If nothing else, Week 1 of the NFL season is informative. Oh, it's sensational, exciting, action-packed and other fun adjectives as well. But for those of us in the prognostication business, the knowledge gleaned from the opening games' stars, statistics and results are as exciting as seeing — oh, I don't know — your favorite quarterback returning to the field after a year off and throwing for two scores in the final 2:06 to earn a come-from-behind win.
So with all of that newfound information to go off of, here are my predictions after Week 1 for the Super Bowl champions, the NFL Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. I'll update my picks each week as the season goes on. I'd love to get your picks as well in the comments section below.
Now let the games begin.
Super Bowl Champs
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
It took overtime for the defending Super Bowl champs to dispatch of the tough Tennessee Titans. And losing Troy Polamalu for 3-6 weeks won't help their defense. But they're still the toughest unit in the NFL. And Big Ben Roethlisberger, as long as he has time to throw the ball, has shown that he can light it up with the league's most prolific quarterbacks.
2. New England Patriots
Another highly touted team that had a rough go in Week 1, the Pats — along with Tom Brady — showed flashes of greatness in their comeback win over the Bills on Monday night. Their running-game-by-committee put up a less-than-stellar 73 yards, though Kevin Faulk did contribute six catches for 51 yards through the air. If Tommy Boy can get the protection he had — and throws with the same focused ferocity he had — during the last two drives on Monday, their offense will be fine. The defense, on the other hand, will have a tough time recovering from the temporary loss of captain Jerod Mayo (not to mention Richard Seymour). How well Gary Guyton can step in for the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year will loom large in the coming weeks, including Sunday against the Jets.
3. Baltimore Ravens
We knew the Baltimore defense would still be solid, despite losing coordinator Rex Ryan to the Jets. And they held true to form, allowing just 29 yards rushing and 188 yards of net offense against the overmatched Chiefs. But et tu, offense? Joe Flacco threw for 307 yards and three scores while second-year back Ray Rice topped 100 yards for the second time in his career and the Ravens amassed 501 yards of total offense in rolling to 38 points. Watch out!
4. Green Bay Packers
The Packers defense made new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler look pretty silly — something he's done a decent job of on his own — to the tune of four picks in Green Bay's opening win at Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant and the Pack offense will have better days, but their defense showed it will keep them in games all year long.
5. Minnesota Vikings
OK, I know it was against the Browns, but Adrian Peterson did put up 180 yards and three scores as the Vikes won on the road. Brett Favre was a rather pedestrian 14-of-21 for 121 yards and a touchdown, but he did what he had to do. The defense was solid, too, particularly the front seven, which limited Cleveland to 89 yards on the ground. And as if things couldn't get any easier, they head to Detroit to take on the Lions in Week 2.
Most Valuable Player
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Just when you thought he'd hit his ceiling in throwing for over 5,000 yards and 34 scores last season, he goes and drops a 358-yard, six-touchdown day on us. FYI, those numbers put him currently on pace for 5,728 yards and 96 touchdowns on the year. Sadly for the Saints, they don't play the Lions every week. But if the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week comes close to equaling (or bettering) last year's stats and New Orleans makes the playoffs, Brees will be part of the MVP discussion all year long.
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
It's not often that consensus No. 1 fantasy draft picks come through in Week 1. But AP didn't disappoint, rolling up the aforementioned 180 yards and three scores in Minnesota's big win. After taking on the Lions on Sunday, the competition will get tougher from there on out. But having Brett Favre's arm keeping defenses honest should continue to keep Peterson's numbers high.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
There were times in the first half when Brady looked frazzled or off, not stepping into throws and missing wide-open receivers. But he was the quintessential Super Bowl MVP, future-Hall of Famer Tom Brady we all know and love when the Pats needed it late in the fourth quarter. Despite a rough start, he ended up with huge stats and was honored as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are seen historically as a blue-collar, run-first football team. But Big Ben showed off his arm when Pittsburgh needed to move the ball late against the Titans, completing 16 of 18 throws in the fourth quarter and overtime and recording 363 total yards off 33-of-43 passing. Yes, he tossed two picks, but he fired a touchdown to Santonio Holmes and could be called upon to throw more regularly if the Steelers running game continues to struggle.
5. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
T.O. who? The Cowboys signal-caller certainly didn't seem to miss his vociferous former receiver in Week 1, tossing for 353 yards and three scores in a 34-21 win over the Buccaneers.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Justin Tuck, New York Giants
Five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, three quarterback pressures and a pass defended earned him the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week honors. He'll continue to team with Osi Umenyiora to form arguably the best pair of pass rushing ends in the league.
2. David Harris, New York Jets
He picked up the AFC defensive award after making 12 tackles and a sack as the Jets shut down the Texans' vaunted passing attack. He should shine much like Ray Lewis in new coach Rex Ryan's defensive schemes.
3. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
I know he will miss about a month of time after hurting himself. But before he did, he was flying all over the field, hitting people left and right. He collected a team-high six tackles, an interception and two passes defended before departing. He'll be back in the lineup, and mark my words, he'll be competing for this award before season's end.
4. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders
This one stings a bit, doesn't it, Pats fans? Six tackles, two sacks and plenty of pressures in his debut in silver and black kinda makes you wonder why he was sent packing. But even more impressive is that he only joined Tom Cable's crew two days before his first game.
5. Stephen Cooper, San Diego Chargers
The Wareham, Mass., native and Maine alum had 13 tackles and two passes defended in the Chargers' 24-20 triumph over the Raiders on Monday night.
Rookie of the Year
1. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Completed 18 of 31 for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception in recording the third-highest total passing yards of any rookie QB ever in Week 1.
2. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams
The former Buckeyes linebacker made 14 tackles in his first game as a pro for the undermanned Rams.
3. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
This exciting playmaker out of Florida had three catches for 36 yards and a score, ran for 22 yards and had 99 kickoff return yards as the Vikings bashed the Browns.
4. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
The 21-year-old wideout out of Rutgers posted four catches for 85 yards in his debut and seemed to develop a nice rapport with quarterback Kerry Collins.
5. Louis Murphy, Oakland Raiders
Another former Gator, Murphy caught four passes for 87 yards in Week 1, including a 57-yard touchdown that gave the Raiders a late fourth-quarter lead over the Chargers. He had another TD catch that was called back on further review.
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