NFL Week 1 Predictions
Texans @ Chiefs
This game has already been played, but these were my predictions before the game started. The Chiefs are going to come out and dominate the Texans in all aspects. Bill O'Brien is my least favorite head coach in the NFL and we'll see that the Texans actually got a lot worse this offseason. Deshaun Watson is special, that's undebatable. He just doesn't have that number one guy. He doesn't have the firepower to go to. For those reasons, I blame Bill O'Brien. Deandre Hopkins was that guy and if they would have built around that duo, the Texans would be in shape to make another playoff run. The Chiefs on the other hand should be hitting on all cylinders. The number one thing you'll be hearing me talk about the first few weeks is continuity. What ever teams have retained the most from the season prior will benefit from the offseason or lack their of one.
What to watch for: The new running backs in Houston and KC. The Texans traded a lot for David Johnson, so I'm looking forward to seeing if he can return to his 2016 self. On paper, the Chiefs got even better. Adding Clyde Edwards-Helaire is huge. His low center of gravity makes him hard to tackle and he should be huge in the receiving game. I'm curious to see how much work he gets off the bat.
Player of the Game: Patrick Mahomes
Final Score: Texans 20 Chiefs 31
Jets @ Bills
This may be the blow out of the week. These two AFC East teams are going in two completely different directions. The Jets seem bound for another top 5 pick and the Bills should be in the making for a deep playoff run. Earlier, I said that Bill O'Brien is my least favorite coach in the NFL. Adam Gase is right next to him. Gase hasn't been able to bring out the best in Sam Darnold and I don't think they're better than the Bills at a single position group. I wouldn't be surprised if after this year, they draft another quarterback. I like the Bills this year. Josh Allen should take a year three step and he has the best receiver he's ever played with. Devin Singletary should also get some more work this year and prove that he's capable of being a number one RB. This defense should shut the Jets down, I'd go all in on the Bills at -6.5.
What to Watch For: Can Quinnen Williams be the player who he was in college? How will Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen's chemistry be out of the gate? I was as a huge Quinnen Williams fan coming out of Alabama and last year he didn't live up to expectations. The Jets need a way to generate pressure on Josh Allen and Quinnen Williams should be that guy. I love Stefon Diggs, he just wasn't consistent on a weekly basis in Minnesota. If he can build that consistency with the Bills and have the A+ chemistry Bills fans are hoping for.
Player of the Game: Tre'Davious White
Final Score: Jets 7 Bills 31
Packers @ Vikings
This is an interesting game. I'm not really sure on what we'll be getting out of either of these teams. I expect regression from both Minnesota and Green Bay, but I'm curious to see who hurts more. The 49ers exposed both teams in the playoffs last year, but San Fransisco is still running on the Packers. The Packers didn't make any moves to show that they can stop the running game or to help Aaron Rodgers. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones are still there, but after that he doesn't have a ton of help. The Vikings should be able to expose the Packers run defense with newly paid Dalvin Cook. Cook should have a huge game on the Packers' weak run defense. Danielle Hunter going down is a huge hit for Minnesota, but they were able to fill that hole with Yannick Ngakoue. I see the Vikings winning this in a one score game.
What to Watch For: How big of a role will Justin Jefferson have in week one? Will the Packers be able to stop Dalvin Cook? As I've written in what seems like every article, Justin Jefferson is my favorite rookie this year. Gary Kubiak should give him a huge role out of the gate, but will he is the question? I'm watching to see how many targets he'll get against Kevin King and the Packers secondary. For the Packers I'm watching to see how they stop the run game. They were exposed, badly. Can they stop Dalvin Cook? That's what I'm watching.
Player of the Game: Dalvin Cook
Final Score: Packers 20 Vikings 26
Eagles @ WFT
Upset of the week! I wasn't going to pick the Washington Football Team originally, but with the news of Miles Sanders being inactive, I changed my pick. It seems like everyone on the Eagles is banged up. Carson Wentz is going to have to carry his offense while I'm getting a little excited about Washington. He doesn't have Andre Dillard for the entire season and Lane Johnson week one. The Eagles are trending down right now and the Washington FT are growing on me. I don't think either team will make the playoffs this year, but I can see the Eagles starting the season off slow. I'm looking to see how Antonio Gibson does with the touches that he gets. I see him getting a lot of yards after contact and him running through this Eagles defense. Dwayne Haskins worked really hard this offseason and I'm excited to see how Scott Turner builds on Haskins rookie season. Haskins should be much better in year two. A player who I'm excited to see is Chase Young. His training camp clips get me super hyped. My bold prediction for this week is that he starts his season with 3 sacks! I'm expecting a monster day from Chase Young in his rookie debut.
What to Watch For: Terry McLaurin vs Darius Slay. McLaurin is a young killer and Slay is the savvy vet. Slay is one of the best corners in the entire league and is a huge upgrade for Philly. McLaurin on the other hand is coming off of a tremendous rookie season and was the silver lining of Washington last year. This will be a fun matchup to watch twice a year.
Player of the Game: Chase Young
Final Score: Eagles 19 WFT 22
Browns @ Ravens
I see this game defining the new age AFC North. I'm buying the Browns heavily this year, but I'm not sure if they'll be able to beat the Ravens week one. Cleveland played Baltimore really tough last year, they even beat them pretty bad early in the season. I'm interested in the analytics battle. Both of these teams are going to use a ton of analytics in 2020 and I'm curious to see which team outsmarts one another. The matchup of the week is Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. vs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. I've been a huge fan of Lamar Jackson's since his sophomore year at Louisville. He's one of my favorite players in the entire league. I think both him and Baker Mayfield are going to have big third years. The winner of this game will be who ever can get more sacks. Calais Campbell was one of the biggest steals of the offseason and I think he'll cause big problems for Baker on Sunday.
What to Watch For: What role will JK Dobbins have for the Ravens offense? What will be the Browns base personnel package? JK Dobbins was my number one running back in the draft and he fell to a perfect spot, similar to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I'm curious to see how many carries he'll get and how the Ravens use him in the run game. Will he be in the backfield with Mark Ingram? Does he get any targets? Will he be used more on inside runs or on the perimeter? Those are the things to watch in the Ravens offense. For the Browns, it's all about Kevin Stefanski. Last year, Freddie Kitchens didn't understand how to use different personnel packages to set up certain plays. I expect Stefanski to use a lot heavier sets and put Austin Hooper and David Njoku on the field at the same time. Stefanski is a big upgrade over Kitchens.
Player of the Game: Marquise Brown
Final Score: Ravens 27 Browns 23
Colts @ Jaguars
Based off of what the Jaguars have done in the past two weeks, I think they are all in on Trevor Lawerence. The Colts are also really growing on me these past few days. Frank Reich is one of the best coaches in the league, they have made some big time acquisitions this offseason, and they have the best offensive line in the NFL. I think the Colts are going to run the ball down the Jaguars throat on Sunday. This team is going to pound the ball with Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. I'm curious to see how many targets Michael Pittman gets and if Rivers won't look as rushed behind Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly. I expect this to be a multi-touchdown game as the Colts start the season strong.
What to Watch For: How many carries will Jonathan Taylor get compared to Marlon Mack? I think both backs are super talented and are capable of being number one ball carriers. People forget, Marlon Mack was really good last year. By the Colts drafting Jonathan Taylor, they're showing the direction they want their offense to go. They're going to run the ball down the defenses throat. Keep an eye out for the amount of carries each back gets.
Player of the Game: Quenton Nelson
Final Score: Colts 28 Jaguars 9
Raiders @ Panthers
This is my sleeper game of the week. Both teams got a lot better this offseason and overall it's a pretty fair matchup. These teams are in similar situations where they're going to get overshadowed by the elite teams in their division. By drafting Henry Ruggs, the Raiders got what they were missing. They didn't have that downfield threat which allowed teams to come up and play the run. My bold prediction for this year was that Josh Jacobs leads the league in rushing yards and join Christian McCaffrey in the conversation for best running back in the league. I'm interested in Joe Brady's offense. The Panthers have a killer receiving trio as well as Christian McCaffrey. This team is built really well and if it wasn't for Drew Brees and Tom Brady, I'd have them making the playoffs. This defense is really young and I expect them to struggle early in the season. I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the season they have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, but Gross-Matos and Brown may start the season slow. The Panthers are a solid pick for home underdogs this week and this will be a good game.
What to Watch For: Each teams rookie. Henry Ruggs and Joe Brady. I wasn't super high on Henry Ruggs coming out of Alabama, but his training camp videos have got me hyped. Ruggs looks like everything the Raiders have hoped for him and he's going to be fun to watch in year one. Joe Brady on the other hand wasn't a first round pick. He produced them. He was LSU's offensive coordinator last year and is now Carolina's OC. I'm super excited to see how he uses DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and all of the Panthers skill positions. How will Teddy Bridgewater respond to LSU's offense? How is Christian McCaffrey's role changing? Those are all things to watch for in Carolina.
Player of the Game: Josh Jacobs
Final Score: Raiders 27 Panthers 24
Bears @ Lions
I see this being a low-scoring, somewhat sloppy divisional game. I don't like anything that I've heard out of Bears camp, but I do love their defense. Assuming Khalil Mack is healthy, he's going to be a force. He's one of the few players that you can just feel his presence. It's similar to Aaron Donald. For the Lions, this is a huge game. It's Matthew Stafford's first game back and he's looking to prove people wrong. Statistically last season, he was on pace for MVP numbers before his injury. He was putting up amazing numbers and this year his supporting cast is even better. I'm worried because Kenny Golladay won't be playing week one, but Marvin Jones should be able to pick up the slack for at least one week. On the other hand, Mitch Trubisky is 3-0 against the Lions in his career, has a 75% completion percentage, and a 9:1 touchdown-interception ratio. Even though they're all really good stats, I don't like the Bears offense one bit and I think Jamie Collins will be the game changer in Detroit. I see Detroit winning in a really sloppy game.
What to Watch For: How the Lions divvy up their carries. I'm interested in seeing how much work Deandre Swift gets week one and if Kerryon Johnson looks like what we've expected him to be the past few years.
Player of the Game: Jamie Collins
Final Score: Bears 16 Lions 24
Seahawks @ Falcons
The Falcons always play the Seahawks tough. The Seahawks are making the long trip from Seattle to Atlanta and Atlanta ended the season really hot in 2020. I also think Calvin Ridley is going to have a huge season and Atlanta is going to have a new swagger with those new uniforms. Seattle also usually starts the season off slow, that being said it's really hard to bet against Russell Wilson. I have a man crush on DK Metcalf and he only got better as the season went on. He was training with Russ this offseason and there connection should only be better in 2020. I keep going back and forth with this game. Neither teams offensive line looks good, but the Falcons defensive line is much better than Seattle's. If Atlanta wins this game, I'll say it's because Dante Fowler has two sacks. Seattle's safeties are going to be flying all over the field on Sunday. I'm going to go with Seattle, but this could change right before the game starts.
What to watch for: Who is going to get pressure from Seattle's defensive line? Which Todd Gurley do we see? Seattle's best defensive lineman is Jarran Reed. I don't think they can get pressure from a four man rush which worries me. Can Reed step up or will it be LJ Collier? These are the questions I have, but luckily they get to go up against an inexperienced offensive line. The left side of their line is solid, but their right side is two first round picks from 2019. If the Falcons can get the run game going, that would be huge. I'm curious to see if we can get 2018 Todd Gurley. Gurley has a chip on his shoulder and if he can have around 80 yards in week one, Atlanta can come away with the upset.
Player of the Game: DK Metcalf WR Seahawks
Final Score: Seahawks 33 Falcons 30
Dolphins @ Patriots
This was one of my favorite games all week. I really don't have any idea how either of these teams are going to look in 2020. I love both coaches and both defenses have been revamped. The Dolphins defense is much better while the Patriots are worse. Miami was able to sign two former Patriot linebackers with Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts and they locked up Byron Jones on the outside. They're building their defense like the Pats did last year which is through the secondary. The Patriots on the other hand lost a lot of pieces from free agency and COVID. Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick always starts the season off fast. DeVante Parker's last game in 2019 was the game where he dominated Stephon Gilmore, so I'm looking forward to seeing that matchup on Sunday. For New England, I have no idea how Cam Newton is going to look. Physically, he looks like superman right now. I'm looking forward to watching him bring that swagger to the Patriots offense and just bringing a fun spirit to New England. I'm not really sure what to expect out of either of these teams, but I'm looking forward to watching them battle it out on Sunday. The Patriots are another team who can be on upset alert and I'd hammer the Dolphins as 6.5 point under dogs.
What to watch for: The Return of Cam Newton. Like I said, Cam is the player who I have my eyes on. I look forward to watching him ball out up North, I just don't know what this offense is going to look like.
Player of the Game: Cam Newton QB Patriots
Final Score: Dolphins 26 Patriots 27
Chargers @ Bengals
This will be another fun game to watch. I'm all eyes when it comes to Joe Burrow. I get the vibe from him where he's one of those rare players who just brings winning with him. The loss of Derwin James is going to be huge for the Chargers defense. He was the energy of this team. Overall, I think this is going to be close game. For Cincinnati, there defense looks really bad. They're playing without Geno Atkins and this defense just doesn't stick out on paper. Offensively for the Chargers, Austin Ekeler should be able to get busy with Atkins out and I'm curious to see if Tyrod Taylor will take some shots down field. Joe Burrow's offensive tackles are Jonah Williams who's never played an NFL game and Bobby Hart who really struggled last season. Slowing down Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will be tough. Once Joe Burrow gets his rhythm he's hard to stop, so it'll be interesting to see if Burrow can catch fire against this defense.
What to watch for: Joe Burrow vs the Chargers Defense. Even though LA lost Derwin James, they're still stacked on defense. Burrow is making his debut against one of the best defensive lines and a ball hawking secondary. Not to mention, the Chargers drafted one of the best defenders in the draft in Kenneth Murray. Burrow has a lot of weapons: AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate, and Joe Mixon. This offense vs LA's defense will be fun to watch.
Player of the Game: Joey Bosa DE Chargers
Final Score: Chargers 28 Bengals 24
Buccaneers @ Saints
This is the game of the week. This game will have the most viewers and while there won't be fans in the stands, you know they're watching. It's Brady vs Brees, two greats, two different cities. This is the first game Brady will ever play without Coach Belichick. It's going to be different. We haven't seen Brady have these weapons since his 2007 year. I have no clue what to expect out of Tampa Bay. I can't wait to watch Tom Brady. In New Orleans, this has to be the year. The Saints are going to be fighting for home field advantage this year and that first round bye. If they lose right out the bat against a division rival who will also be fighting for a playoff spot, that's scary. It doesn't happen often, but week one is a must win game for New Orleans. My biggest question mark in the entire game is can the Buccaneers slow down Michael Thomas? Their secondary was really good in the last five games of 2019, but will it be enough to slow down the best receiver in football? That's one thing to watch. I see this being a really good game. I see this game being a shootout that comes down to the last drive.
What to watch for: The connection of Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. For the first time in his career, Brady is playing without the same head coach. We know that Bruce Arians has a "no risk it, no biscuit" mentality. Tom Brady plays a little safer, so it will be interesting to see how this offense flows. Tom Brady is the best player in NFL history, he should be able to transition flawlessly and help Tampa Bay compete for a super bowl.
Player of the Game: Michael Thomas WR Saints
Final Score: Buccaneers 27 Saints 30
Cardinals @ 49ers
This should be a sneaky good game. The Cardinals always play the 49ers tough, but I love the mentality SF has this game. Kyle Shanahan is coaching with a chip on his shoulder and he's been scheming all offseason for this game. The 49ers have been disrespected all offseason, while the Cardinals are the hype team. With the addition of Deandre Hopkins, Kyler Murray officially has his go-to guy. The Cardinals also added a matchup nightmare with Isaiah Simmons. On the other hand, the 49ers are playing without their number one receiver. I'm curious to see who will step up in the 49ers receiving core. Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Dante Pettis, George Kittle, and Jordan Reed are all players to watch. The 49ers are really deep on offense and the public has forgotten about a lot of their weapons. This game will be decided by what ever team is more discipline. The 49ers will need to be discipline when it comes to keeping Kyler Murray in the pocket and will need to have a clean game when it comes to penalties. The Cardinals will need to be discipline when it comes to the eye candy that Kyle Shanahan throws their way with pre-snap motion and personnel groups. Kyler Murray also can't rush his throws when the pressure gets to him. So discipline is really important in this game.
What to watch: How will the Cardinals use Isaiah Simmons? How will the players coming back from injury do in San Francisco? For the Cardinals, I'm curious to see how many reps Isaiah Simmons gets at OLB, ILB, and Safety. Vance Joseph loves to bring pressure so I expect him to rush the passer a lot. I'm watching Isaiah Simmons. In SF, I'm watching three players in particular: Jerick McKinnon, Trent Taylor, and Trent Williams. Williams is going to have the biggest role. He was elected team captain and will be protecting Jimmy G's blindside. McKinnon and Taylor will be man coverage nightmares. Taylor will wreck from the slot while McKinnon is going to run option routes out of the backfield. Keep an eye out for those players.
Player of the Game: Jimmy Garoppolo QB 49ers
Final Score: Cardinals 23 49ers 31
Cowboys @ Rams
This game is going to be fast and high scoring. It's in the brand new SoFi stadium on Sunday Night Football. I think each team is going to come out fast. Dak Prescott is my pick for Offensive Player of the Year and I'm excited to see his receiver trio. The Rams are looking to defend their home turf and show their doubters wrong. From everything I've seen, Aaron Donald looks even better this year and all of their star players have been paid. For Dallas, it's time to see some flavor. Their offense has been so dull the past few years and Mike McCarthy is looking to change that. The Cowboys should be really good this year, but I'm worried about their defensive line. I think Dallas has one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL and the Rams have one of the worst offensive lines. I see this game being super high scoring and filled with a ton of offensive highlights.
What to watch for: Cam Akers and CeeDee Lamb. Both of these rookies have a ton of hype and are big names when it comes to fantasy football. I am a big fan of CeeDee Lamb's, but he never played against the press in college. I'm watching his releases off the line and how much separation he's able to gain. For Akers, he is super elusive, but he's never had a good offensive line to play behind. I'm watching how many carries he gets and his target share in the passing game. Keep an eye out for these two rookies.
Player of the Game: Dak Prescott QB Cowboys
Final Score: Cowboys 34 Rams 27
Steelers @ Giants
The Steelers are a sleeper super bowl contender. There defense is fast and fierce and it's Big Ben's return. I love the addition of Chase Claypool and he'll be an instant impact player. On the other side, they have a really young and fast team. This is a really rough matchup for Daniel Jones, but I think he could take advantage of this defense through his legs and by passing the ball to Saquon Barkley. This could be TJ Watt's defensive player of the year run and I think he'll come out hot. Both teams will be better this year, but this Steelers defense is going to elevate them over NYG.
What to watch for: Devin Bush vs Saquon Barkley. These are two really fast, athletic, young stars. Saquon Barkley has proven himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL while Devin Bush is coming off a strong rookie season. I'm excited to see these two meet in the hole, hit shoulder pads, and see which one wins. When it comes to Saquon Barkley, it's about gang tackling. That means everyone running to the ball and making sure he goes down. This will be an interesting matchup, but I see Pittsburgh winning it.
Player of the Game: Devin Bush LB Steelers
Final Score: Steelers 23 Giants 19
Titans @ Broncos
This game has to playoff contenders in the AFC. The Titans and Broncos have each been hit with bad news this week when it comes to Isaiah Wilson, Von Miller, and Courtland Sutton. This game is going to be sneaky good with heavy run action out of both sides. Derrick Henry is coming off of an amazing running back season and the Broncos have one of the best RB duos in all of football. The Titans have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, shoutout to the boy, but I'm looking for a step of consistency with Ryan Tannehill. AJ Brown and Courtland Sutton each have star potential. They can be the future of the wide receiver position, but Sutton might not play. KJ Hamler is also questionable so Jerry Jeudy could have a lot on his plate in the first game.
What to watch for: Can AJ Brown dominate out of the gate? Will Jerry Jeudy be able to be the number one guy for Drew Lock? These are two of my favorite receivers to come out of the draft the past two years. They're both really good route runners and know how to create separation. Look out for both of these young playmakers.
Player of the Game: AJ Brown WR Titans
Final Score: Titans 27 Broncos 22