The NFL season is here. With that in mind I look at a some week 1 question for each team’s first game of 2019.
What does the 2019 Ravens defence look like?
Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium (Miami)
The Ravens defence was a strength in 2018. However, Eric Weddle was released, C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith signed elsewhere in March. The team replaced Weddle with All Pro safety Earl Thomas but otherwise it was next man up from the Ravens, who replace talent every year. Still, that’s a lot to lose.
While Baltimore have one of the NFL’s best secondaries, there are many questions behind corners Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr and safeties Thomas and Tony Jefferson. Can the linebackers pressure the quarterback and stop the run like the great Ravens defences of the past? And can the D line stay fresh enough with just 5 players? We’ll get our first look today against an underpowered Dolphins team.
Does the Browns defensive line continue its preseason form?
Cleveland Browns vs Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
If you watched any of the Browns’ preseason games you would have seen an impressive unit with good depth. Oliver Vernon and Myles Garrett led the way but there were impressive performances along the line. Against a Titans offence that was anaemic in the pre season, look for the Browns to wreak havoc. If the Browns line can pressure Ryan Fitzmagic, the defence could see multiple turnovers.
For the Titans to stand a chance, Derrick Henry needs to shoulder the load of the rushing game. If Mariota struggles, the Titans may have the beginnings of a full blown quarterback controversy.
Can the Bengals do enough to spell A.J. Green’s absence?
Seattle Seahawks vs Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field (Seattle)
The Bengals have a new coach and their offence is reportedly feeling energised under Zac Taylor. Taylor offence will reportedly be built upon short Andy Dalton throws. However, he’ll do so without the Bengals star receiver, AJ Green. I’d look for Joe Mixon to see more carries to minimise the impact while also trying to work Tyler Boyd and John Ross into space. Ross must step up to help I’m Green’s absence, something he’s failed to do since being a first round pick.
Replacing Green will be further hindered by the facing an aggressive Seattle defensive featuring Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, free agent Ziggy Ansah and newly acquired star, Jadeveon Clowney. While Clowney may not fully know the playbook his impact shouldn’t be underestimated. Facing the Seahawks was going to be a tough game even without the injuries sustained to an already weak offensive line.
Can build Washington on his pre season performances?
New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
Make no mistake about it the Steelers are glad Antonio Brown is gone. Worries about who filled his shoes talent wise were dampened somewhat by the performance of James Washington. He started his second pro season by leading the Steelers in receiving with ten catches for 208 yards and two scores. Whilst he won’t start he’ll still see plenty of game time. He could be a breakout star for Pittsburgh and that all starts today.
A full strength Steelers defence will look to limit the impact of a rusty Josh Gordon and hassle Tom Brady. With newly acquired Antonio Brown unavailable until Week 2, the Steelers will have a great opportunity to start their season with a win. Getting Washington involved will increase that likelihood.