The NFL season is finally here! Week 1 has all the makings of a great game with high-profile matchups like Cowboys vs. Rams, Steelers vs. Browns, and Ravens vs. 49ers. Here are some tips to help you win your fantasy football leagues this year
The nfl picks week 1 is a website that offers up the latest NFL news, odds, injuries and more.
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The NFL’s Week 1 schedule for the 2021 season is chock-full of intriguing games, and we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know ahead of the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters provide us with the most important aspects of each game, as well as a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score predictions.
Additionally, for each game, ESPN Stats & Information offers a key statistic to know, and our Football Power Index (FPI) digs deeper with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game prediction. Kyle Soppe, an ESPN researcher, also offers fantasy football and betting advice. Everything you need to know to prepare for a jam-packed weekend of NFL football is right here in one place.
Let’s take a look at the whole Week 1 schedule, which includes a matchup between two AFC heavyweights, many players making their first appearances with new clubs, and three rookie quarterbacks making their starting debuts. It all comes to a head on Monday Night Football when the Ravens take on the Raiders on ESPN. (Unless otherwise stated, all games are on Sunday.)
PIT-BUF | SEA-IND | ARI-TEN LAC-WSH | MIN-CIN | SF-DET PHI-ATL | NYJ-CAR | JAX-HOU CLE-KC | GB-NO | MIA-NE DEN-NYG | CHI-LAR | BAL-LV DEN-NYG | CHI-LAR | BAL-LV DEN-NYG | CHI-LAR | BAL-LV
TB 31, DAL 29 on Thursday
1 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 63.5 | BUF -6.5 spread (48)
What to look out for: The Bills were 15th in the NFL in sacks last season, while the Steelers defended QB Ben Roethlisberger better than any other team in the league, allowing just 14 sacks. Buffalo, on the other hand, overhauled its defensive line this summer, while Pittsburgh put right tackle Zach Banner on injured reserve last week and named rookie Dan Moore Jr. the starter at left tackle. Come Sunday, Roethlisberger’s jersey may not be so spotless. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
Steelers running back Najee Harris will have more over 100 all-purpose yards, according to a bold prediction. It’s a tall order to expect a rookie to lead a team’s ground game, but Harris, who was selected in the first round in April, is expected to accomplish just that. His first test will be against a Bills club that struggled with missed tackles and had an average run defense last season. In a defeat against the Bills in 2020, the Steelers combined for 47 rushing yards on 2.8 yards per carry, but as a dual-threat rusher and pass-catcher, Harris could significantly improve the Steelers’ offense — even with a still-developing offensive line. — Brooke Pryor is an actress who plays Brooke Pryor.
Josh Allen, the Bills’ quarterback, established club records with 37 throwing touchdowns and 4,544 passing yards, and his 25 running touchdowns over the last three seasons are the most among quarterbacks and eighth overall.
Steelers | Bills Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Allen was a top-five fantasy quarterback nine times last season, a league-high, but he’ll face a Steelers defense that was second in restricting fantasy quarterback output. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, the Bills covered six home games, matching their amount from the previous two seasons combined. Continue reading to learn more.
Bills 24, Steelers 21 is Pryor’s prediction. Bills 27, Steelers 14 is Louis-Jacques’ selection. BUF, 67.8%, according to the FPI (by an average of 6.7 points)
Steelers anticipate LB Watt to practice fully and be ready for the season opener… How Allen and the Bills maintain their underdog attitude despite the odds… The Steelers have acquired CB Witherspoon from the Seattle Seahawks… Stevenson’s and White’s journey from Shreveport to Buffalo
1 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 60.7 | SEA -3 | FOX Matchup rating: 60.7 (49.5)
What to look out for: Colts rookie defensive end Kwity Paye’s performance against Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown. Paye, the No. 21 overall selection in this year’s draft, crushed almost every offensive lineman he encountered in training camp, but he’ll be put to the test in his first NFL start. Brown is a four-time Pro Bowler who ranked second among tackles in pass block win percentage last season. The Colts are attempting to make up for the loss of Justin Houston and Denico Autry, who combined for 15.5 sacks in the offseason. Mike Wells’ remark
The Seahawks’ offense will have a mixed bag of results, according to my bold prediction. With one of the greatest skill player groups in the NFL and a new system that can knock defenders on their heels, there will be some moments that demonstrate how much promise it has. But it’s being run by Shane Waldron, a first-year playcaller, against a top-10 defense from last season, and several of its players, including quarterback Russell Wilson, have yet to play a down in the preseason. Brady Henderson’s quote
Since the start of the 2018 season, the Seahawks have gone 12-1 with Wilson as quarterback in the Eastern time zone. Wilson has a Total QBR of 83, 26 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 72 percent completion rate in those 13 games.
The clubs most positioned to dethrone the Chiefs as the top team in the AFC are identified by Jeff Saturday and Jeff Darlington.
Seahawks | Colts Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Last season, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was second in the league in the percentage of runs gaining at least 10 yards (15.1%), but he faces a tough matchup against a Seahawks front that ranked among the top eight in yards per carry allowed both before and after contact. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
The Seahawks are 8-2 as road favorites over the last two seasons, but they are only 3-6-1 against the spread (ATS) in those games. Continue reading to learn more.
Seahawks 23, Colts 21 is Henderson’s prediction. Seahawks 33, Colts 26 is Wells’ selection. IND, 51.7 percent, according to FPI (by an average of 0.7 points)
Seahawks’ Brown claims there’s no ill blood with the club following a contract disagreement… The Colts’ defense, led by Leonard and Buckner, is aiming for 40 turnovers… Same issue, new players: do the Seahawks have enough cornerbacks? … Wilson and Waldron of the Seahawks discuss how they intend to prevent a recurrence of the 2020 season.
1 p.m. ET | 53.7 CBS Matchup Rating | TEN -3 Spread (52)
What to look for: After limited repetitions together in camp, the Titans will finally see how fast QB Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver Julio Jones can get on the same page. Jones is an apparent mismatch against any of the Cardinals’ corners, and receiver A.J. Brown’s matchups are the same. Tannehill isn’t one to focus on one receiver in particular, so it’ll be fascinating to watch how he distributes the ball to his two top playmakers. Turron Davenport (Turron Davenport)
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A bold prediction: A lot of yards will be gained by a lot of guys at Nissan Stadium on Sunday. DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green of Arizona, Jones and Brown of Tennessee, and Titans running back Derrick Henry will all have 100 yards receiving in the opener. Both offenses will show off their skills and all of their flashy new players, but by the conclusion of the game, they’ll be tired. Josh Weinfuss (@JoshWeinfuss)
Jones and Hopkins are tied for the most receiving touchdowns in Week 1 among all presently rostered players, with seven each (Larry Fitzgerald has nine).
Cardinals | Titans Injuries
What you should know about Henry in fantasy football: In the first month of a season, he has never had a rush gain more than 25 yards. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, Arizona’s road games fell under the total in all eight of their games. However, in Tannehill’s starts since joining the club, the over is 21-4-1 in the regular season. Continue reading to learn more.
Titans 38, Cardinals 35, according to Weinfuss. Titans 35, Cardinals 27 is Davenport’s prediction. TEN, 63.6 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 5.0 points)
Must-read matchups: Cardinals’ Kingsbury isn’t worried about postseason pressure… Tannehill and Jones of the Titans must develop chemistry fast… Third downs are the Titans’ Achilles’ heel, and here’s how they can fix it.
1 p.m. ET | 51.8 CBS Matchup Rating | WSH -1 Spread (44.5)
What to look out for: Will the Chargers’ offensive line be able to fend off the Redskins’ defensive front? Last season, Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert was sacked 32 times, which was tied for ninth in the NFL, while Washington had 47 sacks, which was tied for sixth. And 34 of them came from a defensive line that brings back Matt Ioannidis as its best interior rusher and has Chase Young and Montez Sweat as two of the finest young defensive ends in the league. Los Angeles added four new starters to their offensive line, including rookie tackle Rashawn Slater, but will it be enough? ‘John Keim’
Yes, Washington boasts a defensive front that “is about as excellent as it gets,” according to Herbert. The Chargers’ offensive line, on the other hand, has a lot to prove. On Sunday, it’s expected to keep Herbert clean and enable him to pass for over 350 yards and three touchdowns. Shelley Smith says:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the quarterback for the Washington Redskins, will start for the ninth time. He was the only player (not just quarterback) to start for eight different clubs since at least 1933, according to Elias Sports Bureau data. Josh McCown is the only other quarterback who has thrown a ball for eight different clubs.
Chargers | Redskins Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Last season, Washington tight end Logan Thomas played 44.2 percent of his plays in the slot, and he’ll go up against a Chargers team that allowed the third-most yards per slot pass attempt in 2020. (8.8). Check out the Week 1 rankings.
In this video, Matthew Berry discusses why he is a big admirer of Russell Wilson this season in fantasy football.
Last season, the Chargers were 31st in fourth-quarter point differential (plus-69), while Washington ranked second (minus-50). Continue reading to learn more.
Chargers 27, Washington 17 is Smith’s selection. Washington 23, Chargers 21 is Keim’s selection. WSH, 59.3 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 3.4 points)
Must-reads for the matchup: Young or Herbert? ESPN analysts go back in time to make Washington’s 2020 selection… The Chargers are hoping that Vizcaino can help them with their late-game woes… Reyes joins the Washington Redskins’ roster, becoming the league’s first Chilean-born player… Herbert’s enchantment and mystique
1 p.m. ET | 41.5 FOX Matchup Rating | MIN -3 Spread (47)
What to look out for in 2020: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will make his official comeback after a season-ending knee injury. In 2020, he’ll attempt to take advantage of a Minnesota secondary that allowed huge passing plays, while Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will try to take advantage of the Bengals’ run defense. – Ben Little
Minnesota’s revamped secondary will struggle against Burrow, whose accuracy and scrambling abilities will lead to three throwing touchdowns, keeping the game tight until the closing seconds. Greg Joseph, who hasn’t kicked in a game since the conclusion of the 2019 season, will make a 50-yard field goal to boost Minnesota over Cincinnati. Courtney Cronin (Courtney Cronin)
• NFL analysts’ game predictions » • ESPN Chalk » | PickCenter » Additional NFL coverage »
The Vikings allowed 40.0 points per game in their last three games of the 2020 season, but they haven’t allowed 30-plus points in four straight games since the 2012-13 season.
Vikings | Bengals Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Last season, Cook had one flaw: his 3.7 yards per carry on up-the-gut runs, which placed 30th out of 47 qualifiers. Last season, Cincinnati’s 5.2 yards per carry allowed to running backs on such runs was not only a league high, but it was also the highest by an AFC defense since the 2012 Bills. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
The Bengals went only 1-7-1 against the spread with Burrow as quarterback, but they did cover five of those games. Continue reading to learn more.
Vikings 23, Bengals 20 is Cronin’s prediction. Bengals 31, Vikings 28 is Baby’s selection. MIN, 52.7 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 1.1 points)
Vikings rookie LT Darrisaw is expected to return to practice on Wednesday… The Bengals may be thinking playoffs because to Burrow’s increased velocity… According to a source, O’Neill has agreed to a five-year contract with the Vikings for $92.5 million… Bengals’ security Bates is utilizing meditation to help him prepare for a crucial season in 2021.
1 p.m. ET | 41.0 FOX Matchup Rating | SF -7.5 Spread (44.5)
What to look for: It’s the start of a new era in Detroit, with Jared Goff poised to become the first quarterback to start a season opener since Matthew Stafford in 2008. With little expectations for Detroit to win more than five regular-season games, the players seem to be relishing the position of underdog this season. T.J. Hockenson of the Lions is good friends with and a former college teammate of George Kittle of the 49ers, so that’ll be a battle to watch for bragging rights at tight end. Eric Woodyard’s remark
Much of the focus on the Niners’ quarterbacks heading into this game will be on them, but the run game, headed by running back Raheem Mostert, will steal the show. Mostert will carry for 150 yards and two scores against a Detroit defense that finished 28th in rushing yards allowed per game and allowed a league-high 27 rushing touchdowns in 2020, then made few major changes to improve in the summer. Nick Wagoner is a writer.
The 49ers have a 15-2 record against the Lions going back to 1988, the greatest record by a club against a single opponent during that time period (minimum 10 meetings).
49ers | Lions Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Antonio Williams of the Buffalo Bills had the highest-scoring career debut by a non-QB last season, with 21.3 points. Against a Lions defense that allowed a league-high 32.5 fantasy points per game to running backs last season, that figure may be within reach for Niners RB Trey Sermon. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Matthew Berry pinpoints Logan Thomas’s most striking resemblance to Rob Gronkowski.
Over the last decade, road teams favored by at least seven points have won 83 percent of the time outright, but have gone 87-88-3 against the spread. Continue reading to learn more.
49ers 31, Lions 23 is Wagoner’s prediction. 49ers 30, Lions 21 is Woodyard’s prediction. SF, 61.3 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 4.2 points)
What can the 49ers expect from Bosa in this matchup? ‘He’s a lot better…’ How a near-death experience shaped Lions general manager Jim Holmes… Shanahan remained tight-lipped on his quarterback pick, while Garoppolo says ‘it’s official’… ‘I’m concentrating on me,’ says Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who is forging his own path in Detroit.
1 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 32.8 | ATL -3 in the spread (48.5)
What to look out for: Both head coaches, Arthur Smith with Atlanta and Nick Sirianni with Philadelphia, are making their debuts, which has left both clubs with a bit of a schematic mystery. During training camp, neither the Eagles nor the Falcons showed much of their offenses or defenses. “I believe one of our advantages is that they don’t know what we’re going to do, and we don’t know what they’re going to do,” Sirianni said. “It’s like a blank slate right there,” she says. Michael Rothstein is a writer and producer.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay will record his third career interception against quarterback Matt Ryan, kicking off a comeback season for the team. In a 2017 game between the Falcons and the Detroit Lions, Ryan had an awful day, throwing three interceptions, two of which went to Slay. After just one interception last season, Slay, 30, is keen on creating more takeaways this season. It should help to be a part of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s takeaway-obsessed system. Tim McManus, Ph.D.
This week’s essentials include: • Check out the full schedule » | Check out the standings » • Every team’s depth chart » • Injuries » | Transactions » • Rankings of the Football Power Index » Additional NFL coverage »
At 23 years and 36 days old, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts will become the youngest Eagles season-opening starter in the Super Bowl era, surpassing Carson Wentz and Donovan McNabb. Both Wentz and McNabb won their respective openers, and although Hurts went 1-3 as the Eagles’ starting quarterback last season, his starts totaled 382.0 yards per game, compared to 318.8 for Wentz.
Eagles | Falcons Injuries
What to know in fantasy football: Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley led the NFL in air yards with 2,042, and he’ll face an Eagles defense that didn’t turn the ball over on long throws last season (2 percent deep interception rate, fourth lowest). Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, the Eagles were 1-7 on the road, both outright and against the spread. Continue reading to learn more.
Eagles 34, Falcons 26 is McManus’ prediction. Falcons 31, Eagles 27 is Rothstein’s prediction. ATL, 63.0 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 4.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: The Eagles must tread carefully in keeping Goedert and Ertz… Why Pees signed with the Falcons and is still planning defenses at the age of 72… Why Sanders might be a failure for the Eagles this season… Mailata thrives in Philadelphia thanks to the Eagles’ harsh love.
1 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 32.1 | CAR -4 in the spread (44)
What to look out for: Former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who is now starting for the Panthers, and new Jets quarterback Zach Wilson are the two players to watch. Whoever gets the greatest protection and is the most efficient will win, and both defensive coordinators will try to force the opposing quarterbacks to leave their comfort zones. David Newton is an author.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will have double-digit catches for the 11th time in his career, according to a bold prediction. For the Jets, he’ll be a matchup nightmare since they don’t have anybody who can cover him. C.J. Mosley struggles in coverage, and the rest of the linebackers are inexperienced. New York may use safety Lamarcus Joyner, who has worked as a slot corner in the past. Cimini, Rich
It’s worth noting that this is the first time a top-three-drafted quarterback has started his first NFL game against another player chosen by the same team.
Jets | Panthers Injuries
What to know in fantasy football: Since Week 14, 2019, McCaffrey has six games with at least 24.5 fantasy points, second only to Derrick Henry at the position. And McCaffrey has only appeared in seven of those twenty-one weeks. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
In the first half of the season, no team covered fewer games than the Jets, but only four teams (the Bills, Saints, Ravens, and Dolphins) covered more in the second half. Continue reading to learn more.
Panthers 31, Jets 24 is Cimini’s prediction. Panthers 27, Jets 17 is Newton’s prediction. CAR, 65.7 percent, according to FPI (by an average of 5.9 points)
Wilson and Darnold say the Jets-Panthers opening isn’t about outdueling each other… Darnold was more concerned with a second opportunity with the Panthers than with avenging the Jets… Can Saleh and Wilson, the Jets’ coach and quarterback, turn the franchise around? … The Jets have a youthful team (12 rookies!): Short-term discomfort for long-term gain
Matthew Berry believes in the 49ers’ run-heavy approach enough to place a premium on Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon.
1 p.m. ET | 11.3 CBS Matchup Rating | JAX -3 Spread (45.5)
What to look out for: Will rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence be able to succeed against a weakened Texans defense? Houston is already missing cornerback Bradley Roby (who will serve the remainder of his six-game ban in Week 1), and safety Lonnie Johnson is sidelined with an injury. Johnson did not practice on Wednesday because of a thigh ailment. Sarah Barshop is a writer.
Tyrod Taylor, the Texans’ quarterback, will pass for less than 200 yards. He’s faced the Jaguars twice before and hasn’t passed for more than 166 yards in either. The last time he faced the Jaguars in a game was in the 2017 playoffs, when he passed for just 134 yards in a 10-3 defeat. With the additions of defensive backs Shaquill Griffin, Tyson Campbell, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Andre Cisco to their secondary, plus defensive coordinator Joe Cullen’s penchant for calling a lot of blitzes, the Jaguars should make it a difficult day for Taylor. Mike DiRocco’s remark
There are a couple not-so-great streaks at work here. The Jaguars have now lost 15 games in a row, which is tied for the 10th-longest losing skid since the NFL’s 1970 merger. They’ve also let up at least 20 points in 18 consecutive games, which is tied for the fifth-longest stretch since 1970. Meanwhile, the Texans have lost four consecutive season openers, tying the Giants for the NFL’s second-longest current skid.
Jaguars | Texans Injuries
Only Mike Evans and Julio Jones have more long catches than Texans receiver Brandin Cooks since 2016, and he faces a Jags team that allowed the fifth-most yards per deep pass last season (28.8). Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Jacksonville has only been a road favorite in a division game three times in the last 15 seasons, and it’s the first time since 2017. Continue reading to learn more.
Jaguars 24, Texans 17 is DiRocco’s selection. Jaguars 24, Texans 21 (Barshop’s selection). JAX, 51.5 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 0.6 points)
Must-reads for the matchup: Lawrence is ‘ecstatic’ to be chosen one of the Jaguars’ rookie captains… Texans’ Taylor follows a straightforward philosophy: ‘Control what you can control…’ How awful do the Texans seem to be in 2021, according to Vegas?
KC -5.5 | 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 76.1 (54.5)
What to look out for: On the offensive line, the Chiefs will start two rookies and a first-year player (Lucas Niang opted out in 2020), but none will be scrutinized more than veteran Orlando Brown Jr., who makes his Kansas City debut at left tackle against the Browns’ Myles Garrett. The Chiefs’ rebuilt offensive line, which features five new starters from last season, performed well in the preseason, but Garrett and the Browns will provide a greater test. Brown kept Garrett without a sack in his one start as left tackle for the Ravens against the Browns last season, one of four games in which Garrett was held scoreless. Adam Teicher’s remark
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Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. will score two touchdown catches from QB Baker Mayfield in his comeback. While it may not be enough to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Cleveland’s offense can instill plenty of optimism for the rest of the season. Jake Trotter’s remark
The Browns haven’t won their season opener since 2004, when quarterback Jeff Garcia led them to a 20-3 victory against the Ravens. A 21-21 draw versus the Steelers in 2018 was the closest they’ve come. It’s the all-time longest winless run in season openers. Last season, though, the Browns established a practice of breaking losing records, including 12 consecutive seasons without a winning record and 17 straight seasons missing the playoffs.
Browns | Chiefs Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns was the RB5 in total points over the last six weeks of last season, and he shouldn’t have any trouble completing drives against the worst red zone defense in 2020. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
In 2019, the Chiefs were 11-5 against the spread (12-4 outright). Last season, though, Vegas made the necessary adjustments, as Kansas City finished 7-9 ATS despite a stellar 14-2 overall record. Continue reading to learn more.
Chiefs 35, Browns 31 is Trotter’s prediction. Chiefs 31, Browns 20 is Teicher’s prediction. KC is expected to win 67.6% of the vote, according to the FPI (by an average of 6.6 points)
Browns’ matchup must-reads: Continuity and comfort Mayfield is expected to make a “big leap” in 2021… At the same time, four tight ends? Kelce isn’t the only player on the Chiefs’ roster… Because of Mahomes, the Chiefs have had a lot of success in September.
4:25 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 66.5 | GB -3.5 spread (49.5)
What to look for: The Saints will have to cope with a lot of changes in this game, from their temporary “home” venue in Jacksonville, Florida, after Hurricane Ida, to at least 10 new starters in the lineup due to injuries, retirements, and a salary-cap purge in the offseason. None, though, will be more significant than the quarterback change from Drew Brees to Jameis Winston, who will attempt to resurrect his career by demonstrating that he can still make huge plays while avoiding the major errors that killed him in Tampa Bay. Triplett, Mike
This will become a quasi-home game for the Packers, which will play perfectly into the hands of QB Aaron Rodgers. With his cadence, he’ll get the Saints offsides more than once, and at least one of them will lead to a big play down the field, similar to the one he had last year against the Saints in a sold-out Superdome, when he drew a pass interference penalty on a free play that set up the Packers’ game-winning touchdown. Demovsky, Rob
In Week 3 against the Packers last season, Saints running back Alvin Kamara set career highs in scrimmage yards (197), receiving yards (139), and receiving touchdowns (2).
Packers against. Saints: Injuries
Matthew Berry examines a scenario in which Sam Darnold might be a good fantasy quarterback selection.
What you should know about fantasy: In New Orleans’ last preseason game, Winston connected with receiver Marquez Callaway for scores of 29 and 43 yards. The Packers allowed a 31-yard throwing touchdown in their preseason finale, and a WR1 racked up 110 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 last season (Adam Thielen). Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, the Saints covered in Week 1 for the first time since 2013, and just the fifth time in Sean Payton’s 15-year coaching career. Continue reading to learn more.
Packers 30, Saints 24 is Demovsky’s prediction. Packers 27, Saints 22 is Triplett’s prediction. The FPI predicts that the United Kingdom will win 55.1 percent of the vote (by an average of 1.9 points)
Must-reads for Sunday’s matchups: What to anticipate from Winston 2.0 in his first start with the Saints… Rodgers who is “kinder, gentler”? What rookie center Myers has to deal with now that he’s the Packers’ starter… Brees, the former Saints quarterback, discusses his favorite plays and greatest regrets… Rodgers prepares to begin his 17th season with the Packers amid “a lot of unknowns.”
NE -3 | CBS Matchup rating: 59.7 | 4:25 p.m. ET (43.5)
What to look out for: While the Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mac Jones narrative is well-known, we shouldn’t ignore the crucial variables that may determine their respective success. Austin Jackson, the Dolphins’ starting left tackle, spent the week on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates he may not play. Outside linebackers Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy, two of the team’s top defenders, may get a significant matchup edge as a result. Judon and other Patriots defensive players have said that they want to help Jones by doing their bit. “Right now, Mac has a lot on his plate,” Judon said. — Reiss, Mike
Prediction: The Dolphins’ defense, which led the league in forced turnovers last season, will slam the door in Jones’ face this season, limiting him to under 220 passing yards and a pair of picks. Jaylen Waddle, a rookie receiver, will have 75 total yards and his first career score on the opposite side of the ball. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
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The first meeting between NFL starting quarterbacks who played for Nick Saban in college will be between Tagovailoa and Jones (both at Alabama). Tagovailoa of Miami has a chance to become the first visiting quarterback under the age of 23 to win at Gillette Stadium, where starting quarterbacks under the age of 23 are 0-20. Jones, meanwhile, will make history as the first rookie quarterback to start a game for Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Dolphins against. Patriots: Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Opponents were on-target with 93.9 percent of their passes targeted at running backs against New England last season (second highest), and Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin finished his 2020 season with three 30-yard receptions in a row. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
In the last two seasons, quarterbacks making their first professional start have gone 18-6 against the spread. Continue reading to learn more.
Dolphins 20, Patriots 16 is Louis-Jacques’ prediction. Patriots 24, Dolphins 17 is Reiss’ prediction. NE, 59.8%, according to the FPI (by an average of 3.6 points)
Must-read matchups: Devin and Jason McCourty will square off as captains of the Patriots and Dolphins, respectively… Will the Patriots get a return on their $163 million free-agent investment? … Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa believes coach Flores’ encouragement means a lot to him… Jones and the Patriots’ rookie class are poised to make an impact right away… Can the Patriots’ Jones alter the NFL’s perception of Alabama quarterbacks?
DEN -3 | 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 40.9 (41.5)
What to look for: Von Miller, the Broncos’ top pass rusher, will meet Nate Solder, the Giants’ right tackle. Both players haven’t played since 2019. Miller missed the whole season last year due to an ankle ailment, while Solder opted out. Is Miller still in possession of it? He’s 32 years old, coming off a severe injury, and his last full season he recorded 8.0 sacks. Solder might be asked the same question. The last time we saw him play, he was rated 35th in pass block victory rate among tackles. Jordan Raanan is a writer.
The Broncos have forced zero turnovers in each of their last two season openers, and have lost both games. However, they’ll have to force at least two in this one to break the run. Contributing to the cause: Since joining the NFL in 2019, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has thrown 39 interceptions, the most in the league in that period. Legwold, Jeff
The Giants have lost nine of their previous ten season openers, and last season they averaged only 17.5 points a game, second lowest in the NFL behind the Jets’ 15.2.
Broncos | Giants Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos’ quarterback, delivered a top-20 fantasy receiver in each of his last five games with Carolina last season. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, when the over/under was less than 45 points, underdogs were 38-28 ATS. Continue reading to learn more.
Broncos 26, Giants 16 is Legwold’s prediction. Broncos 20, Giants 16 is Raanan’s prediction. NYG, 53.0 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 1.2 points)
Broncos’ always-optimistic matchup must-reads 2021, according to Miller, “feels different”… Why the Giants’ offense is a complete enigma heading into Week 1… Sutton won’t cut corners, whether it’s cleaning up garbage or running the Broncos’ offense… Sources indicate Giants running back Barkley passed first contact at practice, putting him one step closer to playing in Week 1… Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb was briefly arrested on a warrant… Despite parallels to the Patriots, Judge is coaching the Giants his way.
Jameis Winston’s lack of consistency may hurt his fantasy worth, according to Field Yates and Stephania Bell.
8:20 p.m. a.m. a.m. a.m. ET | 53.6 NBC Matchup Rating | LAR -7.5 Spread (46.5)
What to look out for in 2021: Both clubs will start the season with new quarterbacks. The Rams made a blockbuster offseason deal for Matthew Stafford, who is expected to resurrect an attack that has been in decline for the last two seasons with the hopes of winning a Super Bowl. Rams coach Sean McVay said, “He’s done such a fantastic job getting accustomed to his teammates, this setting, and this culture.” Andy Dalton, who was signed as a free agency on a one-year contract by the Bears, will start over rookie Justin Fields, who was selected 11th overall in this year’s draft. “Andy has been a terrific leader and a great teammate from the beginning,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said, adding that he is pleased with what Fields has accomplished in such a short time. Lindsey Thiry (Lindsey Thiry)
I’m going to make a bold prediction and say that Rams standout Aaron Donald will finish the night with 2.5 sacks. In the preseason, the Bears’ offensive line had too many shifting pieces; four of the five initial predicted starters will play on Sunday night, but chemistry is expected to be a problem. Add in the fact that Jason Peters, a 39-year-old veteran acquired late in camp by the Bears, is starting at left tackle. Have we mentioned Andy Dalton isn’t the most mobile quarterback in the league? Donald has the upper hand. Dickerson, Jeff
Bears running back David Montgomery matched for the longest active streak in the NFL with six consecutive scrimmage touchdowns at the conclusion of last season (Nick Chubb, J.K. Dobbins). Curtis Conway, the last Bears player to score a touchdown in seven consecutive games, did it in 1995.
Bears | Rams Injuries
Only the Jets allowed more fantasy points to tight ends last season than the Bears, and with Gerald Everett now in Seattle, Tyler Higbee of the Rams is set to take on a bigger role. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Last season, no club had more outright victories as an underdog than the Bears (six). Continue reading to learn more.
Rams 24, Bears 14 is Dickerson’s prediction. Rams 28, Bears 17 is Thirty’s selection. LAR, 71.1 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 8.1 points)
Must-reads for the matchup: Why the Bears are confidence in Mack’s ability to have a big year if he stays healthy… The Rams are embracing Hollywood, but they’ll have to win the Super Bowl to earn blockbuster billing… With the Rams, Stafford confronts Super Bowl aspirations, but how does his supporting cast fare? … That guy is a lot of fun’: Rams DC Morris adds vigor and a sense of humour to the table.
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN Matchup rating: 56.9 | BAL -4 | Spread: (50)
What to look out for: How can the Raiders’ rebuilt defense stop Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, particularly now that Denzel Perryman and K.J. Wright have been acquired as linebackers in the last two weeks? Cory Littleton, a linebacker with the Las Vegas Raiders, remarked, “He’s a good thrower. He has the ability to flee. He seems to be able to do magic tricks.” Jackson’s one-dimensionality is exacerbated by the Ravens’ injury-plagued running game, but knowing it and preventing it are two different things for the Raiders. It may come down to containing Jackson and limiting his big-play ability. Gutierrez, Paul
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Jackson’s strong start to the season will continue with a total of five touchdowns, according to a bold prediction (four passing and one rushing). In the previous two season openers, Jackson has scored the most touchdowns (eight). Last season, the Raiders allowed 106 touchdowns, second most in the league. Jamison Hensley (Jamison Hensley)
Derek Carr of the Raiders is 4-2 as a starting quarterback on Monday Night Football, but he has struggled in those games, with the fifth-lowest Total QBR (46.0) over the last ten seasons (minimum five starts).
Ravens | Raiders Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Tight end in Baltimore Mark Andrews finished the 2020 regular season with seven touchdowns in his last seven games and has started the previous two weeks as a top-three tight end. Check out the Week 1 rankings.
Baltimore has won five consecutive regular-season games as a favorite, while Las Vegas has won four of its last five games as an underdog. Continue reading to learn more.
Ravens 35, Raiders 24 is Hensley’s prediction. Raiders 26, Ravens 24 is Gutierrez’s prediction. BAL, 57.1 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 2.6 points)
Ravens believe RB Edwards and CB Peters have torn ACLs, according to sources… Hobbs progresses from fifth-round pick to nickel cornerback for the Raiders… Carr of the Raiders is allowing his youthful wide receivers group to ‘go create plays’… Crosby has emerged as the Raiders’ defensive captain, combining flair and experience.
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