As Week One of the NFL’s 2017 season approaches full stride, Salute’s Editor-In-Chief Adrian Gregory Glover, Sports Editor Dustin Brown and NFL Editor Tony Williams sat down for a full-contact appraisal of the week that is to be.
This is how the week should play out.
Consensus Pick: Bills
Dustin: The Bills have the better defense and have home field advantage. The Jets seem to be in tank mode and even if they are not, they are not a good team.
Tony: It’s two good defenses going against each other. It’s a battle for first place in the AFC East and to see which QB can be less worse than the other. You can’t trust Josh McCown (Jets) and Tyrod Taylor is one hit away from another concussion. It comes down to strength against strength. The Bills’ LeSean McCoy is as good a running back as there is in the league as is the Jets’ defensive front seven in their respective area. Buffalo has a better roster but it will be a tight game.
Adrian: I refuse to pick the Jets this season against a high school team until they win four games. They will keep it respectable to diffuse the tanking theory but it is what it is.
Consensus Pick: Falcons
Tony: The Falcons will win this one but it will be closer than anyone expects. The Bears defense is pretty good and they do have a solid running game with Jordan Howard. I like what they are building but it will be a slow rebuild. Atlanta is one of the fastest teams in the league and they have youth on defense.
Adrian: The Falcons are returning just about all of their offense and they improved their defense. I’m not picking the Bears because they are too many question marks all over the field. Pick a position in Chicago and you can slap a question mark on it and yes that includes Jordan Howard who is still either boom or bust. He had some strong games last year as far as yards go. But he only accounted for six touchdowns. Oh and three of those were against the 49ers. Six TDs from a feature back in the NFL doesn’t win ball games.
Dustin: The Falcons are far and away the better team. In all three phases of the game, they are a better team. I’m not taking the Bears because they don’t have receivers of merit. Howard can’t carry that offense by himself.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Consensus Pick: Bengals
Adrian: The Bengals despite their issues on the offensive line upgraded their skill players to such a degree that this will be a matchup nightmare for Baltimore. On the flipside, even with Vontaze Burfict being out, the Ravens don’t have much to assault the Bengals with.
Dustin: I’m not choosing Baltimore because they are not healthy. They will take the L because of all of their injuries. Factor in the addition of (running back) Joe Mixon and (deep threat) John Ross to the Bengals squad and it doesn’t bode well for the Ravens.
Tony: I give the edge to the Bengals too. They are at home and they have the better roster. The Bengals 6-10 season last year was an aberration. I don’t buy that and I think they are a nine-win team this year. As for Baltimore, they do have injuries everywhere. Joe Flacco (quarterback) has had back issues and who knows how that reacts in this game?
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Consensus Pick: Steelers
Tony: The 3-4 defense always rattles QBs and I just don’t like a rookie quarterback in DeShone Kizer going against a scheme that has given Peyton Manning and Tom Brady fits. I don’t know if I like that matchup.
I like what the Browns are doing. The building blocks are there. But it’s too young, too soon and [for the record] I’m a Kizer fan.
I know it’s in Cleveland and they will be a hot crowd at first, but I don’t see Kizer beating Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense in his first career start.
Adrian: I agree with you regarding the 3-4. But you know what can diffuse that? A good screen game which Cleveland has the ability to pull off with (running back) Duke Johnson. That will keep those linebackers pushed out into the flat and by that kid some time.
If Myles Garrett was playing this game, I would be very tempted to pick against Pittsburgh. There is a lot of rust of the Steelers sideline and we don’t know who the Browns are right now.
With an upgraded defense and set of offensive skill players, they may not be the lovable losers anymore. But, Joe Hayden is returning with revenge on his mind. So its Pittsburgh with a dash of this could be the upset of the week.
Dustin: The lack of playmakers of the Browns defense and the return of Martavis Bryant are two big reasons why you can’t even consider the Browns.
And don’t forget about the emergence of T.J. Watt for the Steelers and what he can mean to that defense.
Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions.
Consensus Pick: Cardinals
It’s going to be a good offensive show out there in Detroit on Sunday. I’m going with the Cardinals because of their defense. Stafford is a slinger and he is prone to mistakes every now and then. And he will make a mistake at a key moment of the game that Arizona’s defense will take advantage of.
Dustin: Agreed on Cardinals defense and I can’t pick the Lions because of their lack of a running game. Ameer Abdullah hasn’t been even close to what they expected and I don’t know why people are jumping on that hype train because it’s going to be more of the same.
Adrian: It’s simple. I don’t like the Lions defense at all and I don’t think they have a strong group of receivers. On the other sideline across the field, the Cardinals have a fast group of young players a sturdy veteran in Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona also has a very creative game coming out of the backfield with David Johnson.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Consensus Pick: Texans
Adrian: Here you have two teams that are loaded with talent that don’t always take advantage of it.
This is especially true for Jacksonville. On paper, they should be poised to go deep in the playoffs but most of the time they look like the Bad News Bears with a swimming pool in their backyard.
I know we don’t look at these angles sometimes, but if you look closely you will see that the Jags are an emotional group.
A lot of these younger players are coming up with the same entitlement issues that plague this generation.
You have to have a coach/mentor that can inspire, educate and get his team ready to play. Doug Marrone doesn’t do a good job getting his team field ready. There are reasons why they don’t live up to their expectations.
Your coaching staff has to be able to manage all types of characters and temperaments.
Shad Kahn is a damn good owner who provides for his team and sets a standard but if the Jaguars don’t get it together, don’t be surprised to see Marrone gone.
I like Houston in this game because they are inspired by tragedy and their leader J.J. Watt is returning to a defense that can shut anybody down.
And I trust the Texans coaching staff a lot more.
Tony: I agree. The Jaguars are loaded with young talent but there best coach is Team President Tom Coughlin. I don’t believe in Doug Marrone at all. Houston is going to come out there on fire.
Dustin: Houston’s winning this game and I’m gonna leave it at that.
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