NFL Week One Predictions
Image by bpcraddock from Pixabay
We are just three months away from the “expected” start of the 2020 NFL regular season. The term expected should be used loosely at this point as it is still unsure of whether or not the NFL season will start on time due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
In a perfect world, the NFL will begin its regular season on September 10th as planned. Teams will be playing at their home stadiums in front of tens of thousands of fans. However, that is seeming increasingly unlikely as we approach the mid-point of the 2020 calendar year.
Leagues such as the NHL and NBA aren’t planning on resuming their 2019-2020 season until at least mid-July (assuming there are no setbacks).
The MLB is proposing a season that has less than half the normal regular season amount of 162. Even with these delays in time, leagues are setting up independent venues and newly aligned divisions in order to carry out games. Unfortunately, the same might be the case for the NFL.
Regardless, let’s take a look at some of the biggest games of Week 1 of the NFL season in hopes that they will go on as planned.
Biggest Week One Matchups
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs (TNF)
The 2020 NFL season opener will be a rematch of one of the best playoff games from the 2019 NFL season. In the Divisional Round of last season, the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs met for a chance to go to the AFC Championship Game.
Early in the game, Deshaun Watson and the Texans throttled the Chiefs. After a 21-0 first quarter, it looked like the Texans were in for a franchise changing win. Instead, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs decided to turn things on and answer with a 28-3 second quarter.
The Chiefs went on to win the game 51-31, out scoring the Texans 51-10 from the second quarter on. Now, the two will meet to open up the season as the Texans look for revenge.
The Chiefs are early favorites to repeat and Mahomes is the front-runner for MVP before the season even starts. The Chiefs did not decline one bit from last season and may have actually gotten better by drafting a running back with their first pick and some defensive additions in free agency.
As for the Texans, the case may be the opposite. The Texans shocked the world by trading an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for pennies on the dollar.
Now their franchise quarterback will be without one of the most elite weapons in the game. Having to open up their season against the defending champs and still the best team in the NFL, the Texans are in for a rough start to 2020.
- Prediction: Texans 17 - Chiefs 31
New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills
There could be a changing of the guard in the AFC East in 2020. Tom Brady is no longer in New England and the Patriots dynasty may be at an end. So who will take over as the top dog in the AFC East?
Well, it likely won’t be the Miami Dolphins this season so it will have to be one of these two teams. The Bills had a promising 2019 that saw them reach the playoffs as they look to bring their franchise back to the level of the AFC’s best. As for the Jets, their addition of Le’Veon Bell didn’t translate to on field success like they had hoped.
Both teams are expected to see a rise in quarterback play as Sam Darnold of the Jets and Josh Allen of the Bills are expected to put together some big seasons. The Bills have a nice mix of young rising talent and established talent while the Jets have a smaller version of that going on with their team.
This will be a big win for either team as they look to capture an AFC East title. This game could be big come the end of the season. However, the Bills are clearly the better team on both sides of the ball right now and at home (even without a crowd), Buffalo has the advantage. Darnold is just too turnover prone and the Bills defense is full of ballhawks.
The Jets should be able to make this a game for the most part but look for the Bills to pull away late and prove they are the new top dogs in the AFC East.
- Prediction: Jets 16 - Bills 24
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants (MNF)
After a 2019 season that saw their starting quarterback go down early, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for a bounce-back 2020 season. The Giants are looking to improve in the first full year for Daniel Jones as the team leader.
The Steelers’ defense is once again among the league’s elite and is full of young talented players that could make this defense a problem for opposing teams for years to come.
The Giants’ defense, on the other hand, was one of the league’s worst last season. While they did make some improvement between the draft and offseason, New York should expect another rough season out of their defense.
With Ben Roethlisberger back, the Steelers will look to make another run at a Super Bowl title. Expect his first game back to be a big one as he looks to start the season hot against one of the weaker defenses in the NFL.
With a strong defense of his own having his back, Roethlisberger could find himself padding his stats in this one.
If the Giants are going to win this game, running back Saquon Barkley will need to have a huge game. Barkley is one of the league’s best running backs but he will need some more help from his weak offensive line.
The same goes for quarterback Daniel Jones. He will need some more protection to give him time to make the throws he needs to make.
While the Steelers are the better team in almost all areas, the Giants could give them a run for their money in this one. However, it is unlikely the Giants get the win as too many stars have to align for them to pull this one out. Instead, look for the Steelers to get a solid season opening road win to start their 2020 season.
- Prediction: Steelers 31 - Giants 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
The Tom Brady era is set to begin in Tampa Bay. They open their season against one of the league’s elite and their biggest competition in the NFC South this season.
The New Orleans Saints are coming off of a disappointing Wild Card Round exit against the Minnesota Vikings last season and will look to give future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees one more shot at another Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay quickly became a huge betting favorite for a lot of people around the world when they brought in not just Brady but TE Rob Gronkowski as well.
However, I wouldn’t be so quick as to jump on that bandwagon. Remember how hyped everyone was for the Cleveland Browns last season? The Titans put them to shame in Week 1. The moral of the story, it takes time for new pieces to gel together.
Tampa Bay should no doubt be a top NFC team this season but opening against an established team with one of the best quarterbacks of all-time is not an easy task. Brady will need time to adjust to a Bill Belichick-less team. Also, while the Tampa Bay defense is a solid unit, they are not the elite defense that Brady has enjoyed in recent seasons in New England.
Brees and company want nothing more than to give Brady and Gronk a rude introduction to the NFC South. Even if there are no fans in the stadium for this game, the Saints will have a lot of adrenaline on their side as they know this could likely be the last shot for Brees to get his second Super Bowl ring.
Expect a sloppy game from the Bucs offense against an underrated Saints defense. The New Orleans offense will be too much between Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Brees will outperform Brady as they get the win in the first of two (maybe three?) meetings between these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks this season.
- Prediction: Buccaneers 20 - Saints 28
Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos (MNF)
The Tennessee Titans were the surprise team of the 2020 season. They took down the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs and gave the Chiefs a run for their money early in the AFC Championship Game. Now, the Titans will look for another big season as they open up against the Denver Broncos in the final game of Week 1.
The Broncos had a rough first season under new head coach Vic Fangio. Now, the defensive-minded coach will look for a big jump in his second season at the helm.
The Broncos feature an above average defense with one of the league’s best players in Von Miller. On the offensive side, the Broncos have a sneaky good offense that is loaded with young talent that could make this the league’s best offense in the near future if everything pans out.
Tennessee did well to make sure both running back Derrick Henry (who led the league in rushing last season) and game-managing quarterback Ryan Tannehill are back for the 2020 season.
The two compliment each other well as Tannehill is a quarterback who does better throwing about 20 times per game as opposed to 30 or more. Henry is a running back who loves to carry the rock 20+ times and wear defenses down.
Another great Titans weapon is wide receiver A.J. Brown. Don’t sleep on TE Jonnu Smith either as he is one of the league’s best young tight ends. Tannehill has plenty of options for when he needs to make a play, making this offense tough to defend. Add in a strong defense and the Titans are poised to make another deep run this season.
The Broncos defense is going to be solid again this season, we know that. Their success this season will be based on how well their offense performs. Quarterback Drew Lock is finally getting the nod and he will need to have a strong first season as the team starter. Lucky for him, he has plenty of weapons.
The Broncos have arguably the league’s best young receiving group. Jerry Jeudy was their first pick in the 2020 Draft and was arguably the best receiver of this very deep class.
Speedster KJ Hamler (drafted in the second round) will add a Tyreek Hill-like weapon to this offense. Courtland Sutton and DeSean Hamilton are also excellent options that give the Broncos one of the best 1-4 WR groups in the NFL.
This game should be an exciting one to close out Week 1. Two similarly built teams, this game might even come down to a final minute possession. The Titans have the experience and are coming off of a great 2019.
The Broncos enter with the hype but we don’t know for sure how well Lock is going to play this season. It might be a year of growing pains for the Broncos. So in what could certainly be a Broncos upset, look for the Titans to edge this one out in one of the best games of Week 1.
- Prediction: Titans 21 - Broncos 20