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NFL Week 1 Preview and Predictions for 2020-2021 Season

Here are my previews and predictions for Week 1 of the 2020-2021 NFL season!

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Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs

September 10, 2020
8:20 PM ET

Kansas City, Missouri
Arrowhead Stadium

About the Texans

The Texans will be looking for revenge after being embarrassed in their playoff defeat at the hands of the Chiefs after they gave up a 24-0 lead in the 1st half and lost the game by double digits. While hoping to erase the sting of last year’s playoff loss, QB Deshaun Watson returns as the starter and should have another MVP-caliber season, but he will be without his top WR DeAndre Hopkins after he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. Watson built a solid rapport and had undeniable chemistry with Hopkins who was usually his 1st read going when going through his progressions. The Texans attempted to supplement their WR corps by signing WR’s Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb during the offseason. RB David Johnson, acquired in the Hopkins trade, will be the feature back and the Texans are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that he will stay healthy due to his extensive injury history. The Texans do have solid depth at RB with Duke Johnson, Karan Higdon, and rookie Scottie Phillips in the mix for playing time. The Texans failed to upgrade their offensive line after Watson was the most sacked QB last season. The only sure thing is LT Laremy Tunsil and the Texans have high hopes that Tytus Howard takes another step forward concerning his development. While the Texans had a top 20 defense, there still is room for improvement. J.J. Watt, one of the most dynamic players in the NFC is the heart and soul of the Texans defense but will need the other players to step up. They were 16th in takeaways and 27th in sacks last season.

About the Chiefs

Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs will attempt to become the first back to back Super Bowl winners since the New England Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005. The Chiefs rewarded QB Patrick Mahomes a record 10-year deal worth up to $503 million and is currently the largest contract in sports history. The Chiefs will once again feature an aerial assault with the “Legion of Zoom” as WR’s Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and TE Travis Kelce return for the 2nd ranked offense from a season ago. After a stellar performance in the Super Bowl, RB Damien Williams decided to opt-out of the upcoming season, therefore, opening the door for rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire to be the feature back. The 1st round selection out of LSU has balance and good vision with 3-down potential with short-area quickness. The Chiefs defense was terrible against the run ranking 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. They helped their cause by re-signing DT Chris Jones to a deal worth $85 million for 4 years with $60 million guaranteed. Jones was the Chiefs' most productive player on the defensive side of the ball recording 9 sacks and 8 TFL’s in only 13 games played.

Players to Watch

J.J. Watt (Texans): If the Texans have any chance of winning this game, Watt will have to put pressure on Mahomes and try to force a turnover or two.

Tyreek Hill (Chiefs): A threat to score every time he touches the ball, with his elite speed and nifty moves, he is a nightmare matchup for any cornerback.

Impact Rookies

Charlie Heck (Texans): Heck should figure into the offensive line rotation and play at right tackle. He should develop into a solid depth player with time and experience.

Key Statistic

Mahomes became the youngest player in history to win an MVP award and a Super Bowl.


This should be a shootout between two elite QB’s fighting for supremacy in the AFC, but Mahomes triumphs with the better overall playmakers on his squad.

Final Score: Texas 31 / Chiefs 49

Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Atlanta, Georgia
Mercedes-Benz Stadium

About the Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson is one of the most dynamic players in the league regardless of position. He can make something out of nothing when plays break down. He can make plays with his arm and his feet and has the poise to hold up in the face of pressure which he saw last year as the 2nd most sacked QB in the NFL. If the offensive line performs better than they did last season, this team has the potential to get to the playoffs and beyond. WR DK Metcalf is expected to be even better after his impressive rookie season. He overwhelms DB’s with his size and has a penchant for making circus catches. If he can improve his route running, watch out. The Seahawks acquired S Jamal Adams and he is expected to be a leader for the defense and will be a tone-setter. He is a smart and instinctive player who tackles well and makes QB’s think twice about testing him.

About the Falcons

The Falcons will attempt to navigate through a tough NFC South. Many critics are already counting the Falcons out with all the hype surrounding the Saints and the Buccaneers. It’s easy to forget that QB Matt Ryan was once an MVP as he always competes at an elite level. Julio Jones is still a top 5 WR in this league and is Ryan’s most trusted weapon. The Falcons have also moved on from RB Devonta Freeman and signed RB Todd Gurley hoping he can bounce back after a disappointing season with the LA Rams. Playing for a new team should revitalize him and give him new energy and get back to playing like the Gurley were used to seeing. LB Dante Fowler was added to the roster. He is an exciting player who is a fantastic athlete with good speed and explosion. The Falcons are hoping that S Keanu Neal’s return will be permanent as he has missed most of the past 2 seasons after suffering serious injuries.

Players to Watch

Bobby Wagner (Seahawks): Wagner is a tackling machine and the unheralded leader of the Seahawks defense. Look for him to key in on Gurley and try to prevent him from picking up big chunks of yardage, especially on check-downs.

Calvin Ridley (Falcons): With fellow teammate Julio Jones constantly drawing double teams, look for Ryan to target Ridley often taking shots down the field.

Impact Rookies

Damien Lewis (Seahawks): Lewis should make an immediate impact as a run blocker but will have his hands full with Grady Jarrett and company.

A.J. Terrell (Falcons): Should be prepared for the bright lights of the NFL after playing in so many big games while at Clemson. Can he develop into a shutdown corner?


This game most likely goes down to the final possession. Jamal Adams, Bobby Wagner, and company make crucial stops in the 4th quarter to secure a victory on the road for the Seahawks.

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Foxborough, Massachusetts
Gillette Stadium

About the Dolphins

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will begin the season as the starter, but fans in Miami are anticipating the beginning of the Tua Tagovailoa era, but they will have to be patient for now, especially considering the youth and inexperience on the offensive line. RB’s Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda were acquired during the offseason. Jordan is more of a runner in between the tackles type of player while Brieda provides a change of place hitting the corner on the outside type of runner. While WR Devante Parker is a reliable target in the passing game, TE Mike Gesicki could evolve into a trusted pass catcher with just a bit of consistency at the QB position. The Dolphins invested heavily in the defense with the signings of DB Byron Jones and LB’s Kamu Grugier-Hill and Emmanuel Ogbah. The Dolphins also went defense-heavy in the draft with the selections of DB Noah Igbinoghene out of Auburn, DT Raekwon Davis from Alabama, and S Brandon Jones out of the University of Texas. These rookies should contribute immediately to their potential and talent.

About the Patriots

Goodbye Tom Brady, hello Cam Newton. It may seem weird seeing the 6-time Super Bowl champion in a different uniform, but who better to replace Brady than Newton? Newton comes into New England with something to prove while also auditioning for next season since he only signed a 1-year deal. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of creative schemes offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels conjures up. Critics have pointed out the lack of adequate weapons on the Patriots offense, but these underrated players always seem to perform beat when the odds are against them. Head coach Bill Belichick has a gift of getting the very best out of his players, especially the ones who everybody seems to doubt and pass up. This team has good depth on both sides of the ball and just because Brady isn’t behind center anymore doesn’t mean that the Patriots won’t be contenders in the AFC East.

Players to Watch

Christian Wilkins (Dolphins): Can Wilkins be the impact run stopper in the middle of the Dolphins defensive line? Will he consistently be able to put pressure on QBs? His first test of the season will be against Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, and David Andrews.

Cam Newton (Patriots): All eyes will be on Newton to see if he can revert back to his MVP form and what kind of dimension will he bring to the Pats offense.

Impact Rookies

Austin Jackson (Dolphins): A 1st round pick out of USC, the Dolphins are hoping that he develops into an elite pass protector but he will have his hands full in his 1st NFL game against the Patriots defense.

Kyle Dugger (Patriots): A small school product, Belichick always finds these diamonds in the rough. While he is behind S Devin McCourty on the depth chart, it will provide him the opportunity to learn from a seasoned veteran.


More than likely, this will be another rebuilding year in Miami, so don’t expect them to keep up with Belichick’s squad.

Final Score: Dolphins 10 / Patriots 45

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Football Team

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Landover, Maryland
FedEx Field

About the Eagles

QB Carson Wentz performed well last season despite his WR corps being decimated with injuries but still managed to throw 27 TD passes with only 7 interceptions. He was unfortunately injured in the Eagles Wild Card playoff game, and he will be focused to get them back into the postseason once again. WR Desean Jackson returns after only appearing in 3 games last season and he should provide Wentz with a deep threat option who can rack up yardage after the catch with his elusiveness. Then there is the always reliable TE Zach Ertz who doesn’t always get the credit or recognition he deserves as he has played through injuries and has been the most reliable target for Wentz over the past few seasons. He is tough especially when the Eagles need to convert 3rd downs and he is usually Wentz’s first read. The defense got a major boost with the additions of DL Javon Hargrove and he should be a force with perennial Pro Bowler DT Fletcher Cox beside him. Both of these players are disruptive forces on the interior of the defensive front and will play a huge role in stopping the run. The Eagles also acquired shutdown DB Darius Slay as they have has injury issues in their secondary. Slay is physical and competitive with terrific instincts and ball skills.

About Washington

QB Dwayne Haskins will be Washington’s starting QB after showing promise and improved play late last season. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner assumes the role under the new coaching regime and it will interesting to see how he meshes with Haskins. The departures of RB’s Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice leaves the door wide open for RB’s Bryce Love and rookie Antonio Gibson from the University of Memphis. Love, who has yet to play a snap in the NFL due to injuries will finally get to show and prove what he can do. Gibson played multiple positions in college and Turner may use him in special packages and as a decoy. Washington is making the switch to a 4-3 defense, and they will have a young and talented unit featuring the #2 overall selection Chase Young out of Ohio State. Young has a great motor with good technique and natural physical gifts.

Players to Watch

Miles Sanders (Eagles): Look for the Eagles to dramatically increase Sanders' workload as he transitions to being an every-down back.

Terry McLaurin (Washington): After an impressive and productive rookies season, McLaurin deserves to be the #1 WR on the depth chart. He already has a solid rapport with Haskins from their college days at Ohio State.

Impact Rookies

Jalen Reagor (Eagles): Reagor uses his speed to create separation from defenders and is capable of stretching plays into huge gains. Many questioned the Eagles selecting Reagor when they did especially considering that Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, and Michael Pittman Jr. were still available, but he seems to fit into the Eagles scheme with his speed and agility.

Chase Young (Washington): Young is a generational talent and has the potential to have the NFL record books rewritten with his name etched all over it. This kid is just that talented.


The more experienced QB pulls off the victory in this one. Carson Wentz spreads the ball around to his playmakers while a young Dwayne Haskins continues to go through growing pains.

Final Score: Eagles 31 / Washington 13

Las Vegas Raiders vs Carolina Panthers

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Charlotte, North Carolina
Bank of America Stadium

About the Raiders

Jon Gruden’s 2nd season with the Raiders should yield positive results now that he has 2 draft classes under his belt and hopes to begin the era in Las Vegas with a good start. RB Josh Jacobs put up spectacular numbers as a rookie with 1,150 yards rushing and 7 TD’s in just 13 games. Expect Jacobs to be even better this year as they have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. OL Trent Brown and Kolton Miller are good run blockers and were partly responsible for Jacobs’s success Brown can drive defenders off their posts in the run game and an anchor to prevent the pocket from collapsing. TE Darren Waller, fresh off a 1,000-yard season as QB Derek Carr’s #1 option in the passing game but isn’t expected to put up similar numbers again with the signing of TE Jason Witten. DE Maxx Crosby had a surprising rookie season as he totaled 10 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 14 QB hits. The Raiders will have to key on Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey and limit his yardage after the catch due to his ability to make defenders miss.

About the Panthers

The Matt Rhule era begins in Carolina and he will have his hands full in a very tough and competitive NFC South. Teddy Bridgewater was awarded another opportunity to be a starting QB after his impressive performance for the New Orleans Saints after QB Drew Brees was injured and proved that he had too much talent to be sitting on the sideline or holding a clipboard. RB Christian McCaffrey should put up impressive numbers once again with new offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling the plays. Expect Brady to spread the ball around to the numerous playmakers the Panthers have and allow them to create in space. WR’s D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robbie Anderson are all unique weapons with unique skillsets giving Brady many options on how to game plan for opponents. The Panthers have a lot of youth on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also loads of talent and potential. Second-year LB Brian Burns is a fantastic athlete with speed and explosiveness at the point of attack and should assume a leadership role as he figures to be a key piece for the Panthers defense moving forward.

Players to Watch

Clelin Ferrell (Raiders): Look for Ferrell to increase his sack total of 4 ½ from his rookie season as he continues to make strides in his development.

Shaq Thompson (Panthers): Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, Thompson will assume many of his former teammates’responsibilities as he has some huge shoes to fill but possesses the skill set to get the job done.

Impact Rookies

Henry Ruggs (Raiders): This prospect can really fly and has excellent hands. If he gets in a foot race, there aren’t too many DB’s who will be able to hang with him. Ruggs lined up across from Panthers DB Donte Jackson is must-see TV.

Jeremy Chinn (Panthers): This intriguing prospect has the ability to play multiple positions and should provide highlight-reel plays all season long.


Time of possession should play a factor as both teams will try to get the running game going with their talented RB’s. Derek Carr commits a costly turnover in the final minute that should seal the deal for the Panthers in a low scoring affair.

Final Score: Raiders 14 / Panthers 20

Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Jacksonville, Florida
TIAA Bank Stadium

About the Colts

The Colts signed QB Philip Rivers and hopes he will have immediate success playing on a 1-year deal. He has everything he needs to be successful from a stout offensive line to playmakers at the skill positions. The Colts were able to retain a key piece of their offensive line signing OT Anthony Castonzo to $33 million for 2 years with $16.5 million in guarantees. RB Marlon Mack returns looking to improve off of his first 1,000-yard season. He should form a formidable 1-2 punch with rookie RB Johnathon Taylor, a 2nd round selection out of Wisconsin who has a reputation as a versatile playmaker who can play special teams and has the build to handle a heavy workload. The Colts young defense should improve from their 18th ranked unit. LB Darius Leonard was tied for 2nd in total interceptions last year and is a jack of all trades whose versatility as a player in coverage and also the pass rush are equally dynamic. LB Anthony Walker was a tackling machine and forms a nice duo with Leonard and was ranked 10th in solo tackles. DE Justin Houston brings a veteran’s presence and leadership to a young defensive unit. Newly acquired DeForest Buckner is athletically gifted with great size and length and gives the Colts another elite pass rusher.

About the Jaguars

The Jags have cleaned house as of late, trading DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings and also releasing RB Leonard Fournette. Ownership is trying to create a different culture in Jacksonville, and it seems like this year will be more of an evaluation period to analyze what the franchise has moving forward. QB Gardner Minshew will assume the starting role once again and should be improved after a year of gaining valuable experience after QB Nick Foles went down with an injury. Minshew has a bevy of talented WR’s to throw the ball to including D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and rookies Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson. Who should replace Fournette as the feature back? There really isn’t a clear cut favorite and it appears that it will be a by-committee approach to begin the season. Players in the mix are Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson, and Devine Ozigbo. It will be interesting to see who emerges from this group as the lead back. CB D.J. Hayden and LB Joe Schobert are the newcomers on the defensive unit and should fit right into defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s scheme perfectly. Last season’s first-round selection LB Josh Allen is poised to become the unsung leader of the defense. He is a phenomenal athlete who is adept at dropping into coverage and attacking ball carriers.

Players to Watch

TY Hilton (Colts): It will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry he develops with Rivers.

Josh Allen (Jaguars): After an amazing rookie season, he should be even better moving forward as the undisputed leader of the defense. Will he be able to penetrate the Colts elite offensive line and get to Rivers?

Impact Rookies

Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts): Equipped with good speed and agility, he can play outside or in the slot and is capable of drawing extra coverage.

C.J. Henderson (Jaguars): A 1st round pick out of the University of Florida, Henderson has the ability to become a shutdown corner with his impressive speed, length, and fluidity.


The Jags have a lot of young talent on their roster and will be a very good football team in the future, but this Colts team is in win-now mode. They have too much firepower and the more experienced QB. Philip Rivers earns his 1st win as a member of the Colts.

Final Score: Colts 28 / Jaguars 17

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Baltimore, Maryland
M&T Bank Stadium

About the Browns

Newly hired head coach Kevin Stefanski is expected to turn this Cleveland Browns team into winners and do what he did as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings a season ago. QB Baker Mayfield appears to benefit the most, as he is still trying to live up to his #1 overall selection in the draft. This offense has the potential to be explosive with playmakers Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and newly acquired Austin Hooper. The question everyone wants to answer is will the Browns offensive line be able to protect Mayfield and give ample time to throw the ball? Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Browns offensive line at #6 overall entering the 2020 season as they have upgraded the unit with the signing of free-agent RT Jack Conklin and the selection of Jedrick Wills Jr. in the draft. DE Myles Garrett returns after being suspended indefinitely by the NFL in a role he played in an incident where he struck another player in the head with his helmet. The NFL eventually reinstated Garrett and will be the leader on this talented Browns' defense. Garrett is athletically gifted with great size and length as he recorded 10 sacks in 10 games before his suspension. He will be joined on the defensive line by Olivier Vernon, Larry Ogunjobi, and Sheldon Richardson as these players accounted for 22 of the team’s 38 sacks.
About the Ravens: What can QB Lamar Jackson do for an encore? The 2019 NFL MVP wowed with his spectacular play last season and led an offensive attack that led the league in rushing. Jackson can make you pay with his legs or his arm as opponents have to pick their poison or either decide to be aggressive or passive when trying to figure out how to contain him. He had a historic season in 2019 and became the 1st player in history with 3,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing in his first 2 seasons. Jackson is also the only QB to have at least 2,000 passing yards and 800 yards rushing through a season’s first 11 games. Pro Football Focus ranks the Ravens offensive line at #5 going into this season as they are partly responsible for Jackson’s success. LT Ronnie Stanley has emerged as one of the NFL’s best at his position and is adept at winning battles at the line of scrimmage in confined spaces and can be dangerous in the running game. The Ravens added more punch to their defense with the signing of veteran DL Calais Campbell. The defense has always been the Ravens' identity and who better to provide leadership and guidance than Campbell? The Ravens released Pro Bowl S Earl Thomas die to conduct detrimental to the team. Either Chuck Clark or Anthony Levine Jr. should take his spot in the starting lineup.

Players to Watch

Nick Chubb (Browns): While Chubb rushed for almost 1,500 yards last season, it will be exciting to see what kind of numbers he will produce with the Browns improved offensive line.

Marquise Brown (Ravens): Brown’s targets should increase as he should see more single coverage as defenses load up to try and slow down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens rushing attack.

Impact Rookies

Jedrick Wills Jr. (Browns): Wills Jr. is an immediate upgrade for to the Browns offensive line. He has a polished approach in pass protection and can be a bully in the run game.

Patrick Queen (Ravens): The Ravens have a knack for finding gems in the draft at the LB position and Queen should be the next great discovery.


Expect the Browns to keep the game close until the 4th quarter. Watch Jackson and the Ravens RB’s wear down the defense with their elite rushing attack.

Final Score: Browns 17 / Ravens 28

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Detroit, Michigan
Ford Field

About the Bears

What QB Mitchell Trubisky does this season will ultimately decide his fate as the organization evaluates the situation. Many expectations were placed upon him as the Bears traded up for him and was drafted ahead of QB’s Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky’s play regressed last year and the Bears acquired QB Nick Foles as an insurance policy in case Trubisky falters again. The starting RB position is David Montgomery’s to lose as big things are expected from the 2nd year player. The Bears also will focus on getting RB Tarik Cohen more involved in the offense giving him more touches. The Bears secondary is also a huge question mark entering the season. The unit only had 10 interceptions last season, a steep decline from the 27 they had from the season before. S Eddie Jackson is the leader of the Bears secondary. The 2-time Pro Bowler makes quick breaks in coverage with his ball-hawking ability and can restrict much of the field for opposing QB’s with his outstanding range.
About the Lions: It’s "show and prove" time for head coach Matt Patricia as big things are expected in Detroit. He has compiled a 9-19-1 record during his tenure with the Lions in 2 seasons, and this is most likely his final opportunity with the franchise. QB Matthew Stafford returns after only playing half of the season due to a back injury. The Lions offensive line will need to keep him upright and healthy because Stafford is critical to their success. According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions had the NFL’s 6th most efficient passing attack while Stafford was on the field. The Lions signed QB Chase Daniel as insurance just in case Stafford gets hurt again. Daniel has been a quality career back-up for several teams and has thrived in that role. The Lions drafted DB Jeffrey Okudah out of Ohio State with the 3rd overall pick in the draft and he is expected to replace departed All-Pro DB Darius Slay who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles during the offseason. Okudah is projected to become a shutdown corner in the mold of a Darrelle Revis type of player. He possesses a great combination of size, speed, fluidity, and play-making ability.

Players to Watch

Khalil Mack (Bears): If you take your eyes off of him for just one second, he will create all kinds of havoc and impact the game with his innate ability to create turnovers.

Kenny Golladay (Lions): He made a case for himself as being mentioned among the elite WR’s in the NFL. What made him stand out was the production he put up without Stafford under center.

Impact Rookies

Cole Kmet (Bears): The Bears can bring Kmet along slowly since they will have Jimmy Graham for the next 2 years, even though Kmet could see some action early as head coach Matt Nagy likes to get the ball to the TE’s in space.

D’Andre Swift (Lions): He appears to be the Lions RB of the future, but could play earlier than expected with Kerryon Johnson’s injury history and Adrian Peterson entering the twilight of his career.


Matthew Stafford attempts a ferocious comeback on the final drive that falls short as the Bears defense will be just too much for the Lions to overcome in this division rivalry.

Final Score: Bears 27 / Lions 21

New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Buffalo, New York
New Era Field

About the Jets

Now in his 3rd year, it’s time for QB Sam Darnold to take the next step in becoming the franchise QB the Jets envisioned when they drafted him. He possesses all the tools he needs in order to be great and has shown flashes of what he can do. Darnold has dazzling arm strength, but his accuracy needs to be more efficient. The Jets must figure out how to utilize RB Le’Veon Bell’s talent as he only accumulated 789 rushing yards and 3 TD’s last season. The Jets can’t allow his balance, great vision and 3-down potential to go to waste. The Jets added veteran WR’s Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan to a WR corps void of any big names or superstars, so head coach Adam Gase must try and establish the run in order to sustain drives and hope that at least one of the receivers will emerge as a #1 target for Darnold. The Jets also expect big things from DT Quinnen Williams, selected with the #3 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Expect him to be much improved coming into this season as he excels at stopping the run but will have to avoid missed tackles in order to be effective. LB C.J. Mosley chose to opt-out, so who is in the mix to start in his spot? LB’s Neville Hewitt, Avery Williamson, and rookie Blake Cashman are all in consideration to replace the void left by the perennial All-Pro LB.

About the Bills

QB Josh Allen led the Bills to a playoff berth last season and will attempt to go even further this year after the disappointment of being eliminated in the Wild Card. He will have a brand new weapon in his arsenal as newly acquired WR Stephon Diggs joins the team as his presence immediately upgrades the Bills WR corps. Devin Singletary takes over as the lead RB and was impressive last year as a rookie rushing for 775 yards and 5.1 yards per carry. Pro Football Focus has the Bills as the #5 ranked defense entering the season. DB Tre’Davious White earned his 1st Pro Bowl selection and is widely regarded as a top 3 player at his position. The 1st team All-Pro selection racked up 58 tackles, 17 pass breakups, 6 interceptions, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. Now, with the addition of DB Josh Norman patrolling the opposite side of the field, it will be even more difficult for opposing offenses to score on this defense.

Players to Watch

Tremaine Edmunds (Bills): Edmunds is a great athlete who excels at stopping the run. Those run-stopping skills will be tested as he faces off against Bell in the run game.

Le’Veon Bell (Jets): The Jets will go as far as Bell’s legs can carry them and head coach Adam Gase figures to give Bell every opportunity to make plays.

Impact Rookies

A.J. Epenesa (Bills): The 2nd round pick out of Iowa is an explosive edge rusher who should be an excellent fit in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s scheme.

Mekhi Becton (Jets): Becton is a massive human being who was drafted to bolster the offensive line. He is powerful at the point of attack and has enticing tools in pass protection.


Darnold will struggle to score against this Bills defense as his offensive line fails to protect him causing several turnovers in the game. On the flip side, the Jets defense struggle to contain Allen, and has a career day throwing the ball.

Final Score: Jets 14 / Bills 38

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings

September 13, 2020
1:00 PM ET

Minneapolis, Minnesota
U.S. Bank Stadium

About the Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to the NFC Championship last season but came up short as he will be poised and focused to get back to another Super Bowl. Once again, Rodgers will have the luxury of being protected by one of the best offensive lines in the NFL anchored by LT David Bakhtiari. RT Bryan Bulaga left via free agency and the Packers compensated for the loss with the signing of RT Rick Wagner who is a brawler at the line of scrimmage and plays with a mean streak. There is some concern among the lack of weapons Rodgers has to throw to as WR Davante Adams is the only dependable player Rodgers can trust until someone else proves otherwise. RB Aaron Jones had a breakout season last year totaling 16 TD’s and producing his first 1,000 yard season. Jones is a dual-threat who can run between the tackles and catch passes out of the backfield. LB Christian Kirksey is the newest addition to the Packers defense as Pro Football Focus ranks their defense at #7 overall. Kirksey brings a physical demeanor while his skill set allows him to both rushes the passer and drop into coverage. LB’s Preston Smith and Zadarius Smith both look to capitalize on the impact they had last season as the duo combined for 25 ½ sacks.

About the Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins returns after finally having success in the postseason and earning his 1st career playoff victory. He will attempt to lead the Vikings to greener pastures this time around hopefully ending in him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Gary Kubiak replaces Kevin Stefanski as an offensive coordinator, so they shouldn’t expect too many changes to the offensive scheme as Kubiak served as the Vikings assistant head coach and as an offensive advisor last year. While TE Kyle Rudolph is still very effective and still serves as a reliable red-zone target, look for the Vikings to get Irv Smith more involved in the offense. He is capable of creating mismatches in the passing game with his size and speed and can create separation after the catch. The Vikings failed to sign DE Everson Griffen but compensated for the loss by trading for DE Yannick Ngakoue who should form a dangerous tandem with DE Danielle Hunter who can disrupt opponents’ pass game with an aggressive pass rush coming off the edge.

Players to Watch

Jaire Alexander (Packers): Most likely to match up against WR Adam Thielen, Alexander has a good man to man coverage ability with his speed, size, and willingness to jam WRs at the line of scrimmage.

Danielle Hunter (Vikings): Basically unblockable, it will be interesting to see if he will be able to penetrate Aaron Rodgers's wall of protection and wreak havoc.

Impact Rookies

Josiah Deguara (Packers): Just how big of a role will Deguara assume in his rookie season? With TE’s Mercedes Lewis and Jace Sternberger in the fold, it may be difficult for Deguara to get any real playing time, even though he does provide the Packers with good depth at the position.

Cameron Dantzler (Vikings): It is yet to be seen how much Dantzler will see the field, but he is a highly underrated prospect who has gone up against the best WR’s the SEC had to offer during his tenure at Mississippi State and should be great in coverage once he learns the nuances of the position.


This division rivalry ends up becoming a shootout that Rodgers wins with a TD pass on the final possession of the game.

Final Score: Packers 35 / Vikings 34

Los Angeles Chargers vs Cincinnati Bengals

September 13, 2020
4:05 PM ET

Cincinnati, Ohio
Paul Brown Stadium

About the Chargers

The organization moved on from a long time QB Philip Rivers during the offseason and decided that it was time for a change behind the center. The Chargers drafted QB Justin Herbert out of Oregon and plan to give him time to learn the position and groom him for the starting role. In the meantime, QB Tyrod Taylor will begin the season as the starter, and he can do damage with his feet and can sling it if given ample time in the pocket. RB Austin Ekeler filled in admirably last season during Melvin Gordon’s holdout and played extremely well and earned the trust of the coaching staff as he has earned the starting role. WR Keenan Allen is one of the top players at his position as he has produced 3 consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards receiving. DE Joey Bosa is a terror on the defensive side of the ball and has accumulated double-digit sacks in 3 of his 4 seasons. The Chargers defense was dealt a major blow when S Derwin James was lost for the season due to an injury.

About the Bengals

First overall pick QB Joe Burrow was immediately handed the keys to the Bengals offense and they are hoping he can elevate the franchise in the same fashion he led LSU to a National Championship Burrow is accurate in the short to intermediate part of the field but also has the ability to make the necessary throws downfield. The Bengals' biggest concern is whether the offensive line will be able to adequately protect Burrow? LT Jonah Williams will finally be able to play after missing the entire 2019 season after suffering a season-ending injury. The Bengals have lacked stability at LT, and Williams is a polished player who should be reliable in pass protection. WR A.J. Green returns from a season-ending injury also and will join fellow WR’s Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, and rookie Tee Higgins in a talented WR corps. The defense was significantly upgraded during the free agency period with the signings of NT D.J. Reader, DB’s Trae Waynes, Mackenzie Alexander, and S Vonn Bell. The defense will have to put pressure on Taylor as DL Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins are the men to get the job done.

Players to Watch

Hunter Henry (Chargers): Expect Henry to get plenty of action as Taylor should look his way on short passes and especially on 3rd down.

Joe Mixon (Bengals): Fresh off of a contract extension, Mixon should benefit from running behind an improved offensive line. The Chargers allowed 112.8 yards per game last season, 18th in the NFL.

Impact Rookies

Alohi Gilman (Chargers): Gilman has an unexpected opportunity to earn playing time due to the unfortunate injury to James. While he is not the most talented player, he plays with a lot of hustle and heart and lays it all on the line. He needs to get faster and improve in coverage.

Tee Higgins (Bengals): Higgins is a big target who can be effective in catching short or deep passes and can also be used in the red zone in goal-line situations.


Joe Burrow puts on a spectacular performance in his NFL debut torching the Chargers secondary as the Bengals offensive line plays well despite multiple sacks from Bosa.

Final Score: Bengals 23 / Chargers 31

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints

America’s Game of the Week

September 13, 2020
4:25 PM ET

New Orleans, Louisiana
Mercedes-Benz Superdome

About the Buccaneers

All eyes will be on QB Tom Brady as everyone is curious to see how he will perform in the Bruce Arians system. Arian’s approach to the passing game, “no risk it, no biscuit”, seems to fit well with what Brady wants to do. He has a plethora of weapons to throw the ball to, and not just ordinary weapons. Pro Bowl WR’s Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with TE O.J. Howard and Brady’s former running mate with the Patriots, TE Rob Gronkowski, fresh out of retirement. All of them should get ample opportunities to touch the football as Brady loves to spread the wealth. The latest press release revealed that WR Mike Evans is doubtful for the opener and Justin Watson, Scott Miller, Jaydon Mickens, or rookie Tyler Johnson could capitalize on the opportunity to play in Evans' absence. Newly acquired RB Leonard Fournette gives the offense a physical change of pace runner who can wear down a defense. The Bucs defense should be good especially in the front 7 with NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett and DL Ndamukong Suh who is very powerful and can shed blocks beat double teams and get to the football. There is some concern about the youth in the secondary, especially facing off against QB Drew Brees at home where he chews up opposing defenses and spits them out.

About the Saints

The window of opportunity is closing for this team as QB Drew Brees is now in the twilight of his illustrious career. The team has all of the pieces in place for a run at the Super Bowl and head coach Sean Payton will have his team focused, poised, and ready to rock and roll. RB Alvin Kamara, a 3-time Pro Bowler with excellent balance and good vision is a threat in the running game and also in the passing game. WR Mike Thomas has definitely lived up to his nickname, “Can’t Guard Mike”, as he has set the NFL record for most catches by a player in his first 4 seasons with 470 and also holds the record for most catches in a single season with 149. Pro football focus gives the Saints a #2 ranking among the offensive lines in the NFL and considers OT Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk to be the best tackle duo in the league. The Saints also signed one of their former players in S Malcolm Jenkins to help solidify the back end of the defense. Jenkins was a member of the Saints Super Bowl-winning squad in 2010.

Players to Watch

Donovan Smith (Buccaneers): Will smith be able to adequately protect Brady’s blindside, especially in close games? Smith will be critical to the Bucs success and it’s imperative that he performs well.

Emmanuel Sanders (Saints): Sanders is a game-breaker and can change a game with limited touches as he possesses the innate ability to take any given play the distance. He is an explosive play waiting to happen.

Impact Rookies

Tristan Wirfs (Buccaneers): He is very athletic for an offensive lineman and figures to start immediately. He will face a tall task of trying to slow down DE Cameron Jordan and LB Demario Davis from getting to Brady.

Ceasar Ruiz (Saints): Ruiz brings versatility and depth to an already talented offensive line unit. He is also capable of playing any position along the line.

Key Statistic

The Saints committed the fewest turnovers in the NFL last season with 8 total.


Tom Brady and company will put up a decent fight, but just like everybody else, they will find it impossible to defeat Brees in the Super Dome.

Final Score: Buccaneers 35 / Saints 48

Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers

September 9, 2020
4:25 PM ET

Santa Clara, California
Levi’s Stadium

About the Cardinals

This should be the year QB Kyler Murray takes the league by storm. He showed what he was capable of last season with a mediocre offensive line. Most of his WR’s were injured and the defense didn’t play well. The organization acquired WR DeAndre Hopkins to give Murray not only a legitimate #1 receiver but one of the top 3 WR’s in the league. Hopkins is fearless attacking jump balls and making one-handed contested catches with his incredible leaping ability and should immediately develop a solid rapport with Murray. There is talent on the offensive line with LT D.J. Humphries. LG Justin Pugh and RG J.R. Sweezy but they must develop chemistry and cohesiveness in order to be effective. Then Cardinals got a steal in the draft with the selection of OL Josh Jones from the University of Houston. Jones possesses many of the physical tools necessary to handle NFL pass rushers and should contribute whenever he gets on the field. The Cardinals rewarded S Budda Baker with a 4-year extension worth $59 million with $33.1 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Baker does so many things for the Cardinals defense as his versatility is a valuable asset. He is a smart and instinctive player who can play multiple positions. Chandler Jones returns for another season and should get back to doing what he does best; terrorizing QB’s. Jones has had 5 consecutive seasons of double-digit sack totals.

About the 49ers

The 49ers dream season turned into a nightmare after they blew a 10- point lead heading into the 4th quarter of Super Bowl LIV. Their elite defense allowed 21 points in the final quarter as they watched their season go down the drain. Many critics have questioned QB Jimmy Garappolo’s ability to close out games and how the 49ers rely too much on their RB’s to bail them out. Everyone must remember that last season was Garappolo’s 1st full season as a starting QB and that he is still learning how to manage the game. He put up decent numbers last year and there is no reason why he shouldn’t improve. The 49ers added OT Trent Williams to an already elite offensive line which should be one of the best units in the NFL. DE’s Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead are arguably the best defensive line edge-rushing duo in the league as they combined for 19 sacks, so don’t be surprised if that total increases.

Players to Watch

Patrick Peterson (Cardinals): Peterson made the Pro Bowl in every season he has ever played in except for this past one. He is still one of the top DB’s in the NFL and should be a major factor helping the Cardinals to compete in a tough NFC West.

Solomon Thomas (49ers): Thomas should be the starter in place of departed DL DeForest Buckner. He possesses the talent to be effective as a pass rusher, but whether he brings similar production compared to Buckner’s will remain to be seen.

Impact Rookies

Isaiah Simmons (Cardinals): A hybrid player with great length and size, the most difficult thing for the Cardinals to decide is what role on the defense he plays and the best fit for him.

Brandon Aiyuk (49ers): Speed, speed, and more speed…. The 49ers plan to utilize Aiyuk’s speed and use him similar to how they used WR Emmanuel Sanders last season. Aiyuk may also be asked to play on special teams.


The defending NFC Champions get their running game going and overwhelm and overpower an exhausted and frustrated Cardinals defense as they also control the time of possession.

Final Score: Cardinals 17 / 49ers 28

Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Rams

Sunday Night Football

September 13, 2020
8:20 PM ET

Inglewood, California
SoFi Stadium

About the Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to come to an agreement on a long term contract as Prescott agreed to play under the franchise tag. Prescott will be on a mission to prove his worth to not only the Cowboys, but he may be auditioning for other teams who may have interest in him. Prescott has evolved into a leader and is a smart, instinctive player, but must get better at closing out games and putting teams away when he gets the opportunities to do so. Opponents are curious how head coach Mike McCarthy will utilize RB Ezekiel Elliott in his offensive scheme. McCarthy is one of the best when it comes to diversifying a game plan and will keep opponents guessing. With C Travis Frederick retiring, Joe Looney should be an adequate replacement. The Cowboys offensive should be solid as usual with LT Tyron Smith anchoring the unit. The Cowboys also supplemented their defense with the signings of DL Everson Griffen and Dontari Poe. They are both disruptive forces who should be effective with DE Demarcus Lawrence bringing pressure off the end.

About the Rams

QB Jared Goff will try to get the Rams back to the postseason just a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. They still have a well- balanced team that’s loaded with talent, but will they be able to navigate through the arduous NFC West? With a top-notch offensive line protecting him, Goff should be able to get the ball to his playmakers in the passing game. WR’s Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp both had 1,000 yards receiving last year and will once again lead the Ram’s high-powered ariel assault. RB Todd Gurley was released by the team after 5 seasons as the Rams will attempt to replace him with an infusion of youth with 2nd-year player Darrell Henderson and rookie Cam Akers. The defense will once again be led by All-Pro DT Aaron Donald who is arguably the best interior lineman in the NFL. CB Jalen Ramsey returns for his 1st full season with the Rams. His confidence, swagger, and bravado should rub off on his teammates and have a positive effect on the team.

Players to Watch

Amari Cooper (Cowboys): Cooper posted career highs last season in receiving yards with 1,189 and TD’s with 8. He will face off against Jalen Ramsey in a premier matchup that will showcase 2 of the best players at their respective positions.

Taylor Rapp (Rams): Rapp will be busy running from sideline to sideline all game trying to defend the Cowboys potent passing attack. Rapp should assume the starting S spot vacated by retired 6-time Pro Bowl S Eric Weddle.

Impact Rookies

CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys): The Cowboys didn’t plan on drafting a WR with their 1st round pick, but when Lamb was still on the board when their pick came around, the Cowboys couldn’t resist. Lamb has the talent to be an elite WR in the NFL.

Cam Akers (Rams): Akers will immediately see action and will be given every opportunity to earn the starting role. He is a versatile player with superstar potential and has a nose for finding the end zone.


The Rams keep it close in the 1st half but Ezekiel Elliott shows why he is an elite RB in this league as he runs through the Rams defense like a knife through hot butter.

Final Score: Cowboys 42 / Rams 31


About the author

Daniel I. Outerbridge

A contributing writer with aspirations and ambitions to become a sports journalist.

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