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Matt Ryan, Indianapolis (at Houston)
The Colts will have their fifth opening day starting quarterback in as many years, but this year comes with promise that the team hasn’t had since Andrew Luck retired. The pass offense has looked revitalized and crisp since OTAs, with a fresh start for both Ryan and the team healing the wounds from a disappointing 2021. The Texans' defense is still a work in progress and lacking impact players, so Ryan should have success picking on rookie corner Derek Stingley and getting Nyheim Hines and Mo Alie-Cox more involved than they have been in previous years.
Jared Goff, Detroit (vs Philadelphia)
Goff’s outlook has lost some luster with the pile-up of injuries on the offensive line that may wipe out two starters and a key reserve. However, the team still has a great set of tackles and an offense that should continue the momentum offensive coordinator Ben Johnson created when he basically took over for Anthony Lynn midseason last year. Unlike December of last year, the team will have a healthy T.J. Hockenson, a true deep threat outside in D.J. Chark, and an entire offseason to install a full playbook under one of the brightest young offensive minds in the NFL.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans (at Atlanta)
The only real danger in playing Winston this week is that the Falcons aren’t competitive enough to keep Winston passing into the second half. The reclamation project worked out for Winston and the Saints, as last year he was a much more efficient, but still just as dangerous, downfield passer. His #1-3 wide receivers last year are his #4-6 receivers this year as Michael Thomas is back (check his status before game time), and the team also signed Jarvis Landry and traded up to get Chris Olave in the first round. The Falcons always struggle to slow down the Saints, and Sunday should be no exception.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville (at Washington)
Lawrence and the entire Jaguars team should get a “ding dong the witch is dead” bounce in the first game of the post-Urban Meyer era. Doug Pederson has been a good offensive coach who has gotten the best out of his quarterbacks in the past, and the Jaguars brought in a lot of help for Lawrence this offseason. Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, Zay Jones, and Travis Etienne will all play in their first regular season game for the Jaguars. They’ll face a Washington team without their best pass rusher (Chase Young) and lacking the defensive line depth that kept stud defensive tackle duo Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne fresh and wrecking plays.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis (at Houston)
The Colts have told us from head coach Frank Reich that Hines will have a bigger role this year. The team is inexperienced at wide receiver and can use him more out of the slot, and they have also expressed a desire to lighten Jonathan Taylor’s load a bit. Hines should also benefit from the switch to Matt Ryan this year. Hines has three touchdowns in four games against the Texans with competent checkdown quarterbacks (Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck).
J.K. Dobbins could play, but most signs (including Lamar Jackson’s comments) point to him sitting Week 1, which leaves Davis and Drake as the top two backs. The Ravens' offensive line should be greatly improved from last year with the return of Ronnie Stanley. The introduction of first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum to fix the sore spot at center the team has had since Ryan Jensen left for Tampa. Davis and Drake should have better holes than the stifled run game had last year, and either could hit as a desperation play this week as long as the Ravens can control this game against their old starting quarterback, Joe Flacco.
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