NFL Week 1 gets underway this Friday morning as the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers from Soldier Field at 10.20am (AEST). We’ll be bringing you weekly tips in the NFL, with a strong emphasis on the Friday, Monday and Tuesday marquee games in the key timeslots!
What a fantastic matchup to kick off the 2019-20 NFL season as two great rivals go head to head from Soldier Field. The NFC North will be one of the most hotly contested divisions in the NFL with Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota all holding realistic chances. That evenness of the division makes every game between the three teams extremely important, even in Week 1.
Chicago topped the division last year with 12 wins while Green Bay had a year to forget after their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers battled niggles throughout the year and a bunch of key players missed games. We think the Packers should improve this season under new head coach Matt LeFluer. They bulked up their defence with linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
The Bears bolstered what was already arguably the best defence in the league with the additions of cornerback Buster Skrine and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix in the off-season. The Bears were dominant at home last season, finishing the year with a 7-1 record. Tough test for Rodgers against this defence first up, back the Bears to kick the season off with a win.
Another fantastic rivalry in the marquee timeslot on Monday morning sees the New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will unveil their sixth banner before the game, after winning the Super Bowl over the Rams earlier this year. The Pats lost some key players in the offseason, most notably tight end Rob Gronkowski. However, the theme of the Brady Belichick era has revolved around getting the job done with the tools at their disposal.
The Steelers lost a key receiver of their own in the offseason as Antonio Brown departed for the Oakland Raiders. They still boast a talented offence that will rely on QB Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. Receiver Donte Moncrief will also add good depth for Roethlisberger.
The Steelers have lost their last three games in a row at Gillette Stadium and have won just one of their last six there. The last time the teams faced at Foxboro was in the AFC Championship game in 2017, in which the Patriots were 19 point winners on their way to winning the Super Bowl over the Falcons. We might fancy the Steelers at home in this matchup, but the Pats just don’t lose at home. They are 27-5 in regular season games at Gillette over the past four seasons.
Another divisional rivalry to round out Week 1 sees the Raiders hosting the Broncos at Oakland Coliseum on Tuesday afternoon. The Raiders landed the prized recruit Antonio Brown in the off-season as well as a bunch of other players that should add depth. Many, however, are still picking them to finish at the bottom of a tough AFC West division that includes contenders in LA and Kansas City.
The Broncos added Joe Flacco to take over at quarterback. While he is not the flashiest player at the position, Flacco should add some experience and consistency to a offence that has seen multiple quarterbacks over the past few seasons. Denver possess a good defence and they are always scary at home. An underatted team heading into the 2019-20 season, especially with the likes of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb leading the defence.
The Broncos haven’t won in Oakland since the 2015 season, in fact, neither road team has won in this matchup since then. We think that chances on Tuesday. There are real concerns over the health of star recruit Antonio Brown heading into the season and Raiders had one of the worst home records in the league at just 3-5.
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