they both face difficult early season schedules in 2012. Panthers prevail in a bare-knuckles brawl with the Buccaneers. Prediction: Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 21
Predictions for late game coming soon and will be announced on our Facebook and Twitter pages before the start of each game!
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (NBC, 8:20 p.m.)
The Pittsburgh Steelers. The Denver Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger. Peyton Manning.
Two dynamic defenses. Two AFC heavyweights clash on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Even without Denver’s new star signal-caller, this would probably shape up to be a great game, but watching Manning’s debut with his new club in the Mile High city takes this contest to another level.
After sitting out an entire season, all of those questions asked over the offseason like whether Manning can still take hits and concerns over his arm strength will start to get answers.
This is also a rematch from the postseason last season. Look for plenty of fireworks here. It will also be interesting to see how Pittsburgh’s offense runs under new coordnator Todd Haley and how ready to roll wide receiver Mike Wallace will be after a lengthy contract dispute. Prediction: Denver 20, Pittsburgh 17
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (7:00 p.m., ESPN)
The Bengals became serious contenders to the surprise of many last year and appear to be in the mix to win the division again this season. Beating Baltimore to open the season on the road on Monday Night Football might be a little too tough, however. Expect another bare-knuckles brawl between these two foes. Prediction: Baltimore 23, Cincinnati 19
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (10:15 p.m., ESPN)
Each club comes off a disappointing 8-8 campaign last season. San Diego’s the better team, but this is on the road at the Raiders and the Chargers are injured and have a history of early season struggles.
With this in mind, expect a close contest here between these two AFC West rivals. Oakland also has a promising future under the direction of coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie. The Chargers need to get off to a quick start with their schedule, and mission accomplished, but don’t expect it to be very pretty. Prediction: San Diego 27, Oakland 20
Note: As always, score predictions were made before the start of each game (and are never changed) via our Facebook and Twitter page.
Verse of This Piece: “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, God will do it for you. So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you.”—Mark 11:23-24
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He also writes for RantPolitical.com, where he reports on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyzes important issues in the liberty movement. Follow @_MichaelGartman, @RantPolitical and @GridironGrit on Twitter!