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Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
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To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2013 NFL season.
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Game of the Week: Packers at 49ers
The NFL continues to operate under the assumption of parity, as this ideal gives every fan base hope that this year will be the year for their team. To some extent this belief holds merit, in the sense that similarity among football teams' aptitude is closer than other major sporting league. However, despite the “any given Sunday” mantra, there are truthfully only a handful of franchises that have a viable shot at holding the Lombardi Trophy at season's end.
Luckily for us, two of these rosters face off in Week 1, giving us a possible preview of the NFC Championship game. The San Francisco 49ers, looking to avenge their Super Bowl defeat in February, start their road to retaliation by welcoming the Green Bay Packers, who are seeking vengeance of their own, to Candlestick Park in the WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
Green Bay begins its 2013 campaign at the scene of its 2012 season's end. The Niners took the Packers to the cleaners last January, with the contest doubling as Colin Kaepernick's coming out party, as the San Fran signal caller tossed for 263 yards, added an astounding 181 yards on the ground and found the end zone four times in the 49ers' 45-31 victory. Given the memory of Aaron Rodgers is anything but ephemeral, you better believe last year's defeat is fresh in the minds of the Cheeseheads.
Yet has the Packers' high-flying offense lost a bit of luster? The departure of Greg Jennings to the rival Vikings didn't help, and the offensive line took a major hit with an injury to Bryan Bulaga. Worse, the receiving corps is also beat up, with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson nursing ailments.
Nevertheless, as long as Mr. Rodgers is under center, the Green Bay offensive assault should be just fine. Entering his sixth season as starter, Rodgers looked efficient as ever during training camp and limited preseason play. Especially positive was an improved rapport with tight end Jermichael Finley, who had a bit of a falling out with Rodgers last season. Cobb and Nelson are expected to play despite their injuries, and James Jones proved a red-zone machine last year.
But the reason for hope in Lambeau lies in the running game. Rookie back Eddie Lacy might provide the much-needed complement to Rodgers' air attack that Green Bay has so desperately needed. With a formidable rushing attack, Green Bay's offense, in theory, could be explosive as ever.
Which will make Sunday's matchup so enticing. The Niners resistance doubles as an All-Pro lineup, and conjures images of the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens. Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith lead a dynamic front seven, one that gives opposing field generals nightmares. The secondary lost a few pieces in the offseason, yet still brandishes Carlos Rodgers and Donte Whitner and added All-American Eric Reid in the draft. Hyperbole aside, with superior depth and a suffocating pass rush, this unit has the chance to better last season's mark of 17.1 points allowed per game.
When the Niners have the ball, all eyes will be on Kaepernick, as, in spite of his postseason success, the third-year arm out of Nevada is still considered an unproven entity. Not helping matters is a depleted receiving ranks, leaving Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis as the primary targets. Luckily for Kaepernick, the 49ers employ one of the best protection fronts in football, and Kaepernick has the services of a solid running game at his disposal. Though he might suffer from bouts of inconsistency, Kaepernick is more than capable of leading the Niners to the Promised Land.
So who comes out on top in this battle of NFC titans? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com pro football simulation engine, the 49ers grab the victory 53.5 percent of the time by an average margin of 20-19. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:
Please note: The Ravens-Broncos, Patriots-Bills, Dolphins-Browns, Falcons-Saints, Buccaneers-Jets, Chiefs-Jaguars, Packers-49ers and Texans-Chargers games were resimulated on 9/5 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 1
|@ Indianapolis Colts||75.1||29||Simulate Game|
|@ Washington Redskins||72.2||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||65.0||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Denver Broncos||63.2||25||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||46.5||19||Boxscore|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||53.5||20||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||47.1||25||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||52.9||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||52.5||28||Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||49.0||23||Simulate Game|
|@ San Diego Chargers||42.8||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||41.1||19||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||59.5||24||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||40.5||21||Simulate Game|
|@ New Orleans Saints||35.9||27||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||35.0||19||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||65.9||26||Boxscore|
|@ New York Jets||34.1||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||33.3||18||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||68.9||27||Boxscore|
|@ Buffalo Bills||31.1||19||Simulate Game|
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