The Huddle: NFL Week One

It’s gridiron time again, Place to Be Nation!

This year, throughout the NFL season, various PTB staffers will be sharing their thoughts, opinions, and predictions on the season as it unfolds.

For a preview and discussion on Week One, our panel of experts includes JT Rozzero, Cowboy Morrissette, Jason Greenhouse, J Arsenio D’Amato, Chad Campbell, and Brian Cullinane. This is presented in its (mostly) original form.

With that, toss your jersey on and get inside the huddle!

With the NFL set to get going this week, our experts break it all down in The Huddle!
With the NFL set to get going this week, our experts break it all down in The Huddle!

Kickoff Questions:

Question 1: What are you most looking forward to in the opening week matchup?

Question 2: What offseason moves will be most prevalent during the season?

Question 3: Who are the players likely to have the biggest first week?

JT Rozzero:

Looking forward to see how Denver holds up and if Carolina was legit; wondering how the Pats react without Brady in a real tough week one matchup.

Is Dak Prescott going to be good enough?

Biggest offseason moves to me are the QBs that moved: Denver, Houston, Minnesota, Philly.

I think Houston as a whole has a great week one. Lamar Miller with that offensive line against a shit Bears team. And the Houston pass rush vs. the Bears garbage O-Line, too.

I could also see the Bills doing well. Baltimore is a bit of a mess and Rex usually comes out of the gate with a good outing.

Roger Morrissette:

Houston will most likely win this game, but overall I think they are pretenders. They overpaid for a guy who got benched for Peyton Manning’s rotting corpse (Brock Osweiler). Miller is the real deal but I have big questions about whether Osweiler can keep defenses honest. Also, the D is above average to me – not great. I think the Bears give them a game.

JT Rozzero:

They may not need much to win that division.

Andrew Luck will be lucky to survive most games and I have zero faith in Mike Mularky. Jacksonville will be frisky for sure.

Roger Morrissette:

The two marquee matchups this week are very interesting. I’m very interested to see how the Panthers’ D performs without Josh Norman. That is a huge loss. On Denver’s side, we will see if Trevor is an upgrade over the aforementioned Manning. I think he is. Patriots/Cardinals is a big game as well. Carson Palmer has quietly continued his turnover-machine ways from the playoffs into the preseason. I see the game as low-scoring.

Agreed that 9-7 may win the AFC South.

I think people are putting the cart before the horse a little with the Jags. They were still pretty awful last year. It should be looked at as a major accomplishment if they can go 8-8.

Jason Greenhouse:

I think all eyes will be on the Sunday night matchup. A good test for the Brady-less Pats against the Cardinals.

Washington and Pittsburgh could be the sleeper game of Week One.

I may be a little biased, but the Jets finally inking Ryan Fitzpatrick was huge.

Man, you gotta feel for the Vikings with Big Teddy (Bridgewater) going down. Nonetheless, I think Adrian Peterson will light it up against the hopeless Titans.

The season-ending injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater has our crew down on Minnesota.
The season-ending injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater has our crew down on Minnesota.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

1) Will Josh Norman live up to Superstar Status? He will get tested right away with a hot dose of Antonio Brown. Carolina didn’t seem to have any regrets about letting him go.

2) Chris Hogan will be a perfect fit for New England, adding another player that “Hatriots” will be cursing: “Chris F’n Hogan!!”

3) Antonio Brown, David Carr, and Blake Bortles (have big first weeks) as the Jags will surprise a lot of people this season.

Chad Campbell:

I’m shocked we have Cowboy calling a Pats’ game “marquee”.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

I’m down on how Houston glorifies J.J. Watt in lieu of winning football games. That playoff game last year (a 30-0 Wild Card game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs) was a debacle with Brian Hoyer giving the Texans zero chance of winning. But there was one chance to get back in the game after a turnover and they were more concerned about getting Watt in on offense and handing him the ball to go nowhere.

Brian Cullinane:

Looking to see if Garoppalo can handle a regular season game, especially on the road against a strong defense.

Also want to see if RGIII can show he is worthy to start in the NFL again.

The decision to sign Brock Osweiler will make either Houston or Denver look smart. If he busts, Denver looks good. If not and the Lynch/Siemian combo cannot get the job done, Elway looks bad.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

This is a “house money” year for Denver. Nobody expects the Broncos to repeat and it will be focused on getting Lynch ready for the future and they can build from there.

Brian Cullinane:

I think Adrian Peterson will run all over the Titans and that the Amari Cooper/Derek Carr combo will carve up the Saints

J Arsenio D’Amato:

I’m curious to see if teams will be copying Cleveland’s master plan of drafting players in the 1st round and trading them for 5th and 6th round picks two or three years later.

Roger Morrissette:

New regime, JAD – Cleveland was a dumpster fire, the Browns had to blow it up. I believe in Hue Jackson and the talent is there on offense, especially after Gordon returns. Defensively, they will struggle. Given that, I think RG3 throws up some nice numbers this year.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

I’m sure they would like to move on from Josh Gordon, but so far, no takers. Maybe at the trade deadline. If he can get through the first few weeks without any 4:20 time.

Roger Morrissette:

Gordon is such a talent that I don’t think they’ll give him away. Will take a 2nd round pick at least.

Brian Cullinane:

Another suspension and he might be gone for good though. At best, you can hope for a 2nd.

Josh Gordon remains a question mark, even after his suspension ends.
Josh Gordon remains a question mark, even after his suspension ends.

Roger Morrissette:

What do you guys think about Dak Prescott and the Cowboys? Personally, I feel he may be the real deal.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

An ideal place for a rookie QB to shine behind the best offensive line in the NFL with one of the best WRs, a Hall of Fame TE, and throw in Zeke Elliot and Alfred Morris, too.

Roger Morrissette:

Totally agree. Nice week one matchup against the weak Giants’ D. That should be a shootout.

Speaking of the Giants… I think they’ll be improved. Sterling Shepard has a golden opportunity next to Odell Beckham, Jr. and getting rid of Andre Williams was beautiful. How do you guys see the NFC East falling? I think it’s the toughest division in football to predict. I’ll go Dal, NYG, Was, Phi.

Jason Greenhouse:

Much like the AFC South, a 9-7 record will take the NFC East: 1. Dallas 2. Washington 3. NYG 4. Philly.

JT Rozzero:

I think Dallas, NYG and Washington are all about even at this point as far as chances. I can’t buy into Philly until we see what Wentz has in him early on.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

The Giants will be vastly improved on defense but the right side of their offensive line will keep them from taking the division. Washington will surprise again and take the division and will also go down easy again in the first round of the playoffs.

Roger Morrissette:

Fun division – the Cowboys have the highest ceiling, but also the lowest floor. I think this is a straight rebuild year for Philly.

I think there’s a 25-percent chance Prescott goes full Willie Beamon and lights the league up and a 25-percent chance he is just god-awful.

Maybe I’m underrating Washington, but I just want to see it again from Cousins. Adding Norman to the division winner should make the Redskins the favorite in theory.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Prescott lit it up in pre-season games, but it’s impossible to gauge whether that will carry over into the real deal. Exhibition games have turned into scrimmages where coaches just pray that nobody gets seriously injured. Nobody except Rex Ryan busts out any defensive schemes or elaborate blitzes.

Sam Bradford and his hypnotic stare are heading to Minnesota this year.
Sam Bradford and his hypnotic stare are heading to Minnesota this year.

Roger Morrissette:

Great points, guys. This one is wide open.

What does everyone think of the (Sam) Bradford trade? I agree with what Minnesota did… the Vikings are in win-now mode with AP nearing the end. I don’t really agree with the QB they targeted though. Bradford has been a colossal disappointment at every turn.

JT Rozzero:

Great deal for Philly, a no brainer on their end. Minnesota had to go for it. Only question is whether Bradford is better than what else could have come cheaper.

Roger Morrissette:

The Jets have to be feeling pretty fortunate that they signed Fitz when they did. Minnesota would have been a perfect scenario for him.

JT Rozzero:

Yeah, he probably would have ended up there. I still don’t know what to expect from the Jets. Their first six-or-seven games are brutally tough, I’ve seen some say it may be the hardest start to a schedule they have ever seen. Of course, they had the same scenario a couple of years ago and it was a rough go, but the team is better now.

Fitz has to limit mistakes best he can and use those weapons, and hope the D lives up to its potential.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Sean Hill as your starting QB ends the season before opening kickoff. Bradford has more upside and it’s worth the risk if the the pick winds up at the lower end of the 1st round.

Jason Greenhouse:

It will be interesting to see what Matt Forte has left in the tank and hopefully he doesn’t break down like Ivory did towards the end of last season. The Jets o-line has to remain strong to in order to protect Fitz and help Forte get some big yards.

If Fitz limits his mistakes, expect big things from him, Marshall, and Decker in the endzone.

How will these predictions look come January?
How will these predictions look come January?

JT Rozzero:

OK, prediction time:

Division Winners, Wild Cards, Super Bowl Matchup, MVP, DPOY, ROTY, Surprise Team, Disappointment Team, and COTY.

Chad Campbell:

AFC East: New England; AFC North: Pittsburgh: AFC South: Houston; AFC West: San Diego; Wild Card: Jets and Colts

NFC East: Giants; NFC North: Vikings; NFC South: Panthers; NFC West: Cardinals; Wild Card: Packers and Seahawks

Super Bowl: Packers vs Pittsburgh

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

DPOTY: Khalil Mack

ROTY: Ezekiel Elliot

Surprise team: Chargers

Disappointment: Chiefs

Coach: Mike McCoy

Roger Morrissette:

Division Winners: Pats, Bengals, Indy, KC, Dallas, Packers, Panthers, Seahawks; Wild Cards: Denver, Steelers, Falcons, Cardinals

Super Bowl:: Pats, Seahawks

MVP: Andrew Luck; DPOY: Luke Kuechly; ROTY: Ezekiel Elliott; Surprise Team: Falcons; Disappointment: Texans; COTY: Bill Belichick

The Chargers, Chad? That’s a ballsy call. What is your rationale?

Jason Greenhouse:

AFC Divisions – New England, Pittsburgh, Houston, KC Wildcards – NYJ, Cincinnati

NFC Divisions – Dallas, Green Bay, Carolina, Arizona Wildcards – Washington, Seattle

Super Bowl – Pittsburgh vs Green Bay

MVP – Aaron Rogers; DPOY – JJ Watt; ROTY – Ezekiel Elliot; Surprise Team – Dallas; Disappointing Team – Indy; Coach of the Year – Bruce Arians

Chad Campbell:

How many times has Belichick won COTY?

Roger Morrissette:

Three times – I think he wins it for going 14-2 without Tom (Brady)* for the first four weeks.

*Editor’s note: The Cowboy and Tom Brady are on a first-name basis. They share the same barber.

Chad Campbell:

I was going to say for him to win, it feels like (the Patriots need to go) 13-3 at a minimum.

With the Chargers, I think their core is good veterans, and I think Gordon takes a big leap to provide balance.

Like going out on a limb; watch them go 3-13!

JT Rozzero:

Division Winners: Pats, Steelers, Texans, Raiders, Giants, Packers, Saints, Seahawks

Wild Cards: Bengals, Broncos, Lions*, Cowboys

Super Bowl Match Up: Steelers vs. Seahawks

MVP: Ben Roethelisberger; DPOY: Mo Wilkerson; ROTY: Zeke Elliott; Surprise Team: Lions; Disappointment: Cardinals; COTY: Mike Tomlin

*Editor’s Note II: The city of Detroit, most of the people I know, and my younger brother thank you for this, Mr. Rozzero.

Chad Campbell:

I know Denver was pretty putrid on offense last year, but I don’t expect much better — if any — improvement with Simeon.

Roger Morrissette:

I buy Gordon making the leap. Their defense scares me – putrid last year. They could make a statement going into Arrowhead Week One and getting a W.

Chad Campbell:

Yeah, defense is rough, but I’m not too scared of the offense in their division — except the Raiders a bit — so that helps if they can stabilize.

Roger Morrissette:

They need to tighten up against the run. They were a sieve last year and KC and Denver can pound the rock.*

*Editor’s Note III: Dwayne Johnson is not amused. 

Chad Campbell:

The Bucs are another team that I really think the offense will be good but the defense is scary-bad.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Division: NE, Pitt, KC, Jax, Wash., GB, Car, Sea.

Wild Card: NYJ, Den, Minn, AZ

Super Bowl: N.E. vs. Sea.

MVP: Russell Wilson; DPOY: Aaron Donald; ROTY: Ezekiel Elliot; Surprise: Jacksonville; Disappointment: Indianapolis; COTY: Gus Bradley

Brian Cullinane:

Division: NE, PIT, HOU, KC, WAS, GB, CAR, ARZ

Wild Card: CIN, SD, SEA, MIN

Super Bowl: PIT vs. ARZ

MVP: Aaron Rodgers; DPOY: Khalil Mack; ROY: Tyler Boyd; Surprise: SD; Disappointment: DEN; COTY: Bill O’Brien

Is a third MVP in the cards for Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers?
Is a third MVP in the cards for Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers?

Roger Morrissette:

I see a lot of love for Pittsburgh… Does the Steelers’ defense scare anyone? How about Ben and Bell’s injury history?

JT Rozzero:

Yes, yes, and yes.

It’s a bet that they stay healthy and run up the scoreboard for sure.

Roger Morrissette:

To me, things have to go a little too perfect. Not that it can’t happen, but I just feel Cincy has a little more room for error.

JT Rozzero:

In their division, I think Baltimore is a mess and Cleveland is … Well, Cleveland.*

Editor’s Note IV: Normally, I’d make a snide joke about the Cavs and the Indians and how wrong JT is, but let’s face it, this team’s nickname is the color of poo.

Cincy is due for a step back and I think they will have a slight hangover from the playoffs. Plus injuries are already hovering for them.

If Pittsburgh can get into the playoffs with a bye, they are super-dangerous. And it is doable. I don’t see anyone from the West of South that is a lock for a bye.

So Pittsburgh needs to outlast Cincy for that slot in theory… Then with that offense, be set up nicely for the playoffs.

Big Ben and the Steelers are a popular pick for our guys in 2016.
Big Ben and the Steelers are a popular pick for our guys in 2016.

Roger Morrissette:

I agree the race to the byes is wide open in the AFC, especially with Brady’s suspension. I think the Pats still lock one up fairly easily. With the lower level teams in the West and North improving, it is certainly possible the Steelers could slide in there. As bad as their defense is, their offense is going to need to be historically good to get there. I think losing Bryant for the year and Ben or Bell inevitably going down keeps them fighting for the wild card.

Brian Cullinane:

Without Lewis and a shaky o-line, I do not see the Pats making it to the Super Bowl. Plus, they need to figure out how to generate a pass rush without Jones

Roger Morrissette:

I don’t think losing Lewis is a major blow. That passing down RB is an easy position to replace and James White is fine in that role. I agree the Pats have some warts, but they are less-pronounced than others in the AFC. The quick-hitting passing plays they run offset the o-line issues and the pass-rush should be ok with Sheard filling that Jones role. Minho looks like he could be a good situational pass rusher as well. The Steelers can’t defend the pass – that is a big problem in today’s NFL.

I’m far from a Patriots apologist… I just think the AFC is a bit weak this year and (NE) are clearly the class of the conference.

Brian Cullinane:

Pats will win their division easily, but I think they are on a downswing. I see injuries mounting heavily everywhere for them, and that o-line is going to be their Achilles’ heel.

Roger Morrissette:

Who else do you think is getting hurt? Of course that can happen, but of their major contributors, none are particularly injury prone (like Leveon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger).

JT Rozzero:

Gronk isn’t injury prone? Edelman?

(Dion Lewis)

Roger Morrissette:

It seems Gronk has overcome that label… Edelman is a good call. He is definitely a bit fragile.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

The NFL is about coaches and quarterbacks. Tomlin and Big Ben over Marvin Lewis and Dalton 8 days a week.

Roger Morrissette:

We shall see – Sean Payton and Drew Brees are a pretty good combo too, but they won’t go 8-8 because their defense sucks.

I just think you guys are underestimating how piss-poor the Steelers’ secondary is. I still picked them for a Wild Card by default, but Super Bowl contenders? Hell no.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

On that point, isn’t Brees being a little too greedy going for his last big contract and raping his team’s cap in the process?

Brian Cullinane:

Hightower can never seem to be able to make it through a whole year either. Solder gets hurt a lot too. Amendola is hurt a lot as well.

Roger Morrissette:

I’ll close with a prediction: Desean Jackson catches a 40+ yard TD as the ‘Skins send the Steelers to 0-1.

Brian Cullinane:

Here is my bold prediction for Week One: Andrew Luck throws 4 INT’s and never gets back to the player he was in 2014.

Roger Morrissette:

That’s my MVP! We are seeing things opposite this year. Brian!

Brian Cullinane:

And Gronk is dealing with nagging injuries already, sadly.

I don’t know if Luck can bounce back. He was a disaster last year and outplayed by Hasselbeck.

JT Rozzero:

Bold Prediction: Detroit beats Indy with a big day from Stafford, starting the Lions’ ascent to the playoffs.

Brian Cullinane:

Another bold prediction: Jason Garrett is the first coach fired. That team looks like a dumpster fire in the making, even before the Romo injury

That’s it for Week One’s Huddle. Check back next week for more!

 

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.