Are you ready for some football? The 2012 NFL regular season schedule kicks off on Wednesday night, Sept. 5 with the defending Super Bowl champion the New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys and ends with a Monday Night Football double header.
Let’s take an early look at the NFL Week 1 odds and match ups:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th
Cowboys at Giants (-3) 8:30 PM (NBC) – The reigning champion Giants are the favorites to win this one against the same Cowboys’ team that they beat them in the final game of the regular season in 2011. While you can bet Eli Manning and company will be looking for their second title, the Cowboys are stacked and will be looking for a little revenge. The Cowboys win this shootout.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th
Colts at Bears (-10) 1:00 PM (CBS )- The Colts missed the playoffs for the first time in the last five years in 2011, and fans will be hopeful as Sanford standout Andrew Luck dawns a Colts uniform for the first time this season. The Bears will look to spoil the youngster’s debut mauling Indy with a healthy Jay Cutler under center, and a stingy Brian Urlacher defense.
Jaguars (-4.5) at Vikings 1:00 PM (CBS )- The 2009 season marked the last winning campaign the Vikings have had, and there’s no reason to think things will get any better this season under sophomore QB Christian Ponder and an ugly 3-13 finish a year ago. The Jaguars will hope to start this season with a win on the road behind their own second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and I expect them to get it done.
Jets (-4) at Bills 1:00 PM (CBS) – Both the Jets and the Bills finished outside the playoffs in 2011, even after Buffalo started the season with four wins in their first six games. It will be a tough year for New York as they battle New England for top honors in the AFC East, and could find themselves preoccupied with what could be an ongoing Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow quarterback shuffle. I like the Bills for the upset here.
Dolphins at Texans (-7) 1:00 PM (CBS) – The Texans will definitely experience a different type of expectation this year after coming off a first-ever berth in the playoffs, while the Fins quarterback situation will surely still be undecided at this point in the season. Miami failed to make the playoffs after going 6-10, so an early win will be crucial to turning things around. Texans tame the fish.
Patriots (-6.5) at Titans 1:00 PM (CBS) – Tom Brady and company have had seven months to mope over the team’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. While the Titans will look to bounce back from a disappointing season behind a resurgent Chris Johnson. Tennessee should also bring an expanded attack, as Matt Hasselbeck’s knowledge of his offense should continue to develop. Upset in this one.
Rams at Lions (-9) 1:00 PM (FOX) – The Rams continue to struggle as they are in rebuilding mode, while the Lions comes into the 2012 season ready to build off of a strong start and a postseason finish in 2011. St. Louis shocked the Saints for one of its two wins last season so they can be dangerous. The same team that eliminated Detroit from the playoffs in the first round. Hard fought win for the Lions.
Redskins at Saints (-9.5) 1:00 PM (FOX) – Washington started 2011 strong but then faded wining just two of their last 12 games. New Orleans meanwhile, is likely to still be feeling the effects of last year’s divisional playoff loss to the 49ers, as well as the yearlong suspension of head coach Sean Payton. The Redskins are just too bad to take advantage.
Eagles (-8.5) at Browns 1:00 PM (FOX) – Philadelphia will be looking to start the season off with a road win after failing to live up to high expectations in 2011behind a reborn Michael Vick. While the Browns seemed to have abandoned their former prodigy Colt McCoy who will likely slot in behind Seneca Wallace and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. Until the Browns settle their QB quandary, it is going to be a disaster.
Falcons (-1) v Chiefs 1:00 PM (FOX) – Everyone keeps waiting for the Falcons to take the next step forward, and beginning the season at Arrowhead Stadium could cause the team to start the year in the loss column. Kansas City can’t go anywhere but up after a disappointing 7-9 season that was plagued by injuries. Too, close to call.
49ers at Packers (-6.5) 4:25 PM (FOX) – The bar has been set high for San Francisco QB Alex Smith, as well as second-year coach Jim Harbough, after the Niners’ finished 13-3 in 2011. The Packers will no doubt be hungry after capping off a superb 15-1 season with a shocking playoff loss to the Giants. This will be a good game, but against the Pack at Lambeau, I can think of about 31 different stadiums the 49ers would rather begin the 2012 season.
Seahawks at Cardinals (-2) 4:25 PM (FOX) – In its second year under Pete Carroll, and the first without quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle equaled their 2010 record of 7-9. They split a pair of regular season meetings the Cardinals, who will likely head into Week 1 still trying to nail down who will be their starting quarterback. I expect the home team to take this one.
Panthers (-3) at Buccaneers 4:25 PM (FOX) –The Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton will kick off as a road favorite to open the 2012 campaign against a Tampa Bay team that is a strong candidate to bounce back this year. It’s not going to be an easy win, but I can get behind that.
Steelers at Broncos (-1.5) 8:20 PM (NBC) –This might be the best match up all season as the Pittsburgh Steelers look to exact a little revenge, all while spoiling Peyton Manning’s debut with the Broncos during Prime Time. Meanwhile, Big Ben Roethlisberger has not likely forgotten how the Broncos crushed Pittsburgh’s 12-4 season with a 29-23 OT loss in the wild card just a few short months ago. I will take the Steelers in the first installment of NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th
Bengals at Ravens (-6) 7:00 PM (ESPN) – The Ravens will no doubt be on a mission after falling just short against the New England Patriots in last year’s playoffs. It’s now or never for quarterback Joe Flacco as he gets the added benefit of hosting the Bengals, a team that was toasted by the Texans in their wild card bid last year.
San Diego at Oakland (-1) 10:15 PM (ESPN) – In the second of two Monday Night games, the Chargers will try to win their first game of the season on Monday night since they beat the Raiders in Oakland in 2009. The Raiders will more than likely still be suffering after the wheels fell off to end the 2011 season.