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Game Capsules: Monday Night Breakdown

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

Baltimore (+7.5) @ Denver, Thursday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: When the 2013 schedule was released on April 18 you can be sure Peyton Manning and the Broncos put a big circle around this rematch. The sting from an epic collapse against the Ravens in last year's double-overtime home playoff loss will carry them into a new season with one singular goal: to do exactly what Baltimore did after putting them on the couch. John Elway and John Fox went even further all-in by signing Wes Welker away from New England to give Manning a trio of wideouts that no other team can rival. The continued growth of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, as well as the addition of Montee Ball in the draft, should make this offense borderline unstoppable - though the likely backfield committee presents a major headache in fantasy. Of course, after tying for the league lead with 52 sacks in 2012, Denver's defense could struggle immensely to get after the quarterback since a fax faux pas sent Elvis Dumervil and his 11 sacks to the enemy Ravens and Von Miller (he of 18.5 QB takedowns) was suspended for six games for violating the substance abuse policy... Joe Flacco sure was super last year for the champions, and he was reward as such with a monster contract, but after losing his trusty playoff target Anquan Boldin to San Francisco and emerging tight end Dennis Pitta to a dislocated hip, he'll be hard-pressed to keep the Baltimore O from becoming one-dimensional. Torrey Smith's value should rise from a huge increase in targets, but he'll need to prove he can fend off double coverage before he can be treated like an every-week starter in fantasy play. Ray Rice will be needed badly-particularly as a receiver-but if the offense can't pass stacked boxes might make his year frustrating. Bernard Pierce also figures to cut into Rice's rushing workload, which could potentially lead to a downgrade. Still, with the Denver defense depleted in Week 1 - Champ Bailey (foot) looks like a true game-time call-the Ravens top guys have one of the best matchups they'll see this season.

Prediction: The Bronco backfield committee of Ball and Ronnie Hillman combine for 90 total yards, with a short score going to the rookie. Manning burns a shaky secondary for 334 yards and scores to Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas. Flacco finds Smith and Rice for touchdowns in a 241-yard outing, while Rice adds 85 on the ground. Broncos 24-20.


New England (-10) @ Buffalo, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Doug Marrone era in Buffalo will start off with a rookie quarterback under center versus a Hall-of-Famer-in-waiting. Though it looked briefly like that rookie might unexpectedly be the undrafted Jeff Tuel, first-round pick EJ Manuel will still draw the start despite having a procedure on his knee just three weeks before kickoff. Manuel may not be the same running threat if he's less than 100% healthy, but in his two preseason appearances the exceptional athlete displayed poise and accuracy from the pocket, so he may still find success without having to scramble too often. Realistically though, for Buffalo to compete with the Patriots' offense they'll need heavy doses of the electric C.J. Spiller getting them in scoring range... No team will be happier to begin playing meaningful football games than the Patriots after one of the most dramatic offseasons in recent memory. Two major tight end sagas-Aaron Hernandez with his arrest for murder and Rob Gronkowski with his multiple surgeries-the dumping of Wes Welker for a younger, prettier version in Danny Amendola and the Tim Tebow experiment overshadowed the persistent rise of young, unknown talents. Those gifted youngsters, namely Kenbrell Thompkins, Zach Sudfeld and Aaron Dobson, will get their chance to prove to Tom Brady and the football-watching world whether they are up to the task of keeping the Patriots offense elite. However, versus a Bills defense that ranked 31st and 32nd respectively in rushing yards and scores allowed in 2012 and did little to upgrade that unit, the full passing game may not be on display. Expect the Patriots' stable of talented tailbacks led by Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to be featured all day.

Predictions: Manuel passes for 192 yards and a score going to T.J Graham. Spiller draws a ton of attention yet still manages 112 total yards and finds paydirt. Ridley rumbles for 94 yards and punches in a short one, while Vereen tallies 124 total yards and catches one of Brady's three touchdowns. Amendola and Sudfeld snag the other two as Brady notches 244 yards. Patriots 34-17.

Cincinnati (+3) @ Chicago, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Marc Trestman is supposed to be a quarterback guru who can open up a passing attack. If Jay Cutler's revamped line can finally keep him off his back for the first time in his tenure in Chicago we may get to see the quarterback who ripped it for over 4,500 yards his final season in Denver. Keeping him upright though, versus a Bengals defense that finished second last year with 51 sacks and added a motivated James Harrison, may be a tall order. The team expects second-year man Alshon Jeffery to makes big strides after an impressive training camp, so he and tight end addition Martellus Bennett should take some pressure off Brandon Marshall and open things up for Cutler if he is protected. A spry-looking Matt Forte will also test the Cincy defense out of the backfield, and could be in line for a career-year in this system given his versatile skillset... A trendy breakthrough team, the Hard Knocks youngsters in Cincinnati have the tools on both sides of the football to take leaps, not steps, forward this year if third-year quarterback Andy Dalton can continue to grow as a leader and passer. A.J. Green is a bona fide superstar and seems to have avoided any serious injury after tweaking his knee in training camp. Draft picks Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard could be the missing pieces to put the Bengals offense over the top, especially with the reliable Jermaine Gresham and BenJarvus Green-Ellis rounding out a deep group. The Bears revamped defense has talent but may be no match for that depth.

Predictions: Forte racks up 132 total yards and catches one of Cutler's TD's. The other score goes to Jeffery in a 230-yard effort for Cutler. Dalton pitches it for 254 and touchdowns to Gresham and Mohamed Sanu. Bernard totals 74 yards while Green-Ellis rushes for 60 and hits paydirt. Bengals 24-20.

Miami (pick 'em) @ Cleveland, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Browns offense changed little from a personnel standpoint this offseason, yet it should look nothing like the dink-and-dunk unit that finished 23rd in yards and 19th in points in 2012. New head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner like to chuck it down field, which plays much more to the strength of big-armed quarterback Brandon Weeden. However, without the deep threat of Josh Gordon, who is suspended for two games, expect more grinding of Trent Richardson to soften a tough Dolphins front seven and work play-action to Greg Little and rising tight end Jordan Cameron, another former basketballer who could excel under Turner... The Dolphins subtracted Reggie Bush from the backfield and added Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson to round out a solid group of pass catchers. Unfortunately, Keller (knee) is already gone for the year and none of the changes will matter if Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller cannot make big strides in their second seasons. Both have excellent athletic tools, so if their mental maturation catches up to their skills big on-field production could follow. Facing a Cleveland defense that is deceptively talented and very well coached by coordinator Ray Horton, it will be a tough test to for them to start strong out of the gate.

Predictions: Richardson racks up 144 total yards and rushes for two short touchdowns, while Weeden connects with Cameron for a score in a 221-yard day. Tannehill throws for 248 yards and hits Wallace for a score, but two turnovers are his undoing. Miller chips in 81 rushing yards. Browns 21-13.

Atlanta (+3) @ New Orleans, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Drew Brees is no doubt anxious to get back to the field with head coach Sean Payton after enduring a highly frustrating year without the Saints' offensive mastermind. With a deep assortment of weapons Brees and company should have little trouble putting up points against a below average Falcons defense that will rely on two rookie cornerbacks in nickel packages. Marques Colston may be slow out of the gate after a lingering foot injury limited him throughout the preseason, but Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles figure to provide plenty of options for Brees, while Kenny Stills drips with sleeper potential given his speed and sticky hands. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas both looked invigorated in a competitive backfield during the preseason and should give Atlanta's front seven issues... The Falcons begin the defense of their 2012 division title in one of the places they've struggled the most during the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era (1-4 record in New Orleans). A dreadful Saints defense that allowed an NFL record 7,042 yards last season and is making the difficult transition from a 4-3 to a base 3-4 formation should be a welcome sight however for Ryan and his embarrassment of riches on offense. With Atlanta's D lacking for playmakers or pass rushers this game has the makings of a major shootout. Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson could all post healthy stat lines.

Predictions: Jackson plows his way to 106 yards and a rushing score. Jones snags two of Ryan's three touchdowns, Gonzalez the other, as the QB goes for 338 yards. Brees passes for 394 yards and connects with Graham, Sproles and Stills for scores. Ingram adds 72 and a TD on the ground. Saints 34-31 in OT.

Tampa Bay (-3.5) @ New York Jets, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Jets offense is a mess, but with the first-round talent on the defensive side of the ball in a Rex Ryan scheme, that unit may prove to be just fine without Darrelle Revis. Of course, in Week 1 they will hope to prove it against the man himself, as Revis' Bucs come to town with a lot of talent at the skill positions. At the end of the day though, they'll need Geno Smith to step up after an underwhelming preseason and connect with the Jets' mediocre receiving corps to put points on the board. With the green rookie under center and the banged up Mark Sanchez sidelined, expect to see Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell do their best to soften last year's top ranked run defense... Doug Martin is the centerpiece of a Buccaneers offense with plenty of potential, but for Tampa Bay to take a step forward from just being a team that can put up yards (ninth in 2012) to a team that can register W's, Josh Freeman needs to become consistent with his decision-making. Over the final five games of 2012 Freeman imploded with barely a 50% completion rate and 10 picks to just six touchdowns, resulting in four losses. That won't cut it versus a stingy Jets defense that could be even better than the unit that finished 8th in yards allowed last year. Look for Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to be relied on heavily out of the gate to get Freeman in rhythm and try to get Tampa's O to take the next step.

Predictions: Smith passes for 208 yards and a touchdown to Jeff Cumberland, but his two picks-one taken to the house-are back-breakers. Ivory rushes for 64 yards while Powell chips in 55. Williams snags a score from Freeman in the QB's 238-yard day, while Martin totals 112 yards with a rushing score. Buccaneers 24-16.

Tennessee (+7) @ Pittsburgh, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Pittsburgh's lack of depth and limited talent at the skill positions figures to put tremendous pressure on Ben Roethlisberger this season. Fortunately for the Steelers an opening home game with a Titans defense that gave up a league high 29.4 points per contest in 2012 and did little to upgrade should provide a welcoming matchup to get into an offensive rhythm. With second-round draft pick Le'Veon Bell (foot) out at least this week it's anybody's guess who will headline the backfield. After releasing last year's leading rusher, Jonathan Dwyer, the safe bet is for Isaac Redman to do the heavy lifting. Felix Jones has some upside as a more explosive runner than Redman, but it's unlikely he's earned as much trust from the coaching staff in such a short time. After Big Ben, his top target, Antonio Brown, looks like the best option for fantasy purposes... The identity of the Titans offense will be forged by the interior of its greatly improved line and the 1-2 punch of Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. The additions of guards Andy Levitre and rookie first-rounder Chance Warmack should provide Johnson with the best blocking he's seen in his career, which could revitalize the blazing fast back who has his sights set on another 2,000-yard season. Greene will serve as a change of pace back to physically grind out longer drives and may have flex value in deeper leagues. A stout Steelers defense that finished first against the pass in 2012 will greatly challenge Jake Locker, and how the third-year QB responds may be the difference in the game. Having a healthy Kenny Britt should help Locker compensate for the loss of Jared Cook.

Predictions: Redman rumbles for 64 yards and a short score, while Roethlisberger finds Brown and rookie Markus Wheaton for TD's in a 248-yard effort. Locker throws for 181 yards and scrambles for a touchdown. Johnson tallies 114 total yards and breaks one for six, while Greene chips in 52 rushing. Steelers 27-14.

Minnesota (+5) @ Detroit, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
If Detroit wants to get back to the playoff level they reached in 2011 it will take a threatening ground game to get them there. Matthew Stafford is a truly talented quarterback and Calvin Johnson is flat out unstoppable, but they are not enough by themselves to win close games. The addition of Reggie Bush gives the Lions another versatile weapon, one that could be a nightmare out of the backfield, fulfilling the role once envisioned for Jahvid Best. With Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure providing power and proven depth, it might finally be the year Detroit's run game garners defensive respect. And with a lack of experienced depth at receiver, the improved backfield couldn't come at a more crucial time... Adrian Peterson ONLY rushed for 273 yards in two outings versus the Lions last year, but he seems safe to trust in this matchup-despite a front-four in Detroit that has the makings of one of the league's best. Christian Ponder of course hurts the value of the three talented pass catchers in purple, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, but if he can finally start connecting on passes over 20 yards this offense could be a potent group. The Peterson presence just might open up that passing game now that Ponder has a deeper assortment of targets, and it should be noted that the Vikes boast one of the top o-lines in football.

Predictions: Stafford passes for 312 yards and touchdowns to Johnson, Bell and Patrick Edwards. Bush contributes 138 total yards. Peterson bullies his way to 144 yards and two touchdowns, picking up right where he left off in 2012. Ponder tosses it for 217 yards and finds Rudolph for a score. Vikings 30-27.

Oakland (+10) @ Indianapolis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
The Colts were a major surprise in 2012 when a nine-game turnaround landed them a Wild Card, but with Andrew Luck a superstar-in-the-making, Indy will sneak up on nobody this year. Facing a Raiders team with the league's most nondescript roster, however, won't require any sneaking. Whether Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) sees much action or not after resting the whole preseason will matter little versus an Oakland defense that finished 28th in points allowed last year and looks even worse on paper entering 2013. Vick Ballard should definitely be started if Bradshaw sits, while Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey could all post nice stat lines (though a caveat for the pass-catchers is that this could get ugly early and limit Luck's throwing). The Colts defense, however, comes without caveats facing a fairly hapless offense... Getting replaced late in the preseason by a younger, more mobile quarterback will forever be known as getting "Flynn'd" if Terrelle Pryor can keep the job and find any success after supplanting presumed starter Matt Flynn. After witnessing Flynn get crunched early and often in the preseason behind a Swiss cheese offensive line, Pryor might give Oakland the best chance to move the ball given his superior athleticism. The trade off though is a less accurate quarterback with less pro experience. Regardless what Pryor's legs bring to the table though, the thin receiving corps headlined by the talented but inconsistent Denarius Moore figures to provide little help to the man under center. The dynamic Darren McFadden, who struggled miserably in a zone-blocking scheme last year, will need his talents on full display in the return to a power run game if Oakland is to stand a chance.

Predictions: McFadden earns 107 tough yards but cannot find the end zone. Pryor gets the nod and runs one in while tossing it for 146 yards and two interceptions. Luck pitches it for 278 yards and finds Hilton, Heyward-Bey and Coby Fleener for touchdowns. Ballard chips in 95 total yards. Colts 30-10.

Seattle (-3.5) @ Carolina, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
Cam Newton had easily his worst statistical performance of the season last year in a home loss to Seattle. Moreover, the Seahawks defense looked more ferocious than ever in the preseason and Carolina did nothing to upgrade its offense-unless you count adding Ted Ginn, he of 33 catches in the last three seasons-as the team's third wideout. DeAngelo Williams, now 30-years-old, appears set to have one last chance at being a starting running back with Jonathan Stewart (ankle) on the PUP list, but the time to take advantage of that should be saved for another week... Russell Wilson struggled a bit in Carolina last year with two interceptions, but that game was played the first Sunday in October. His tremendous growth since that point should have him more than ready for a matchup with a shaky-at-best Panthers secondary. The going may not be as smooth for the Seahawks run game though. Despite the loaded backfield and physical offensive line, the young front seven in Carolina has boatloads of talent and could become one of the league's best this season led by tackle machine Luke Kuechly. With Sidney Rice (knee) banged up and Percy Harvin (hip) on the shelf for now, Golden Tate could have a big game if Marshawn Lynch and Co. struggle to find running room.

Predictions: Williams totals 49 yards in a hard-hitting affair while Newton adds 55 with his legs and 190 through the air, finding Greg Olsen for the team's lone score. Wilson hits Tate and Jermaine Kearse for touchdowns in a 256-yard day. Lynch rumbles for 83 hard-earned yards and finds the end zone. Seahawks 29-10.

Kansas City (-3.5) @ Jacksonville, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments:
After languishing towards the bottom of the league in offense during Blaine Gabbert's (ankle) first two seasons, Jacksonville actually has the talent in place to be an explosive unit. Of course, that hinges greatly on Gabbert finally displaying the tools that made him the 10th pick of the 2011 draft. With Maurice Jones-Drew back to full strength and presumably motivated by a contract year and the chip that's resided squarely on his bulky shoulder since he entered the league, and the playmaking abilities of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars have the weapons to score on even the best defenses. An improved o-line that added Luke Joeckel as the No. 2 overall draft pick may even be able to help Gabbert make a leap. Still, without Blackmon for a four-game suspension, those strides don't appear on the immediate horizon with a relatively loaded Chiefs defense coming to town... The Andy Reid/Alex Smith era in Kansas City will begin with a highly winnable matchup. Jacksonville will not only be without one of their best offensive weapons in Blackmon, but with little changes to its defense, the Jags will be without a pass rush as well. Last year's unit finished 32nd with a miserable 20 sacks, and Reid's pass-happy West Coast system figures to take major advantage of that with Smith having plenty of time to find his targets. Dwayne Bowe is the clear favorite among them and an excellent starting option given the matchup, while Jamaal Charles-seemingly fine after a foot injury scare-will certainly get his in the run game.

Predictions: Jones-Drew rushes for 86 yards and Gabbert passes for 204 with a touchdown to rookie Ace Sanders. Smith finds Bowe and Anthony Fasano for scores in a 251-yard effort. Charles contributes 110 total yards and finds paydirt on the ground. Chiefs 27-13.

Green Bay (+4.5) @ San Francisco, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
This time the Packers coaching staff has had an entire offseason to figure out how to keep Colin Kaepernick from sprinting through their defense like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl. All the scheming and roster re-tooling in the world though cannot neutralize the speed and strength that makes Kaepernick one of football's most versatile and dynamic weapons. Though he is without his star receiver in Michael Crabtree - who incidentally torched the Packers secondary in last year's divisional playoff win - Kaepernick will have the offense's heart and soul in warhorse Frank Gore lined up behind him in the pistol formation. Gore owned Green Bay in 2012 with 280 total yards and two scores between the regular season and playoffs, and behind the league's most physically dominant o-line, Gore's streak of pounding the Pack feels like a safe bet. To beat an Aaron Rodgers-led offense though you can't just run the ball. To keep the scoreboard lit up expect Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin to see plenty of targets against a Packers secondary that spent the summer banged up... The Packers crafted their draft around improving deficiencies that were exposed during the thumping San Fran gave them in the playoffs. They selected Datone Jones with their first pick to give an athletic boost to a relatively slow defensive line that wasn't garnering enough pressure or containing the edges well against quarterbacks or tailbacks and stole Eddie Lacy in the second round to take pressure off Rodgers' laser arm. The addition of Lacy in particular should give their offense a physical spark and an element of balance that will force defenses, including the stout Niners unit, to play closer to the line of scrimmage. This could open up the long ball again for Rodgers after defenses focused on taking that away last year. And despite the loss of Greg Jennings, a developing Randall Cobb, revitalized Jermichael Finley and the steady duo of Jordy Nelson and James Jones present more than enough talent for Rodgers to keep burning secondaries.

Predictions: Gore rushes for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Kaepernick adds 60 on the ground and another 226 in the air with TD's going to Boldin and Quinton Patton. Lacy rumbles for 63 hard-earned yards. Rodgers slings it for 315 yards and hits Jones (2) and Finley for scores. 49ers 30-24.

Arizona (+4.5) @ St. Louis, Sunday 4:25 p.m.

Comments:
Speed, speed and more speed. The Rams offense is still a far cry from "The Greatest Show on Turf" days, but with the additions of first-round pick Tavon Austin (4.34 40 time) and Jared Cook (4.49 40 at 6-5, 248!) and the promotions of Daryl Richardson (4.47) and Chris Givens (4.41), it should certainly produce many more big plays and points than in recent years. With the tools around him finally upgraded-and that surely includes trustworthy left tackle Jake Long-the door is wide open for Sam Bradford to take a significant step forward. Of course, only time will tell how much the loss of eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from Steven Jackson is felt by the offense, but at least the tools are in place for an exciting season-even despite those brutally tough NFC West defensive foes. Expect the speed to be a great test to a Cardinals defense lacking suspended stud linebacker Darryl Washington... Like St. Louis, the Cardinals received an offensive facelift during the offseason, primarily in the backfield and on the sidelines. The additions of 2012 Coach of the Year Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer should make the Arizona attack competitive with any defense as they test teams vertically with physical mismatches Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, both of whom figure to have big seasons in this system. Rashard Mendenhall will attempt to reprise the feature back role he once held under Arians in Pittsburgh, but that will hinge on the health of his balky knee. The success of Palmer and Mendenhall could be hamstrung though by the loss of first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper (broken leg), who figured to limit inside pass rushes and create running lanes with his supreme athleticism. The Rams were tied for a league-high 52 sacks last season and figure to tee off on the immobile Palmer if the Arizona run game gets off to a slow start.

Predictions: Palmer connects with Fitzgerald and Floyd for scores in a 285-yard day, as Mendenhall struggles to garner 58 yards on the ground. Richardson, in contrast, tallies 126 total yards and punches one in rushing. Bradford hooks up with Cook and Brian Quick for touchdowns in a 266-yard effort. Rams 27-17.

New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas, Sunday 8:30 p.m.

Comments:
These two teams know each other about as well as any two in the league, but the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense under legendary coordinator Monte Kiffin may give Dallas an edge in this matchup. As usual, the outcome of this rivalry game will likely be determined by the sharpness of the two quarterbacks. Tony Romo was extremely efficient during the preseason, displaying an even better chemistry with Dez Bryant than the two exhibited down the stretch last season. The latter appears poised to rival Calvin Johnson as the game's top receiver, while Romo, with the ever-steady Jason Witten and finally healthy Miles Austin still very much in the picture, may prove one of the best steals in fantasy this year. The Cowboys offense of course needs to stop being one-dimensional to get them over the division hump, and for at least this one week a healthy DeMarco Murray should provide that boost to a run game facing a thin Giants linebacking corps... After burning them in recent years, Eli Manning stunk it up versus Dallas in 2012, posting just 405 yards and one touchdown in two meetings. If Victor Cruz (heel) is close to 100% - and it appears he will be - the tools will be there for Manning to turn that around. Hakeem Nicks is about as healthy as he ever was last year and Rueben Randle has the skill to take a big step forward in his second season. Losing Andre Brown to a broken leg in the preseason makes the Big Blue backfield very thin, but David Wilson more than has the talent to keep it productive. So although it is a bit troublesome that the first team offense only produced three touchdowns in the preseason, it shouldn't be a factor at all for a talented group entering a rivalry game in primetime.

Predictions: Murray goes for 93 total yards and a rushing score. Romo connects with Bryant (2) and Witten for TD's in a 314-yard night. Manning pitches it for 288 yards and hits Nicks and Randle for scoring strikes, while Wilson contributes 131 total yards to the cause. Cowboys 31-23.

Philadelphia (+3.5) @ Washington, Monday 6:55 p.m.

Comments:
Robert Griffin III is doing his best to pull an Adrian Peterson this year. Like the reigning league MVP, Griffin will start Week 1 less than nine months removed from a torn ACL. The Eagles defense looked pretty shaky during the preseason, which is to be expected as they make the tricky transition to a 3-4 formation, but it may not benefit the Redskins offense if RGIII doesn't have the same mobility that helped him tear up the division and win Rookie of the Year in 2012. While it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see heavy doses of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu on the ground to slow down the tempo of the game and prevent hits to Griffin, it's also unlikely Mike Shanahan would put his franchise quarterback out there if he couldn't run the entire offense. So even if Griffin is running less than usual, expect last year's third-highest rated passer (102.4) to do plenty of damage with his arm... After all the speculation regarding the quarterback choice and how the Chip Kelly offense will look the wait is over. Michael Vick will take the snaps and the expectation is that Philly will be rocking at full speed for 80-90 plays. DeSean Jackson looks to be the only start-worthy receiver until the second and third targets are sorted out between the likes of Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and Brent Celek, but it's a safe bet someone else will be useful in this system before long. And although Washington was among the best versus the run last year, LeSean McCoy still figures to rip off plenty of yardage in a system that fits his elusive skillset perfectly. If the Eagles top 80 plays, don't be surprised if Bryce Brown is also quite useful in his reserve role.

Predictions: Vick runs for 51 and throws for 250 with scores going to Cooper and Celek. McCoy racks up 133 total yards and hits paydirt, while Brown chips in 64 rushing. Griffin throws for 248 yards and hooks up with Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis for touchdowns. Morris adds 102 yards on the ground with a TD. Eagles 27-21.

Houston (-3.5) @ San Diego, Monday 10:15 p.m.

Comments:
The Chargers could struggle to find their rhythm throwing the ball versus a Texans defense that sacked the quarterback 44 times last year and allowed just 6.7 yards per pass attempt-especially with Danario Alexander (ACL) lost for San Diego and Brian Cushing back for Houston. The sledding might not be any better though for Ryan Mathews who will try to find running room against a unit that allowed a measly five rushing scores in 2012. If Cushing and reigning Defensive MVP J.J. Watt stone the run from the outset, expect Philip Rivers to be looking early and often to top targets Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown... With Arian Foster having missed the entire preseason due to calf and back issues, it's unlikely the Pro Bowl back will see the heavy workload his fantasy owners have become accustomed to. Ben Tate may even carve out a relatively even split for at least this first week with Foster being brought along slowly, making him a legitimate flex option given Houston's preference to pound the ball (508 carries last year). Matt Schaub's new toy, first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins, may warrant a more balanced attack, however, as Andre Johnson will no longer be a one-man show in the passing game. Either way, the Texans have plenty of weapons with which to move the ball against a San Diego defense that is banged up in the front seven.

Predictions: Foster and Tate combine for 138 on the ground, with Tate getting the slightly bigger share and the touchdown. Schaub passes for 261 yards and scores to Johnson and Lestar Jean. Rivers hooks up with Gates for a TD in a 215-yard night, while Mathews totals 88 yards and runs one in for six. Texans 30-20.