2012 NFL Week 1 Picks and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

2012 NFL Week 1 Picks and Predictions

NFL Week 1 box scores and stats included

By Joel Beall and Jake Westrich - WhatIfSports.com
UPDATE: September 6, 2012

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.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

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Game of the Week: 49ers at Packers

Coming off a Super Bowl conquest, the Green Bay Packers unleashed one of the most assertive and unequivocal title defenses in the annals of sports in 2011. Spurred by a youthful, energetic core on offense, the Packers lit up the scoreboard to the tune of an NFL-best 35 points per game. The Green Bay defense, though prone to surrendering their fair share of yardage, was proficient in their own right, accumulating 38 turnovers, tied for tops across the league's landscape. This duo dexterity correlated to the second-highest point differential in the conference en route to a 15-1 record in the regular season.

This frozen-tundra transcendence was breathtaking, yet it wasn't unforeseen, as most of the vital components off the championship-winning roster had returned. The same sentiment could not be said for the forecast of the San Francisco 49ers, as the once-storied franchise had just concluded their eighth consecutive non-winning campaign in 2010.

The prognosis for a ninth woeful operation looked likely, as the team planned on kicking the tires one more time with No. 1 overall flameout Alex Smith. Not helping matters was the trepidation on the coaching prowess of Jim Harbaugh, who, while boasting 16 years of NFL experience as a quarterback and assistant coach, was uninitiated to head instructing in the pro ranks.

This consternation bore erroneous, however, as the Niners were the toast of the league, racking up 13 wins and a first-round playoff bye. Smith submitted his most effective season in Frisco, tossing just five interceptions in 445 attempts. As for Harbaugh, his authoritarian demeanor in an atmosphere that lacked leadership earned the former fielder general Coach of the Year honors.

Alas, both squads were ultimately upended by the New York Giants last January on the G-Men's march to Indianapolis. As we enter 2012's opening weekend, the Packers and 49ers look to avenge last winter's disappointment, as each hold aspirations of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at season's end. Their battle this weekend in Lambeau Field is a rare early-September treat, and serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.

Seems somewhat asinine to proclaim the Packers improved, as only so much enhancement can be done to a 15-win team. Yet, despite their preeminent passing assault, Green Bay was far from perfect on offense last year, as the rushing attack was unable to move the chains, managing a measly 3.9 yards per attempt, second-worst in the conference. Enter Cedric Benson, the former Bengals back who amassed 1,000 yards in each of his last three seasons in Cincinnati. Though his mid-August arrival has the Texas product playing catch-up, Benson's size and power were two assets sorely absent in the Green Bay ground game a year ago.

While Benson's assimilation is certainly worth our attention, there's only one engine that ignites the Pack's high-octane offense: reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. Submitting one of the finest autumns ever seen at the position (4,643 yards, 48 total touchdowns, six interceptions), the 28-year-old is unquestionably at the pinnacle of his profession. Though his athleticism and cannon of an arm garner the attention, it's Rodgers' surgeon-like precision and mental aptitude that breeds his success and forebodes much of the same for 2012. Helping their quarterback out in his endeavors are Pro Bowlers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, along with targets Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb.

Formidable as Green Bay's flight plan may be, don't envision the usual amount of fireworks in Wisconsin this weekend. The 49ers boasted one of the league's best defensive units in 2011, suffocating adversarial offenses to a conference-best 14.3 points per game and 73.6 QB rating. Anchored by linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the Niners are the rare squad that can pressure the quarterback while protecting against the pass, which culminated in 23 picks (second in NFC) and 42 sacks (fourth in conference) last season.

However, all eyes will be on the San Francisco signal caller come Sunday, as Rodgers' achievements and Smith's relative unfulfillment beckons an unavoidable "what if" conjecture of the 2005 NFL Draft, where the Niners selected Smith with the first overall pick over Rodgers. Though 2011 was the start of silencing these condemnations, Smith can put the whispers to rest by taking the 49ers to the Promised Land.

So who wins this clash of NFC titans? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com football simulation engine, the Packers come out on top 50.8 percent of the time by an average margin of 23-22. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:

Please note: The Redskins-Saints, Jaguars-Vikings, Bengals-Ravens, Chargers-Raiders, 49ers-Packers, Seahawks-Cardinals and Patriots-Titans games were resimulated on 9/6 to account for injuries and roster updates.

NFL Week 1
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Indianapolis Colts15.217Boxscore
@ Chicago Bears84.830Simulate Game
Miami Dolphins23.716Boxscore
@ Houston Texans76.325Simulate Game
St. Louis Rams30.421Boxscore
@ Detroit Lions69.627Simulate Game
Washington Redskins31.623Boxscore
@ New Orleans Saints68.428Simulate Game
Jacksonville Jaguars38.517Boxscore
@ Minnesota Vikings61.520Simulate Game
Cincinnati Bengals39.016Boxscore
@ Baltimore Ravens61.019Simulate Game
San Diego Chargers42.221Boxscore
@ Oakland Raiders57.823Simulate Game
Dallas Cowboys45.521Boxscore
@ New York Giants54.522Simulate Game
San Francisco 49ers49.222Boxscore
@ Green Bay Packers50.823Simulate Game
Pittsburgh Steelers51.822Boxscore
@ Denver Broncos48.221Simulate Game
Carolina Panthers54.525Boxscore
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers45.522Simulate Game
Seattle Seahawks54.722Boxscore
@ Arizona Cardinals45.320Simulate Game
Philadelphia Eagles56.023Boxscore
@ Cleveland Browns44.022Simulate Game
Atlanta Falcons56.822Boxscore
@ Kansas City Chiefs43.220Simulate Game
Buffalo Bills63.424Boxscore
@ New York Jets36.621Simulate Game
New England Patriots76.431Boxscore
@ Tennessee Titans23.621Simulate Game

Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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