Week 1 Game Rankings: Plenty of points in New Orleans and more
Sean Payton is back in New Orleans. Expect boatloads of points to follow when the Falcons visit the Saints. Also on the docket: another prime-time duel in Dallas.
Ever try eating a hoagie at the beach?
Yeah, it can be a little sloppy and you have to avoid getting sand on your lettuce and no one wants to walk around with mustard stains on the swim suit, but, man, there's something to be said for loading up a cooler at the beach and pulling out a big ol' Italian sub to munch on.
So, where am I going with this? Well, it's still technically summer and some of you guys and gals could in fact be reading this on the beach. Football is finally back and that means a return to this regularly scheduled program -- a breakdown and ranking of every game in the NFL this weekend. We've already put what would have been ranked as a footlong -- Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos -- behind us, and there are no shortages of them this week, either.
Baltimore at Denver isn't the only playoff rematch -- San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers , anyone? -- and, on the subject of comebacks, we all know the entire NFL will be watching and analyzing how Robert Griffin III looks Monday night in his first game back since shredding knee ligaments in the postseason.
For those who don't recall, I'll rank the games in these categories -- footlong, six inch, wrap and slider -- from what I presume to have the greatest appeal to the ones that are only going to a select portion of the country for good reason. Of course, there are always some surprises along the way, and while this opening week isn't all that top heavy, given our appetite for football after this prolonged layoff, they'll all go down as smooth as a tuna sub on a 100-degree day.
OK, probably not the best example.
Atlanta at New Orleans
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: Sean Payton is back, people, and the party is back in New Orleans. I have no doubt the New Orleans Saints will get off to a much better start than a year ago, and the offensive swagger and swashbuckling play-calling will return immediately. These teams have struck up a legit rivalry, and can score points in bunches, and it just might be the first team to 50 wins this one. We have two of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game coming in about as healthy as they will be all season and with both of these potent passing attacks having saved up all of their best tricks for Week 1. If you can't get fired up for this one you don't love football or you simply love defense and pine for the days when defensive backs could mug receivers at the line of scrimmage. The two games between the Atlanta Falcons and Saints will likely decide the NFC South, and Atlanta is now clearly in Super Bowl-or-bust mode.
What to watch for: Can anyone get a defensive stop? Turnovers will be crucial and if a defensive back or two gambles and gets lucky, it could be the difference. ... Atlanta free-agent RB Steven Jackson is the kind of physical runner who would have had his way with the Saints defense a year ago. I'm not sure how much has changed for them up front. ... Cam Jordan has to be a pass-rushing force for the Saints, who have so few options. ... Osi Umenyiora has to be a pass-rushing force (and stay healthy) for the Falcons, who have so few options. ... The Saints will spread out Atlanta right away and attack their two rookie corners. ... Not sure either team is equipped to cover the other's starting tight end. I have a feeling Tony Gonzalez missing pretty much all of training camp won't matter one damn bit. In fact, I could see Matt Ryan targeting him with his first attempt.
Green Bay at San Francisco
Sunday, Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: Did you happen to catch these two clubs in the playoffs? You know, the game where Colin Kaepernick threw the early pick and then systematically dismantled the Green Bay Packers defense for the duration with his arm, legs and, seemingly, his ability to control the minds of the defenders. Well, Green Bay's defensive staff spent all offseason trying to figure out how to better defend the read-option and they get a final exam right away here in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers . Green Bay better figure out a way to not be physically manhandled at the line of scrimmage, because the same bugaboos -- stopping the run, protecting the quarterback -- could undermine it again this season despite all of the offensive prowess. It's easy to forget this is Kaepernick's first opening day start after sitting as a rookie and not taking over as starter until midway through last season.
What to watch for: How much do the Packers juggle their running backs before things go as everyone expects and rookie Eddie Lacy becomes the bell cow? It's difficult for anyone to run on the 49ers, but let's see how Lacy fares in short-yardage situations. ... Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji is in a contract year and showing well against a bunch of maulers like the 49ers offensive line would be the perfect way to open his season. ... Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley had a strong camp and showed signs of consistency. With receivers missing time due to injury, perhaps Aaron Rodgers feeds him early. ... Green Bay's kicking game will remain under scrutiny, I assume, while the 49ers appear to have fixed their woes from last season, when David Akers struggled mightily, by signing Phil Dawson. ... Can 49ers RB Frank Gore really stay this productive and explosive with all of the pounding he has taken over the years? ... WR Anquan Boldin's speed and ability to separate are very limited at this stage, and without Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick might have to rely on his feet to open up this defense.
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
Sunday, Sept. 8, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Why to watch: Seems like these two open on Sunday night every year, and it's generally pretty entertaining stuff. I'm actually buying the Dallas Cowboys this season. I believe Bill Callahan will get the run game going, WR Dez Bryant will post a monster season and TE Jason Witten isn't done yet. QB Tony Romo loves him some September. Now, January has been another story. I also think the switch to the 4-3 defense will actually suit Dallas' personnel better. Secret Sauce, anyone? The New York Giants are dealing with a bunch of nagging injuries that could limit them offensively. The unit didn't look particularly crisp in the preseason. The NFC East might in fact be patently mediocre, again, which has been the norm, but we can't stop watching, anyway, and very little separates these teams.
What to watch for: How much, if any, do we see of Jason Pierre-Paul? It was a lost offseason for him to injury -- how effective can he be if he does play? ... Will Tom Coughlin trust speedy RB David Wilson in pass protection? His deficiencies there limited his role in his rookie season, and nothing is more important than keeping QB Eli Manning upright. ... Speaking of Manning, is this a bounce-back year for him, minus the costly turnovers? ... WR Hakeem Nicks, who missed a bunch of time himself this offseason, looked bulky in the preseason and Victor Cruz missed almost all of Giants camp due to injury. Are they all the way back once the bright lights turn on? ... LB Sean Lee's presence will be huge for the Dallas defense and I expect we see him making plays sideline to sideline.
Philadelphia at Washington
Monday, Sept. 9, 6:55 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Why to watch: How good will those camera shots be if the angle is just right and we can capture RG3, coach Mike Shanahan and Dr. James Andrews all in the same area of the sideline? Who wouldn't want to be a fly on Griffin's knee brace should that trio decide to chop it up? Everyone wants to see how Griffin's body responds to another knee surgery and whether he is the same freakish athlete he has always been. Does he slide more and protect himself? Will the Washington Redskins get away from the pistol and read-option (yeah, right)? That alone is pretty damn good TV, but this Chip Kelly guy is also making his NFL debut. You wonder if the Philadelphia Eagles coach has the personnel to run it. Can Michael Vick avoid catastrophic injury himself? For the first time in a long time someone other than Andy Reid is on the Philadelphia sideline and those fans are expecting some unique wrinkles.
What to watch for: Are there any timing issues for the Philly offense, and are the officials being sped up at all by the pace from which they want to operate? ... LeSean McCoy should be an absolute beast, and the Eagles will run the ball more than most expect. ... Jump balls over the Eagles' suspect, and small, defensive backs should carry the day. The Eagles look horrible against the run as well, and the Redskins' top-five rushing attack from 2012 will only be better this year. ... I like Pierre Garcon to have a big game. ... How effective is Jason Peters after all the time he has missed? I have a feeling Brian Orakpo does alright against the former All-Pro tackle. ... Expect the Eagles to have something special planned for DeSean Jackson, their most dynamic playmaker. ... The Skins' return game is a little unsettled, and will need to protect the football above all else. ... The Eagles' red-zone offense must improve but besides Jackson, their receivers aren't naturally able to separate.
New England at Buffalo
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: Buffalo shocked the football world by drafting quarterback EJ Manuel high in the first round and now he's likely to start on Sunday even after missing the bulk of the preseason. They're also running against the grain in carrying only two QBs, both rookies, on the active roster despite Manuel's injury situation following recent surgery. With Manuel out there, expect plenty of diverse looks from the backfield and pistol formations with RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson all on the field at once, which should be exciting. The New England Patriots enter the post-Aaron Hernandez era about to show off a new-look offense of their own that, at least in the short term with Rob Gronkowski not yet back, won't revolve around a two-TE formation anymore. We all know the Patriots don't do the mercy rule thing, and, after their tumultuous offseason, they'll be out to make a statement.
What to watch for: We don't think of the Pats as a ground-based team, but given their losses and the strength of their roster, that's exactly what I expect from them. Buffalo has to be better against the run than it was a year ago, especially as long as Kyle Williams is healthy, but that defense could be on the field for a lot of plays Sunday. ... Pats WR Danny Amendola could catch 100 balls this season and go for 10 easy in this game. The Buffalo Bills are wounded in the secondary and heavy pressure will be on DE Mario Williams to get a consistent pass rush going. ... Will the Bills be quick to yank Manuel if any sense of his knee issues return? ... Bills WR Stevie Johnson has had some success vs. New England in the past. ... Expect the Buffalo line to have its hands full with Chandler Jones. ... Do any of the Pats' youngsters start to emerge as a presence on the outside? ... Stevan Ridley's breakout season starts here. The Pats RB could see 25 total touches and I wouldn't be surprised
Cincinnati at Chicago
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: Marc Trestman makes his debut as an NFL head coach after jumping over from the CFL, and already he's feeling heat. His quarterback, Jay Cutler, is in his contract year and never above letting his body language speak volumes. Brandon Marshall, who appeared to be the only receiver on this roster capable of catching a pass last season, is again generating headlines after leaving the team recently as rumblings about his hip condition persist. Add in an aging defense and fans now accustomed to playoff appearances, and it could be a rocky season in Chicago. The offensive line remains a weakness and the Cincinnati Bengals may have the best defensive line in football. Cutler is accustomed to getting beat around, but it's not the way you would want to open the season. I can't help but wonder about the potential for sideline theatrics from this bunch.
What to watch for: Does anyone other than Marshall step up and command more targets from Cutler? ... Bengals rookies Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert will make an immediate impact. ... Can Charles Tillman mitigate the damage AJ Green can do? ... The Bengals are bracing for being without OT Andrew Whitworth, and Julius Peppers usually starts the season with more oomph than he ends it with. That matchup could be huge. ... The Bengals expect to run a lot of two-TE sets from the onset and they'll challenge the Chicago Bears older legs at linebacker. ... Not sure Matt Forte will find much daylight against this defense. ... The Bears have flirted with the idea of running some read-options looks, but will it really materialize in a game, and especially against a defense that plays as hard as the Bengals?
Arizona at St. Louis
Sunday, Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: If the St. Louis Rams are going to make another leap this season and get into the playoff equation in the NFC, they can't afford to lose games like this. Every division game will be critical, and with the Seahawks and 49ers looming, beating the Arizona Cardinals at home is pretty much a must. It's time for Sam Bradford to start playing up to his draft status with some decent weapons finally around him and a refortified offensive line in front of him. And this is also a meeting of two of the best "no-name" defenses in the NFL -- very strong units that lack the kind of individual notoriety of other foes. St. Louis began restoring a home-field advantage last season and aims to keep it going even with the future of the franchise murky.
What to watch for: Bruce Arians, making his debut as a full-time NFL head coach, loves the vertical passing game and seven-step drops, but does he have the offensive line to allow for it? And does Carson Palmer have the mobility to help pull it off when the protection collapses? In the short term, it should mean big plays for WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, but I'm not sure how much they can sustain it. ... The Rams quietly led the NFL in sacks per pass play last season, and this looks like a decided advantage in their favor against this line. ... Expect free-agent RB Rashard Mendenhall, despite missing time in the preseason, to see a decent amount of carries for the Cardinals and emerge as their feature back, though, again, I worry about the their ability to create holes for him. ... Jeff Fisher has big plans for first-round pick Tavon Austin. Look for him to line up all over the place in time. Initially, I anticipate a big impact on special teams. ... TE Jared Cook could become the focal point of the Rams' passing game. ... RB Zac Stacy is a sleeper. Rams coaches love him.
Houston at San Diego
Monday, Sept. 9, 10:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Why to watch: Everything Matt Schaub does this season will be under the microscope. He has reached that stage of his career where, unless he takes that next step as someone who goes deep in the postseason, he'll remain in that light. The good news for him is that when rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins is healthy (he suffered a concussion in the preseason), this unit could be poised for bigger things on the bigger stage, though that's not certain to be on Monday night. A San Diego Chargers team in transition gets a stiff challenge from the onset, coming out of a camp in which it couldn't keep receivers healthy and with the offensive line still a big concern. And J.J. Watt couldn't be more serious about improving on last season's 20½ sacks. This is the first game of the Mike McCoy/Tom Telesco era in San Diego.
What to watch for: Watt's massive mitts swatting balls around, and Philip Rivers having to repeatedly lift his plant foot and try to reset himself, at a time when he is hardly super mobile. ... Good news for the Chargers is TE Antonio Gates has been relatively healthy and should be better than he has been the past few years. ... Not sure Ryan Mathews will be in San Diego after this season. He will have to prove something to this new regime. ... Houston Texans RB Arian Foster missed pretty much all of the preseason. Don't diminish the impact Ben Tate could have the first few weeks. ... TE Owen Daniels remains a go-to guy in the red zone for the Texans. ... The Chargers seem thin at linebacker, which is not good against a dominant zone-rushing team. ... Don't hear much about Chargers rookie LB Manti Te'o these days. Can't expect much from him early in the season after missing significant time this preseason. ... Do the Chargers have anyone in their secondary who can handle Andre Johnson? Yeah, not sure I see it, either.
Seattle at Carolina
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: Some see this as an early trap game for the Seattle Seahawks , who are a posh pick for the Super Bowl and come in a little short-handed. Bruce Irvin is suspended, Percy Harvin is hurt, Sidney Rice is always an injury concern, Chris Clemons is still trying to come back from an ACL tear in the playoffs. Have I missed anybody? Still, I see this as the first step for a driven team. Russell Wilson is back in North Carolina (remember, he was at N.C. State for a while), and I believe he will be a legit MVP candidate this season. Getting to see Cam Newton and Wilson on the same field should be a treat, and with Newton's contract eligible to be restructured after this season, the scrutiny he is under will only grow, if you can imagine that's possible.
What to watch for: Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly is a machine. The Defensive Rookie of the Year won't slow down and he seems capable of willing those around him to greatness. Watching him defend Wilson on the read-option stuff will be fun. ... Carolina's offense was awful in the preseason. Newton's accuracy waned, receivers dropped balls and finding dependable options in the pass game proved tricky. Against the NFL's best secondary, it could be a long day. Oh, and the Panthers still didn't look like a team capable of pounding it on the ground like they used to. ... Seattle WR Golden Tate will get ample opportunity to latch on to some deep balls. ... Carolina first-round pick Star Lotulelei is being looked at to tighten up the run defense. Big chore here with Marshawn Lynch refreshed.
Minnesota at Detroit
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: Adrian Peterson takes aim at another 2,000-yard season and there is every reason to believe he will achieve that goal. Even if the Minnesota Vikings passing game is again sporadic, and even if all 11 defenders on the opposite side of the ball are keyed in on him, he manages to take games over. This matchup is intriguing with Detroit's defensive line a strength, despite departures like Cliff Avril. When these teams last met in November, and with Peterson in top form, he carried 27 times for 171 yards and a touchdown. Not too shabby. Getting off to a quick start could be vital for each of these teams. Detroit was a surprise playoff team in 2011 and the Vikings were the same a year ago, but both organizations are trying to show they are built to sustain some success, and they have much to prove.
What to watch for: Matt Stafford had a rough preseason and, much like Peterson and the Vikings offense, everyone is waiting to see if any Detroit pass catchers besides Megatron can become a true weapon for the Detroit Lions . And even then, can Calvin Johnson manage to get in the end zone this season after being largely shut out a year ago? Law of averages would say yes. ... RB Reggie Bush seems poised to be a major factor in the Lions' offense. I expect a heavy dose of designed screens for him in his home debut. ... The Lions are pretty good at making a quarterback find second and third options, and Vikings QB Christian Ponder is not the most adept at doing so. ... Rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson flashed brightly in the preseason for the Vikes, but he is very raw. Will he have absorbed enough of the playbook and concepts to show up throughout the route tree?
Miami at Cleveland
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: Some are quietly high on these two long-time AFC also-rans, and the Miami Dolphins , after a massive free-agent splurge, are seen as a playoff team and a potential challenger to the Patriots in the AFC East. I'm not among that group -- I actually expect more mediocrity from Miami -- but if this is to be a breakout season for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, then let's see him do it against what I believe will be a top-eight defense. Cleveland Browns fans, so beleaguered, should feel good about their new coaching staff, and while all the attention will be on rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski, it's coordinators Norv Turner and Ray Horton who I believe will spearhead the Browns back to respectability. Cleveland will still struggle to win in the powerful AFC North, so beating up on other AFC non-playoff teams will be a more reasonable measure of progress.
What to watch for: The Dolphins made Mike Wallace the fourth-highest paid receiver in the NFL this offseason, but Browns CB Joe Haden knows him well from his days in Pittsburgh and this isn't a favorable matchup for the speedy wideout. In seven career games against the Browns, Wallace has averaged 2.3 catches for 48 yards and has two career touchdowns against them. ... The loss of TE Dustin Keller took away Tannehill's security blanket and a key safety valve on hot reads. With the way Horton's defenses blitz the passer, that will show up big Sunday. ... The Browns feel good about RB Trent Richardson's ability to carry a heavy load, and with them still unsure on QB Brandon Weeden, that will show up in game planning. ... Turner's offenses always lead to big seasons from tight ends, and Jordan Cameron is athletic enough to make plays in this scheme. ... Expect the Browns to come right after Miami's unproven LT, Jonathan Martin, early and often. ... With WR Josh Gordon suspended, Greg Little stands to see a lot of targets for the Browns. Little was the better of the two in camp, but must improve his hands.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: The Pittsburgh Steelers are being doubted and discounted. They're old and beat up and out of favor. But, lest we forget, they were 6-3 before QB Ben Roethlisberger got hurt last year and were well positioned for another AFC North title. I don't believe they'll be a juggernaut this season, but I also believe they'll find a way to get back in the playoff equation. Big Ben and coordinator Todd Haley are on the same page, and though injuries will limit this unit early in the season, I expect big things. Getting to face an awful Tennessee Titans defense right away should help. On the flip side, this is a big year for Titans QB Jake Locker. I doubt he curries much favor in Week 1, having to face elite coordinator Dick LeBeau and the league's top-ranked defense from a year ago. Could be the tale of two quarterbacks in Pittsburgh this weekend.
What to watch for: Isaac Redman will start in Pittsburgh's backfield with rookie Le'Veon Bell hurt and Jonathan Dwyer departed. ... The Steelers feel good about WR Emmanuel Sanders moving outside from the slot, and look for him deep. Rookie WR Markus Wheaton will present matchup problems in the slot, in particular, until TE Heath Miller returns. ... The Titans loaded up on their interior offensive line with the idea of getting RB Chris Johnson back to his best. Interesting matchup with the Steelers playing without longtime NT Casey Hampton for the first time in seemingly forever, and trying to get younger in the front seven. ... S Troy Polamalu continues to seem a step slow. In so much as the Titans can throw the ball, he could be targeted, working to get him out of the box and into coverage. ... Gregg Williams is back on the Titans staff after being suspended for last season and his hyper-aggressive style should manifest itself in how they attack the football.
Kansas City at Jacksonville
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: Andy Reid coaches his first NFL game for any organization other then the Eagles and Gus Bradley makes his debut for the Jacksonville Jaguars . Interestingly enough, had the Eagles ultimately not acquiesced and given Chip Kelly full control of the roster (and basically the building, too), Bradley would have ended up replacing Reid in Philadelphia but is instead in Jacksonville. If the Kansas City Chiefs are finally to be that team of destiny some have been labeling them for a few years now, then beating up on a club deficient in talent is a must. Alex Smith should ease his way into his first game as Chiefs quarterback given the issues the Jags have with pass rush and secondary, but bigger challenges await. Keep in mind, collectively these two teams claimed 13 players off waivers when 53-man rosters were set, an indication of the climb to fortify their depth.
What to watch for: Reid seemed more jovial and energized at Chiefs camp, eager for new surroundings. His demeanor is likely to be a little less stoic on the sidelines now, too, with a rebuilding team and the coach back to running the offense and calling plays. ... The days of Jamaal Charles being under-utilized are over. The Chiefs RB will get the ball in various spots, and with a lack of pass catching options, I could see Charles and speedy Dexter McCluster flexed out at the same time in some formations. ... Maurice Jones-Drew enters his likely swan song with the Jags more healthy than he has been in a long time and out to show the league he could be a factor in free agency in 2014. Never discount his ability to self-motivate. ... I don't think there is any way Blaine Gabbert holds on to the Jags starting QB job past the middle of the season, though I am intrigued by how the team is able to get versatile receivers like Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson on the field at once. They seemed committed to using Robinson in the inside running game in the preseason.
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Why to watch: The circus is in town at MetLife Stadium, with the New York Jets unable to shed the chaos and the media intent on keeping the carnival going. They already want coach Rex Ryan out of town. Suddenly Mark Sanchez is a sympathetic figure, despite the headband, and despite not having a quarterback on the roster who looks ready to start in the NFL, everyone is up in arms over the legitimacy of their preseason competition. Welcome to New York! And, after a nice start in 2012 and then a steady decline, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano returns to Jersey (he coached at Rutgers) and the site of his much-analyzed decision to attack the Giants in victory formation last September. He has his own quarterback issues with the Bucs hardly committed to terminally inconsistent Josh Freeman. So, yeah, nothing to see here. No possible way there is a sideshow at the Meadowlands this weekend. Oh, and did I mention the Bucs traded for this Darrelle Revis guy, who used to have an Island in Jersey somewhere but is now making his debut for Tampa Bay?
What to watch for: Besides all the body language on the sidelines and possible rifts between New York's varied quarterbacks, all signs point to rookie Geno Smith making his first NFL start, given Sanchez's hurt shoulder. They won't hesitate to call upon his mobility given the limitations of the receivers and tight ends. ... I actually think the Jets will have a decent run game and Chris Ivory will be effective for them. ... New York's defensive line might be the best young unit in football. Watch how versatile rookie Sheldon Richardson is from Day 1. ... Bucs WR Vincent Jackson should have his way with Antonio Cromartie, and there could be a steep transition for Jets rookie CB Dee Milliner given all the time he has missed.
Oakland at Indianapolis
Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Why to watch: Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck's attempts to continue attacking the record books look good in the opener, against what many believe will be the NFL's worst team. And if the Colts get TE Dwayne Allen and RB Ahmad Bradshaw back as expected, all the more reason to like their chances of dropping a 40-burger on Oakland in the dome. We get our first chance to see if the Colts' offseason spending will truly pay off. We get Terrelle Pryor at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders , which should be interesting for reasons good and bad, as Matt Flynn has managed to not be a sufficient-enough game manager to secure a starting job for the second summer in a row. Try saying that five times fast.
What to watch for: The Colts seem to like Darrius Heyward-Bey as their No. 2 WR -- I prefer T.Y. Hilton -- and he gets to face his old team right off the bat. Plenty of bubble screens to get the ball in his hands. ... Raiders top pick D.J. Hayden missed a lot of time but will feature in the nickel package. The Raiders could spend the bulk of the game in nickel. ... Luck has former Stanford coordinator Pep Hamilton back calling plays for him, but how much of Bruce Arians' downfield attack remains in this offense? I bet quite a bit. ... How many games will Raiders RB Darren McFadden remain healthy for this season? By the second quarter, I would suggest Raiders fans try to find highlights of what Teddy Bridgewater did in Louisville's first game. There's your first overall pick and hope for the future. It's never too soon to look far ahead in Raider Nation.
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