Whole new look to the NFL season in Detroit, Green Bay
We’re on the verge of a brand-new NFL season and the Detroit Lions — the Lions? — get to kick it off tonight with a game at the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
As they mention in a TV commercial from a few years back, “Say what?!?!”
Yes, it is a whole new world when the Lions are a more popular pick to win the NFC North than the Green Bay Packers, but as a long-time fan of the “Motor City Pussycats,” this all makes me feel pretty uneasy.
As I’ve mentioned in the space multiple times, these Lions have won one playoff game — just one! — in my lifetime, which has increased to 61 years.
“How are they going to screw it up this time?” is what that little voice in my head says when I hear glowing reviews of head coach Dan Campbell’s shaping of this team or when I think about them playing in the NFC championship game, or heaven forbid, the Super Bowl.
And what about the Packers? Will quarterback Jordan Love prove to be the third in a Hall of Fame trilogy like you see with a lot of movie franchises?
Or will he flame out like a lot of promising QBs seem to do?
Listening to all the pundits on TV — well, not on ESPN since Friday night with all this Charter Spectrum-Disney consternation — you’d think about 26 of the 32 NFL teams will have a winning record and maybe half of them could easily put together a Super Bowl run.
It won’t quite turn out that way. Trust me, I know, I’m an NFL predictor, though often not very good at it.
As far as the Lions go, I just have this nagging feeling that something no one is thinking of will torpedo their season — maybe the prolific offense will be off if there are terrible turnover numbers, a rash of injured QBs or even just bad decisions by Campbell when he goes for it on fourth down at his own 20-yard line.
With the Packers, this youth movement they’re on could very well pay off — but I see where it won’t immediately.
Do you see a 1-4 start and 4-8 middle of the season turning into 9-8 with a five-game winning streak to end the season? While it might not be good enough to make the playoffs, you still have to figure that when you replace a future Hall of Fame QB like Aaron Rodgers with someone with virtually no NFL playing experience, it’s not a bad transition.
If Love really has a decent upside, it might be the last time the Pack doesn’t have double-digit wins for four, five, maybe six or seven years.
Seems like a good tradeoff for a somewhat down 2022 and 2023?
So without further ado, let’s look at this week’s games:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Detroit at Kansas City — Even without KC top defensive lineman Chris Jones due to his contract dispute, these ARE the defending champs. The Lions have shored up their defense due to a lot of additions. Those are additions that may need a week of real NFL play to gel, and don’t expect Patrick Mahomes to be patient with an opposing defense. Chiefs, 29-23.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Carolina at Atlanta — Normally I’d just like to ignore the preseason as joint practices now seem to be where teams really get ready for the season. However, the Panthers have looked terrible, and with No. 1 overall draft choice Bryce Young installed as the starting QB, I see a slow start for Carolina. Falcons, 31-21.
Houston at Baltimore — Much the same for the Texans with their high draft pick, CJ Stroud, though I paid no attention to how Houston played in the preseason. Ravens, 34-24.
Cincinnati at Cleveland — Browns QB Deshaun Watson is an unknown after he looked bad returning from his suspension during the late stages of last season. Joe Burrow looks like he’ll be ready to play for Cincy this week. Bengals, 30-27.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis — Much the same as the Panthers and Texans, the Colts’ high draft pick of Anthony Richardson is supposed to start at QB. But he won’t have his big-time running back Jonathan Taylor, who was given a chance to find a trade partner but ended up on the PUP list. Jaguars, 37-28.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota — It’s full-on rebuild mode for the Buccaneers, and while Minnesota may not be able to match its all-time 11-0 record in one-score games from last season, it shouldn’t fall that far off. Vikings, 27-19.
Tennessee at New Orleans — Derek Carr and the Saints might end up being a poor-man’s version of the New York Jets — a proven veteran QB filling in a problem area for what is otherwise a good team. On that hope, I’ll take the Saints, 28-24.
San Francisco at Pittsburgh — 49ers QB Brock Purdy has been out since the NFC championship game, and will he be ready to return? Then there’s teammate Nick Bosa, who’s been holding out and apparently wasn’t listed on the team’s depth chart earlier this week. Too many questions for me in Week 1, and Pittsburgh is one of those teams everyone promises will be quite competitive. Steelers, 24-20.
Arizona at Washington — Maybe the worst pair of teams in a matchup this week, though that could make this a competitive game. Except that it looks like the Cardinals are in full-on tanking mode after releasing backup QB Colt McCoy even though starter Kyler Murray isn’t ready to come back. Commanders, 23-17.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Green Bay at Chicago — As mentioned earlier, I see the Packers struggling early before all these young players get a little bit of seasoning in the NFL. And that includes Jordan Love. Bears, 27-20.
Las Vegas at Denver — Not quite as bad as the Arizona-Washington matchup, but considering they play in the higher-quality AFC, maybe these teams are the Cardinals and Commanders of their conference. I see new head coach Sean Payton getting Denver ready to play well right away — at least for one or two weeks. Broncos, 27-23.
Miami at Los Angeles Chargers — Many say that Miami could challenge KC for supremacy in the AFC — if QB Tua Tagovailoa can stay upright. He should be that way in Week 1 for sure. Dolphins, 33-29.
Philadelphia at New England — The Patriots may be improved and still end up in last place in the AFC East. I like Philly to not repeat the letdowns of Super Bowl losing teams that has happened so often this century. Eagles, 26-20.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle — The Rams are one of the teams no one sees going anywhere, which makes this an easy pick against up-and-coming Seattle. Seahawks, 34-19.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Dallas at New York Giants — Not sure what to think of this matchup. Maybe the Cowboys will be confused early on with coach Mike McCarthy calling the offense. He had a hard enough time with clock and late-game management before, even without the extra duties. Giants, 24-17.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Buffalo at New York Jets — With linebacker Von Miller out, I don’t see the Bills as having any kind of edge on defense vs. the Jets. And with QB Josh Allen looking turnover-prone last season, let’s look for an early hiccup. Jets, 20-13.
Last season — Playoffs, 10-3, 77 percent. Regular season, 165-104-2, 61 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 552. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.