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The NFL is back and week one could bring a few surprises

The Panthers will hope for a different outcome as the season kicks off with a repeat of Super Bowl 50.
Sep 8th 2016, 3:10 PM 4,501 2

Carolina Panthers (-3) @ Denver Broncos – 1.30am, Friday

Cam vs Von Football The Panthers will be hoping to avoid this tonight. Source: David J. Phillip/AP/Press Association Images

THE 1993 BUFFALO Bills were the last team to reach a Super Bowl after losing one the previous season while the 2005 New England Patriots were the last to win back-to-back Vince Lombardi trophies.

They’re the respective tasks facing the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos when they get the 2016/17 NFL season under way in Colorado this evening with both teams having undergone significant changes during the offseason.

The Broncos are without Peyton Manning and Malik Jackson with the latter’s ability to create pressure on the inside of the defensive line playing a significant role in allowing Von Miller produce such a dominant performance in last February’s Super Bowl.

The Panthers are without one of the league’s best corners after Josh Norman cashed in on a dominant season and moved to Washington. On offence, they welcome Kelvin Benjamin to the line-up after missing all of last season.

Verdict: The Panthers will look to use the read-option more now that there isn’t as much pressure coming on the interior. That might be enough to close the gap between the two. Carolina by 3.

Green Bay Packers (-4.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 6pm, Sunday

Buccaneers Jaguars Football Jalen Ramsey is just one reason there'll be a lot of hype around the Jags this season. Source: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP/Press Association Images

Aaron Rodgers is looking to bounce back from what was an indifferent season from the best passer in the league. It helps that he’ll welcome back Jordy Nelson.

Indeed, Rogers won the MVP award the last time the two paired up as Nelson hauled in 98 receptions for over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Green Bay surprisingly released All-Pro guard Josh Sitton last weekend and his replacement Lane Taylor only has two career starts despite being in the NFL four years. That’s a worry in both the pass and run game for the Packers.

The Jags (along with the Raiders) have been one of the most-hyped teams in preseason and will be hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. After sorting out their defence through the draft and free agency, this is a very tough early task for Gus Bradley’s side.

Verdict: Picking games in week one is a virtually impossible task as there’s zero data to go on. However, you have to trust in Green Bay +5.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 9.30pm, Sunday

Texans Cowboys Football The Cowboys will be hoping Dak Prescott can continue his preseason form. Source: Ron Jenkins/AP/Press Association Images

In a dozen games without starting quarterback Tony Romo last season, the Dallas Cowboys mustered just one win. They start 2016 without their veteran but Jerry Jones and crew believe they have a replacement in Dak Prescott who threw for five TDs, rushed for two more and managed no interceptions in preseason.

The Cowboys ownership are also quite excited about seeing first-round running back Ezekiel Elliott taking advantage of the league’s best offensive line. How excited? When Jones’ drafted the Ohio State player he told him “let’s go win a Super Bowl.”

The Giants will have a new head coach on the sideline in the shape of Ben McAdoo and spent a king’s ransom in free agency to bring in players like Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. But will it be enough to save general manager Jerry Reese’s job?

Verdict: Vegas can’t separate the two but I think the Cowboys have enough to get the job done. Dallas by 3+.

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals (-6) – 1.30am Monday

Patriots Panthers Football Jimmy G faces a difficult start. Source: Mike McCarn/AP/Press Association Images

The biggest game of the weekend takes place in the early hours of Monday morning when the Patriots get a glimpse of life without Tom Brady as he begins his four game suspension. Jimmy Garoppolo is the man tasked with filling number 12′s boots and most New England fans are just hoping they manage to avoid losing all four games.

Regardless of quarterback, there are many who think this could well be a preview of Super Bowl L1 and the Cardinals will be hoping for another phenomenal season from Carson Palmer.

Tyrann Mathieu, one of the best defensive backs in the league, makes his return for the Cardinals after a second ACL surgery in three years. Given Garoppolo’s rawness, there may be every chance he marks that return with a pick.

Verdict: Patriots fans are not used to losing but they’ll have to deal with it Sunday night. Cardinals by 7+.

And the rest (team in bold to beat the spread)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans (+2.5)
Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles (-4)
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
@ New York Jets
Oakland Raiders (+1.5) @ New Orleans Saints
San Diego Chargers (+7) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-3)
Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans (-5.5)
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks (-10)
Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Washington
LA Rams (-2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers

Disagree? Of course you do. Let us know why in the comments section below.

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Steve O'Rourke

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