NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 1

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-2½)

The Eagles rolled to the Super Bowl in the second year of head coach Doug Pederson, whose fearless play-calling earned him the nickname "Big Balls."

"You know what you need when you have 'Big Balls?'" Brandon Graham said. "A 'big sack.' And that's exactly what I provided in the Super Bowl when I stripped Tom Brady and sealed the win.

"It was a season to remember," Doug Pederson said, "and we plan on duplicating it. But it won't be easy. It will involve hard work, discipline, and fulfilling a series of simple tasks, creating a domino effect that eventually leads to a greater goal — the greasing of light poles in celebration of our Super Bowl LIII win. We call the process the 'Lube Goldberg Machine.'"

The Falcons were knocked out of last year's playoffs by the Eagles in the divisional round. Dan Quinn knows a win accomplishes two things: a bit of vengeance, and a good start to the season.

"I'm looking forward to the game," Quinn said, "but not as much as I'm eagerly anticipating the opening of former Falcon and Eagle Michael Vick's new no-holds-barred spoken word tour, called 'Michael Vick Unleashed.' I recommend it to everyone. Michael had it all at his fingertips, then lost everything all in a matter of minutes. It's like he had a 28-3 lead on life midway through the third quarter, then had it ripped away suddenly. Next thing he knows, he's in jail. So, like our 2015 squad, he learned a hard lesson 'over time.'

"A big key to our season is getting the ball to Julio Jones. An even bigger key to our season is Julio catching it."

Atlanta wins, 24-21.

Buffalo @ Baltimore (-7)

The Bills moved on from Tyrod Taylor and selected Josh Allen with the seventh pick in the draft to become the heir apparent at quarterback.

"There's no rush," Doug McDermott said. "That's not a reference to Josh's readiness at quarterback. I'm talking about our defense, which ranked 29th in sacks last year.

"We look forward to facing the Ravens at their place. LeSean McCoy is especially excited. He loves road games. LeSean calls them 'home invasions.'"

The Ravens hope to improve on last year's 9-7 record, which they'll need to challenge the favored Steelers in the NFC North.

"First of all," John Harbaugh said, "how about Ray Lewis's Hall of Fame speech? It was brilliant, and the first HOF speech to feature a halftime. I was there, and it felt like Ray was speaking personally to everyone. Well, everyone except one noteworthy attendee, and that was the elephant in the room, whom Ray's refused to address for 18 years.

"But if 'justice' was the story of our 2018 season, then I'm obstructing 'justice' with my stories of Ray Lewis. Let's talk about this year's team. We have a great defense, a great kicker, and Joe Flacco at quarterback. Well, 'Two out of three ain't bad' once said Meatloaf, which happens to be the favorite food of Tony Siragusa, who has bitch tits."

The Ravens force three Nathan Peterman turnovers, and Flacco throws for 222 yards and a touchdown pass to new Raven Michael Crabtree, who celebrates by throwing the ball, his gold chain, and an Aqib Talib bobblehead into the crowd.

Ravens win, 24-13.

Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-3½)

The Colts enter the season with a healthy Andrew Luck, and expectations are that Luck, under the guidance of new head coach Frank Reich, can lead Indy to the playoffs.

"Andrew's shoulder is feeling great," Reich said. "That's a far cry from his past condition. It seems for the last 18 months or so, Andrew's been channeling a former Chargers and Patriots linebacker, because every time he threw a pass, he would 'Seay.'

"Now, Andrew's pain free, and it's not because he's under Jim Irsay's prescription plan. No, Andrew doesn't take shortcuts. That's why it took him well over a year to heal. He even went to Europe last summer to seek alternative treatments. That was probably a waste of time. Everybody knows that if you want real alternative treatment, you go to New England, not Olde England. New England is where you treat an injury with a good night's sleep in your fancy pajamas while a shaman supervises you."

The Bengals finished 7-9 last year, third in the AFC North. Marvin Lewis is back for his 16th season.

"Obviously," Lewis said, "7-9 won't get you into the playoffs. So, our goal as a team is to 'win more.' A lot of people have told me that is the total opposite of my playoff philosophy, which is 'win-less.'

"In contrast to Luck, Andy's shoulder is in fine condition. If Andy had chronic shoulder issues for that long, it would certainly be the biggest case of 'Ginger Ail' ever.

"But Andy's good, and so is A.J. Green. A.J. spent the better part of the offseason seeking counseling to resolve the anger issues that arose because of Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey's arguably the best cover corner in the NFL. When he covers you, he's on you so tight, he actually gets under your skin."

Bengals win, 26-24.

Houston @ New England (-6½)

The Patriots fell short in the Super Bowl to the Eagles last year, but Tom Brady and his cohorts are again the AFC favorites, as 41-year-old Brady embarks on his 18th season.

"I feel great," Brady said. "My age doesn't bother me at all. A former teammate once told me, 'Don't fear the early 40's.' Little did I realize that Randy Moss was referring to a large bottle of malt liquor at breakfast. So I told Randy, 'That sounds like bull.' He said, 'It tastes like Bull, too.'

"We'll have to get through the first four games without Julian Edelman. He's suspended for violating the NFL's policy against using performance-enhancing drugs. In the Jewish faith, I believe that's called an 'Oy Vey-cation.'"

The Texans 2017 campaign essentially ended when DeShaun Watson went down with a knee injury in practice on November 2nd.

"We're a much better team with Deshaun," Bill O'Brien said. "That's opposed to how we were with 'DeTom Savage,' whose ability falls somewhere between a 'C' and an 'F.'

"We also have a healthy J.J. Watt. We're a much better defense with J.J. on the field. As you've seen, when J.J.'s healthy, he's an unstoppable force. When he's injured, he's nothing more than a 'charity case.'"

New England wins, 31-27.

Jacksonville @ New York Giants (+3)

The Giants hired Pat Shurmur in January to replace the fired Ben McAdoo. Shurmur inherits a team that struggled in 2017, mainly due to injuries, but the outlook for 2018 is promising.

"My first job as head coach is to erase the taste of Ben McAdoo in everyone's mouth," Shurmur said. "Wait. Let me rephrase that. That wording sucked. And that wording sucked. That's a lot of sucking. But nothing sucked more than McAdoo's coaching. He's the guy that benched Eli Manning. McAdoo was a mediocre coach. And we all know this league doesn't tolerate mediocrity, unless your last name is 'Manning.'

"We're hoping sensational rookie Saquan Barkley can give us the big play ability the Giants have lacked at running back. By the way, Saquan is no relation to Charles Barkley. Saquan ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine. There's no way Charles can duplicate that speed, unless he's racing to receive sexual favors.

"Make no mistake. Saquan is going to be our workhorse. He's certainly a three-down back. His nickname could very well become the Charles Barkley-esque 'Pound Pound of Repound.'"

The Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship Game last year, where they lost 24-20 to the Patriots.

"Our potential is limitless," Doug Marrone said. "As for potential, what you saw in 2017 was 'just the tip.' And that brings me to the Giants and former G-Man Jason Pierre-Paul, who has 2-3 fingers that are missing 'just the tip.' JPP is a great pass rusher, and is known throughout the league for his 'three-technique,' which he employs any time he uses his right hand.

"I apologize for going off script there. Anyway, we feel like we should have beaten the Patriots in the AFC title game last year. Sure, I could have done some things differently. But sitting here lamenting the fact that we squandered 50 seconds and two timeouts at the end of the first half, well, that would just be a waste of time."

The Jags defense forms a "rookie wall" and stifles Barkley, and Ramsey makes Odell Beckham, Jr. thank the heavens that his new contract isn't performance-based.

Jacksonville wins, 27-14.

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (+6½)

The Browns wheeled and dealed in the offseason, and later made Baker Mayfield the No. 1 pick in the draft in April.

"If I had to describe last season in one word," Hue Jackson said, "I would call it 'crap.' If you gave me two words, I would call it a 'Cleveland Steamer.'

"But I've vowed to be a better coach and game planner in 2019. The title 'head coach' doesn't do me justice. I'd prefer to be called the 'Cleveland Schemer.' And after we bring home the Super Bowl title, you'll see the city of Cleveland adorned with 'Cleveland Streamers.'

"We think we've found our quarterback of the future in Baker Mayfield. This guy's a no-nonsense player. You've heard about the quarterbacks-only RV in training camp? Instead of staying in a room, those guys chose to rough it. Don't get me wrong; it was a brand new RV. Not a used one, with mechanical issues that breaks down often. That's called 'RV III.'"

The Steelers are again the favorites to win the AFC North. Anything less will be considered a failure.

"Once again," Mike Tomlin said, "we didn't give Le'Veon Bell a long-term contract. And, once again, Le'Veon held out for most of training camp. I'm not sure who his agent is, but Le'Veon should consider employing Ben Roethlisberger's legal representation. Because those guys know how to reach a settlement."

Cleveland wins, 21-17.

San Francisco @ Minnesota (-5½)

Excitement is high in the Bay Area, as 49er fans look forward to a full-season of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired via a trade with New England late last season.

"Jimmy made headlines this summer when he was seen on a date with an adult film star," Kyle Shanahan said. "As a family man, I can't condone his actions, but Jimmy sure piqued his teammates' interest in film study.

"Jimmy said he felt he was better than Tom Brady. I must say, I like his confidence, but he should stop comparing himself to Brady and instead compare himself to 49ers icon Joe Montana. Sure, those are huge shoes to fill, but anybody can afford Skechers."

The Vikings rode the arm of Case Keenum all the way to the NFC Championship Game, then let him walk before signing Kirk Cousins.

"We think we made the right decision," Mike Zimmer said. "In any case, it's too late to turn back now. As they say, 'We made our bed; now we have to sleep in it.' In other words, we're in bed with Cousins.

"We like what Kirk brings to the table, but make no mistake, defense is the strength of this team. Our defense carried us to great heights last year, until they had a huge 'let down' from those heights in the NFC Championship Game."

Minnesota wins, 30-16.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-9½)

The Bucs suffered through a disastrous 5-11 season, hampered by inconsistent play from Jameis Winston. Tampa will start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, as Winston serves a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

"2017 was certainly a failure," Dirk Koetter said. "And speaking of 'failures,' Jameis' anti-drinking and driving public service announcement was a complete failure. That's was probably due to the poor choice of words in its slogan, in which Jameis said, 'Don't drink and drive. Grab an Uber.'

"Our goal is to turn things around in 2018. Hopefully, Ryan Fitzpatrick can do that for the first three games. Ryan graduated from Harvard University, where tables are used for studying, and not as a platform for announcing directional genitalia instructions."

The Saints were one play away from advancing to the NFC title game. But a missed tackle in Minnesota gave the Vikes the win, and Sean Payton and his team were left wondering what might have been.

"If we win that game," Payton said, "there's a good chance we win the Super Bowl. But that's a big 'if,' and that was a big 'whiff.'

"But we prefer not to dwell on the past. And we certainly don't want our players thinking about that loss. In fact, we'd prefer they forget it altogether. In other words, we'd like them to pretend the NFL is inquiring about a bounty, and admit they have 'no recollection' of it.

"We're counting on Alvin Kamara to carry this team, especially against the Buccaneers. Tampa's defense was ranked 32nd last year, which means one thing: that unit has more holes in it than Kamara's nose."

Drew Brees comes out firing, and throws touchdown passes to three different receivers.

Saints win, 31-24.

Tennessee @ Miami (+1½)

The Titans named Mike Vrabel head coach in January after firing Mike Mularkey.

"We're confident in Coach Vrabel's leadership," Marcus Mariota said. "His New England pedigree is a certified winning formula. He played for Bill Belichick, so that background makes him the kind of coach who can make a team experience things it's never experienced before. In other words, he's a 'gate way' coach."

The Dolphins 2017 derailed early, when Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice just weeks before the season. Jay Cutler filled in admirably, but the end result was a lackluster 6-10 season.

"I guess I was lucky to keep my job," Adam Gase said. "And because I did, the team slogan 'Gase Into the Future' applies nicely, although that slogan could very well be mistaken for a Nathan Lane sci-fi series.

"But we're going to have to work our butts off to challenge the favored Patriots in the AFC East. And that takes discipline. And discipline is less about doing the right things and more about not doing the wrong things. Pretty high up on the list of 'don't's' is an O-line coach snorting cocaine off a table. That is truly an offensive 'line.' Also on the 'don't' list is recording yourself doing this and then sending it to a stripper with whom you've been having an affair."

Tennessee wins, 23-16.

Kansas City @ Los Angeles Chargers (-3½)

The Chiefs traded Alex Smith to the Redskins in March, opening the door for Patrick Mahomes to take over at quarterback.

"Don't get me wrong," Andy Reid said, "I love Alex like a son, or a sundae. But we feel Patrick can take us to another level. He can literally throw the ball 70 yards in the air. Alex Smith could do that, as well, but needed at least a quarter and a half to pull it off.

"We also added Sammy Watkins to our receiving corps. Sammy is well known for his blazing speed — in going from healthy to the injured list."

Philip Rivers begins his 15th season with the Chargers, and leads a talented offense that features Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen.

"We just missed making the playoffs last season," Rivers said. "Personally, I believe in playoff expansion. As you've probably heard, I am very against 'berth control.'

"As for Mahomes, I was a rookie in the NFL when he was a 9-year old kid. In other words, I'm old enough to be his father. But I refuse to let age define me. I like to compare myself to a majestic redwood tree; I just get stronger with age. On the other hand, if you took a cross section of me, you wouldn't find any rings."

Chargers win, 29-24.

Dallas @ Carolina (-2½)

With Jason Witten's retirement and Dez Bryant's release, the Cowboys fortunes will clearly be riding on the shoulders of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

"Dak is our leader," Elliott said, "and I plan on playing 16 games or more this season. I think I've proven that I'm one of the best, if not the best, pure rusher in the NFL. I don't think any defense in the league can stop me over the course of a full game. They might slow me, but I will eventually cut loose. In other words, you can only temporarily restrain me.

"Jerry Jones really wants us to stand for the national anthem. He seems to be unaware of the pulse of the players. A lot of people would love for Jerry to find that pulse. But the majority of people would rather see Jerry with no pulse. I can think of nothing more patriotic than standing for the anthem with my hand on my heart. Personally, I would love to see two hands on Jerry's heart, followed by compressions. Unsuccessful ones, I might add."

Talk in Charlotte has centered around the feud between Cam Newton and former Panther Kelvin Benjamin, now a Buffalo Bill.

"I'm not sure where Kelvin was coming from," Newton said. "I hope he knows his words will backfire. Kelvin's foot is in his mouth, which may be the only non-food item that can claim it's been there. Did you know they named a refrigerator after Benjamin? It's called the 'Kelvin-ate-'er.'

"But enough about Kelvin. Let's talk about Christian McCaffrey. Ron Rivera and Norv Turner say that Christian will get 25-30 touches a game. That's a lot, but still less than what that scoundrel Jerry Richardson could pull off in his heyday."

Panthers win, 24-20.

Seattle @ Denver (-2½)

A new era begins in Seattle, one that features a defense without Richard Sherman, now a 49er, and Kam Chancellor, who retired.

"'The Legion of Boom' is no more," Pete Carroll said. "But the LOB's reign will forever go down in history, and they carried this franchise to great heights. Really, we had quite a 'run,' except for that one play in the Super Bowl.

"Richard and Kam will always be special to me. We had some great wins while they were here, and nothing can take that away from me, not even the NCAA.

"We signed 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski in August. When he heard that we were interested in 'getting some leg,' Sebastian was very interested."

The Broncos acquired Case Keenum via free agency, and Vance Joseph hopes the former Minnesota Viking brings stability and reliability to the Denver offense.

"Keenum isn't the only 'Case' on this team," Joseph said. "Paxton Lynch is a 'basket case.' He got cut from the team. That makes sense, because he's totally 'unsuited' to be an NFL quarterback."

Keenum passes for 198 yards and a touchdown, and the Denver defense raises the bar and lowers the boom.

Broncos win, 29-17.

Washington @ Arizona (-½)

The Redskins let Kirk Cousins walk and traded for Kansas City's Alex Smith, giving Jay Gruden an unspectacular yet steady quarterback whose price was much less than Cousins.' "We wouldn't have brought Alex here if we didn't think he could get the job done," Gruden said. "As you know here in D.C., we only hire the best people. "And we added Adrian Peterson in late August. Adrian is 33-years-old, which is much older than all of our other running backs. And that's great, because Adrian makes a much better father figure than father."

The Cardinals begin 2018 with changes at quarterback, as well, with Sam Bradford the starter in the wake of Carson Palmer's retirement.

"When Sam showed up to Glendale last spring," head coach Steve Wilks, "it was in a box marked 'Fragile.'

"Luckily for Sam, we're not asking him to do much. Our defense will revolve around David Johnson, so I guess that makes him a 'Phoenix Sun.'"

Redskins win, 24-20.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-8½)

Aaron Rodgers is healthy again, fully recovered from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 6 of the 2017 season.

"My collarbone is fully healed," Rodgers said. "If the hit that injured me last year would have been subject to this year's rules, Anthony Barr would have been flagged, fined, and possibly suspended. What's worse for him, he would have been mean-mouthed by my new girlfriend, Danica Patrick. Danica curses like a sailor, and drives like 'ship.'

"And speaking of 'main squeezes,' Jimmy Graham is my new tight end. I expect Jimmy to be my favorite target. How could he not be? He'll certainly be easy to find. Heck, he's a red-headed black guy from Miami in Wisconsin. Let's call him the 'Black Jinja.'"

The Bears cut ties with John Fox and hired Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy in January.

"John Fox found a job as an NFL analyst for ESPN," Nagy said. "I'm surprised he didn't find work with FOX News, because he's so conservative.

"Just like I did with the Chiefs, I plan to open up this Bears offense. So, to all you long-suffering Bears fans, when I say our offense will 'bomb,' that's a good thing."

Packers win, 29-24.

New York Jets @ Detroit (-6½)

The Matt Patricia era begins in Detroit, as the former New England defensive coordinator takes over a Lions team that went 9-7 last year.

"Patricia was hired not long after Jim Caldwell was relieved of his head coaching duties," Matthew Stafford said. "That's called an act of 'Patrition.'

"I'm excited for the upcoming season. I think Patricia is the best coach in the NFL. He's No. 1 in my book, and No. 2 in pencils behind the ear."

The Jets drafted USC's Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in April's NFL Draft. After a solid preseason, Todd Bowles named Darnold the starter a week before the opener.

"We think we've found our franchise quarterback," Bowles said. "Now, we had some reservations at first, but we felt he was the best quarterback in the draft. Sam was a stellar quarterback at USC, but fumbles were an issue. And, as nearly all Jets fans could tell you, 'but fumbles' are never a good thing for a Jet quarterback. We've addressed this issue with Sam, and in true Joe Namath fashion, he's guaranteed he won't commit a 'butt fumble.'"

Detroit wins, 26-13.

Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland (+2½)

The Rams won the NFC West last year, but fell to the Falcons in the wild card round.

"It was a disappointing end," Sean McVay said, "but we think it was actually the beginning of something much bigger. We are the team of the future. We have young superstars, and I'm one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the game. Maybe two decades ago, Jon Gruden could have made that claim. Not now. While he's diagramming plays in the dirt, I'm doing the same on an iPad. Heck, Gruden probably thinks an 'iPad' is what you wear after cataracts surgery.

"We upgraded our defense with the additions of Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh. Now, we realize past behavioral issues make those risky acquisitions. If it backfires, I guess it would be a case of 'shooting ourselves in the foot, after that foot kicked us in the balls.'"

Jon Gruden was named head coach of the Raiders on January 6th, and expectations immediately went through the roof.

"Raiders fans have been known to expect the impossible," Gruden said. "But how do you even define 'impossible?' Like this: 'impossible' would be Mark Davis with a professional haircut.

"I think this team is in great position to do great things. With Derek Carr's leadership, this team can go far. He's an incredibly gifted athlete. Derek's like Jadeveon Clowney; he's a 'freak.' Unfortunately, David is just a 'Jesus freak.'"

The Rams shake off a slow start, and use two second half forced turnovers to take control of the game.

Rams win, 27-20.

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