Sep 08 2016

NFL 2016 Kickoff Gameplan

Now that the Hypothesis Report is out for the 2016 NFL season, I guess we have to actually talk about the games, right?

As explained earlier this week, I’ll be sharing thoughts on the primetime games this year. But I’ll have some items to share outside of those games throughout the season. For example, it is interesting that Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey is the only 1st rookie defender listed as a starter entering the season:

Also, the Bengals are at the New York Jets this week. They haven’t beaten the Jets on the road since 1981! Nine straight wins for the Jets at home against the Bengals.

And with the Rams leaving Saint Louis, I thought I share this throwback from 1988, when the Cardinals left for Arizona:

Carolina at Denver: The first Super Bowl rematch since 1970! But unlike then, when the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs had to go on the road and wound up losing to the Minnesota Vikings, the Broncos are hosting the Panthers. Reigning MVP Panthers QB Cam Newton will have to deal with mostly the same defense, 1 behind the same OL, in Denver’s stadium. The Broncos are starting four different offensive linemen and 2015 7th-round QB Trevor Siemian, but the offense was bad in the Super Bowl too. 2 Expect Broncos OLB Von Miller to continue dominating the team that passed on him to select Newton in the 2011 NFL Draft.

New England at Arizona: I think it’s cute that there’s going to be a belated 3rd place game for the losers of the 2015 Conference Championships. Not only is Patriots QB Tom Brady suspended, but TE Rob Gronkowski will be dealing with a hamstring injury (assuming he plays). What a time for 2014 2nd round QB Jimmy Garoppolo to make his first career start for the Patriots – going up against Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones, who was traded from New England this offseason! This should be another mismatch up front, as the Cardinals will apply significant pressure to a Patriots offensive line last seen getting demolished in the AFC Championship. The only question for the Cardinals is whether or not QB Carson Palmer can recover from his six turnovers in the NFC Championship and earn his first career win vs. the Patriots in what will be his fifth attempt.

Pittsburgh at Washington: This game is scheduled to be played at FedExField, but we all know that the Terrible Towels will take this stadium over; the Steelers have won five straight vs. Washington, with the last Washington home win vs. the Steelers coming in 1988. The big matchup will be Steelers WR Antonio Brown against free agent Washington CB Josh Norman; Norman only saw 11 snaps with the Panthers in 2014 when Brown had two red zone TDs in Carolina. Washington QB Kirk Cousins should have a great matchup against a Pittsburgh pass defense that was 30th in passing yards allowed per game last season. Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams will be the main X-Factor, as Washington allowed 4.8 yards per rush last season (31st in NFL) and added only former Pittsburgh 1st-round DE Ziggy Hood to the first team. Washington has also lost 14 of their last 15 home games on Monday Night Football.

Los Angeles at San Francisco: The 49ers were in this same position last year: hosting an NFC team in Week 1 of Monday Night Football with a new head coach! They beat up on the Vikings last year, and now they host the Rams, a team that they defeated in Week 17 of last season in overtime. 49ers head coach Chip Kelly is going to lean on RB Carlos Hyde, who had 168 rushing yards and 2 TDs in Week 1 last year, and only 302 rushing yards (3.4 average) and 1 TD for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Rams have RB/entire offense Todd Gurley, who didn’t play in Week 17 last year but hit up the 49ers for 133 rushing yards and a TD to cap a streak of four straight games with at least 125 rushing yards. 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert threw for a career-high 354 yards against the Rams last year, but his top WR besides Torrey Smith went from Anquan Boldin to Jeremy Kerley.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Except for departed Broncos starters DE Malik Jackson and ILB Danny Trevathan
  2. 8 punts, 2 Peyton Manning turnovers, 194 total yards

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