Fire & Ice Week 1 NFL Predictions


Jake Elliott and Grayson Heflin

NFL season is upon us! With that Grayson and I decided to do weekly predictions for all the NFL games. Check back here every Friday to see our new predictions. Also feel free to leave your opinions on our picks, or make your own!

Panthers @ Broncos

Jake: I think the Panthers take this one. Denver has too many question marks on the offensive end. Most importantly losing  their quarterback! Losing Peyton Manning hurts, but, as we all know, Manning was pretty awful last year. Still,  when you lose a guy like Manning, it hurts, especially when your next best option at quarterback is seventh round pick Trevor Siemian. Carolina picks up a huge win.  CAR: 17 DEN:13


Grayson: You probably know that Denver lost Peyton Manning due to retirement over the offseason. I think this could actually help the Broncos in a few ways. They now have a faster and more agile QB with a stronger arm in Trevor Siemian. They also are bringing back a stout defense (Including Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, and Chris Harris Jr.), while Carolina lost their lock down corner, Josh Norman. I think that the better defense will win again, along with the help of great receivers (Demaryius Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders) DEN:31 CAR:27


Buccaneers @ Falcons

Jake: This is a tough one. These are two very well matched teams. In the end, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman will be too much for the Tampa defense. Look for Tampa Bay wideout Mike Evans to have a huge impact on a small Atlanta secondary.   ATL: 31 TB: 17


Grayson: This pick is one of the harder to make, but only because both teams are poised to have mediocre defenses, and slightly above average offenses. I expect a high scoring game with both teams utilizing their weapons (Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman – ATL,  Doug Martin and Mike Evans – TB) ATL:31 TB:24


Vikings @ Titans

Jake: The Vikings gave up a king’s ransom for Sam Bradford. The issue with this: when has Sam Bradford ever been that good?!? I think Adrian Peterson will be enough to power the Vikings to a victory. The Titans have a bright young future lead by Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry,  and a budding offensive line, but it won’t be enough, as the seasoned Vikings grind out a win.  MIN:20 TEN: 10


Grayson: I like Sam Bradford a lot more than Shaun Hill; Bradford at least has experience in the NFL. I expect the two headed snake in the Tennessee backfield to be tough for the Vikings defense, but, in the end, the Vikings defense and superior receivers will win them the game. MIN:21 TEN: 17


Browns @ Eagles

Jake: Well this is just an awful game… Two bottom dweller teams, well someone’s gotta win, right? Nope. Tie. Robert Griffin III will be unimpressive in his return to the field due to lack of talent around him. On the other side, Carson Wentz makes his NFL debut, a guy I’m not very high on. The Eagles, along with the Browns, don’t have much talent around their quarterbacks. Neither defense is terribly impressive.  CLE: 10 PHI:10


Grayson: This game really only appeals to fans of both franchises or people that want to see RG3 and how he turns out in the dog pound. I don’t like either times to carry winning records this year, but I do expect the Browns to have a better season.  I’m picking their speedy receivers to win them this one, thanks to RG3 and the deep ball. CLE: 17 PHI:13


Bengals @ Jets

Jake: This will be a very good game. Two great defenses, though both offenses could use some work. The Jets will win this one due to the Bengals lack of depth at wide receiver behind A.J Green.  Meanwhile, the Jets have arguably the best receiving tandem in the NFL, with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.     NYJ: 27 CIN:20


Grayson: Interesting game, I can’t wait to see how the Bengals do with only AJ Green returning as a starting receiver and Tyler Eifert out until near Week 5 this season. I think the Jets win a close one for two reasons: better overall defense (I only have faith in the Bengals defensive line not their overall unit) and receivers in Decker and Marshal. NYJ: 23 CIN: 20


Raiders @ Saints

Jake: Another intriguing matchup. New Orleans comes into this following a season where they had the worst defense in the NFL. They did little to improve it. Amari Cooper will be tough to contain, along with Derek Carr, and Latavius Murray. Oakland will explode for an abundance of yards from their young three-headed monster, while the Saints will be left wondering what it will take to help fuel Drew Brees to one more Super Bowl run.

OAK: 34 NO: 28


Grayson: Talk about an offensive game! I expect these two offenses to be in the top 10 by the end of the season. They will both put up a boat load of points, but I predict the Oakland defense will end up winning them the game after a fourth quarter shootout. OAK: 35 NO: 27


Chargers @ Chiefs

Jake: San Diego is coming off its worst season in years. They made some nice acquisitions this offseason, but their front seven still have a lot of questions. Kansas City, on the other hand, has a monstrous front seven and a more-than-capable secondary; however, it looks like they’ll be missing All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles. They still find a way to pull out a win.  KC: 24  SD: 20


Grayson: With Keenan Allen back, Philip Rivers has his greatest weapon. The Chiefs defense is above average and their offense will be playing without their main playmaker Jamaal Charles. Melvin Gordon is still unproven, but I like Philip Rivers to deliver in a close one. SD: 17 KC: 13


Bills @ Ravens

Jake: The Ravens were decimated by injuries last year. They’re getting everyone back now; however, they have a weak run game and lost some pieces on their offensive line. Buffalo; however, has a very strong run game, which they use to set up the long ball to former first round pick Sammy Watkins. Look for Buffalo to take this one.   BUF: 27 BAL: 21


Grayson: This one has a lot of question marks, like the Ravens running game and the Bills Rex Ryan’s off and on defense. The Bills defense can either be fantastic or average, but with LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, Buffalo should have a good offense that keeps them off the field. The Bills should run away with this one early, and it will only seem close when looking at the final box score. BUF: 27 BAL: 23


Bears @ Texans

Jake: The Texans made major upgrades to their offense in the offseason, adding quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lamar Miller, and drafting receivers Braxton Miller and Will Fuller. The Bears did make nice upgrades at the inside linebacker position, but I’m really high on the Texans right now. As for the Bears, I see them being a mediocre 8-8 team this year. Texans win big over the Bears. HOU: 41 CHI:17


Grayson: Houston’s defense is still playing under expectations, but they upgraded their offense so much I can’t see how they lose to Jay Cutler and the inconsistent Bears, even with Kevin White alongside Alshon Jeffery. The Bears kicker Garrett Hartley should still have a fantastic game; he will have around four field goals, keeping their offense afloat. I predict Cutler throws two interceptions (one of them being a pick six) to an overrated defense as Houston puts up points on both sides of the ball, winning a mediocre game. HOU: 30 CHI: 19


Packers @ Jaguars

Jake: This is a trap game for Green Bay. Jacksonville made major upgrades this offseason (Malik Jackson, Jalen Ramsey, and Myles Jack head that list). Meanwhile, the Packers decided that releasing their Pro-Bowl left guard was a good idea. The Jags are tired of being the laughing-stock of the NFL. This will be a statement game for Jacksonville, as they pick up a big win at home. JAX: 31 GB:27


Grayson: I am a believer in the Jags and I have been for some time and predict a playoff-bound 10-6 season for Blake Bortles and a young defense. On the flip side, it’s Aaron Rodgers and a post Weight Watchers Eddie Lacy. With Jordy Nelson coming back and taking pressure off Randall Cobb. I predict another big scoring game, but Jacksonville’s best season in ages will have to start off with a home loss as Rodgers experience trumps Jacksonville’s youth. GB:37 JAX: 33


Dolphins @ Seahawks

Jake: Another trap game, as a second NFC powerhouse will fall here. Miami has small, shifty receivers (Jarvis Landry) which will cause problems for the enormous Seattle secondary. Seattle’s offensive line will struggle to keep Russell Wilson on his feet, due to the great defensive line the Dolphins have including names like Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, and, of course, Mr. “I Step on Your Quarterback,” himself, Ndamukong Suh.  With their intimidating front four, Miami will wreck havoc on Seattle and pull out a close win in Seattle.  MIA: 20 SEA:17


Grayson: The Miami Dolphin fans should be annoyed last year with the offensive weapons they had (Lamar Miller, Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker and Richard Matthews). If they all had stayed 100% healthy throughout the season, we could have seen a Miami playoff appearance in the wild card round. Too bad for Miami fans, it’s not a perfect world. They lost their star running back and, while acquiring Arian Foster adds depth and experience, it’s not going to replace Miller. I think with a combined three sacks from Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, the Dolphins make this one a closer game than people would think against a mediocre Seattle offense. The Seahawks pull out a close one, due to Russell WIlson being so elusive. SEA:24 MIA:17


Giants @ Cowboys

Jake: Yes, Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, Dez Bryant is back. Yes, Dak Prescott was incredible in the preseason; however, Dallas has no defense outside of linebacker Sean Lee. As for Dak Prescott, I’m not high on him just for playing well in the preseason. The Giants revamped their secondary, and I’m expecting a big game from newly-acquired Janoris Jenkins– look for a couple of tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. The Giants upgraded their defense which ranked bottom five in the NFL last year. Oh, and also they have this guy named Odell Beckham Jr. … He’s pretty good. Also, the guy throwing to him named Eli Manning? Yeah, he’s good too.  Expect a lot of yards and a New York Giants victory on a last second field goal.  NYG: 38 DAL: 35


Grayson: I’m not a believer that Ezekiel Elliott will be a top five running back this year. Yes, Dallas has a great offensive line, but I see him finishing the season near the eight, maybe nine overall mark. The Cowboys best player is still Dez Bryant and, with only Sean Lee standing out to me on their defense, Eli Manning and the Giants air game should carve up a terrible Dallas secondary. On the flip side, I think wholeheartedly that Dak Prescott was the best quarterback drafted last spring and believe he will win his first start with home field advantage, utilizing Zeke and Dez the whole game. DAL: 27 NYG: 22


Lions @ Colts  

Jake: Andrew Luck is back! This should make for an interesting game. How can Matt Stafford do without Calvin Johnson Jr.? That’s what I’m interested to see. Johnson was a cornerstone for this team for years; now somebody else needs to step up. Flipping it to the Colts side, they get their young star Andrew Luck back… Who will make all the difference in the world, Luck is a rare specimen, and should help get the Colts right back into the playoff race. Neither one of these teams plays any variation of defense. Should be a good one if you like offense. Indy takes this one.  IND: 37 DET: 29


Grayson: Andrew Luck coming back instantly makes the receivers and running backs better and should provide them with some offensive firepower to make this game an easy one to walk away with. The Lions losing Megatron (Calvin Johnson) due to retirement is like the Falcons losing Julio Jones, and their passing game won’t recreate Johnson’s numbers with Golden Tate or anyone else on their roster. The Lions should prepare for a quiet flight home after getting whooped. IND:35 DET:13


Patriots @ Cardinals

Jake: The Patriots enter without Tom Brady for the first of four games, not a great matchup for Jimmy Garapollo. The Cards defense is incredible, led by fearless leader Tyrann “The Honey Badger” Mathieu, who is just incredible to watch. Their offense is led by seasoned veteran Carson Palmer, who proved last year he still has a lot left in the tank. Also, look for young running back David Johnson to have a huge impact on this game. For the Patriots, no Tom Brady is going to lead to a lot of mistakes, and this Cardinals team is a team you cannot afford to make mistakes against. ARI: 38 NE: 17


Grayson: The Patriots without Tom Brady are maybe half as good as with him. They should be embarrassed on Sunday night football when the stout Arizona defense makes Jimmy Garopollo’s first start of the season a game he will shortly wish to forget. Arizona has my favorite running back to watch (and my pick to lead the league in total scrimmage yards by the end of the season) their second-year running back out of Northern Illinois University, David Johnson. Arizona and their incredible arsenal on offense blow out the Patriots in a shocker, as the Pats only get to practice field goals for a few hours. ARI:34 NE:12


Steelers @ Redskins

Jake: The Steelers enter as an early Super Bowl contender. They’ll show why on Monday night when Antonio Brown exposes Josh Norman, and this Pittsburgh offense goes to work on the Skins’ defense. On the Redskins side, I do like Kirk Cousins and think he is their guy. Washington just doesn’t have a run game, which will make it tough on Cousins to get it going. I’m watching wideout DeSean Jackson on Monday. Look for the speedy receiver to get behind an awful Steelers secondary multiple times. Pittsburgh still picks up a big road win.  PIT: 27 WAS:17


Grayson: Antonio Brown is the best receiver in football. Period. He is also on the same team as Ben Roethlisberger, a top five quarterback. This is simple math for a winning franchise, but one small part of the equation is missing: Le’Veon Bell. Bell is more or less the most elusive and electrifying runner in the league, but he will be serving the first of a three game suspension Monday night and Deangelo Williams will have to carry the workload. I like the Redskins improved defense and, if Jordan Reed stays healthy, they have one of the hardest guys to guard in the NFL, lining up for 16 games. I’d bet the 2015-16 season, injury plagued form of Ben Roethlisberger will show up to play, suffering an injury late in the third quarter (just a ankle sprain, nothing serious). In the first Monday night game of the season, the Skins speedy receiving corps should help them sneak away with a win. WAS:30 PIT:24


Rams @ 49ers

Jake: Todd Gurley is going to run wild on the abysmal 49ers defense. The rest of the Rams offense? Not so much. Gurley is their entire offense, so I’ll be looking forward to see how he handles the pressure of being “The Guy.” On the 49ers side of things, there really isn’t much to look forward to: their quarterback situation is awful, they do have a promising young running back in Carlos Hyde, and their receiving corps is a dumpster fire. I have San Francisco finishing with the worst record in the NFL this season. Another thing to watch is if Colin Kaepernick continues taking a seat for the National Anthem. That might be the only thing noteworthy from this game.  LA: 17 SF:7


Grayson: Sophomore slump? If Todd Gurley has issues, then the Rams will be lucky to win four games this season; if not, my money is on 7-9 or 8-8 as a finishing record. I don’t believe in Tavon Austin stepping into a large role as their playmaker or the Rams defense, with the exception of Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. But, at the end of the day, they are playing the 49ers, my pick to have the worst record come Week 17. If Carlos Hyde was playing well, this game could be close, but sadly last year he did not– only racking up 470 rushing yards in 7 games played. Blaine Gabbert won’t take over the game with his arm and surely not his feet. The most interesting part of the game will be watching Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem and listening to the commentators’ opinions on it. Safe to say neither of these teams will make a playoff appearance and I won’t be losing any sleep Monday night just so that I can watch the whole game. This one should be over by the end of the third quarter. LA: 16 SF: 3