Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season got underway Thursday night, and the season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots provided the year’s first upset as well as several eye-opening stat lines.
After the reminder of how an offseason full of analysis and prediction can be thrown out the window in a hurry, here are five bold predictions for Sunday and Monday.
J.J. Watt scores the Texans’ first TD of the season
Publicity and hype surrounding Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is at an all-time high entering the season, and rightfully so. His fundraising efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey continue to mount, and he’ll now have the opportunity to help his team provide a boost to the spirits of Houstonians, as the Texans welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Quarterback Tom Savage doesn’t inspire much confidence as the leader of a Texans’ offense missing wide receivers Will Fuller V and Jaelen Strong. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was ridiculed all preseason and nearly lost his starting job to veteran journeyman Chad Henne. With the Houston crowd beyond frenzy, Watt is primed for a strip-sack touchdown of the turnover-prone quarterback.
Browns hold 4th-quarter lead vs. Steelers
The game meant little to the Steelers, as their playoff seed was secure, and they did win the first meeting of the season 24-9, but the Browns have home field advantage and a rebuilt roster.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is as rusty as he’ll ever be after holding out through the preseason, and wide receiver Martavis Bryant hasn’t played competitive football in a year. The Browns will provide their faithful with a glimmer of hope for the coming season, before ultimately losing late.
Terrelle Pryor Sr. is week’s leading receiver
Pryor had a season-high 144 receiving yards in Week 3 last season, turning in a separate performance of 131 yards later in the year. Those outings were as a member of a Browns team where he had to serve as the quarterback on multiple occasions.
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is easily the best pivot Pryor has ever played with in the NFL. The duo will face a Philadelphia Eagles team that allowed 240 passing yards per game last season, but ranked near the bottom of the league with 7.3 yards allowed per attempt. Pryor averaged 13.1 yards per reception with the Browns and Cousins averaged 8.11 yards per attempt.
Sam Bradford throws for more yards than Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees averaged more than one-and-a-half fewer yards per attempt on the road than he did at home last season. His quarterback rating dropped nearly 13 points on the road, and he threw more interceptions and fewer touchdowns than he did at home.
Last season the Vikings ranked third in passing yards allowed per game, while no team allowed more air yards than the Saints.
Melvin Gordon tops 200 yards rushing
The Denver Broncos‘ vaunted pass defense allowed the fewest yards per game in 2016, but they ranked just 28th in rushing yards allowed at 130.3.
Gordon averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season, but he gained 76.7 yards per game. He totaled 205 yards in two games against the Broncos last season, including 111 on 23 carries in the game played in Denver.
(Photos courtesy Action Images)