Week 1 of the NFL season serves up some great matchups and fierce rivalry games. However, it's always difficult deciding whom to start in the first week of the season. We've only seen these players for a limited number of snaps during the pre-season and mainly in vanilla offensive packages. Often those plays were run against opponents fielding second or third string defenses. More insidious is the injury situation. We have no idea if Ahmad Bradshaw will even play, let alone get five touches or 25 touches. Week 1 is a week to go with your gut and stay prepared to make last minute changes to your roster.
Baltimore @ Denver
Thurs. Sept. 5 8:30 P.m.
We kickoff the season with a rematch of the Mile High Miracle, as the 2013 double overtime AFC Divisional playoff game has come to be known. The Ravens beat the Broncos 38-35 on their way to winning the Super Bowl last year. While it's tempting to revisit this game and predict that Flacco will throw for over 300 yards and three TDs again, these are different teams now. Gone are Anquan Bolden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Brandon Stokley, and Elvis Dumerville. Von Miller is suspended for six games and Champ Bailey and Dennis Pitta are injured.
Start: QB Peyton Manning, RB Ray Rice, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Wes Welker, WR Torrey Smith
Sit: QB Joe Flacco, RB Montee Ball, RB Ronnie Hillman
New England @ Buffalo
Sun. Sept. 8 1 p.m.
Good lord. Do we know anything about these teams? I don't know anything about Buffalo's starting undrafted free-agent QB Jeff Tuel. I think we can be pretty sure that Buffalo will be inept on offense. And who will Brady target? With the loss of Welker (to Denver), Hernandez (to a Connecticut correctional facility), and Gronkowski (to injury), Brady will have an entirely new receiving corps to start the season.
Start: QB Tom Brady, RB Steven Ridley, RB CJ Spiller, Def/ST New England
Sit: QB Jeff Tuel (Editor's Note: Tuel has since been benched), WR Stevie Johnson
Green Bay @ San Francisco
Sun. Sept. 8 4:25 p.m.
Another rematch of the 2013 playoffs, the Niners beat the Packers 45-31 in last year's NFC Division round while posting almost 600 yards of offense. Kaepernick threw for 263 yards/two TDs/one INT and ran for another 181 yards/two TDs in that game. Unless Dom Capers has figured out how to stop the read-option, I kinda think that might happen again.
Start: QB Aaron Rodgers, QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Frank Gore, WR Randall Cobb, WR James Jones
Sit: WR Anquan Boldin, RB Eddie Lacy, WR Jordy Nelson
New York Giants @ Dallas
Sun. Sept. 8 8:30 p.m.
The NFC East opens the year in divisional play. Both the Cowboys and Giants start the year with a multitude of offensive weapons; however, the Cowboys may have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. With Jason Pierre-Paul questionable to play Sunday night, the Cowboys might have a chance to get the ball deep to stud WR Dez Bryant. On the other side, Victor Cruz plans to be ready to go on Sunday night, but unless you've got a bench WR ready to go on Monday night, make sure you don't get screwed if the Giants hold him out come game time.
Start: RB David Wilson, WR Dez Bryant, WR Hakeem Nicks, TE Jason Witten
Sit: RB DeMarco Murray
Philadelphia @ Washington
Mon. Sept. 9. 7:10 p.m.
In the other NFC East divisional matchup, RG3 will get the start eight months after undergoing surgery to repair the ACL and LCL in his right knee. He didn't play a down in the pre-season, so who knows how much rust he'll need to shake off. New Philly head coach Chip Kelly will look to institute his up-tempo offense and exploit one of the worst passing defenses in the league last year.
Start: QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy, RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, WR DeSean Jackson
Sit: QB Robert Griffin III