Scott Hartley – NFL Season Opener And Week One Preview

The Denver Broncos swept aside the pain of last year’s playoff defeat against the Baltimore Ravens with a crushing 49-27 victory against the defending Superbowl champions in the NFL season opener.

Ravens quarterback and reigning Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco came into the game without his top two receivers from last year as Anquan Bolden (traded to the San Francisco 49ers) and Dennis Pitta (Injured) were both missing for action, Flacco struggled with consistency all night completing just 34 passes from 62 attempts for 362 yards, 2 Touchdowns and 2 Interceptions.

Flacco was lucky not to have one of his interceptions returned for a Touchdown after Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan made and early bid for “bonehead” play of the season when he inexplicably showboated and dropped the ball before the goaline.

However the Peyton Manning show was in full force as the Broncos quarterback threw for 7 touchdowns equaling the NFL single game record for the most number of touchdowns to be thrown in a single game. With the Ravens’ championship defence rearranged, Manning toyed with his rivals, Manning went 27 of 42 for 462 yards, 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Without inspirational leader and future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis who retired at the end of last season, the Ravens defence looked brittle and lacked their natural aggression and swagger that had become feared and respected throughout the last 10 seasons. The 49 points that the Ravens allowed was the largest in the team’s history. In stark contrast it was Denver’s defence that showed its muscle, despite missing former defensive rookie of the year Von Miller (suspension) and perennial pro bowler Champ Bailey (injury), the Broncos defence held Raven’s running back Ray Rice to just 36 yards on 12 carries whilst mustering four sacks on quarterback Joe Flacco.

It was not all doom and gloom for Baltimore as the Ravens took a 17-14 lead into half time, however shortly after the main break the Broncos enjoyed a huge shift in momentum. During a third down play on Denver’s first offensive series of the half, newly acquired wide receiver Wes Welker appeared to drop the ball which would have resulted in the Broncos being forced to punt the ball back to the Ravens, the officials missed the drop and Ravens coach John Harbaugh chose not to challenge the missed call which resulted in a Bronco first down.

The Broncos capitalised on the missed call from the ensuing play when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas on a 35 yard pass to put Denver inside Baltimore territory. Just two plays later Manning threw a 28 yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell to put Denver in the lead for the first time as they would go on to score 21 unanswered points in the third quarter and build an insurmountable lead in a clinical performance from Manning and the Broncos.


New England at Buffalo
There are some serious questions about how Tom Brady and the Patriots will cope this season. The loss Brady’s favourite target, Wes Welker is a big blow, however more serious questions linger, such as how ‘party boy’ and perennial ‘fist pumper’ Rob “GRONK!!!” Gronkowski is progressing from injury. Also team morale could be at an all-time low after former team member Aaronn Hernandez was charged with murder this off-season.

For Buffalo who have struggled for what seems an eternity will look to rookie QB E.J Manuel to rescue the sanity of an entire town (remember these guys lost 4 straight superbowls in the 90’s) Buffalo fans are that accustom to loosing they cheer the team from the field if they manage to cover the spread.
Tip: Patriots by plenty.

Seattle at Carolina
Seattle are equal favourite with the San Francisco 49ers for the title, it’s not hard to see why with QB Russell Wilson who as a dual threat QB lead his side to a playoff win last season as a rookie, on top of that Seattle has a defence that would make you check under your bed before you go to sleep at night, Richard Sherman could smack talk with a mouth full of concrete, also take into account that they have a running back named Marshawn Lynch A.K.A “The Beast”, this guy runs over people for touchdowns whilst the crowd throws skittles at him, he celebrates by eating the skittles on the sideline. If you really want to see how bad this dude is look it up on you tube, just type in “Marshawn Lynch Beast Mode”.

Big Expectations are building in Carolina behind former Heisman trophy winning QB Cam Newton, He calls himself “superman” but his play has not lived up to expectations, however there was some improvement towards the end of last season, with a young defence and an ageing group of receivers I don’t see the panthers being a threat in this one.
Tip: SKITTLES and plenty of them.

Cincinnati at Chicago
Cincy have a red headed quarterback, im no historian but im sure red heads have never won anything…..ever!!! take into account that the NFL is probably the hardest sport in the world to win a championship I don’t see Andy Dalton doing it…Okay jokes aside, In all seriousness this guy is pretty good, Cincy really should have a good chance at winning their division, they have an awesome set of receivers highlighted by A.J Green, he is the guy that you see on all the highlights doing the front flip touchdown (another you tube video to check out) also they have a great young defence watch for Geno Atkins.

Chicago have probably been labelled as “underachievers” in years past, they forced legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher to retire and they have an erratic QB in Jay Cutler who when he seems more interested in playing then adjusting his hair on the sideline can light up any defence in the league, the poor play of the Bears offensive line in seasons past has caused Cutler to force errors and has resulted in electric running back Matt Forte to be plagued with injuries. If the offensive line can protect Cutler and Forte the Bears can contend for a wildcard playoff spot.
Tip: Look out for Cutlers Girlfriend Kristen Cavallari in the crowd she is smokin’ hot.

Miami at Cleveland
Miami have hosted a lot of superbowls but haven’t won many….ever since the 1972 Dolphins went undefeated 16-0 and won the championship it seems Miami are still too busy partying, poor crowds and poor performances will continue this year.
Cleveland have Trent Richardson a beast of a running back who is the future of this side who again will have limited highlights this season, they play in a division which contains the defending champion Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and the exciting Cincinnati Bengals a tough season lies ahead.
Tip: Flip a coin.​

Minnesota at Detroit
Minnesota surprised many by making a run at the playoffs last season behind the eventual NFL MVP Adrian Peterson who just fell short of breaking the single season rushing record, they have to play the Packers twice a year which will hurt them but if Peterson stays healthy Minnesota can shock a few teams and perhaps push for a playoff spot once again, whilst Peterson is the key the final say could lie at the hands of young QB Christian Ponder who also has a smokin hot missus, if he can manage games and keep the opposition of the field look for Minnesota to be there come playoff time.

What can you say about Detroit they have a QB in Matt Stafford that can throw the ball nearly the length of the field, arguably they have the most talented wide receiver in “MEGATRON” Calvin Johnson, the Lions defensive front is probably the dirtiest but most talented in the league with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly, but for some reason the Lions can never seem to put it together, probably because half of the team will end up being arrested half way through the season.
Tip: tough game this one but go with Minnesota.

Oakland at Indianapolis
The Raiders have been a mess since the lost the superbowl in 2002, a number of coaching changes and playing personnel have caused them to fall out of the contenders list for some time and it will be the same this season, another new QB in Terrell Pryor is the reason the Raiders have to watch their team play.
On the other hand the Colts have a young exciting team, a very underrated defence and a monster for a QB in Andrew Luck (I mean monster, that boy aint right), the reigning rookie of the year, the running game is still a question for Colts but that doesn’t matter when you have a guy like Luck, he like Wilson lead his side to the playoffs last season as a rookie.
Tip: Colts.

Kansas City at Jacksonville
Kansas have acquired QB Alex Smith from the 49ers who they believe is their franchise QB and can lead them to the playoffs, Smith in the last 2 seasons in San Francisco was putting up career best numbers, the Chiefs struggled for offense last year so they hope Smith will be the answer to back up a pretty solid defence lead by linebacker Derrick Johnson. Jacksonville have running back Maurice Jones Drew……That is all.
Tip: Stay away from the Jaguars all year.

Atlanta at New Orleans
The Atlanta Falcons should contend for the superbowl this year, they have a consistent defence and QB Matt Ryan has some great targets to throw at, receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White are possibly the most dangerous dual threat receivers in the league, keep in mind the Falcons have one of the best records over the past 4 seasons when playing at home, these guys are legit.

Its all about QB Drew Brees , he is the heart and soul of the side along with linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the Saints will need to keep these guys healthy if they wish to contend within their division.
Tip: This will be a great game, should be plenty of points but the Falcons should get the cash.

Tampa Bay at New York Jets
Darrelle Revis the best cover corner in the game returns to face his former team that traded him during the offseason, the Bucs have a great young running back in Doug Martin but some questions still linger over QB Josh Freemans ability to get the job done, Revis will add stability to a pretty solid defence and the Bucs should improve from last season.

The Jets are the laughing stock of the NFL they have the worst QB in the league with Mark Sanchez and everybody knows it besides the Jets, people are still laughing at them over the “TEBOW INCIDENT” and the fact that former Jet and future hall of fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson said on national television that the Jets are a horrible team and are the worst in team the league with Sanchez as QB… the Jets did draft QB Geno Smith this year but Sanchez gets the start, possibly because the coach Rex Ryan has a tattoo on his arm of his wife wearing Sanchez’s number 6 jersey.
Tip: Don’t get tattoos of players that are terrible, Sanchez to play poorly and the Bucs to win (Butt fumble)

Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Tennessee have adopted a youth policy this season with young QB Jake Locker to be given the full time job, the running game has struggled for the past two seasons and the Titans remain a side that you never really know what they are going to produce from week to week Chris Johnson at running back remains their go to man.

On the contrary the Steelers never change, you know what they are going to give you, Ben Roethlisberger,Troy Polamalu and hard running behind a great offensive line, if Big Ben manages to stay away from the ladies the Steelers will always be in contention for a playoff birth, a great defence lead by Polamalu will always keep the Steelers in games, however depth and injury concerns at running back could stall the Steelers this season.
Tip: Pittsburgh

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