BY HUNTER DONELSON
Andrew Luck: Luck will be playing in his first game since January, 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals who have a pretty respectable defense. In Luck’s three preseason games he failed to make a pass beyond 20 yards. Will he struggle or will he look like the Andrew Luck we saw in 2014? Definitely something to watch for.
DeShaun Watson: Watson was presumably the Offensive Rookie of the Year until he suffered a torn ACL in practice. In his six games he certainly gave us something to look forward to with 1,700 passing yards, nearly 300 rushing yards, and 20 total touchdowns. Going up against a questionable New England Patriots defense I would expect big numbers.
Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill has been a pretty solid quarterback with over 4,000 passing yards twice in his five NFL seasons. One problem Tannehill has always had is low touchdown numbers with somewhat high interception numbers. Going up against the Tennessee Titans’ great defensive backs in Malcolm Butler, Adoree Jackson, and Kevin Byard, Tannehill’s 2018 debut might be a little rocky.
Sam Bradford: Bradford has been battling injuries his entire career, missing 48 games in 8 seasons. Now with another new team in Arizona he looks to revive his career, especially with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen chasing his tail. This Week 1 matchup against the Washington Redskins is a perfect opportunity to show that he still has it.
Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers will be the biggest storyline in Week 1 and maybe even throughout the season. After suffering a broken collarbone against the Vikings in Week 6 that put him out for the rest of the season, Comeback Player of the Year is definitely in Rodgers’ future. This Week 1 matchup against the Bears couldn’t get him off to a better start.
Games to Watch and My Picks
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
My Pick: Houston Texans
This could easily be the game of the week. Tom Brady and the New England offense against JJ Watt and the Houston defense. Watt has never recorded a sack on Tom Brady but today might just be the day. Another thing to watch for is the DeShaun Watson-DeAndre Hopkins duo for the Texans against a questionable Patriots defense. These teams match-up almost perfectly but I think defensively Houston has the slight edge.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
My Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
I can honestly say the only reason this is considered a game to watch is the absence of Le’Veon Bell. With that absence, this game becomes a lot more interesting. The Browns completely revamped their team with big signings in Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde, and the return of Josh Gordon. Cleveland also had a good draft, drafting Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb. Even with all those great acquisitions, I don’t think it’s enough to defeat a Super Bowl contender like the Steelers just yet. James Conner could easily be the best backup running back in football and there’s no answer for the league’s best receiver, Antonio Brown. Not to mention 2017’s rookie standout JuJu Smith-Schuster. The biggest question will be the Steelers defense, like always.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
My Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
This will be a tight game. Kansas City may very well have the best offense in the NFL and that’s going to give the Chargers difficulty stopping them. The Chiefs’ biggest problem is definitely the defensive side of the ball. Keenan Allen has always exploited Kansas City’s bad side and strong running back Melvin Gordon could easily go on a rushing explosion. All in all, it’s going to be a shootout but I think a big turning point in the game will be forced by a defensive playmaker for the Chiefs like Eric Berry or Kendall Fuller.
Player Matchups to Watch
Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Jalen Ramsey
Talking player against player match-ups, this is the best one of the week. Arguably the best receiver in the game against the best corner in the game, it doesn’t get much better than that.
A.J. Green vs. T.Y. Hilton
Two very underrated wide receivers in the NFL going head to head in Week 1. Each team’s defense looks like a big question mark so these two should put on a show this week.
Kareem Hunt vs. Melvin Gordon
Both of these running backs are very young and the future of the NFL. Both have pretty decent solid offensive lines. Both are strong, power runners and both can takeoff at any point of the game. It’s definitely something to watch for.
Khalil Mack vs. Aaron Rodgers
Mack will be making his Bears debut this week against the Packers. Rodgers is coming back from a broken collarbone. It will be interesting to see if Mack can get to Rodgers or if Rodgers will pull out one of his crazy scrambles.
Jared Goff vs. Derek Carr
The game might not be that close but the numbers for each of these quarterbacks should be. Of course, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to see this matchup but it should be one worth waiting for.