Monday Night Football Predictions & Fantasy Projections – Week 1
I could bore you by breaking down the fantasy viability of the San Diego Chargers-Kansas City Chiefs game, but I won’t do that. Instead, I will stick with the real treat of Week 1’s Monday Night Football lineup: the Jets-Ravens game!
The Baltimore Ravens Offense
I don’t think Flacco is going to have his best game of the season in Week 1. While he could do fair well if they test Darrelle Revis and win that battle, I find it hard to believe that Revis will be that hard to pick on. Besides, Revis doesn’t necessarily have to guard Anquan Boldin, he could cover Donte Stallworth or TJ Houshmandzadeh and shut either one of them down. And as if limiting Flacco’s options weren’t enough, the New York Jets are certainly going to limit Flacco’s time in the pocket. They will come after him with a barrage of blitzes that only the Baltimore Ravens can replicate. Week 1 could get ugly for Flacco, which is why he is one of our Duds of the Week.
Rice may be the Ravens only hope for consistent offense. Rice has the speed and agility to make even the Jets defense look suspect. Even if the Jets can stop Rice in the running game, it’s going to be very difficult for them to stop him in the passing game. I fully expect Rice to his 100 yards one way or another, so expect this Rutgers alum to show up strong when he goes back to New Jersey this Monday Night.
Anquan Boldin is a great wide receiver, but given how Revis has shut down so many top wide receivers, I just can’t see him shaking the all-pro cornerback. Of course, Revis may not even cover Boldin, especially since Anquan is more adept at coming out of the slot. However, drawing Antonio Cromartie or Kyle Wilson may not be the best matchup for Boldin either, and thus I highly doubt that NFL Week 1 will be a week to remember for the Ravens brand new wide receiver.
The New York Jets Offense
While Flacco is busy struggling to run his offense, Sanchez won’t have it all that easy either. Sanchez also has to deal with a front seven that loves to get after the quarterback. And if Terrell Suggs can show up this year, it could get really ugly. Sanchez won’t have the same problems Flacco has once he gets rid of the ball. The Ravens secondary is beat up, bruised and thus missing two starters this week. That means guys like Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery have a good chance of getting open and making plays, which should at least result in Sanchez having an efficient passing numbers.
Shonn Greene & LaDainian Tomlinson
The rushing attack of the New York Jets was the best in the NFL last year. I find it hard to believe they will finish 2010 in the same place after letting Thomas Jones go and replacing their #1 rusher with Shonn Greene and the aging LaDainian Tomlinson. Those two are quite capable of producing, but to be the best rushing team in the league you need experience and durability, and Greene hasn’t proven durable while Tomlinson—well, he’s just old. In NFL Week 1, the odds are really stacked against the Jets two running backs, because the Ravens can stop the run. Their front seven, albeit old, is ferocious. The age of the Ravens front seven may prevent them from being consistently dominant this season, but in Week 1, Ray Lewis and friends have fresh legs and should have no problem taking the Jets running backs out of the game.
With Santonio Holmes out of the lineup, this may be Braylon Edwards only chance to prove he can be a #1 wide receiver in the NFL. He has a good chance at proving his worth against a Ravens secondary that is lacking both Ed Reed and starter Domonique Foxworth. Edwards has the speed and size to dominate this Ravens defense, and if Sanchez has time to get the ball off, Edwards should have a big day. In the last year of his contract, Edwards is playing for big money right now, and bad Week 1 certainly won’t get him the payday he’s looking. But I expect him to come through with at least one or two plays to keep his contract year interesting.
Given the credibility of these two defenses, this shouldn’t be a high-scoring game. Not that I necessarily put the Ravens defense in the same category as that of the Jets, but I think for one week, they can play at that level. Ultimately though, I think the Ravens one weakness on defense cost them the game, as their secondary is just to battered to handle the Jets for all four quarters. I would love to say the Jets will win via a late drive by Sanchez, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing that. Thus, I predict an ugly game, with one or two big plays in the middle that lead to a slight victory for the New York Jets.
Jets win, 18-13
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