The first NFL Sunday of the season has come and gone, and we’re officially onto Monday. In other words, fans will be treated to the annual opening weekend Monday Night Doubleheader on ESPN!
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons (6:55/5:55c)
First up, a pair of revamped offenses take the helm, as the Eagles visit the Falcons. Both teams were contending for the playoffs last year (although the Falcons did so because of how paltry their division was,) and made some key moves on offense. The Falcons added Tevin Coleman, the former Indiana Hoosier who ran for over 2,000 yards last year, in order to revamp their running game. Meanwhile, the Eagles made various moves, such as shipping out Lesean McCoy, paying big bucks for last year’s NFL leading rusher Demarco Murray, signing Ryan Matthews, and drafting former USC deep threat Nelson Agholor.
Both teams have had massive potential over the years, but tend to flounder every year. That said, I see the Eagles winning. I don’t see them being dominant this season, as many others seem to, due to their performance in the preseason. But, I do see them making less mistakes than the home team, in what should be a fun game. Prediction: Eagles 27, Falcons 24.
Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers (10:15/9:15c)
The nightcap for the opening week of the NFL season will see the return of one of the NFL’s top running backs, Adrian Peterson. A surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer, Peterson was suspended for the final 15 games of last season, doe to his child abuse case. That season is long over, and many believe that “AD” will be foaming at the mouth en route to an incredible season.
Whether that happens or not, nobody can deny that the team is better than it was when he was last playing. Teddy Bridgewater is looking like the quarterback of the future, the addition of Mike Wallace gives the team a legit deep threat at receiver. Add in an improving defense, courtesy of second-year head coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive prowess. All in all, the Vikings are loaded with potential, and the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is buzzing about its football team for the first time in a decade.
Meanwhile, as the Vikings are on the rise, the 49ers are on the polar opposite spectrum. A consistent Super Bowl contender for the past few years, the team bottomed out last year, before undergoing one of the most tumultuous offseasons in NFL history. Star pass rusher Aldon Smith is in Oakland, longtime leaders Patrick Willis and Justin Smith have retired, future star Chris Borland followed suit, Michael Crabtree is gone, and polarizing head coach Jim Harbaugh parted ways with the squad. Simply put, if the team reaches .500 like they barely managed to do last year, it will be viewed as a successful seasons by the masses.
Honestly, I see this being a close game. I believe the Vikings will strike first, but the 49ers will storm back. I see the home team leading for the majority of the game, before succumbing to a late score by the Vikings. It might be wishful thinking, but I expect this to be a fun, albeit heartbreaking game for the 49ers. Prediction: Vikings 24, 49ers 20.