Thursday gave us a taste, Sunday will give you the meal, seconds, and thirds, with a little desert saved for Monday.

To recap my Thursday predictions will be…somewhat painful.

As pleased as I was to nail the victor of the contest, Marshawn Lynch’s success against a questionable Packers defensive line and Corey Linsley’s initial struggles, I will be equally hiding my face under a paper bag for underestimating just about every facet of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense and their offense’s capacity to score. In short, Seattle looks to be as good if not better on the side of the ball that annihilated the greatest offense in league history en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

They held Eddie Lacy, one of the league’s best young runners, to 34 yards rushing. They held arguably the league’s best QB to 189 yards passing while sacking him three times, picking him off once, and recording a safety following Michael Bennett’s strip-sack of the aforementioned Rodgers.  Dominance. The Seahawks have made a habit of it and if health remains on their side, opponents will be hard pressed to unseat the reigning champs.

Onto the next one.

SUNDAY

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh 1 P.M.

Browns at Steelers

What will happen:

I’ll tell you why Johnny Manziel isn’t starting the opener. Forget the marginal preseason — Brian Hoyer wasn’t much better — it’s because no one is set up for success with the lack of talent at Cleveland’s skill positions (this excludes you Jordan Cameron). When 5’7” Andrew Hawkins is listed as your No.1 receiver, Tom Brady would have a faster exit from Cleveland than Bill Belichik did.

It’s for that same reason Cleveland won’t win this football game. I’ll even be generous in my final prediction because the Steelers will end up playing down to an inferior opponent, just like they normally do. Now if Pittsburgh does find a way to lose this football game Iron City beer, no matter the taste, will be sold out in any and all providers in Western, PA. If you’re looking for a play in today’s game, look no further than Antonio Brown. Big Ben’s No. 1 option has had success in his career against Cleveland’s lockdown corner Joe Haden. Expect that to continue as Brown will go for 75 yards and a TD.

What Won’t Happen:

Pittsburgh won’t lose this game. I know that’s recycling an earlier point, but here’s some additional perspective. The Steelers are finally “fast.” If you’ve read any media regarding the Black and Gold in the last three years, you’ve no doubt encountered “old and slow” as often as Warren Sapp buys a pair of shoes. (Ironic considering it was Sapp who started the old and slow mantra.) The additions of rookie, speedy linebacker Ryan Shazier, ball hawk and heavy-hitting safety Mike Mitchell on defense, and the NFL’s fastest player Dri Archer on offense and special teams gives Pittsburgh speed that might require, oh I don’t know, somewhere north of 240 of replacement cleats throughout the season to compensate.

Johnny Manziel, save for a major injury, won’t win the starting job from Hoyer in this game. He may see the field, but he’ll be held out play as long as possible, ideally until he has a real receiver to throw to. In any case Cleveland won’t crack 250 yards passing.

Prediction:

Steelers 23 Browns 16

New Orleans @ Atlanta 1 P.M.

Saints at Falcons

What will happen:

Good God. Drew Brees must be to NFL what the spoiled rich kid after Christmas is to middle/lower income school children everywhere. The dude just keeps getting the newest and shiniest toys. Out went Lance Moore and in comes lightning bolt Brandin Cooks. Cooks has rare speed and is already an above-the-line route runner with hands. With all the attention being focused on stopping Jimmy Graham, Cooks’ arrival will be a memorable one; don’t be surprised to see a 100+ yard day with at least one score. Meanwhile Atlanta will counter with a healthy Julio Jones, who will find the end zone, but will be kept under 100 yards due to the talented defensive backs like Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd and Keenan Lewis roaming the secondary.

What Won’t Happen:

Neither team will find too much room running the ball what with the likes of Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks filling lanes for New Orleans, while Atlanta’s new acquisitions, Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai, will likewise limit the Saints’ marginal runners from doing too much damage. No runner will crack 100 yards on their own, so proceed with playing any RB in this game with caution. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan has potential to be a tantalizing duel, but given the difference in secondary talent-with the Saints being the clear leader- this once lauded matchup will fail to live up to expectations. Ryan won’t crack 300 yards passing and Brees won’t be held to anything under 350.

Prediction:

Saints 34 Falcons 24

Minnesota @ St. Louis 1 P.M.

Vikings at Rams

 

What will happen:

My team-crush for 2014 will carry their preseason momentum into a matchup with the Shaun Hill-led Rams. Yikes. You have to feel for Jeff Fisher. He’s been without a legitimate QB since the days of air McNair. You can bet that the up-and-coming Vikings defense will be stacking the box often to combat the deployment of second-year back Zac Stacy. Adrian Peterson will likely be glad to see someone else suffering through his pain. Matt Cassel won’t put up top fantasy numbers when you consider the great pass rush featured in St. Louis. Adrian Peterson will be leaned on heavily to take pressure off of Cassel but keep in mind he hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since he demolished the self esteem of the Cleveland Browns in 2009. That trend will end in 2014. AP has a habit of wearing down his opponents and the minute they gasp for air, he’s gone. I’m feeling a buck twenty and a score for the great 28 in this one. Look for solid days from Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph as each have a prime opportunity to accruing a touchdown in this game.

What Won’t Happen:

I don’t see any one cracking 300 yards passing in this contest. Both teams possess pass rushers that should keep the opposing quarterbacks honest. Zac Stacy is a capable workhorse, but he doesn’t possess game-breaking speed. Without much around him to turn attention away from the box, Stacy won’t crack 100 yards.

Prediction:

Vikings 22 Rams 19

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia 1 P.M.

Jaguars at Eagles

 

What will happen:

This has all the makings of a laugher. Philly’s high-volume, high-tempo offense will shred Jacksonville’s mediocre secondary. The Jaguar’s front seven has improved, and is doing as much as it can to recreate the Seattle defense what with Gus Bradley’s tenure there and the offseason signings of recent Super Bowl champions, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. That said, they’re not there yet, and Shady McCoy is as explosive a running back as it gets. I’d say fair expectations put his output at no less than 100 combined yards and two TDs from LeSean on the day. Nick Foles should also have his fair share of highlights, cracking 300 yards and two TDs. That’ll put the Eagles somewhere over 400 yards.

What Won’t Happen:

I like the improvements Jacksonville has made in the offseason, but as long as Chad Henne is the starter, the team isn’t going to be making much progress. Henne may produce yards, but will turn the ball over more than once against a defense that forced 31 turnovers a year ago. Don’t expect a big day out of Toby Gerhart either, as the Jaguars will be playing catch up from early on in this one. I don’t see him getting more than 80 yards in this one.

Prediction:

Eagles 37 Jaguars 23

Oakland @ NY Jets 1 P.M.

Raiders at Jets

What will happen:

The Jets get a bit of a breather before running through a gauntlet of teams more talented than they are. Lucky for them, every team is more talented than Oakland. Geno Smith will have a nice debut to 2014, picking up north of 250 yards and 2 TDs. Chris Johnson will have a solid day, against a largely washed up defensive line (I’m looking at you LaMarr Woodley/Justin Tuck), putting him somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-100 rushing yards and over 20 receiving yards. Derek Carr may be Oakland’s one hope of escaping listless mediocrity, and he’ll actually have a decent chance to impress against a decimated Jets cornerback position. 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns could be in play for the rookie out of Fresno State.

What Won’t Happen:

Maurice Jones-Drew has looked resurgent in the 2014 preseason. Any steps down the comeback trail will have to wait till next week against New York’s loaded front four and solid linebacking corps. I don’t see him cracking 75 yards. Darren McFadden will also struggle to find much room to run. If you have him on your fantasy team, don’t play him. 30 yards would be a generous projection.

Prediction:

Jets 24 Raiders 10

Cincinnati @ Baltimore 1 P.M.

Bengals at Ravens

 

What will happen:

Circle this game. It may be the most competitive game on the schedule this week. Though the above roster head-to-head heavily favors the Bengals, each position is only just leaning towards one team. Andy Dalton is coming off a convincingly better season than Joe Flacco, but Flacco gains his security blank back with the return of Dennis Pitta, and while I’m not nearly as much a believer in a 34-year old Steve Smith, he’s still an upgrade over what the Ravens have had in the number two WR spot. Meanwhile AJ Green is a legitimate top-three wide receiver in this league, and is still improving. Tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovanni Bernard all provide Dalton with dynamic receiving threats. Both defenses feature a fierce front-seven that will provide both QB’s with a tough challenge. Each QB will put up a pair of touchdowns but neither will break 300 yards.

What Won’t Happen:

The Ravens will trot Bernard Pierce out in place of suspended Ray Rice in hopes of revitalizing a ground game that took major strides backwards last season. Cincinnati features a younger, more explosive backfield in Gio Bernard and rookie thumper Jeremy Hill. Both should see their fair share of carries in this game. That said I think they cannibalize each other a bit, keeping either of that duo and Pierce under 100 yards in the contest. A late turnover will decide this game.

Prediction:

Ravens 17 Bengals 16

Buffalo @ Chicago 1 P.M.

Bills at Bears

What will happen:

Talk about a one-sided affair. I don’t know how Buffalo even contends in this matchup. E.J. Manuel hasn’t shown much of anything encouraging in the preseason, and if he’s not on his A-game, Jay Cutler and the towering duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will run circles around an average-at best Bills’ secondary. In fact put Cutler on the board for over 300 yards passing, with both the aforementioned receivers going for over 100 yards receiving. Matt Forte will have a day if the Bears can spread the Bills out but, I trust the Bills fearsome foursome of defensive linemen to keep Forte under 100 yards and register at least three sacks.

What Won’t Happen:

The Bills testing an aging Bears secondary. Even with Sammy Watkins probable, if EJ continues his preseason level of play then 200 yards would be a achievement albeit a sad one. To be fair, Manuel hasn’t seen much of Sammy Watkins, as the latter has been oft-injured in the past couple weeks. In the brief snippets Watkins has seen the field, he’s flashed, ahem, burned an impression of his vast talent into Bills brass and coaching.

Prediction:

Bears 28 Bills 13

Washington @ Houston 1 P.M.

Washington at Texans

 

What will happen:

Sigh. The Texans. If they had a QB, this would be a playoff team. As it stands, this appears to be a team that will once again be drafting in the top-ten. It’s not like Washington is a premiere team. Their offense has pieces that intrigue but don’t necessarily instill a complete sense of security. There’s the sure-handed Pierre Garçon, and the fleet-of-foot DeSean Jackson, but the former has not been an elite scorer and the latter is prone to wild bouts of inconsistency. RGIII presents the biggest question mark, who’s own erratic play can be similarly linked to erratic health, but now that he’s supposedly healthy, he needs to prove he can return to his rookie level of play if Washington is going to commit the future of the franchise to him. In this contest Griffin will face his fair share of pressure from the devastating duo of Clowney and Watt. Expect Griffen to be flushed from the pocket often where he’s both dangerous and a liability on the move. I’m thinking the Texans record four sacks and force two picks, but not without giving up a few long gains to DeSean Jackson.

What Won’t Happen:

Alfred Morris is one of the league’s most consistent workhorse running backs; I doubt he breaks the hundred-yard mark against the Houston front-seven. There’s just too much talent there. Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, Watt and Clowney. No the way to move the ball on this team is through the air. For the Texans part, don’t expect any standouts from their team either. Ryan Fitzpatrick still sits atop the Texans depth chart. That’s a recipe for disaster. Otherwise talented players like Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins will continue to struggle without a steady QB presence at the helm. Who knows if Ryan Mallet is that guy, but he’ll need time to get up to speed with Houston’s playbook, even if he and Bill O’Brien shared a season together in New England. Don’t expect 100 yards out of either receiver. Johnson was able to thrive even with the likes of Matt Schaub and Case Keenum throwing him the ball last year, but he is a year older and though it’s hard to believe, Fitzpatrick won’t be any better than Schaub or Keenum. Arian Foster may be the only player with a shot at decent value for Houston, what with a guaranteed heavy workload heading his way. I say 85 yards and TD.

Prediction:

Redskins 27 Texans 14

Tennessee @ Kansas City 1 P.M.

Titans at Chiefs

What will happen:

Expect Jamaal Charles to be the centerpiece once again this week. I’m on record saying that Charles is not a great bet for fantasy this season. The Chiefs lost three of their five starters to free agency a year ago and Charles doesn’t have the frame of a bellcow back. With nothing else around him in that offense (that IS a knock on Dwayne Bowe), teams will not only focus on Charles, but his heavy workload will wear him down as the season progresses, and I worry that it will be past the breaking point. Still, in week one, Charles should have fresh legs and thus be expected to have a big day against a Titans defense that is still transitioning to a 3-4. 110 yards rushing 30 receiving and a pair of scores for the beastly running back. The Titans are a frustrating bunch. They have a lot of talent at receiver and Justin Hunter appears to be on the verge of a breakout season as he made these catches like this regularly this preseason. I don’t expect much from Tennessee in this one, given that the Chiefs have one mean pass rush. Still I’d say Hunter could provide some value with a score and 75 yards receiving.

What Won’t Happen:

Reiterating what I said with regard to the Titans being a frustrating bunch; rookie Bishop Sankey appears to be the most-talented back on the roster, but has yet to win the starting job from the marginal Shonn Greene, meaning that Greene will still get a large number of carries that could have otherwise gone to the versatile runner/receiver in Sankey. Don’t expect more than 15 touches (both rushing and receiving) and more than 60 all-purpose yards for the rookie. For the Chiefs, I wouldn’t look for much from the newly-extended Alex Smith. He won’t go for more than 250 yards and one TD given the current status of the receiver position.

Prediction:

Chiefs 20 Titans 17

New England @ Miami 1 P.M.

Patriots at Dolphins

What will happen:

Brady. Gronk. The marriage of elite talent has returned and believe in it against an all-around poor Dolphins team. The pair should make up for lost time with a big day, with Brady going for over 300 yards and Gronk hauling in a pair of scores. Look for Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola to benefit from the attention given to Gronk. Each will finish with at least five catches.

What Won’t Happen:

I’m not seeing a scenario where any rusher gets over a hundred yards in this one. The Pats have too much of a committee with Ridley, and Vereen and the Dolphins are in a similar situation with Miller and Moreno. Mike Wallace is must-avoid in terms of fantasy; Darrelle Revis will be shadowing him all game long. If he gets over 50 yards I’ll be surprised.

Prediction:

Patriots 27 Dolphins 17

Carolina @ Tampa Bay 4:25 P.M.

Panthers at Buccaneers

What will happen:

Another interesting divisional matchup, this one’s a bit tricky to project. Cam Newton is a game-time decision with a hairline-fracture in his ribs. I won’t doubt Newton if he plays, but he hasn’t been given too many weapons. Rookie first round pick Kelvin Benjamin has been impressive this preseason and his been targeted quite a bit. His 6’5”, 240 lbs frame will make him a red zone magnet, and I think he’s got a TD in him today. Jerricho Cotchery is not a great option at his age, and the Panthers running back situation is every fantasy owners worst nightmare. The Buccaneers are doing their best Chicago Bears impression, employing the duo of Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. They should be in good shape with Josh McCown who worked with Jackson and Evans’ “clones” in Chicago in Marshall and Jeffery last year and did quite well. That said, if you have one or both, V-Jax is the one to play as he will still get the first look in the red zone. I have Jackson down for 80 yards and TD.

What Won’t Happen:

Doug Martin is coming off a down and injury-plagued sophomore season. I don’t see him rushing for more than 75 yards against an outstanding Panthers front-seven. His pass catching makes him playable, and 30 yards is not out of the question.

Prediction:

Buccaneers 21 Panthers 17

San Francisco @ Dallas 4:25 P.M.

49ers at Cowboys

What will happen:

This one bears watching. Inept offense found a home in San Francisco in the preseason, while inept defense has been living in Dallas for the past year and looks very comfortable in its surroundings in 2014. At least the 49ers were able to finish the postseason moving in the right direction, but their starters still need to improve on what was an abysmal preseason showing albeit in limited reps. We know Dallas is going to be awful defensively. The talent just isn’t there. Expect San Fran to bounce back in a big way; Kaepernick will get off to a fast start and finish the day with 275 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and three total TD’s (two passing, one rushing). Frank Gore will continue to be ageless (for now) and run roughshod for a buck twenty over a porous Dallas front seven. Michael Crabtree will have 90+ yards receiving and a score while Vernon Davis will continue his red zone dominance with a TD. Let’s not completely discount the Cowboys however. Dez Bryant and the blossoming Terrence Williams will test the San Francisco secondary as each will go for 75+ yards with Dez grabbing a TD. DeMarco Murray will benefit from carries out of the spread and rush for 100 yards and two scores.

What Won’t Happen:

Even with a loaded defense, I think the Niners will have their hands full with the Cowboys, especially if the starters continue to display the rust that plagued them in the preseason early in this game. I don’t think either defense is worth playing in this one. There are simply too many weapons to cover and in addition to both teams putting up point totals north of 25, neither defense will hold their opponent to under 400 total yards.

Prediction:

49ers 31 Cowboys 28

Indianapolis @ Denver 8:30P.M.

Colts at Broncos

What will happen:

As much as I love this one on paper, especially considering that Luck was able to top the man he replaced last season, I just like the Broncos offense too much to call for a repeat. Peyton will be Peyton, especially with Indianapolis and their leaky defense. Manning is a safe bet to put up 350+ and three TD’s. The main beneficiary of Wes Welker’s suspension will be Emmanuel Sanders. The free agency stepped in for an injured Welker in Denver’s third preseason game and recorded five catches on eight targets, good for 128 yards and two TD’s. Expect him to have another big day with teams worrying about Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. Six catches for 85 yards and a score is very reasonable. Monte Ball should be good for a score and at least 75 yards on the ground. Andrew Luck will make this one competitive, and I have him down for 330 and three TD’s.

What Won’t Happen:

I expect the Colts to be playing from behind from the word go in this one, so don’t look for much from Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson in this one. I’d be surprised if together they combine for more than 100 yards.The Colts receivers are an enigma as well as it’s unclear as to how Reggie Wayne will hold up following his knee injury last year. There’s also some question as to who’s Luck’s go-to target, between Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. One of the two will have a big day-let’s say 110 yards and a score, but it’s unclear who that may be.

Prediction:

Broncos 34 Colts 27

Football is back everyone. Kick back and relax and give in to the madness!

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Tim Mullhaupt (@TimakaHines) is the editor of The Buckets Blog and a senior broadcast and mass communications major at SUNY Oswego. He has previously worked for SB Nation, WFAN and the NYCBL.