The defending champs are looking hung over. A rookie coach and a draft bust begin their journey to destiny or disaster, and a Florida franchise sets out to prove that youth is merely a state of mind. Here are the latest NFL preseason schedule predictions.
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons: Tony Sparano still searching for quarterback
Most experts believe that quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons stand loaded for a Super Bowl run. The Miami Dolphins can't say the same. Head coach Tony Sparano has spent the entire offseason searching for a stable quarterback, but hasn't found one. This first preseason game against a tough Atlanta defense will tell a lot about who will start for Miami when the regular season starts.
Prediction: Falcons win 28-17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins: Rex Grossman faces Steel Curtain
With an injury to teammate John Beck, who is also vying for the Washington Redskins starting job, Rex Grossman was named the starter going into the NFL preseason schedule matchup against, what figures as, a very ornery Pittsburgh Steelers defense fresh off their humiliating Super Bowl loss. Grossman isn't known for handling blitzes very well, and many figure him to struggle despite a totally revamped receiving corps featuring veteran wide receivers like Brandon Stokley and Donte Stallworth.
Prediction: Steelers win 35-14
San Francisco 49ers at New OrlÃ©ans Saints: Jim Harbaugh believes in Alex Smith
Quarterback Drew Brees and Coach Sean Payton won a Super Bowl with the New OrlÃ©ans Saints. Jim Harbaugh is a rookie head coach placing the reins of his offense in the hands of a widely hailed draft bust in Alex Smith. That said, Harbaugh has a knack for developing quarterbacks as he did when coaching at Stanford and it's very interesting how the relationship with Smith will develop going against a new and improved Saints defense. One very big thing to watch is how running back Frank Gore fares against the Saints defensive line.
Prediction: Saints win 24-17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Sticking with the Young Bucs
Questions are already flying about how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers barely spent any of their enormous cap space to bring in more veteran leadership. Coach Raheem Morris believes the team should continue to hone and mature its young roster led by quarterback Josh Freeman. Such a bold decision deserves testing and the improved Kansas City Chiefs are happy to oblige at their home in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have a new backfield and a new receiver in Steve Breaston, that they are extremely anxious to put next to Dwayne Bowe against the Buccaneers defense.
Prediction: Bucs win 24-23
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns: Are defending champs getting sloppy?
Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't hold back his frustration when his world champion Green Bay Packers completed a sloppy day of practice. Knowing fully well the dangers of a Super Bowl hangover, McCarthy knows that even players like Aaron Rodgers can get complacent after fulfilling all the goals of their profession. The Cleveland Browns would love nothing better than to get their NFL preseason schedule off to a terrific start, by showing the defending champs that 2010 is nothing but a memory.
Prediction: Packers win 24-20
Round two of NFL preseason schedule predictions conclude. The last chapter approaches shortly. Stay tuned.