Whatifsports predictions

WhatIfSports NFL Week 1 predictions: Giants over Cowboys

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com’s NFL simulation engine generates predictions and box scores for every NFL game for the coming week. Our highly sophisticated algorithms simulate every play of every game to produce each team’s likelihood to win. Each matchup is simulated 501 times.

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

Note: Our predictions use the latest available team and player information, while NFL SimMatchup includes all players that were or will be available at any point during the 2016 season so that theoretical and “what if” scenarios can be simulated.

Last season, our NFL simulation engine predicted all 256 regular-season games, compiling a 156-100 record (60.9 percent) straight up. In playoff games, the simulation engine accurately predicted the winner in nine of 11 contests (81.8 percent), but misfired on the Super Bowl, picking a 20-16 Carolina victory.

In our weekly lock picks, we were 13-4 (76.5 percent), while our weekly upset picks were 6-11 (35.3 percent).

Week 1 Game to Watch

Giants at Cowboys: The NFC East appears to be wide open, and this may be the start of a new chapter for the Cowboys. Rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott are getting their first NFL starts in one of the league’s biggest rivalry games. We have a more experienced Giants team getting the road win 58.5 percent of the time with an average score of 26-23.

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Bengals at Jets (+2.5): The Jets finally have some continuity offensively, bringing back QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in a suddenly loaded offense with new addition RB Matt Forte. The Bengals passing game, meanwhile, will be without TE Tyler Eifert and may still be adjusting to the losses of wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. Our engine likes the Jets to protect home field and pull off the upset 52.1 percent of the time by an average score of 23-22.

Fantasy Start — Matthew Stafford, DET: The Colts were 24th in passing yards allowed per game, and they’ve suffered multiple injuries on the defensive side of the ball this preseason. In his last seven games of the season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford threw for 272 yards per game with 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Fantasy Sit — Kelvin Benjamin, CAR: It sounds like Benjamin will be on a snap count as he rounds himself back into shape after missing all of last season. That alone should be enough to scare away fantasy owners, but a matchup with the vaunted Denver Broncos defense should seal it. Leave Benjamin on your bench, if at all possible.

Fantasy Add — Spencer Ware, KC: You may have passed him up in your draft, but with Jamaal Charles still not quite ready to play, Ware should handle most of the heavy lifting in the backfield. With a cushy matchup against a bad Chargers run defense, Ware is going to fly off the waiver wire next week — unless you get to him first.

For more fantasy football tips, view our Week 1 player projections.

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