numberFire NFL Week 1 Roundtable: A Ravens-Cowboys Super Bowl?
Each week, the great minds behind numberFire will give you some answers to the big questions of the weekend. Who will win the Game of the Week? Who would you pick this week if your life depended on it? And somebody actually thinks Randy Moss is good? Find out all that and more below.
Game of the Week Pick: San Francisco-Green Bay. Who you got?
Keith Goldner, Chief Analyst: Green Bay. They have arguably the most dominant passing attack in the league. While SF has a top defense as well, they had turnover margin in their favor (both on offense and defense) last year. Turnovers are one of the most random stats on a year to year basis (with the exception of interceptions thrown), so while SF will still be solid on both sides of the ball, they will almost certainly regress toward the mean.
Michael Worthington, CTO: Packers. Really close game, with Green Bay narrowly escaping an opening season loss.
Sean Weinstock, COO: San Francisco. I have to pick them because I'm a homer, and Harbaugh is the first sign of anything good that the organization has had since Steve Mariucci got canned. On a serious note though, I think the match-up is less obvious than some other folks might have it. Some big questions are 1) How will the Niners DBs hold up? It's the one pretty weak point in that defense, and Aaron Rodgers is...Aaron Rodgers; 2) Is Randy Moss still worth anything? If he can fly even a little bit, the defense has to respect him, and it opens the field up a lot for the high-percentage short pass game or for the Niners four quality Running Backs; 3) Alex Smith showed signs of being an awesome QB - can he be more consistent as a play maker rather than a mistake avoider?
Zach Warren, Editor: For me, it's the Packers, but not by as much as people might think. The 49ers defense is absolutely tough, and with Cedric Benson not too familiar with the playbook yet, the Niners will be content to drop seven or even eight back in coverage all day. That still might not stop Aaron Rodgers, but I think it has to be a start. The problem is, I don't see the 49ers offense as much better. As one of the few people in the world to predict this to be low-scoring, Pack edge it out.
Which game this week is your upset special?
Keith: I would have said Dallas, but moving forward, I like San Diego to beat Oakland (barely an upset, it's Oakland -1) and I think Miami vs Houston will be closer than people think.
Nik: I think the Steelers will beat Denver, although that's not a spectacular upset. I think the Chiefs have a more than decent chance to beat the Falcons in Arrowhead as well, but my big upset pick is the Bengals going into Baltimore and taking an important road win in the AFC North. I just don't think Baltimore's D is anywhere near where they used to be.
Michael: If an upset is going to happen this week, my eyes are on the Redskins. The running back situation there is enough to confuse any fantasy owner, but who cares when you have a mobile QB in RGIII. Take Sean Payton out of the picture, mix in some Bountygate, and you've got a Saints team that runs the risk of losing its composure and marching home defeated.
Sean: San Diego over the Raiders. It's a close spread, so I'm not sure how big of an upset it would be, but I think Rivers et al get back on the horse. He's too good a QB. He's got a good number of weapons. And, Norv Turner is Head Coach!...oh wait...
Zach: How about the Bills to take down the Jets? Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked solid when completely healthy, the Bills did start last year winning six of seven, and even though the preseason means nothing, the Jets offense looked just too horribly inept for me not to think something's up there.
If you had to pick right now, who's your Super Bowl match-up and who wins?
Keith: Packers over Patriots.
Nik: Packers/Steelers, rematch of 2010. The AFC pick, of course, is a total homer pick.
Michael: Rams versus the Browns. Ha, yea right, that won't happen. As a Giants' fan, it pains me to say this: Romo won't choke this year and Dallas will make it to the big show. And then he'll choke... to the Ravens, whose defense will win the MVP collectively.
Sean: I want a Minnesota/Kansas City (or Buffalo or Cleveland) Super Bowl...just imagine the gloriousness. San Francisco/Baltimore. Har-Bowl Part Deux: The Re-Match. I'll take the Niners.
Zach: The Packers are just too strong in the NFC, but I'm really a fan of the Ravens this year. Only two starters over 28 on defense (and those are Ed Reed and Ray Lewis), so they're not the aging Ravens anymore. And if there's anywhere for me to make a homer pick, it's University of Delaware's own Joe Flacco to make a huge step forward. Packers take down the Edgar Allen Poes in the Super Bowl, though.
Who are you picking for a survivor pool this week?
Keith: New Orleans Saints over Washington Redskins.
Nik: Saints. As sick as RG3 is going to be, no way they waltz down to the Bayou and beat Drew Brees.
Sean: Feels like you've got to take some safe picks at the beginning of the season to see how things shake out a couple weeks in. With that in mind, I'd probably go with the Lions over the Rams this week. I'm confident they can beat St. Louis. I'm not confident that Stafford stays healthy. I'd also consider New Orleans over the Skins in this pick, but I have a feeling that Brees' leadership quality combined with that team's independence of its defensive performance will serve to overcome some of the troubles they've had in the off-season.
Zach: Detroit over St. Louis. I have to say, I'm somewhat scared of RGIII, and I'm not picking against him until I see a game or two of exactly what I'm picking against. As a dark horse, though, I might consider the Eagles with a healthy Michael Vick against laughably bad Cleveland week 1.
Who is your one break-out fantasy star to look for?
Keith: Eric Decker.
Nik: I really like Robert Meachem, who has been going in the mid-late rounds as well as Jacquizz Rodgers, who will be Sproles-like in Atlanta. My deep sleeper of note though is Jon Baldwin for the Chiefs, who has amazing natural talent but needs to get his head on right - I'm thinking with Haley gone, there's less friction and drama for him to get hung up on.
Michael: Eric Decker to put up over 1000 yards and 10 TDs with Peyton at the helm (so long as he's not on the right side of the field). Also keeping my eye on David Wilson. Not a good start last night against Dallas, but I anticipate he'll be stealing significant carries from Bradshaw by year's end.
Sean: There's this guy in Dallas. His name is Kevin Ogletree. You haven't heard of him yet, but I guarantee you that by the end of Week 1, you will have. I totally said that in the pre-season... Seriously though, Randy "Just Throw It Up, Dawg" Moss.
Zach: In the medium range, I really like Shonn Greene this year. This has burned me before, but now I see him without too much competition in the backfield, and historically Rex has liked to run the ball. And looking deeper, I do really think Brandon LaFell can contribute. As the #2 WR in an offense with a top-5 fantasy QB, he's now on year three, and with Steve Smith likely to draw more coverage his upside is high.