Sports Interaction’s Ricky Rothstein drops by to preview the biggest games of Week 1 in the NFL.
After the NFL raked the Saints over the coals following “Bountygate” the club heads into this season looking to prove itself. That might be bad news for Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who makes his first pro start in the house of Who Dat? Nation. RG3’s speed and athleticism gives this offence a major boost, but Washington’s attack is still a galaxy away from that of the well-oiled machine that Drew Brees runs for the Saints. Sports Interaction has New Orleans pegged as a 7-point home favourite with the total at 49.5.
Last season the Green Bay Packers cruised through the first 14 weeks of the season before suffering their first loss. This year they face a major challenge in their regular-season opener. San Francisco may have been a muffed punt away from a Super Bowl berth last season and looks to own one of the most dominant defences in the league heading into Sunday’s trip to Green Bay. The 49ers also added a few pieces to their offense, though it’s hard to know whether players like the aging Randy Moss will have much of an impact. This will be a classic battle between offence and defence. The Packers are currently 5-point favourites with the over/under at 46.5.
He’s back. After sitting out for more than a year due to neck problems, four-time MVP Peyton Manning returns to the NFL – this time as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. With No. 18 under centre Sunday night, it’s a whole new world for Denver’s offense in the post-Tim Tebow era. Week 1’s matchup against the visiting Steelers will provide a good barometer. Despite a defence that’s getting long in the tooth, Pittsburgh allowed a league-low 271.8 total yards and 14.2 points per game last season. The Broncos are set as 1.5-point favourites with a 44.5-point total at Sports Interaction.
The Cincinnati Bengals visit the Baltimore Ravens Monday evening in a clash of AFC North hopefuls. The Bengals may not get the same sort of respect the Steelers and Ravens get, but they’re a dangerous squad. Quarterback Andy Dalton has one of the best young receivers in the game in A.J. Green and the addition of former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis should yield dividends in the red zone. Meanwhile, the Ravens will feel the loss of Terrell Suggs and you have to wonder if this is the year Ray Lewis finally starts acting his age. Baltimore is a 6-point favourite with the over/under set at 41.