Gerry Dulac's Week 1 NFL Forecast

2008 record: 172-95 (.644)

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SUNDAY

GAME: Miami Dolphins (11-5) at Atlanta Falcons (11-5), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: The only team that made a bigger turnaround than the Falcons in 2008 was the Dolphins, who won 10 more games than the previous year. What's more, they have won their past five games on the road.

PREDICTION: Falcons, 27-24




GAME: Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) at Baltimore Ravens (11-5), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY:New Chiefs coach Todd Haley has already fired one offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, before the start of the season. He may want to fire another after this.

PREDICTION: Ravens, 27-3




GAME: Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) at Carolina Panthers (12-4), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: The Panthers return nearly all their starters from last year's division championship team, when they unbeaten at home. They will need them against the Eagles.

PREDICTION: Panthers, 24-23




GAME: Denver Broncos (8-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: Only the Jets staggered to the finish line worse than the Broncos in '08, which is why Coach Mike Shanahan was fired. His replacement, Josh McDaniel, has not exactly righted the ship.

PREDICTION: Bengals, 20-17




GAME: Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-12), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: How ironic: The quarterback who cost Eric Mangini his job with the Jets is the same quarterback he faces today -- Brett Favre. If only the Browns could settle on a quarterback so quickly.

PREDICTION: Vikings, 26-13




GAME: New York Jets (9-7) at Houston Texans (8-8), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: The Jets have a rookie coach (Rex Ryan) and a rookie quarterback (Mark Sanchez). But Houston has a quarterback, Matt Schaub, who has won his last six home starts.

PREDICTION: Texans, 17-16




GAME: Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) at Indianapolis Colts (12-4), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY:The Colts closed the 2008 regular season with nine consecutive victories, more than any other team. The Jaguars closed the season with six losses in their final seven games.

PREDICTION: Colts, 31-13




GAME: Detroit Lions (0-16) at New Orleans Saints (8-8), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY:It has been nine years since the Lions opened the regular season in New Orleans, and that resulted in a 14-10 victory. The Saints' pass-happy offense will score that many points in the first quarter.

PREDICTION: Saints, 38-20




GAME: Dallas Cowboys (9-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY:Tampa Bay has a new coach after Jon Gruden lost his last four games and frittered away what looked to be a sure-fire playoff spot. The Cowboys might have one if they miss the playoffs again.

PREDICTION: Cowboys, 23-13




GAME: San Francisco 49ers (7-9) a Arizona Cardinals (9-7), 4:15 p.m.

THE SKINNY:The Cardinals and Steelers were the only teams to go unbeaten in their respective divisions last season. Of course, that's easy to do in the NFC West, where 7-9 gets you second place.

PREDICTION: Cardinals, 34-17




GAME: Washington Redskins (8-8) at New York Giants (12-4), 4:15 p.m.

THE SKINNY:The second year in a row these NFC East teams meet in the opener. The Redskins managed just seven points in each of their two losses to the Giants last season. It might not be much better.

PREDICTION: Giants, 23-7




GAME: St. Louis Rams (2-14) at Seattle Seahawks (4-12), 4:15 p.m.

THE SKINNY:The Seahawks couldn't have picked a better opponent for their new coach, Jim Mora Jr. Funny, the Rams are probably thinking the same thing for their new head coach, Steve Spagnuolo.

PREDICTION: Seahawks, 20-10




GAME: Chicago Bears (9-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-10), 8:20 p.m.

THE SKINNY:No NFL teams have ever met more times than the Bears and Packers. The Bears think they have finally found their quarterback, Jay Cutler. The Packers are hoping their new 3-4 defense can stop him.

PREDICTION: Packers, 27-23

MONDAY


GAME: Buffalo Bills (7-9) at New England Patriots (11-5), 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY:It's bad enough the Bills have lost 11 in a row to the Patriots. Or that New England has never lost a home opener at Gillette Stadium. Now they have to contend with the return of Tom Brady.

PREDICTION: Patriots, 34-3




GAME: San Diego Chargers (8-8) at Oakland Raiders (5-11), 10:15 p.m.

THE SKINNY:The Chargers are coming off their third consecutive division title and have won the last 11 meetings with the Raiders. Oakland's only hope is that San Diego pulls a Richard Seymour and doesn't show up.

PREDICTION: Chargers, 27-14





Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com .


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