The entirety of week one of the 2010 NFL Season excites me, but there’s always something special about Monday Night Football. Accordingly, these NFL week 1 picks and predictions are based solely on opening night of MNF (September 13), a doubleheader that includes a match-up between the Baltimore Ravens at the New York Jets and the San Diego Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are my NFL week one picks for the Monday Night Football games. For the remainder of NFL week one picks and predictions, click here.
2010 NFL Week 1 Picks and Predictions (MNF): Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
This year’s first Monday Night Football game features two teams with strong internal aspirations and equally strong outside expectations. The Baltimore Ravens have been a consistent force in the AFC (for the most part), but for the first time ever, it looks as though their offense may outshine or, at the very least, play on level ground with the defense that has carried this team for so long. Though Ray Lewis and his band of brutal men should continue to play at a high level, few can negate the fact that this unit is getting older and, if anything, will be limited by key injuries. As briefly aforementioned, however, it is the Ravens offense that is finally drawing attention. Quarterback Joe Flacco is entering his third season, and this year may signal his greatest year of growth, particularly now that he is surrounded by his most talented cast of talented, trustworthy teammates. Ray Rice should, barring injury, continue to develop as one of the most talented, multi-faceted backs in the league, and the receiving group of the newly acquired Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houhsmandzadeh, paired with the reliable Derrick Mason will only help Rice and Flacco.
The New York Jets, on the other hand, have emerged as one of the more intriguing and popular NFL picks for a strong playoff run. In fact, the franchise and its feisty fans have internally cultivated a Super Bowl-or-bust mentality that Coach Rex Ryan and his players continue to fuel. The Jets certainly went to work upgrading a roster that already took them to the AFC Championship game last season, and it will be interesting to see how the new players contribute. With Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis back from his extended hold-out, the offseason acquisitions of Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, and Brodney Pool, along with the remainder of the Jets’ fiery defense, this unit is as talented, if not stronger, than the Ravens defense when they were considered the best in the league. On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets also have more to look forward to specifically, in the form of receivers. Mark Sanchez will have one of the best receiving groups in the league and still plays behind the better offensive lines in the league. Adding Santonio Holmes (after his four-game suspension) to Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will be huge, and the LaDanian Tomlinson signing will do more wonders for the receiving game than the ground game.
In terms of this Monday Night clash of the titans, I am quite torn. My gut feeling tells me that Mark Sanchez will make a quick collapse under the weighty expectations, yet at the same time, the entire Jets team (Sanchez included) seems too talented. The Ravens can’t be overlooked either, and they deserve a lot of respect. At the moment, I think their offense is more fine-tuned and balanced, especially since Holmes won’t be suited, and I think they’ll exploit this Jets defense for at least two touchdowns. I’m predicting the Ravens to beat the Jets by a slim margin, 17-14.
2010 NFL Week 1 Picks and Predictions: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The San Diego Chargers finally enter a season where they aren’t pegged as early Super Bowl favorites or necessarily strong contenders. While they are almost a certain lock in their weak but slowly improving AFC West division, few believe that they have what it takes to make a strong playoff run. This is certainly understandable, especially considering the fact that the Chargers, though still incredibly talented, are not entering the season with exactly the best roster in recent years. They can win in the regular season without emerging wideout Vincent Jackson, Rivers’ biggest target last year, and they can manage on offensive line without left tackle Marcus McNeill, but they would be a far better team with these two on the field. If anything, elite quarterback Philip Rivers and the entire offense can be excited with L.T.’s apparent heir, rookie running back Ryan Matthews, whom many consider the front runner for this year’s ROY. Moreover, returning wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Naane will get help from newly acquired Patrick Crayton. Lastly, who can forget about Antonio Gates? It’s the Chargers defense, however, that is the most questionable. Shawn Merriman will either return to form or continue to play like he wasn’t once one of the league’s most dominating linebackers, the secondary is a unit composed of average players, and the d-line struggled to be the catalyst for a strong rush or formidable run defense last year.
As for the Kansas City Chiefs, they should enter this game and season with some confidence. Though they might be considered a non-contender in this division, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting better. Their coaching staff is the strong foundation of this team, and it will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel help develop Todd Haley’s team. I like the addition of Thomas Jones in the backfield because he should serve as a great mentor to Jamaal Charles, and I still think he can be a bruising, effective runner. Dwayne Bowe needs to start playing up to his potential again if Matt Cassel and the offense are going to get going, however. With the Chiefs’ defense, hopefully rookie safety Eric Berry can help improve a defense that ranked 22nd against the pass and 31st against the run last year.
The Chiefs are looking better than last year, but this San Diego Chargers team is still far and away the class of the division. Though Kansas City typically plays well against the Chargers, I expect Philip Rivers and Matthew Ryans to take care of this underachieving Chiefs defense. Now that Ryans dawns the blue and gold, the Chargers can look forward to a strong rushing attack that will open up the air for Philip Rivers and his tall receivers to make big plays downfield. I expect the Chargers to beat the Chiefs, 34-13.
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