Outlook: The Game of the Week might have been Thursday’s Panthers-Broncos matchup but you can’t go wrong here – even without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski – with two teams that very plausibly could meet again in the Super Bowl. With Brady paying his four-game Deflategate penance, Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first NFL start on the road against an elite, aggressive defense that majors in takeaways and blitzing. Oy. Still, it’s the Patriots. It’s Bill Belichick. The Cardinals are the real deal but the Patriots find a way to stay close.

Television: NBC

Prediction: Cardinals, 27-23.

BENGALS at JETS, 1 p.m.

Outlook: The Bengals usually wait until the playoffs to lose but get an early jump this season. Love the Jets as a home underdog. Cincinnati is missing TE Tyler Eifert and doesn’t have much wide beyond A.J. Green, so expect a heavy dose of ground game – and the Jets defend that very well.

Television: CBS

Prediction: Jets, 21-20.

BROWNS at EAGLES, 1 p.m.

Outlook: Our Dog game doesn’t refer to a betting underdog but to the week’s muttiest matchup. None really are in a Week 1 when all is shiny and new, but these teams figure to be really bad. Still, we get two of the NFL’s seven head-coach debuts in Hue Jackson and Doug Pederson, and an interesting QB duel in the Browns’ recycled Robert Griffin III vs. Philly’s unveiling of rookie Carson Wentz.

Prediction: Eagles, 24-16.


Outlook: Here’s a game I’d watch. Really good Packers vs. an on-the-rise home team aching to make a statement. Jaguars last won an opener in 2011 but have a shot. I see a pointfest; Aaron Rodgers and Blake Bortles each had 39 completions of 25-plus yards last year, tops in league. I’m still a big Rodgers guy, especially with Jordy Nelson’s return.

Television: FOX

Prediction: Packers, 27-23.

BILLS at RAVENS, 1 p.m.

Outlook: Remember 1999, when we were planning our turn-of-the-century parties? That’s when Buffalo last won in Baltimore. Give Rex Ryan’s Bills a big upset shot here, though, led by Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco’s ex-backup. Not sure how good the Ravens are but make it a venue pick.

Prediction: Ravens, 24-20.

BEARS at TEXANS, 1 p.m.

Outlook: Houston’s adding Lamar Miller, having a premier receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and having J.J. Watt healthy (enough), plus a bad Bears secondary, should make things easier for new QB Brock Osweiler. But Chicago’s John Fox coached Osweiler for two years and knows his game.

Prediction: Texans, 27-17


Outlook: This division game finds two teams headed oppositely. New coach Dirk Koetter takes over a Bucs squad seemingly ascending under Jameis Winston, while Atlanta’s Matt Ryan fights to avoid slipping. Upset Alert, but give me Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman at home.

Prediction: Falcons, 24-17


Outlook: The Vikings say it’s a Sunday call on who’ll start for injured Teddy Bridgewater: Shaun Hill or the guy they grossly overspent to get, Sam Bradford. No matter. Even Teddy-less, Minnesota’s the better team here, led by Adrian Peterson.

Prediction: Vikings, 24-17.


Outlook: Upset! Oakland, last in the playoffs in 2003, is on the rise. And led by Derek Carr, the Raiders are slightly better overall than New Orleans, which continues to beat Drew Brees with the friendly fire of an awful defense.

Prediction: Raiders, 31-27.


Outlook: The Chiefs won’t be themselves until RB Jamaal Charles (unlikely for Sunday) and sack-man Justin Houston (out several weeks) are back, but even diminished are better than the Chargers. KC has won four straight in this series.

Prediction: Chiefs, 30-17.


Outlook: Miami’s edge? Its pass rush against a not-great Seahawks offensive line. The Dolphins’ disadvantage? About everything else. Will be interesting to see the impact of Arian Foster and Mario Williams, but doubt it will come in an upset.

Prediction: Seahawks, 30-16.

LIONS at COLTS, 4:25 p.m.

Outlook: This is Detroit’s first opener without Calvin Johnson since 2006. Still, a possible upset here. Andrew Luck was either injured or average last season and still isn’t fully healthy. Venue pick, but nervously.

Prediction: Colts, 27-24.

GIANTS at COWBOYS, 4:25 p.m.

Outlook: The Giants are 0-8 in openers vs. the Cowboys and have lost three straight at Dallas. The Giants welcome new coach Ben McAdoo, sports’ first great McAdoo since Bob, but doubt he’ll leave smiling. The Cowboy’s hopes sank with Tony Romo’s injury but Dak Prescott has looked sharp.

Television: FOX

Prediction: Cowboys, 24-23.



Outlook: The early game offers maybe Week 1’s best individual duel: Washington CB Josh Norman vs. Steelers elite receiver Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh has won five straight in the series; still, I see a tight game.

Television: ESPN

Prediction: Steelers, 27-20.

RAMS at 49ERS, 10:20 p.m.

Outlook: The nightcap is a bad matchup – Case Keenum vs. Blaine Gabbert – but is elevated by two things: 1) The Rams’ return to Los Angeles, and 2) the spotlight on Colin Kaepernick for his anthem protest. An upset would not shock, but L.A.’s defensive front seven will carry the night.

Television: ESPN

Prediction: Rams, 19-10.

By Greg Cote, Miami Herald (Last year: 157-99)