(Editor's note: Every week this season, gay high school NFL fan Jeremy Brener will give his perspective and predictions for the upcoming week).
Week 1 is in the books, and there were several close games, several surprising performances, and the overall excitement that football has begun made it a very enjoyable Sunday for me.
Even if your team took a loss, do not panic, because Week 1 is not always indicative on how the whole season will go. Last year, the Titans won their Week 1 contest against in the tough environment at Arrowhead, yet they only managed to win one more game. The 2013 Texans are guilty of the same feat. And last year's Super Bowl champions Patriots kicked off their season with a loss, only to go 15-3 the rest of the way, earning themselves the franchise's fourth Lombardi trophy.
The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because a team doesn't look good in Week 1 does not mean they are a bad team. The Colts and Seahawks are not bad teams this year because they lost their opening games. I'm still picking them as the teams to meet at Super Bowl 50. Week 2 may not be a must-win, but if you are playing a team early in the year and you lose, it could hurt you when January comes along. Looking at you Kansas City, looking at you.
Every game is important: that is what makes the NFL so special. However, nobody should be writing conclusions based on one or two games. The Buccaneers made the Titans look like Super Bowl contenders on Sunday, but it doesn't mean they are. The Bills made the Colts look clueless on Sunday, but they are far from that. These games are important and should produce as many, if not more exciting moments than last week. Here is what you need to know about this week's lineup of games.
Game of the Week
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
I could have picked the NFC Championship rematch on Sunday Night between the Seahawks and the Packers. I also could have picked DeMarco Murray's first game against his former team when the Cowboys walk into the sea of green for the Eagles' home opener. Those are going to be very entertaining games, but if I could only watch one game (other than my Texans playing the Panthers), I would choose the reigning Super Bowl champs heading to Orchard Park to take on the upstart Bills.
It seems like the Bills have been riding a wave of momentum ever since they had their first winning record last year in 10 years. They hired Rex Ryan as their head coach this past offseason and they have a new QB in Tyrod Taylor. And they looked mighty impressive in their win on Sunday against the Colts. The Patriots look like they picked up right where they left off last season in a win over the Steelers. This game could have major implications as to who wins the division when the season ends. I've got the Bills to pull another upset and start their season 2-0. This is a dangerous team, and it reminds me a lot of the 2009 and 2010 Jets that went to the AFC Championship Game -- questionable QB who delivers, solid run game, terrific front seven, great secondary.
The Bills are hungry for the playoffs. They haven't seen the playoffs since 1999, the longest drought in the NFL. Fans were chanting "We want Brady!" after their win Sunday. The Patriots are going into a tough environment to take on Ryan's best team in a while, and Ryan's teams always compete against the Pats. I have the Bills in an upset, 24-21.
Upset of the Week
Houston Texans over Carolina Panthers
The Texans played a tale of two halves on Sunday. They shut out the Chiefs in the second half 11-0, but they played so terribly in the first half, losing 27-9. J.J. Watt had two sacks in the loss, and will probably add to that total when the Texans take on the iffy Panthers offensive line. The Panthers defeated Jacksonville, and I had them losing last week. No matter who is under center Sunday, the Texans know that they were embarrassed at home and know that they have to bounce back this week with a solid road win, and I think they get it done.
Fantasy Start of the Week
Titans QB Marcus Mariota vs. Cleveland Browns
Mariota was definitely one of the surprises of last week when he threw for four TDs in a win against the Buccaneers. He had more TDs than incompletions. This week, he gets another favorable matchup when the Titans head to Cleveland to face the Browns. The Browns defense allowed 31 points against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets, whose offense was projected to be in the bottom fourth of the league. I expect him to have another multi-TD game as the Titans take advantage of their favorable schedule and match their win total from last season.
Honorable Mention: Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Carolina Panthers
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Packers WR James Jones vs. Seattle Seahawks
Jones will likely be the most popular waiver wire pickup this week, considering he was only owned in a handful of leagues and he caught multiple TDs against the Bears. He will continue to be one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets. However, this is not the week to place him in your starting lineup, simply because of the matchup against the Legion of Boom. Last week, when the Seahawks faced the Rams, no wide receiver had more than 58 yards receiving. Go out and get Jones if he is available, but keep him on the bench this week, and maybe he'll be worth a start in Week 3 when the Packers host the Chiefs.
Honorable Mention: Chargers RB Danny Woodhead vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Dolphins WR DeVante Parker
The Dolphins' receivers struggled against the Redskins in Week 1, mainly because they lack a WR1. Sure, Jarvis Landry is a good receiver, but he is a slot receiver, and he should not be the main target of the offense. Parker is a great stash if you're looking to change your lineup this week. He had foot surgery in the offseason, and he may not be a major contributor early in the season, but he can definitely show up later in the year. The Dolphins used a first-round pick on this guy, and he should be seen as one of Ryan Tannehill's favorite targets as the season goes on.
Honorable Mention: Ravens WR Breshad Perriman
Lock of the Week
New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is a great week to pick the Saints. It's their home opener, and they are facing a rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston, in his first road start. The Saints competed in the desert against Arizona, keeping the score close until the final minutes. The Bucs defense let a rookie QB throw for four TDs. Imagine what will happen when future Hall-of-Famer Drew Bress in his home opener plays them.The Saints will make the Bucs walk the plank.
Honorable Mention: Baltimore Ravens over Oakland Raiders
Buzzer's Best Bet
Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski will make one pick each week against the spread, so bet accordingly (generally for the other team).
San Francisco +5.5 at Pittsburgh. Pick: Pittsburgh.
The Steelers will have had 10 days rest by kickoff, while the 49ers will have six having played the late Monday night game. In addition, the game kicks off at 1 p.m. EDT, which is 10 a.m. for the 49ers' body clocks and these west-to-east trips can be tough on the Pacific Time Zone team. The Steelers moved the ball at will against the Patriots but mistakes kept them from a win. The Niners looked great Monday but a short week and a long trip will take its toll. And they are playing an explosive offense, not the pop-gun one that saw in the Vikings.
Last week's pick: Win (Denver to cover against Baltimore). Season: 1-0.
Hot Player on the field
Ravens RB Justin Forsett vs. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders gave up 127 rushing yards and 2 TDs to the Bengals last week. Forsett plays on a team without a true answer in the receiving corps as of yet, meaning Forsett should get more carries. I think Forsett should be the center of the offense for the Ravens when they face the Raiders and he is due for a huge day after having a not-so-huge day in Denver last week.
Honorable Mention: Rams QB Nick Foles vs. Washington Redskins
Hot Player off the field
Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet
Helfet is originally from South Africa and does modeling on the side. He hates milk and cheese but loves Cracklin' Oat Bran. At 6-3, 240, he can eat a lot of cereal. There are tons of photos on his Instagram page, including him shirtless and with cute dogs.
Jeremy Brener lives in Houston. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy).