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NFL Week 1 2009

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       Well, the regular season is finally upon us and the moment of truth is now. Every week from now until the Super Bowl, I’ll be posting blogs picking who will win in every matchup. If you think I’m wrong, let me know! Post a comment with YOUR predictions. I want to hear some feedback! Now, let’s get started.

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
[Thursday 8:30]

       What a way to start off the new season of football. The top two seed in the playoffs last year against the defending Super Bowl champions. This is going to be a defensive battle. One key loss the Titans are dealing with is Albert Haynesworth, now in Washington. Without that force up front, Pittsburgh, and every other team for that matter, will be much more successful in executing their offensive game plan. I’m jumping on the Super Bowl winner’s bandwagon for this first game.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons
[Sunday 1:00]

       With the source of Miami’s epic turnaround being the Wildcat, you can be sure to see some on Sunday. With Atlanta’s epic turnaround being ignited by their running game, you will surely see plenty of that as well. This matchup features two teams that 2 seasons ago had won a combined 5 games, but both turned it around last year and made the playoffs. Both teams have strong running games with stellar quarterbacks. This is a great game that could go either way, but in the end, defense will have to win it. I’m taking Joey Porter and the Dolphin D.
Miami Dolphins

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens
[Sunday 1:00]

       Oh boy. Where to begin? While Kansas City has been filled with hype now that Matt Cassel and Todd Haley [pass-happy offensive coordinator of the Cardinals last year] have arrived. Let me rain on the Chiefs’ parade for a minute here: Matt Cassel was the most sacked quarterback last year, and that was behind a much better offensive line than the one the Chiefs have. The Chiefs fired their offensive coordinator less than two weeks ago. They’re playing on the road against one of the best defenses last year and a team that ran the ball more than any other team last year while switching to a 3-4 defense. Sorry if there are any KC fans out there, but I’m a realist.
Baltimore Ravens

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers
[Sunday 1:00]

       This game will be a telling one for the Eagles. After an offseason in which the defense lost two leaders [Brian Dawkins, Jim Johnson], the defense is about to be tested against one of the best rushing attacks in the league. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart scored a combined 28 touchdowns last year, and are two young players that have only gained experience. In the passing game, Jake Delhomme isn’t anything special, but Steve Smith is. He was the only player last year to average 100 yards receiving per game after being suspended for the first two games. However, I’ll take the Eagles defense over a Panthers’ defense which was 18th last year and didn’t change much in the offseason. The Eagles should be worried about one player they’ll be facing, however: Julius Peppers, the player being paid the most this year. Though it’ll be a struggle, the Eagles’ new offensive weapons and 9 returning starters on defense will win this one.
Philadelphia Eagles

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals
[Sunday 1:00]

       This is certainly a difficult game to call. While I’m expecting the Broncos to be terrible this, that’s exactly what the Bengals were last year. Their top pick, Andre Smith, won’t be playing for them as well. However, Carson Palmer’s back, and he should get their offense back on track [if his offensive line can protect him, that is]. Denver, however, got a whole lot worse this year after trading Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton and suspending Brandon Marshall, though it’s not their fault for the latter; Brandon Marshall was being an idiot in practice, and disciplinary action was the only answer. Not having a wideout that caught 100 passes last year is going to hurt them, however, so don’t expect a lot from the Broncos offense, or defense, for that matter. Converting to a 3-4 might be a smart move later, but it takes time, and I don’t think the Broncos will pull it off.
Cincinnati Bengals

Minnesota Vikings @ Cleveland Browns
[Sunday 1:00]

       Well, Eric Mangini finally told his team: Brady Quinn will be the starter against the Vikings. The Vikings, a playoff team in ’08 with one of the best defenses. Sure, tell your starter 4 days before the game who he is. This was not a good move, seeing as Quinn’s started 3 games in his professional career. As far as the rest of the offense goes, their best tight end is in Tampa Bay now, and Donte’ Stallworth, one of their top wideouts, has a year long suspension. There is a lot more pressure on Quinn and Braylon Edwards now, as if they needed any more. For the Vikings, they still have the league’s leading rusher, and now they have a Hall of Fame quarterback, Brett Favre, under center. While I don’t like Favre coming out of retirement AGAIN, he looked good in their offense. I think this one is easy. By the way, Adrian Peterson is my MVP prediction for this year.
Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets @ Houston Texans
[Sunday 1:00]

       This game will be Mark Sanchez’s first start, as the Jets are wasting no time in getting their new franchise quarterback on the field. He’ll surely be tested, as he’s going against a great pass rusher, Mario Williams, and will have to keep up with the Texans’ offense, third in yards gained last year. While Sanchez may be good with time, I don’t think the time is now. An elite offense for the Texans and a defense coming into its own will overwhelm a rookie quarterback and a transitioning Jets defense.
Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
[Sunday 1:00]

       I believe in Jacksonville, but there is reason to doubt them as well. Jacksonville’s reason for ending up at 5-11 last year was their offensive line struggles. They should be better blocking up front this year, but they have to get back to their offensive strategy that took them to the playoffs in 2007: Run the ball. With the talent they have in Maurice Jones-Drew, they have to give him the ball instead of having David Garrard throw the ball 500 times this season [535 in ’08, to be exact]. For the Colts, it’s the dawn of a new era, one without Tony Dungy or Marvin Harrison. If the Colts can run successfully, game over. If they can’t, look for this one to go down to the wire. I’m going with last year’s MVP.
Indianapolis Colts

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
[Sunday 1:00]

       Well, the time is now for both of these teams. The Saints had the best offense last year with Drew Brees throwing for 5,000 yards, and would have made it to the playoffs if their defense could have stopped anyone. The Lions, however, didn’t win a game. At all. They were the best team at getting beat last year. That might change this year, but many are thinking it’ll take a while for their new coach, Jim Schwartz, to have an impact, and for their new quarterback, Matt Stafford, to get the hang of the NFL. Personally, I think Detroit will be dramatically better than a year ago, but that’s still not saying much, is it? With all the new faces in Detroit, it’ll take a while for them to get some chemistry. In the mean time, Drew Brees will try to get his team to the Super Bowl for once.
New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[Sunday 1:00]

       I don’t know what the Buccaneers are doing. Their coaching staff was already inexperienced enough, with last year’s head coach and defensive coordinator being fired/leaving, making the defensive backs coach, Raheem Morris, the head coach. Then he decided he didn’t need his offensive coordinator. So, goodbye last remaining significant staff from last year. We’ll miss you. On a serious note, though, that was dumb. The Bucs play in a tough division and start off the season against the league’s leading sack specialist, DeMarcus Ware. They are going to need a lot of help against a team that comes out of the season on fire, offensively and defensively. I don’t expect a lot from Tampa this year.
Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
[Sunday 4:30]

       Time to see if that Super Bowl loser’s curse is real or not. The Cardinals swept their division last year, but will have a harder time with that this year. The 49ers almost beat them in their last matchup in 2008, and would have won probably if they had called a 2-yard play instead of a 1-yard play, if you remember that. Anyway, the 49ers need one guy at quarterback to stabilize their offense. The carousel at quarterback that plagued the 49ers last year can’t happen again if they want to win. On the Cardinals’ side, they have a lot of talent offensively. We al know about Larry Fitzgerald, but they seem more determined to run the ball and improve on their, uh, LAST PLACE rushing statistic from a year ago. These games are always close, but I have to go with the defending NFC champions.
Arizona Cardinals

Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
[Sunday 4:30]

       If you believe that a backup quarterback that got cut in the preseason can and will give the Redskins the edge over the Giants, then you don’t need to read this. Honestly, I don’t think that will happen, simply because the Giants are so paranoid. They’re sure to change all their audibles in fear of Andre’ Woodson opening his mouth. Controversy aside, This will be a close game. Both teams bulked up their already impressive defenses, specifically on the defensive line. Whichever team can run the ball better will have the better day. I’m going with the team that was only the fifth to have two 1,000 yard rushers in the same season.
New York Giants

St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
[Sunday 4:30]

       Let me start out by saying I thought the Rams were the worst team in the NFL last year. Worse than the Lions. Let me also state that I think the Seahawks will contend for the playoffs this year. You can probably already see where this is going, but I’ll humor both sides for now. The Rams signed a great defensive coordinator as their head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, and signed a very safe pick, Jason Smith, as the second overall in the draft. With that said, the Seahawks have a new coach as well: Former head coach Jim Mora Jr. They also signed a high draft pick, Aaron Curry. They’re getting matt Hasselbeck back, and I think he’s going to return to Pro Bowl form.
Seattle Seahawks

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
[Sunday 8:20]

       This is going to be quite the game. Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers going toe-to-toe. Both teams are hoping to get better performances out of their defenses this year, and the Packers went so far as to convert to a 3-4. In the end, it will come to the passing game and which defensive backs line up better with the receivers opposite. I can tell you right off the bat, the Packers have a better wide receiving corps, and they had a much better pass defense than the Bears did last year. Enough said.
Green Bay Packers

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots
[Monday 7:00]

       Well, the hype in Buffalo is all about T.O. and what he can bring to the Bills’ offense. The big question is: Can the Bills protect Trent Edwards long enough for him to get the ball out of his hands and into his receivers’? A much different offensive line better be able to, or it’s going to be a long day for a Bills offense that doesn’t have Marshawn Lynch due to a suspension. The Patriots, on the other hand, get back Tom Brady. I’m not so sure this one is going to be fair.
New England Patriots

San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
[Monday 10:15]

       Who knows how good the Raiders will be this year? The worst passing team in the NFL last year added a star wideout in the draft and thinks this is JaMarcus Russell’s year. For the Raiders’ sake, it better be, because the Chargers’ offense is high scoring and multi-dimensional. LaDainian Tomlinson says he’s back, and I believe him. After an “off” year [Though only a great player like LT could have 1,100 yards rushing and 12 total touchdowns be called an off year], a healthy LT looks to rebound and Phillip Rivers, the top rated passer last year, will be right by his side. This one should be easy.
San Diego Chargers

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