NFL Predictions: Week 1

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NFL

Editor-In-Chief Sammi France breaks down her predictions for NFL week one matchups.

Texans-24 @ Chiefs-38

Coming off a Superbowl win, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking very strong this season with returning 18 of 22 starters from last year. Patrick Mahomes is coming back with multiple returning weapons on the offense and adding rookie running back from LSU, Clyde-Edwards Helaire, so the Texans defense better come ready to play. Houston is coming into Arrowhead Stadium with a solid defense led by J.J. Watt with other playmakers to help him, so they might give Mahomes a run for his money. However, the Texans offense may have taken a step backward with losing Deandre Hopkins, but they acquired Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks in hopes to offset the loss of Hopkins. But, I don’t think the Texans can outscore the Chiefs or even stop their offense from scorning, so the Chiefs will dominate this game. 

Jets-17 @ Bills-23

The Buffalo Bills are coming into week one  with a strong defense, even though they lost two of their playmakers, but they filled those holes by adding veteran players and drafting edge rusher AJ Epenesa to their aging defensive line. This defense can take over the Jets offense which had a weak offensive line and Sam Darnold who ultimately needs to prove himself with the few weapons he has around him. On the opposite side of the ball, the Jets also have many holes in their defense, especially with the departure of Jamal Adams. So, this improved Bills offense can take over this game with Stefon Diggs and RB Zach Moss from Utah. With Josh Allen, who has fit in with his offense better than Darnold has, the Bills will take over this game to get a week one win. 

Packers-34 @ Vikings-17

Both the Packers and Vikings are coming off a playoff run with the Packers making it to the NFC Championship and the Vikings making it to the Divisional Round. With a second-year head coach, the Packers are coming in confident this year with Aaron Rodgers feeling better than ever with weapons around him like Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. However, they are missing a strong WR2, which they could have fixed in the draft but decided to pick QB Jordan Love instead of a WR. The Vikings greatly improved their defense with the recent acquisition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakou from the Jaguars, but they have lost the bulk of their secondary from last year which Rodgers will take advantage of. The Vikings have lost a big weapon of theirs on offense, leaving Kirk Cousins with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. But, the Packer defense with help from Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark and their strong secondary can stop this Vikings offense, but they need to stop the run to win this game.  

Eagles-23 @ Washington-10

With a new name and a new look, the Washington Football team is looking to improve on a bad 2019 season. But with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice gone and a young QB, this might be hard for Washington to get a win over the Eagles. Now, the team has a lot of opportunity in the backfield with players needing to step up to help this offense but Dwane Haskins doesn’t have many weapons around him to do so. So, the Eagles defense will be all over this Washington team with their strong pass rush but they need their improved secondary to help out with that. The Eagles have been hit this year not with COVID-19, but instead injuries. So, if the Eagles can have players step up and stay on the field, they can definitely outscore Washington to win this game.  

Browns-21 @ Ravens-24

With an MVP behind center and a dominating offense, the Ravens come into week one fully confident in their team. Having Lamar Jackson as a dual-threat QB with multiple weapons around him like Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown and Mark Ingram, the Ravens can absolutely light up the Browns young defense, however, they have some issues on their offensive line with injuries and retirements. By failing to meet their expectations from last year, the Browns have a lot to prove this season hopefully with help from a new coaching staff. With Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry and new TE Austin Hopper, the Browns have the capabilities to be a productive offense if they use their weapons right, which will be hard against an improved Ravens defense. Having Calais Cambell now on their team, the Ravens have indeed improved their front seven and their secondary, which will help them stop the Browns to win this game.  

Colts-31 @ Jaguars-7

The Colts now have a new man under center, Phillip Rivers, who has spent his whole career with the Chargers before this. He comes into Jacksonville with a strong offensive line which will help the running game and the veteran QB perform well. With a young offense which includes rookie WR Michael Pittman Jr. from USC and rookie RB Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin to help out this offense in addition to T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack. While the Colts have improved their offense and defense, by acquiring Deforest Buckner, the Jaguars have not, especially with the losses of Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakou. Also, with a young QB Gardner Minshew with young players surrounding him, the Jaguars don’t look very strong coming into this game. So, the Colts will take over and dominate this game on both sides of the ball to give themselves a week one win.  

Raiders-24 @ Panthers-23

The Panthers have a new look this season with new head coach Matt Rhule and new QB Teddy Bridgewater. He has multiple weapons around him though with Christian McCaffrey, who was third in rushing yards and tied for first in touchdowns last year, and WR Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore around him. This offense will test the Raiders young defense but they do have players to make them stronger. However, the Panthers do have a very young defense especially with the big loss of Luke Kuechly which hurts their defense but could help the Raiders offense a lot. While having an inconsistent QB Derek Carr, he does have some weapons around him like Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, rookie Henry Ruggs III and Darren Waller. However, I am taking a chance on the Raiders with this one to take over the Panthers defense and win this matchup. 

Bears-21 @ Lions-19

Two teams both from the NFC North, who are looking to improve from last year with players and coaches needing to prove themselves. The Bears are back with Mitch Trubisky, which might not be a good thing but he needs to show that he has to produce or else newcomer Nick Foles will come in and take over. They don’t have to worry much about their defense with having Khalil Mack and Akeim Hicks but their offense needs to step up for the bears to win this game. They do have Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and David Mongomery around Trubisky to help while also acquiring Jimmy Graham, which is no help. So if Trubisky is accurate and can play well, this offense can be successful. The Lions however have a pretty consistent QB in Matt Stafford with RB Kerryon Johnson and new veteran Adrian Peterson, but it’s the defense where they are more questionable. They will have most likely six new starters with the loss of Darius Slay and Mike Daniels, so I believe that the Bears can come out and play well against the Lions, maybe even Trubisky too since Foles is right on his tail.

Seahawks-26 @ Falcons-23

With the Seahawks coming off a playoff loss to the Packers and the Falcons coming off a losing season, both teams are trying to come back better than ever. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has a new weapon to the offense, Todd Gurley, who will help out the run game while Ryan also has Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. But, the offensive line is what will really help their game out while making many improvements. So, the Seattle defense will be tested with this offense with the big addition of Jamaal Adams and Quinton Dunbar, therefore strengthening their secondary but they will have a questionable pass rush with the loss of Jadaveon Clowney. But, what will help the Seahawks win this game is their offense. With Russel Wilson at QB with Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, their offense will take over this game for the Seahawks to give them an edge over the Falcons.

Dolphins-14 @ Patriots-20

Well, the Patriots are now out of the Tom Brady era and have moved onto former Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton. They do have a strong offensive line to protect Newton but have a weaker wide-receiver group lead by Julian Edelman and then RB Sony Michel and James White. So, their offense probably won’t be as good as before with Brady. But, they do return Stefon Gilmore who was the defensive player of the year and also playmaker Jason McCourty but lose Dont’a Hightower along with other players who opted out because of COVID-19. The Dolphins however are starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa but have a solid WR group around them that have a minor issue though. They have improved their defense by acquiring more linebackers and then their secondary is considered a strength to help their defense out. But, I think the Patriots will take advantage of the Dolphins being a young team and ultimately win this game, it might not be easy though. 

 

Chargers-17 @ Bengals-14

The Bengals got what they absolutely wanted in the draft, QB Joe Burrow from LSU, which is an upgrade from former QB Andy Dalton. Burrow will have Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, Tee Higgins and RB Joe Mixon around him to help but they have a lot of doubts with their offensive line that will affect their running and passing game. The Chargers also have a new QB to start the season as they chose Tyrod Taylor over first-round pick Justin Herbert to lead the team. Taylor however is more of a game manager than a game-winner so he will have to rely on Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry to help him out. Although the Chargers defense is what will definitely help them win games if they stay healthy. With Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and rookie Kenneth Murray, the Chargers defense will get after Burrow and help the Chargers get a win, despite the injury from Derwin James wich hurts the defense.   

Cardinals-26 @ 49ers-27

The 49ers are coming in this season with a chip on their shoulder from a Superbowl loss and the Cardinals are coming in new and improved. The Cardinals have added Deandre Hopkins to their offense while having Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake to help out Kyler Murray, to make this an explosive offense. Hopkins had 1,165 yards for 7 touchdowns with the Texans last year, so he will definitely help out this Cardinals offense but they don’t have a very strong offensive line which will impact their game. But, the 49ers have a very strong defense with Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa, despite the loss of Deforest Buckner, which could stop the Cardinals offense. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers are thin at wide-receiver but have Tevin Coleman, George Kittle and Raheem Mostert to help out Jimmy Garappolo. But don’t count the Cardinals defense out because they have improved with adding Isaiah Simmons and Jordan Phillips but they need to prove their pass rush ability. However, I think the 49ers defense will be the deciding factor in this game to help the 49ers stay ahead by consistently stopping the Cardinals.  

Buccaneers-30 @ Saints-34

There’s a new quarterback in town for the Buccaneers, a very talented one at that, meaning Tom Brady. The Buccaneers have many weapons to help Brady out like Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski. But, will Tom Brady be the same as before and can the Saints defense stop them? Well, the Saints are coming in with a stronger defense with Cameron Jordan, despite the loss of Vonn Bell and having players return from injuries, so I believe that they can stop the Buccaneers offense. Like the Saints defense, Tampa Bay’s defense is also coming with a better pass rush with Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh and a younger secondary. But, the Saints offense is loaded too with Drew Brees and a great offensive line protecting him with Alvin Kamara, newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas. The game will be a close one but the Saints will ultimately pull off with the win.  

Cowboys-28 @ Rams-17

With a new Head Coach in town, Mike McCarthy certainly came to the right team with lots of talent on the roster. Dak Prescott has a lot to work with on the offense with Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb. So, the Rams defense is going to have some trouble trying to stop this offense. Although, the Rams do have a solid defense led by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey but they have holes around them. So, the offense will succeed against this Rams defense. With the loss of Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, the Rams do not have as many playmakers as before for Jared Goff with Tyler Higbee, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. But lucky for the Rams, the Cowboys defense is not as talented as their offense. The Cowboys have a young secondary, which Goff should take advantage of, and other players need to step up that are coming back from an injury. But, if the Cowboys defense is healthy, then they will make an impact. I do think that the Cowboys will pull away with a win against the Rams by making a big statement with their offense. 

Steelers-26 @ Giants-13

With one of the league’s best defenses, the Steelers look to improve their offense this season, especially with Ben Roethlisberger coming back from his season-ending elbow injury last year. The Steelers have some talent on their offense with rookie Chase Claypool, James Conner, Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster to help make a statement against a young Giants defense. All of their defensive players are at the age of 26 or younger with new additions of James Bradberry, Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez, which the Steelers will take advantage of. Although, the Giants offense has QB Daniel Jones who has had flashes of talent and has great RB Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Golden Tate who will help him out. But, they will have some trouble getting past the Steelers defense consisting of Bud Dupree, Joe Hayden, Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt. So, the Steelers will ultimately take this game with the help of their defense and a healthy Roethlisberger.  

Titans-24 @ Broncos-14

The Titans are coming off a deep playoff run last season and the Broncos are coming off a losing season looking to improve. With bringing back A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith to help out Ryan Tannehill, the Titans have a strong running game and have a stronger passing game with Smith on the way to be an elite TE. The Broncos defense will have some problems with this offense by having a weaker defense with the loss of Von Miller and have a weakness at inside linebacker and with their secondary depth. But, they did add Jurrell Casey to help out the pass rush. The Broncos have a weak offensive line to protect quarterback Drew Lock though. But Lock has Noah Fant, Phillip Lindsay, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton to help him out and help him become a better passer. The Titans can stop the Broncos though with help of their defense but they lost Jurell Casey  and Logan Ryan which they have tried to find replacements to fill those holes. Their pass rush has improved with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney. So, I ultimately think that the Titans will pull off a win for this game with their dominant offense against a weaker Broncos defense.