Five bold predictions for NFL Week 1

Shutdown Corner

Football is back everyone! You know what that means: No more boring preseason games and quarterback controversies. The chips are all on the table.

Every single week, we will have five bold predictions heading into the games. Now it’s time for the Week 1 predictions, to see what comes to fruition and find out just how wrong I am.

Dak Prescott will be under plenty of duress against the Giants come Sunday.
Dak Prescott will be under plenty of duress against the Giants come Sunday.

1. Adrian Peterson rushes for 100 yards and a TD

An output like this would have been routine for Peterson in years past. Now 32 and backing up the productive Mark Ingram in New Orleans, expectations for Peterson have been tempered. “All Day” has plenty left in the tank though, not to mention wanting to exact some revenge on his former team. “I want to stick it to them,” he said this week. The Vikings are stout defensively, but struggled up front last season, ranking 20th in rushing yards allowed. Peterson has looked explosive, and the Saints want to neutralize the pass rush and keep Drew Press upright. Expect a massive debut for AP as he becomes heavily involved as a runner and in the screen game.

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2. Dak Prescott sacked three times, held under 200 yards passing

The Giants boast an elite defense, boosted by the return of second-year safety Darian Thompson (foot surgery), as well as the revitalized Jason Pierre-Paul. Even with Ezekiel Elliott in uniform, we can expect Prescott to struggle pushing the ball down the field. Prescott’s 7.99 yards per attempt last season trailed only Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins, but the Giants pass rush – featuring JPP and Olivier Vernon – will test the strong Cowboys offensive line early, and eventually get home. There is no love lost between these two old rivals, and Big Blue will make an early season statement by suffocating the reigning offensive rookie of the year.

3. Marshawn Lynch amasses 125 total yards and two scores

Tennessee ranked second in the league last year in total rushing defense. We expect more of the same in 2017. But “Beast Mode” is more than ready for his Raiders debut. The 31-year-old running back looked spry throughout camp, and will undoubtedly want to put on a show for his first NFL game in two years. Derek Carr is going to love dumping the ball off to him – Lynch’s sure hands have long been overlooked – and head coach Jack Del Rio will ride his new workhorse.

4. Blake Bortles throws for 300 yards, 2 touchdowns against top-ranked Texans defense

Bortles’ ineptitude was the talk of training camp. His worst performance came during a Monday night game against Tampa Bay when he looked downright shook, culminating in an endless bout of Twitter memes.

It came as quite the surprise when head coach Doug Marrone then named Bortles starter over veteran Chad Henne. While it would be foolish to think Bortles holds the starting gig year, I am expecting a strong Week 1 performance nevertheless.

Expect the Texans to struggle defending the long ball. Bortles has the benefit of a quartet of talented vertical receiving threats in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and emerging rookie Dede Westbrook. The NFL has taught us that strange things happen on week-to-week basis, and Bortles connecting on a few deep balls will amount to a surprisingly effective performance against Houston. Toss in a couple picks and it will feel a tad more familiar.

5. Kansas City pulls the shocker, beats New England

The Pats are unbeatable. It’s only a formality that Bill Belichick has them back in the Super Bowl. Brandin Cooks and Tom Brady is not fair. We’ve heard it all this offseason, and for good reason. New England enters the 2017 campaign with expectations of repeating.

To be sure, the Patriots certainly have the pieces to to so, though I’m not a believer. When it comes to Thursday night’s kickoff against the AFC West-winning Chiefs, consider this: Andy Reid is going to take the air out of the ball. Alex Smith won’t turn the ball over and a combination of jet sweeps and misdirection plays is not the usual approach opponents take against New England. Reid knows how Smith’s bread is buttered: KC will find enough running room with rookie Kareem Hunt, and just enough big plays with speed demon Tyreek Hill and Rob Gronkowksi-lite, Travis Kelce.

From a defensive standpoint, the Chiefs are loaded with ball-hawking playmakers. Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry are both stellar, as is cornerback Marcus Peters, whose four interceptions last year helped the Chiefs lead the NFL with 18 total picks last year.

Opening night for championship teams is an exhausting ordeal of distractions, especially with the banner ceremony at home. Have Brady and Belichick both been here before? Yes, four other times. But the Chiefs, who are healthy underdogs, are just the type of team to pull the upset in Foxborough. They will take advantage of the fact that Brady is still adjusting to life without injured receiver Julian Edelman. Since 2013, the Pats have won 84 percent of the games Edelman plays, and just 44 percent of those he didn’t.

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