NFL WEEK 1 MATCHUPS AND PREDICTIONS
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (, O/U )
The 2021 season opens on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers playing at home, which is also the site where they lifted the Lombardi Trophy in February. Dallas will have a healthy Dak Prescott at quarterback and is currently the favorite in the NFC East while Tampa Bay is also favored to win the NFC South. The champs opened as nearly a touchdown favorite and the total is among the highest for the opening week.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts (, O/U )
Carson Wentz is back with Frank Reich and the experiment begins with Indianapolis as home underdogs against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Seattle is coming off a disappointing first-round playoff exit and will enter the season with a new offensive coordinator as it looks to repeat as champions in the stacked NFC West.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (, O/U )
Buffalo and its explosive offense is coming off an appearance in the AFC title game and is looking to establish itself as a contender once again. They’ll be favorites of almost a touchdown against the Steelers and their elite defense, though the total is set pretty high for these two teams. Mike Tomlin’s clubs have an excellent track record when it comes to covering the spread as an underdog.
San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions (, O/U )
New Lions HC Dan Campbell and QB Jared Goff debut together as underdogs against San Francisco at Ford Field. The 49ers lost both coordinators in the offseason but still have Kyle Shanahan at the helm and a much more talented roster than Detroit. San Francisco opened as the largest favorite of the opening week (-7).
Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team (, O/U )
The WFT looks to build on its NFC East title from last season, even if they did only win seven games. Ryan Fitzpatrick currently sits atop the depth chart at QB and on the other side will be Justin Herbert, the 2020 offensive rookie of the year. Despite being on the opposite side of the country with a new head coach, Los Angeles opened as the slight favorite (-1.5).
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (, O/U )
You couldn’t draw up a storyline better than this one. After trading Sam Darnold to Carolina in the offseason, the Jets are taking on their former QB in the opening week of the season. Under center for Gang Green will be Darnold’s replacement, No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. The Panthers will remain the favorite at home for this one throughout the summer.
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (, O/U )
The Eagles enter 2021 with Jalen Hurts firmly under center and a new head coach Nick Sirianni. It may come as a little bit of a surprise that they only opened as +3.5 underdogs on the road but maybe less so once you consider that it’s Atlanta’s first game with Arthur Smith at the helm. Both teams are looking to vault out of their last-place positions from 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (, O/U )
Jacksonville, with No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence playing in his first game and Urban Meyer making his coaching debut, would be an underdog in almost any other circumstance. But they drew Houston and wound up opening as two-point favorites. There are far more questions than answers surrounding the Texans, who have a new GM and head coach in 2021.
Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals (, O/U )
The Bengals opened as 3.5-point underdogs at home against Minnesota in Week 1 but are expected to have QB Joe Burrow back following his ACL injury last year. Joining him on the Cincinnati offense is his old running mate and top-five pick Ja’Marr Chase. They face another former LSU star in Justin Jefferson and game-breaking RB Dalvin Cook.
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (, O/U )
The AFC South champion Titans are hosting the Cardinals as slight favorites to open the season. Arizona found itself on the precipice of the postseason last year but came up short, as Tennessee did against Baltimore in the Wild Card round. The Titans enter the season with a new offensive coordinator and on defense will have to contain Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (, O/U )
This matchup will bring back memories of the AFC playoffs and Patrick Mahomes II sustaining an injury, plus the near-upset for Cleveland. The Browns look to build on their first playoff appearance since 2002 while AFC champion Kansas City dusts itself off following the Super Bowl defeat and enters the season as the favorite once again. This total opened as the highest of Week 1.
Denver Broncos at New York Giants (, O/U )
Despite being on the road, the Broncos opened as slight favorites in Week 1. Denver passed on replacing Drew Lock in the draft but it did trade for Teddy Bridgewater, so it remains to be seen how that situation unfolds. Big Blue gets all-world RB Saquon Barkley back and hopes to compete in an NFC East that could be wide open once again after having a chance at the postseason going into Week 17 last year.
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (, O/U )
There are still some question marks surrounding this matchup. The war between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers organization is ongoing, and it’s tough to tell what’s going to happen. Green Bay opened as an underdog against New Orleans on the road. The Saints’ depth chart is led by Jameis Winston following Drew Brees’ retirement and it will be interesting to see how the team moves forward.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (, O/U )
The Patriots managed to go 7-9 despite injuries and a lack of roster talent, but the personnel has gotten a huge overhaul in the offseason. Cam Newton is back but added to the unit are tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, along with a host of defensive pieces. Miami is sticking with Tua at QB and added two weapons in the first round of the draft, but it’s New England who is in the familiar position of being the favorite.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 12 (8:20 P.M. ET)
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (, O/U )
The first Sunday primetime game of the year will feature the Rams hosting the Bears as one of the biggest favorites of the week. Even though the Bears traded up for Justin Fields, their top QB is Andy Dalton at the moment. The Rams will also have a new QB after trading for Matthew Stafford after he played 12 seasons in Detroit. Los Angeles, along with San Francisco, is the favorite in a competitive NFC West.
Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders (, O/U )
The Monday Night Football schedule opens with one game rather than the pair we’ve been accustomed to. Las Vegas will welcome fans into its new stadium for the first time as Baltimore comes to town as favorites. Baltimore has made the playoff in all three seasons with QB Lamar Jackson while the Raiders haven’t reached the postseason to this point in Jon Gruden’s tenure.