Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season comes to a close with the debut of Monday Night Football. While NFL teams will play on Monday night for 16 weeks, Week 1 stands out because it’s the only time of the year when two games are on the schedule.
It’s the ninth straight year Monday Night Football will debut with a doubleheader. It’ll be the sixth time the San Diego Chargers are featured in one of the two games. They’ve gone 3-2 since ESPN began broadcasting two games in the opening week in 2006.
New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions
Both teams are looking to bounce back from disappointing 2013 campaigns. The Giants eliminated themselves from playoff contention by mid-October, losing their first six games. The Lions went a different route, losing six of their last eight games, including one to the Giants, finishing at 7-9.
New York was active in free agency, but they aren’t expected to do much better in 2014. Despite going undefeated in the preseason, questions remain about the Giants’ offense. Quarterback Eli Manning led the league in interceptions last year, and the offensive line could be one of the worst in the league. Guard Geoff Schwartz will miss at least the first seven games, and a defensive line that features the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley could give New York trouble.
Detroit could be in line to have a big offensive season. Matthew Stafford will have Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, who came over from the Seattle Seahawks, at his disposal. They’ll be going up against a New York defense that now includes free-agent acquisition Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Giants did get the better of the Lions last season at Ford Field. They won 23-20 in overtime, as Stafford was limited to a 53.9 passer rating.
TV Channel: ESPN
Start Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Detroit-5, 46.5
Prediction: Detroit 30, New York 17
San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals
For the second straight season, the Chargers will close out Week 1. The team hopes this year produces a better result, as the team gave up a 21-point lead in last season’s opener to a Houston Texans team that went on to win one more game in the remainder of 2013.
San Diego did go on to make the playoffs at 9-7. Arizona was left out of the postseason in the NFC, even though it finished with a better record, 10-6.
The Cardinals have not confirmed the status of the starting running back, but he might not be ready to go. Andre Ellington was limited in practice following an MRI on his foot this weekend. If he doesn’t suit up, Jonathan Dwyer will get the bulk of the carries.
The Chargers have a loaded backfield, with the likes of Ryan Matthews, Danny Woodhead and the newly added Donald Brown. They’ll be led by quarterback Philip Rivers, who is coming off arguably the best season of his career.
TV Channel: ESPN
Start Time: 10:20 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Arizona-3, 46.5
Prediction: San Diego 24, Arizona 21