NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 1

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Pittsburgh @ New England (-7)

It's been a long offseason for Tom Brady. After months of back and forth with the NFL, Brady won his appeal and his four-game suspension was lifted by U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman.

"I'm elated," Brady said. "I would grade Roger Goodell's performance as a 'D' or 'F.' Put that 'D' and 'F' with 'elated,' and you get 'deflated.'

"It was the morally right and fair decision. As they say, 'just win, baby.'

"I'm shocked and disappointed that my personal emails were revealed back on August 5th in one fell swoop. The more respectable way to release those communications would have been to leak them, slowly."

Like the Patriots, the Steelers have suspension issues. Le'Veon Bell won't be playing on Thursday, suspended for two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, while Martavis Bryant got four games for a similar violation. But the Steelers feel they have more than enough firepower to defeats the Pats, even without Bell and Bryant's services.

"Let's face it," Ben Roethlisberger said, "we're a better team with Le'Veon and Martavis. Sure, it's more fun to roll with them, but we can roll without them, too.

"Our offense has enough weapons to thrive without those two. But when they come back, watch out! This offense will go from 'piss in a bottle' to 'lightning in a bottle' real quick."

"It's a big game. It's the Patriots in Foxboro in the season opener, so nerves will be a factor. As this team's veteran leader, it's my job to calm those nerves. I told everyone, except Le'Veon and Martavis, to take a deep breath."

Brady hits the field to the sound of "Pump Up the Jam" and comes out firing, attacking Pittsburgh's shaky secondary, completing passes at will and flashing the "RG1" hand gesture, which is giving the finger to Roger Goodell. Brady throws for 389 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Rob Gronkowski has 5 catches for 75 yards and 1 touchdown, after which his TD celebration knocks the PSI out of the ball. Soon after, Gronk is signed to host Spike TV's new bachelor/gardening reality show, "Bro's Before Hoes."

Patriots win, 51-28.

Green Bay @ Chicago (+6)

The Bears snatched up John Fox not long after he was canned by the Broncos in January. The gum-smacking Fox inherits a team that went 5-11, including a defense that gave up 442 points, second-worst in the league.

"I came here to chew bubble gum and to kick ass," Fox said, "and I've got lots of bubble gum.

"To heck with Denver and Mile High Stadium. I never liked that place anyway. I'm more suited to coaching at sea level, and people are more used to seeing me coach at C-level."

The Packers' 2015 outlook took a serious hit when Jordy Nelson was lost for the season after tearing his ACL in Green Bay's second preseason game on August 23rd. Just a week later, Randall Cobb injured his shoulder, although he'll be ready to go against the Bears.

"There's no need to panic," Aaron Rodgers said. "Davonte Adams is more than able to fill Jordy's shoes. And you know what they say about receivers with big feet — they can fill big shoes.

"But believe it or not, football is not the only thing I think about. I have a lovely girlfriend, and she has a budding career. No, not acting, but managing her discount rug store, 'Carpet Munn-chers.'

"Anything less than a Super Bowl berth will be a disappointment for this team. That overtime loss in the NFC Championship to Seattle still stings. Despite losing Jordy, I don't see anything stopping us, except possibly too many Mason Crosby 19-yard field goals on 4th-and-goal."

Aaron Rodgers passes for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Eddie Lacy powers for 115 yards and a score.

Green Bay wins, 31-20.

Kansas City @ Houston (-1)

The big question in Houston is whether Jedeveon Clowney will join J.J. Watt on the Texans' defensive line. Clowney is still recovering from knee surgery, which forced him to miss 12 games last year.

"Clowney is a lot like God," Arian Foster said. "I don't believe in him. Sure, he has all the physical tools of a superstar, but I just don't see the effort. If only he was a straight hustler like his father. Of course, when all is said and done, he might be.

"But who am I to criticize someone who's injured? I'm always hurt. Heck, I believe there's a show about me on the FX Network called 'The Strain.'"

The Chiefs hope to contend in the AFC West after a 9-7 campaign last year that saw Alex Smith not throw a single touchdown pass to a wide receiver all season. Andy Reid believes K.C. has remedied the situation with the acquisition of Jeremy Maclin, who logged 1,318 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in Philadelphia.

"My rapport with Philadelphia receivers is legendary," Reid said. "To prove it, I'm going to do sit-ups in the parking lot. Here we go. One ... and I'm done. Personal best!

"Maclin is the downfield threat this offense needs. He has speed, power, and great hands. But his greatest asset is the fact that he's not Dwayne Bowe. Bowe's off plying his trade in Cleveland. He'll be 31 soon, so he's nearing the end of his career. Cleveland may be his last stop, so Dwayne finally might reach the 'end zone.'"

Maclin grabs a touchdown pass, on a halfback option pass from Jamaal Charles, but Watt and the Texans defense control the game, limiting the Chiefs on the ground.

Houston wins, 24-21.

Cleveland @ NY Jets (-3)

The Jets offseason reached a boiling point on August 11th, when Geno Smith's jaw was broken by a sucker punch from teammate IK Enemkpali, who was subsequently released. It's not the situation former Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles envisioned when he accepted the Jets job in January.

"Jets fans know the drill," Bowles said. "A black man with limited offensive knowledge handed control of a struggling team. That's me.

"While Geno heals, Ryan Fitzpatrick is our quarterback. Ryan's been around the block a few times. Plus, his jawline is immaculate. The only thing of Ryan's 'broke in two places' is his shaving razor."

The Browns are in year two of Mike Pettine's tenure as head coach, and once again, Johnny Manziel is vying for the starting quarterback job.

"Hey," Pettine said, "'Johnny Manscape' isn't the only Brown with a cool nickname. I now go by the moniker 'Heavy Pettine.' That being said, my most pressing order of business is determining who on this team should get the most touches. Normally, that would be Josh Gordon. Unfortunately, Josh is suspended for the entire year for drug and alcohol problems. So, we're going to seek help elsewhere."

Sunday's game marks the reuniting of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, back in the same defensive backfield. Revis makes the Jets pass defense impregnable; Cromartie scoffs at the word "impregnable."

Chris Ivory rushes for 115 yards and 2 short scores, and Revis, Cromartie, and the Jets defense shut down the Browns offense.

Jets win, 27-13.

Indianapolis @ Buffalo (+3)

Expectations are high on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, where Rex Ryan is the Bills new head coach and LeSean McCoy is the new face of the franchise. Ryan was hired in January, while the Bills acquired McCoy in a trade with Philadelphia in March.

"I'm excited," Ryan said, "not necessarily about our upcoming season, but because this is Buffalo, and all I hear are people talking about a 'foot in the crease.' Most people in this town would disagree, but I think that's hot.

"And speaking of legitimate 'goals,' I don't think it's a stretch to say we're Super Bowl contenders. We just have to identify a quarterback. I think we've done so by naming Tyrod Taylor the starter. Tyrod is this team's 'X' factor. So, much like my language, or my perverted sexual fantasies, he's rated X."

Andrew Luck and the Colts are the favorites of many to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50. It's the next logical step for a team that advanced to the Divisional Round in 2013 and the AFC Championship Game last year, falling both times to the Patriots.

"Expectations are certainly high," Luck said. "In addition to prescription drugs and loads of cash money, I heard Jim Irsay has Super Bowl tickets in the console of his vehicle. Will the 'Indianapolis Colts' be listed as the AFC representative on those tickets? That's the $29,000 question.

"Our last two seasons have ended in losses to the Patriots. But we can't concern ourselves with New England right now. Buffalo is the team on our mind. I like our chances on the road. So does Vegas — we're four point favorites. That makes sense, because it's September in Buffalo, not January in New England."

Bills win, 27-26.

Miami @ Washington (+3½)

Ndamukong Suh is now a Dolphin, and Miami fans are hoping Suh's intimidating presence is the key to a long playoff run.

"We'll settle for a playoff run," Ryan Tannehill said. "Anyway, we absolutely love what Suh brings to our defensive line. And South Beach does as well. In fact, Brad Pitt asked me the other day, 'What's in the box?' Despite the objections of Morgan Freeman, I answered. 'Suh is in the box.'"

Washington looks to improve on last year's 4-12 record. Robert Griffin III proclaimed himself the "best quarterback in the NFL," then suffered a concussion in Washington's second preseason game. Kirk Cousins was thereafter named the starter by head coach Jay Gruden.

"On the bright side, this quarterback controversy has deflected attention from our ongoing name controversy. Many people say we can't call our team the 'Redskins.' Well, I can't call RG3 a 'quarterback.' Robert's not happy about it. In fact, he thinks it's pure B.S. I guess that makes his Indian name 'Sitting Bull.'

"Kirk gives this team the best chance to succeed. At least that's what we're telling everyone. We've built Kirk up so much, even he believes he's the answer in Washington. But as you know, even if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. If you put lipstick on a young lady, dress her in heels and an evening gown, then ask her to describe the RG3 situation in her own words, you've got the winner of the 'Miss Management' pageant."

Early in the first quarter, Cousins sees Suh charging towards him and is forced to "backup," which gives RG3 a calming sense of satisfaction.

Miami wins, 28-17.

Carolina @ Jacksonville (+3)

It's a battle of the two expansion teams that entered the league in 1995 as the Jaguars host the Panthers, who won the NFC South last year with a 7-8-1 record. If Carolina is to repeat as South champion, they'll have to do so without Kelvin Benjamin, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

"That's one receiver on the shelf," Cam Newton said. "That's certainly better than one in the trunk.

"That just means I'll just have to step up my game. I've got no problem going to another level. I did so in the endorsement arena — I'm a paid spokesperson for Dannon Oikos yogurt. Not that I boast about it. Bragging that you're a 'yogurt slinger' is a big turnoff for some people. Oikos yogurt is supposed to keep you regular. In Ron Rivera's offense, I'll always be 'regular.'"

Jacksonville's prized offseason acquisition, Julius Thomas, broke his hand in the Jags' first offseason game. After surgery to repair the break, Thomas will miss four to five weeks.

"Hopefully," Gus Bradley said, "Julius will be at full strength. We were counting heavily on that hand, to count our number of wins this season. Julius planned on using that hand as well, to signal he had a question. That question was, 'Where is Peyton Manning?'"

Carolina wins, 17-15.

Seattle @ St. Louis (+4)

The Seahawks quest to reach a third-consecutive Super Bowl begins in the Edward Jones Dome. Seattle lost Super Bowl XLIX to the Patriots on the final play of the game when Russell Wilson's short pass was intercepted in the end zone.

"My wife's got an old pair of panty hose," Pete Carroll said. "Why is that important? Because unlike my Super Bowl play call, it's got a run in it.

"But I won't make that mistake again. Marshawn Lynch will get the ball a lot this year. Marshawn is our workhorse, and if I need 30 carries from him, he's not afraid to give it to me. Marshawn's not saving himself for the playoffs, or for marriage."

The Rams offensive hopes ride on the shoulders of new quarterback Nick Foles, acquired from the Eagles in the offseason in a trade for Sam Bradford.

"Foles couldn't wait to get out of Philadelphia," Jeff Fisher said. "Ironically, he was on Chip Kelly's black list.

"Is this the year the Rams finally break through and win the NFC West. There are those that think I can't win anything of significance without Steve McNair and Eddie George. Still others think I'm a mediocre coach, and that this city should be renamed 'The Gateway to the Mid-dle of the Road.'"

Lynch scores a rushing touchdown, while Russell Wilson throws for 2 scores and abstains from interceptions.

Seattle wins, 26-17.

New Orleans @ Arizona (-3)

The Saints unloaded Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks for offensive lineman Max Unger, a clear indication that Sean Payton plans to emphasize the running game in 2015.

"We asked a little too much of Drew Brees last year," Payton said. "And God knows how much I hate it when someone asks too much. So does Gregg Williams, and Joe Vitt, and Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, and Scott Fujita.

"This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This year also marks the sixth anniversary of the Saints bounty scandal. Everyone involved and I plan to celebrate Bountygate at a black tie affair at the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton. Tickets are going for $2,000 a head."

A successful season in Arizona rides on the health of Carson Palmer, who went down last year with a knee injury in November.

"My knee feels good," Palmer said. "I'm amazed at what surgery can do for a knee that's been damaged multiple times. I'm tempted to call it magic. It's like the doctor grab a handful of ligaments, threw them at my knee, and said 'abra cadaver.'"

Palmer remains upright and throws for 287 yards and 2 scores.

Arizona wins, 30-24.

Detroit @ San Diego (-3)

Ndamukong Suh is gone from the Lions defense, but Detroit's offense remains largely intact, with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Joique Bell continuing to comprise the offensive core.

"Reggie Bush took his talents to Southern California," Matthew Stafford said. "I'm assuming an NCAA investigation will follow."

The Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon with their first round pick in the draft with the hopes of improving their anemic rushing attack, which ranked 30th in the league last year.

"They call Melvin 'The Commissioner,'" Mike McCoy said, "because he can abuse you with his power. Melvin once rushed for 408 yards in a single game while at Wisconsin. That would have put him second on our team last year in rushing for the season."

The Lions jump out to an early lead, but Philip Rivers, displaying the savvy and moxie of an 11-year veteran Catholic quarterback, overcomes his lack of protection issues and finds Stevie Johnson for the late game-winning touchdown.

Chargers wins, 24-19.

Tennessee @ Tampa Bay (-3)

It's a battle of the top two picks in 2015's draft as Jameis Winston and the Bucs host Marcus Mariotta and the Titans.

"Much like $32.72 worth of crab legs," Smith said, "we're hoping Jameis can make our losing record disappear. I have very strict rules as a head coach. One is that if you buy something, you pay for it. And I think Warren Sapp would agree with me.

"I fully expect Jameis to make an impact in this league. In fact, he already has. His No. 3 Buccaneers jersey is already a top-seller on 'NFL Shop-Lifting.'"

Mariotta was named the Titans starter in late July and has given Titans fans reason to believe the teams first winning season since 2011 is around the corner.

"Marcus' running ability is amazing," Ken Whisenhunt said. "I'm sure he'll remind Titans fan of Vince Young. They were both superstars in college. Marcus had an 'O' on his helmet; Vince had an '0' on his Wonderlic Test. Both won the Heismann Trophy. Marcus has his on display on a shelf in his trophy room. Vince's is on display on a shelf in a pawn shop."

Winston and Mariotta both post rushing touchdowns, but a late Mariotta fumble leads to Kyle Brindza's game-winning field goal.

Bucs win, 19-16.

Cincinnati @ Oakland (+3½)

Jack Del Rio takes over as head coach in Oakland, fully expecting to engineer a turnaround and return the Raiders to their rightful place as a perennial playoff contender.

"I totally expect to make the Raiders relevant again," Del Rio said. "We owe it to the dedicated fans here in Oakland. After all, Black Hole Lives Matter.

"We have a young team that's ready to break out. There's quarterback Derek Carr, rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper, and running back Latavius Murray. 'Latavius' is Latin for 'second coming of Zack Crockett.'

"Of course, we have to protect the ball. Our takeaways-to-giveaways ratio last year was 14 to 29. That was the worst in the league, and just terrible. I'm sure that made Al Davis 'turnover' in his grave."

Cincinnati made the playoffs for the fourth straight year in 2014 and lost in the Wildcard Round for the fourth straight year.

"That's a trend that needs to be broken," Marvin Lewis said. "Did I mention I've been head coach here for 13 years? That's your quick history lesson for today. Me? I didn't learn anything from history, and that, unfortunately, has doomed me to repeat it."

Bengals win, 26-17.

Baltimore @ Denver (-4½)

Gary Kubiak is the new head coach in Denver, and with Peyton Manning now 39-years-old, it's now or never for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

"Manning's health is a major concern for Broncos' fans," Kubiak said. "Hopefully, they can chill out, because too much worrying can cause 'nerve' damage.

"Personally, my record speaks for itself. Obviously, the Broncos hired me because as a head coach, I've never lost a Super Bowl."

The Ravens made the playoffs last year as a wildcard, eventually losing to the Patriots in the Divisional Round.

"Like the Broncos," John Harbaugh said, "our goal is to win the Super Bowl. To get there, we'll likely have to go through the Patriots. In the AFC, this appears to be the year in which all other teams will measure themselves against the Patriots. Last year, when we measured ourselves against the Patriots, we, like many things, came up lacking."

After a lackluster first half, the Ravens emerge with a purpose in the second half after Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a special guest of John Harbaugh's, reads the team the riot act. But the Ravens' comeback falls short when Joe Flacco is intercepted in his own end zone.

Denver wins, 31-27.

NY Giants @ Dallas (-6)

Dallas' season ended on the cold turf of Lambeau Field last January, as Dez Bryant's dropped pass (according to section WTF, article BSX2, amendment FU2 of the NFL rule book) sent the Cowboys packing in a 26-21 divisional round loss.

"That was not cool," Tony Romo said. "Jerry Jones is not cool, but he thinks he is. That's called 'artificial hip.'

"But all signs point to a good season in Dallas. Dez Bryant has a new contract. Word is he signed it with an 'X.' And our massive offensive line is still intact. That's about 1,600 pounds of Cowboys offensive linemen right there. The last time anyone mentioned '1,600 pounds' and 'Cowboys offensive lineman' in the same sentence, Nate Newton was transporting a butt load of marijuana."

The Giants hope to ride the Eli Manning to Odell Beckham connection to the NFC East title. There is concern, however, on the defensive side after the G-Men lost three players in the preseason, and face uncertainty on the defensive line.

"That's right," Manning said, "Jason Pierre-Paul had a misfortunate accident with fireworks back in July. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that JPP lost his index finger. Can you imagine how much easier the last ten years would have been for Plaxico Burress if he didn't have a trigger finger?

"Anyway, we hope JPP is able to come to a contract agreement and contribute. He has always been a disruptive force. Plus, I hear he's redefined the four-point stance."

Dallas wins, 30-26.

Philadelphia @ Atlanta (+3)

The 2015 version of the Eagles is decidedly different from last year's. LeSean McCoy was traded to the Bills, Nick Foles was sent to the Rams for Sam Bradford, and DeMarco Murray was signed in free agency.

"Obviously," Riley Cooper said, "our head coach's nickname is not 'Chocolate Chip.' But he's not a racist. 'Racism' is a word that's used all too freely these days. It's a word that, much like country music concerts, I now try to avoid.

"But let's be serious. The Eagles/Falcons matchup is one of the most intriguing of the opening week, as well as the perfect setting for the Ron Mexico Family Reunion."

Mike Smith is out and former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is in as Falcons head coach. With a solid offensive attack already in place, Quinn hopes to turn around a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL.

"I don't have a player like Richard Sherman who can take away half the field," Quinn said. "I do have a defense that will give up half the field.

"I don't expect our defense to go from last to first. But over time, they could be the NFL's best unit. Hopefully, by the time Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens. Construction has already started and the structure should be done in time for the 2017 season. I'm going to call a doctor, because that erection's gonna last way longer than four hours."

The Eagles defense can't stop Julio Jones, but the Falcons defense couldn't whip cream with an outboard motor.

Eagles win, 35-34.

Minnesota @ San Francisco (-2½)

The 49ers suffered a disastrous offseason, losing several key players to retirement and parting ways with John Harbaugh, who returned to the college ranks to coach Michigan.

"I think Harbaugh is happy to be away from the 49ers," Colin Kaepernick said. "I wish Harbaugh nothing but the best at Michigan, but 'Big M's' aside, he'll always be a huge 'D.'

"We'll get along just fine without Harbaugh. I've talked with several former 49ers greats, and they've all given me great advice. Ronnie Lott's words were the most profound. He said, 'Here's a tip — just do whatever it takes to win.' I wanted to 'pinkie swear' that I would, but Ronnie refused for some reason."

Adrian Peterson returns for the Vikings after missing all of last year in the wake of his child abuse scandal. With Teddy Bridgewater now a year older and the Vikes' defense expected to continue improving, the future is bright in Minnesota.

"What I did to my child was unspeakable," Peterson said. "Therefore, I choose not to speak of it. Let's just say I'd like to lock that incident in a closet and hide the key, which, in my mind, is also a reasonable form of child discipline. I mean, really, why beat a dead horse? I'll tell you why — because it's good practice.

"And speaking of 'good practice,' I've had a good training camp. I've whipped myself into the best shape of my life."

Peterson rushes for a bruising 122 yards and busts a 45-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Teddy Bridgewater adds a touchdown pass, and the Vikes take a 23-16 win.

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