Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints: 5 Bold Predictions For Week 1 Of 2016 NFL Season

American football aficionados have been waiting over six months for the start of the 2016 NFL season. To the absolute delight of many, remaining patient paid dividends as the new campaign is now upon us.

In Week 1, the New Orleans Saints host the Oakland Raiders in what the swell folks in Las Vegas project to be an overwhelmingly high-scoring game (51-point over/under). This makes sense considering the Saints showcase one of the most dynamic offenses in the game, while simultaneously employing an especially poor defense that the Raiders should run through like Swiss cheese.

So, what should we expect from this intriguing AFC-NFC showdown? Find out with these five bold predictions.

Khalil Mack Sacks Drew Brees Twice

As an aging quarterback, knowing he’s going to have to deal with Khalil Mack for three hours on Sunday can’t be massively encouraging for Drew Brees as he awaits the start of his 16th NFL season.

New Orleans’ offensive line will have to give 110 percent to have any chance of keeping Brees on his feet throughout all four quarters, so you can expect to see multiple breakdowns with Mack ultimately reaching him to record two emphatic sacks.

Latavius Murray Electrifies

New Orleans’ run defense was utterly atrocious in 2015 as the Saints gave up 2,076 yards, which was good for second-worst in the NFL. This puts Raiders running back Latavius Murray in a position to explode for a monster game indoors on the fast track of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Raiders QB Derek Carr is plenty capable of airing things out, which will make it nearly impossible for the Saints to stack the box with eight guys in efforts to slow Murray down. Expect 125 total yards and one TD at minimum from Latavius.

Michael Thomas Scores Touchdown In First NFL Game

Oakland’s secondary is one of its strengths, but likely will struggle to shut down all of the veteran Brees’ weapons in this one.

Most of the Raiders’ attention on defense will have to be sent WR Brandin Cooks and RB Mark Ingram’s way, and rookie Michael Thomas stands to benefit from loosened coverage as a result.

The second-round pick out of Ohio State has talked a humble game thus far in his young career. But as John Katzenstein of NOLA.com reported, behind the scenes, Thomas is confident in his skill set and desires to be the best wide receiver in the NFL.

“Privately, Thomas is so confident that some people might consider him arrogant. Heck, Saints rookie safety Vonn Bell played with Thomas at Ohio State and said Thomas gave himself the nickname ‘Can’t Guard Mike.'”

Expect Thomas to take the first step toward his career goal by scoring a touchdown against the Raiders.

Coby Fleener Underwhelms In Saints Debut

Coby Fleener seemed lost at times with his new team this summer. Keep in mind, Fleener was a college teammate of Andrew Luck, and had played most of his collegiate and NFL career with Luck under center prior to signing with the Saints.

Although the Raiders aren’t exactly an impregnable juggernaut when it comes to defending tight ends, it’s fair to assume Fleener will need some time to get acclimated to New Orleans’ system in the regular season, and won’t be much of a factor in his first game in the bayou.

[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]
Raiders Win 31-28

Put simply, it’s impossible to fix a defense that played as poorly as New Orleans did in 2015 over a single offseason.

Each of these teams should put up points seemingly at will, but the Raiders will be able to get enough pressure on Brees to force him into a few boneheaded turnovers, and they will cost the Saints the game.

I understand that it’s a lot to ask an up-and-coming team to win on the road in arguably the loudest building in the NFL, but that’s exactly what the Raiders will do as they cement a three-point victory late in the fourth quarter.

[Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images]

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