NFL Week One Predictions (2020-21)

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Credit to: The Rich Eisen Show

Carson Zorn, Sports Writer

Football is back! After some cancellation concerns the NFL officially returns Thursday night, and so does my weekly prediction series. I already put out my overall record predictions earlier in the week, but now it’s time for me to go week by week. If you feel one way or another let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @PatPressSports. Alright, enough of the filler, here are my week one predictions for the 2020 NFL season.

 

Thursday Night Football:

 

Texans vs Chiefs:

A rematch of the best game of last seasons’ playoffs. Two high powered offenses meet to open up the NFL season. This game is not as easy to predict as it may seem. The obvious pick would be the Chiefs, but will they suffer from Super Bowl hangover in week one, and can the Texans take advantage of that, and use their desire for revenge to push them to a win? I don’t think it’s incredibly outlandish to say that the Texans have a real shot to win this one. DeShaun Watson is an extremely talented QB who can make almost any receiver look better than they are (and no, that is not a shot at DeAndre Hopkins, he’s been great with terrible QBs). But, I still like the Chiefs with star QB Patrick Mahomes to win this one, but expect a lot of points to be scored in this game. If you have a Chiefs and/or Texans player on your team in Fantasy Football, you might want to consider starting them.

Chiefs Win 35-27

 

Sunday 1:00 Games:

 

Jets vs Bills:

I don’t think it’s very controversial to say that the Bills are a much better team than the Jets, so I’m going to say it: the Bills are a vastly superior team than the Jets. The Bills should have no problem defeating the Jets in Buffalo (although home field advantage doesn’t have the same meaning anymore). Look for Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs to connect quickly and burn the Jets secondary in the first half, and then look for RBs Devin Singletary and Zach Moss to slowly wear the Jets defense down in the second. This is a no-brainer pick, the Bills are going to win. 

Bills Win 23-10

 

Packers vs Vikings:

This one is tough. Both teams have some glaring problems that could lead to them losing, but both teams also have playmakers on offense that could win the game. I trust the QB-WR duo of Aaron Rodgers and Devantae Adams more than Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen. So, while I think the game is a toss up, I’m going to go with my gut, and that leads me to pick the Packers.

Packers Win 20-13

 

Eagles vs Football Team:

This, like the Bills vs Jets game, is a no-brainer. One team is clearly better than the other, and that is the Philadelphia Eagles. They are better than the Football Team at almost every roster position. The difference maker for the Football Team is the newly acquired Chase Young, but I don’t think it will be enough to cancel out the Football Team’s offensive inefficiency. The Eagles should win this game pretty easily.

Eagles Win 24-10

 

Browns vs Ravens:

While I believe the Browns will be a much better team this year, I still don’t think it will be enough to beat the Ravens week one. The Ravens had the best record in the NFL last year, but it didn’t matter, because for the second year in a row, they were one-and-done in the playoffs. The whole Ravens team is probably even more motivated after their playoff loss to the Titans, and they probably feel like they have to prove themselves. They will start by beating the Browns week one. I think the Browns have a chance in this game, but I think more likely than not, it’ll be a Ravens victory to begin both teams’ seasons.

Ravens Win 30-21

 

Colts vs Jaguars:

The Jaguars have all but announced they are tanking this year. They have next to no playmakers left on the team. The Colts, on the other hand, look promising, and I think they will have no problem defeating the Jaguars week one. I honestly don’t have much analysis for this game, because it’s pretty simple, the Colts are a way better team than the Jaguars, so they’re going to win this game.

Colts Win 24-14

 

Raiders vs Panthers:

The popular pick for this game appears to be the Raiders, but popular isn’t always right. Ever since I first looked at the NFL schedule I’ve had a gut feeling that the Panthers are going to win this one. The Panthers QB situation has improved vastly from last year, as they upgraded from Kyle Allen to Teddy Bridgewater. They also got Bridgewater a new weapon to throw to. On top of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers added WR Robby Anderson in the offseason, one of the best deep threats in football. Of course, you can’t talk about the Panthers offense without bringing up RB Christian McCaffrey, who can carry a whole offense on his back if need be, and he did it multiple times last season, so he could win the game for the Panthers all on his own. The knock against the Panthers is that their defense is inconsistent, and a lot of the talent on the defense is young (1st and 2nd years). But the same can be said about the Raiders. Their defense was easy to score against last year, and I think it will be more of the same this year. But, also like the Panthers, the Raiders have a much improved offense from last year. Rookie WR Henry Ruggs looks to make a big impression against the Panthers’ weak secondary, but much of it lies on if Derek Carr can be a clutch QB if necessary, and I don’t think he can be. I think the game will be an offensive talent show, and that it will be a close game, but I have to take the Panthers to win it.

Panthers Win 38-34

 

Bears vs Lions:

Early reports are saying that the Bears are going to roll with Mitch Trubisky at QB, which is an odd decision, considering how much they’re paying Nick Foles. Trubisky has had some good games, but overall I don’t view him as a good QB, and the Bears apparently don’t either (they traded for Foles, and declined his fifth year option), but apparently he’s better than Foles. I don’t have a lot to say about the Bears, because I think the Lions will easily win this game. While the Lions’ defense isn’t fantastic, they do have some playmakers, such as rookie CB Jeff Okudah. Where the Lions really excel is on the offensive side of the ball. Matt Stafford is a solid QB who would’ve won a Super Bowl by now if it wasn’t for the Lions front office. The WR duo of Kenny Golloday and Marvin Jones Jr. is dangerous, and TE T.J. Hockenson looks poised for a breakout season. The RB core looks to improve with rookie D’Andre Swift, and the O-Line is solid, but nothing special. I don’t think the offense will have too much trouble with the Bears defense, and should put up points early and often. I can’t say the same for the Bears offense.

Lions Win 27-13

 

Seahawks vs Falcons:

In this battle of the birds, two elite offenses and two mediocre defenses clash. The Seahawks offense has weapons galore, and it is all led by elite QB Russell Wilson. The Seahawks look to continue their ground-and-pound offensive game plan this year with RB Chris Carson. The Falcons run defense isn’t all that good, so I don’t see the Seahawks having trouble running the ball efficiently. The Falcons had a fantastic air-attack last year with QB Matt Ryan, and the WR duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but they might try to return to the run game now that they have RB Todd Gurley, who is much better than Devonta Freeman. The difference in this game will be the defenses. The Seahawks defense is better than the Falcons defense because they have way more playmakers (Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams for example). So, I like the Seahawks to win this game, although it will be close.

Seahawks Win 28-23

 

Dolphins vs Patriots:

These two teams have changed drastically from last season. The Dolphins gained a lot of defensive playmakers, and the Patriots lost plenty. Tom Brady is no longer the QB in New England, but they now have former MVP Cam Newton at the helm. While I think this will be a competitive, high-scoring game, I still like the Patriots to come out on top. I think the Patriots offense is better than the Dolphins, and I will never doubt Bill Belichick’s ability to easily beat the Dolphins.

Patriots Win 30-20

 

Sunday 4:00 Games:

 

Chargers vs Bengals:

This is honestly the hardest game to predict. Joe Burrow makes his debut as the Bengals new QB, and Tyrod Taylor gets his first start at QB for the Chargers. I honestly think the Bengals offense is better than the Chargers, but only because of the QB situation. Burrow might be a rookie, but he may be the most NFL-ready rookie since Andrew Luck, and I think Burrow will be able to utilize his offensive weapons more efficiently than Taylor, especially if WR A.J. Green is healthy and playing. But, the Chargers have a much better defense than the Bengals, especially with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the D-Line. It’s no secret that the Bengals O-Line is dreadful, and if Ingram or Bosa get in the backfield quick enough, Burrow may not have the time to utilize the weapons at his disposal. But it all comes down to Burrow vs Taylor, and I think Burrow is the better QB out of the two, so, with great hesitation, I’m going to pick the Bengals.

Bengals Win 23-21

 

Cardinals vs 49ers:

The Cardinals gave the 49ers trouble in both matchups last year, but the 49ers came away with wins in both games. But, things have changed. The Cardinals now have DeAndre Hopkins at WR, so their offense is going to be much better this year. But, I still think the 49ers will win this game because of the amount of talent on both the offense and the defense. The Cardinals roster has some holes, especially on the defensive side, so the 49ers offense should have no trouble scoring. It all depends on how much of a step forward Kyler Murray takes with DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal, but as of right now, I think the 49ers are just too good to lose this game.

49ers Win 27-20

 

Buccaneers vs Saints:

In probably the most anticipated matchup of week one, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers face off against Drew Brees and the Saints. Two high powered offenses will go at it, in what might just be the highest scoring game of week one. Neither defense is elite, but neither is terrible, so it all will depend on which defense gets the final stop, and I think it will be the Saints defense. If you look at both teams, they have no shortage of offensive weapons, so scoring will come easy, but I think the Saints defense will be able to neutralize either WR Mike Evans or Chris Godwin just enough for the Saints to pull off the win. I will definitely be watching this game with interest.

Saints Win 41-35

 

Sunday Night Game:

Cowboys vs Rams:

The Cowboys got better in the offseason, the Rams got worse. If you compare every roster position on both teams, the Rams really only have an advantage at DE and CB. The Cowboys offense has a better QB and more weapons than the Rams offense. While neither defense is bad, the Rams do have a slightly better defense. But the talent difference between the offenses is big, and that is what will be the difference in this game. I see the Cowboys winning their first game under new HC Mike McCarthy.

Cowboys Win 27-17

 

Monday Night Games:

Steelers vs Giants:

While I think the Giants could be on course for a breakout season, I don’t see it starting in week one. The Steelers defense is elite, there’s no other word for it, and now that Ben Roethlisberger is back at the QB position, their offense is vastly improved. The Giants offense looks promising as well, but the defense is where they falter. The Giants defense could stop nothing last year, and they didn’t make many major improvements to it this year, so the Steelers offense will have no trouble moving the ball. Look for Steelers RB James Conner to have a big game.

Steelers Win 30-17

 

Titans vs Broncos:

It is very difficult for visiting teams to win in Denver. The altitude change always messes with the players. While the Titans have all the looks of a potent offense, I think every offensive player except for RB Derrick Henry will only be operating at 70% efficiency. While there are still some questions surrounding Broncos QB Drew Lock, I feel like he has enough offensive weapons in order to operate the offense efficiently and get the Broncos the win to close out week one.

Broncos Win 20-14

 

So, there are my week one predictions. If you disagree with me, let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Make sure to enjoy some football this weekend!