NFL Week 1 schedule and game-by-game predictions (Updated)


(Last update: 11:21am EDT, Sunday September 13, 2020)

NFL Week 1 has arrived. It’s going to be among the most-interesting opening weeks of action in the history of the game. So much has happened since the Kansas City Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl this past February.

Tom Brady is now playing in Tampa Bay. Philip Rivers has moved on from Southern California. The backdrop is a COVID-19 pandemic that will see most teams open their home slates without fans in attendance. But at last, it’s here.

It started with the above-mentioned Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans on “Thursday Night Football” and ends with a doubleheader on Monday night, it’s going to be a fun weekend. It’s also in this that we give you a detailed break down of each game with final predictions.

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New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Jets-Bills point spread: Bills -6.5 (40.0 over/under)

As of right now, the Jets are set to trot out Brashad Perriman, Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder as their top pass-catching options for Sam Darnold. Running back Le’Veon Bell seems to be in Adam Gase’s dog house, the latter of whom is clearly on the hot seat. From a pure roster standpoint, these Jets are among the worst teams in the entire NFL.

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On the other hand, these Bills are coming off a surprise playoff appearance and improved leaps and bounds during the offseason. Look for Josh Allen to take the next step now that Stefon Diggs is aboard to catch passes from him. Diggs’ matchup against a talent-stricken Jets secondary will be among the major differences in a Week 1 Bills win. Week 1 NFL predictions: Bills 31, Jets 13

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, FOX

Packers-Vikings point spread: Vikings -2.5 (46.5 over/under)

This promises to be one of the better games on the Week 1 schedule. Two bitter division rivals going at it, both of whom earned playoff appearances in 2019. Last season saw the Packers take both from their division rivals.

On the field, I am highly intrigued to see the two running backs go at it. Packers ball-carrier Aaron Jones led the NFL with 19 total touchdowns. He’s set to take on a Vikings run defense that ranked in the middle of the pack. Fresh off a breakout 2019 campaign, Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook will be taking on a Packers defense that ranked in the bottom 10 against the run last season. While Aaron Rodgers still has the advantage over Kirk Cousins, look for this one aspect of the game to be a difference maker. Week 1 NFL predictions: Vikings 27, Packers 24

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team

Injury update: Eagles star running back Miles Sanders ruled out

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, FOX

Eagles-Washington point spread: Eagles -5.5 (45.5 over/under)

Another bitter rivalry game taking place, the Washington Football Team’s home opener will also be played without fans in attendance. Following a drama-filled offseason in the nation’s capital, second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins will start out of the gate. Though, it would not be a shock if veteran Alex Smith saw some action for Washington.

As it is, first-year head coach Ron Rivera is going to be in for a rude awakening. While the Washington defense has a chance to be good, its offense lacks much talent at the skill positions. Even going up against a questionable Eagles defense, that’s going to be an issue.

As for Philadelphia, this season should be all about the emergence of second-year back Miles Sanders after a tremendous rookie campaign. Unfortunately, he’s out for this game to injury. This means Carson Wentz will be forced to throw the ball more. The good news? Washington boasts one fo the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Week 1 NFL predictions: Eagles 27, Washington 13

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Browns-Ravens point spread: Ravens -7.5 (48.5 over/under)

I am highly intrigued to see how Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. perform under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. It seems as if the one-and-done Freddie Kitchens held this duo back big time a season ago. It will be a huge Week 1 test against one of the best defenses in the NFL and a corner in Marcus Peters who was in shut down form after Baltimore acquired him last season.

On the other hand, it’s seems unrealistic to believe that Cleveland’s defense will have an answer for reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. Baltimore averaged 28 points per game against the Browns a season ago. Adding stud young running back J.K. Dobbins to the mix will make a difference, too. Week 1 NFL predictions: Ravens 35, Browns 20

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Colts-Jaguars point spread: Colts -8 (46.0 over/under)

Philip Rivers signed with the Colts for one reason — to compete for a Super Bowl title. All hands seem to be on deck in Indianapolis after the team made the blockbuster trade for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. The acquisition of running back Jonathan Taylor to go with the impressive Marlon Mack should help in this area, too.

Related: Colts put Chiefs on notice with draft picks

After trading away Yannick Ngakoue immediately ahead of the 2020 season, the Jaguars’ defense is now nearly unrecognizable. Gone are the half-dozen Pro Bowlers that propelled this team to the AFC Championship Game a few years back. One of the least-talented teams in the NFL right now, there’s no reason to believe that the Jags can hang with Indianapolis in this one. Week 1 NFL predictions: Colts 31, Jaguars 13

Colts injury update: Multple Colts offensive linemen questionable for Week 1

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Raiders-Panthers point spread: Raiders -2.5 (46.5 over/under)

Times are changing for both the Raiders and Panthers. For the former, moving to Las Vegas adds some more intrigue to the 2020 season. Jon Gruden and Co. also went full bore ahead to find elite skill-position talent in the draft for embattled quarterback Derek Carr. In Week 1, we’re highly intrigued to see how second-year back Josh Jacobs performs with young receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards.

The issue here for Las Vegas is that it still doesn’t have the talent on defense to overcome last season’s bottom-10 ranked scoring defense. Can the Raiders stop recently-extended Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey? What about Teddy Bridgewater making his debut in Carolina? It’s going to be tough task for the Raiders in their first game as a Las Vegas-based franchise. Week 1 NFL predictions: Panthers 24, Raiders 20

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Injury update: Kenny Golladay doubtful

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, FOX

Bears-Lions point spread: Lions -2.5 (44 over/under)

Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles? That’s the biggest question for a head coach in Matt Nagy, who is facing a do-or-die 2020 campaign after major struggles last season. For now, Trubisky will get the first shot and there will be tons of pressure on his shoulders. Chicago finished last season ranked 29th in total offense while putting up the eighth-fewest passing yards. This must change against a Lions defense that surprisingly finished second-to-last in yards allowed.

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In a matchup of two also-rans in the old black and blue division, it will primarily come down to Matthew Stafford’s return to action after missing the last half of the 2019 season to injury. He’s not going to need to flash a lot here, but the veteran must show that he’s capable of outperforming Trubisky under center. Week 1 NFL predictions: Lions 20, Bears 16

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, FOX

Seahawks-Falcons point spread: Seahawks -1 (48.5 over/under)

If the running back can prove that his injury history is behind him and he’s 100%, the addition of Todd Gurley is going to be absolutely huge for Atlanta this season. The Falcons already have a ton of talent with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on offense. It’s going to be interesting to see how this unit performs against a vastly improved Seahawks defense that added All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in a trade with the Jets. In particular, Adams acts as another level of defense against the run. 

On the other side, Russell Wilson and Co. should not have much of an issue moving the ball up and down the field against a Falcons team that finished in the bottom half of the NFL in total defense a season ago. 

This could very well end up being one of the highest-scoring games of Week 1. It pits an MVP candidate in Wilson against a former league MVP in that of Matt Ryan. What might seem to be an advantage for Atlanta playing at home can pretty much be thrown out the window with no fans being in attendance here. Advantage Seahawks. Week 1 NFL predictions: Seahawks 31, Falcons 27

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Time/station: 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Dolphins-Patriots point spread: Patriots -5.5 (43.5 over/under)

This game is going to be interesting and could very well set the stage for the remainder of the 2020 season in an AFC East that’s up in the air for the first time in eons. Cam Newton will more than likely be under center for the Patriots, ushering in the post-Tom Brady era. He does so after having looked good during training camp, but with several Patriots players opting out of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than anything, it’s going to be about the skill positions in 2020. Can Sony Michel rebound after two substandard seasons at running back? Who will step up behind Julian Edelman at wide receiver? These questions will start to be answered against a Dolphins defense that boasts one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL in that of Xavien Howard and the recently-signed Byron Jones. 

For Miami, this game is going to be an opportunity for the team to show the league that its rebuild has been expedited. I am just not too sure that an offense consisting of Ryan Fitzpatrick tossing the rock to DeVante Parker, Isaiah Ford and Preston Williams will be much of a threat against one of the league’s best defenses. Week 1 NFL predictions: Patriots 20, Dolphins 16

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Time/station: 4:05 PM EST, CBS

Chargers-Bengals point spread: Chargers -3.5 (46.5 over/under)

If teams had a full offseason and some preseason at their disposal ahead of Week 1, this could have very well been a matchup between Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Alas, that’s not going to be the case. In their first game of the post-Philip Rivers era, the Chargers are going to rely on veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor under center. He does have some tremendous weapons at his disposal in that of running back Austin Ekeler and recently-extended wide receiver Keenan Allen. Los Angeles’ offense should be just fine against a Bengals defense that yielded the fourth-most yards in the NFL last season. 

On the other side, it’s all about Mr. Burrow. He’s the unquestioned starter in Cincinnati and has a darn good skill-position group to work with. That includes recently-extended running back Joe Mixon and future Hall of Fame wide receiver A.J. Green. The Bengals’ offense will be good enough to keep this team in the game. However, Burrow will naturally make mistakes in his first NFL start. In addition to Cincinnati’s questionable defense, that will be the difference here. Week 1 NFL predictions: Chargers 28, Bengals 20

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

Injury update: Deebo Samuel out

Time/station: 4:25 PM EST, FOX

Cardinals-49ers point spread: 49ers -6.5 (45.5 over/under)

Arizona was extremely competitive in its two games against San Francisco last season, holding a double-digit lead in Santa Clara before losing and narrowly dropping its home outing against the NFC champs. We expect much of the same now that stud quarterback Kyler Murray is starting his second season. Add in the trade for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and his record extension, and this Cardinals offense is going to be a force. 

Related: Cardinals offense is a force with DeAndre Hopkins

San Francisco itself will break camp having dealt with an injury-plagued summer. Stud receiver Deebo Samuel (foot surgery) is on injured reserve and is out for at least three weeks. First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk also dealt with injuries during camp. That’s the biggest question for the 49ers — the wide receiver position. 

In the end, it will come down to how Murray can perform against San Francisco’s vaunted defense. The Cardinals’ defense is still going to struggle stopping Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. In the end, the defending conference champs squeak by. Week 1 NFL predictions: 49ers 27, Cardinals 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Time/station: 4:25 PM EST, FOX

Buccaneers-Saints point spread: Saints -4.5 (50.5 over/under)

Tom Brady going up against Drew Brees for the first time as division rivals. Two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Two quarterbacks with nearly 86 combined miles of passing yards throughout their careers. Both the Saints and Buccaneers boasting conference title aspirations. 

For his part, Brady has the best supporting cast he’s seen since the Randy Moss days in New England. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin represent the best receiver tandem in the NFL. Tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to the league after a one-year hiatus. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they still don’t have the defense to stop top-end offenses. Here’s a unit that gave up the fourth-most points in the NFL last season at over 30 per game. The Buccaneers also focused on offense more than anything this offseason, as we saw once again with the addition of Leonard Fournette.

This is going to be the difference in Week 1. No matter how well Brady and the Buccaneers’ new-look offense plays, they won’t be able to keep up with Brees and Co. Michael Thomas should dominate a lackluster corner group. Alvin Kamara appears ready to go at running back after some contractual issues. In the end, this will be the difference. Week 1 NFL predictions: Saints 35, Buccaneers 27

Related: Saints home game against Buccaneers now in question

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Time/station: 8:20 PM EST, NBC

Cowboys-Rams point spread: Cowboys -2.5 (50.5 over/under)

This game would have normally been one of those we talk about for generations. The Rams opening up their new multi-billion dollar stadium against America’s Team. Los Angeles doing so after a disastrous 2019 season. On the other hand, Dallas starting a new era of football with Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike McCarthy manning the sideline. Alas, fans will not be in attendance. 

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The focus will now turn to the game itself. Dak Prescott is in need of another big season, and must lead Dallas to a deep playoff run in order to justify a huge contract extension. He has a tremendous supporting cast in that of Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and rookie first-round pick CeeDee Lamb. With all of the losses Los Angeles suffered on defense this spring, the expectation is that these Cowboys should be able to move the ball at will. 

As for the Rams, it’s all about Jared Goff under center. He was downright terrible last season after signing a huge contract extension. Said extension has forced the Rams into cost-cutting mode, which was magnified this past offseason by the release of running back Todd Gurley and trade of wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This game should not be terribly close. Week 1 NFL predictions: Cowboys, 27, Rams 13

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants

Time/station: 7:10 PM EST, ESPN

Steelers-Giants point spread: Steelers -3 (48.0 over/under)

This has to be music to the ears of Steelers fans the world over. Ben Roethlisberger 100% healthy after missing all but two games last season to injury. As evidenced by the play of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019, Big Ben himself is as valuable as they come. Though, Pittsburgh will now need youngsters, running back James Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, to step up if the team has any aspirations of a division title. 

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For New York, the situation is vastly different. We’re talking about an up-and-coming team that could surprise a lot of folks in 2020. Daniel Jones played exceedingly well as a rookie quarterback last season. Running back Saquon Barkley appears to be 100% after suffering through some injuries as a sophomore. Meanwhile, the Giants have new starters on defense in that of veteran additions Blake Martinez and James Bradberry. 

More than anything, this game will come down to the quarterbacks. Can Big Ben shake the rust off and take advantage of a still-pedestrian Giants offense? Is Daniel Jones prepared to take that next step as a sophomore signal caller? Week 1 NFL predictions: Steelers 28, Giants 23

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos

Time/station: 10:20 PM EST, ESPN

Titans-Broncos point spread: Broncos -1.5 (42.5 over/under)

Coming off a shocking AFC Championship Game appearance, it’s not yet known whether last season was a fluke in Nashville. The Titans spent big bucks to retain Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. They have a truly elite young receiver in A.J. Brown and one of the most surprisingly good defenses in the NFL. This team should still be in the mix in 2020, especially after bolstering their Super Bowl chances by signing Jadeveon Clowney.

For Denver, the hope is that this team can duplicate what we saw from Tennessee in 2019. There’s some optimism. Drew Lock played well under center as a rookie. The Broncos signed Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon in free agency and added an electric receiver in that of Jerry Jeudy in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Denver’s offense should be a force in 2020. 

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I am intrigued to see how Jeudy and Courtland Sutton perform against a Titans secondary that yielded only 25 passing touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions a season ago. Can Lock unlock his true potential? As for the Titans, Week 1 will offer an opportunity to prove that last season was not a fluke. 

Injury update: Broncos place Von Miller on injured reserve with ankle injury. He could miss the entire 2020 NFl season. That changes the dynamics of this game in a big way. Week 1 NFL predictions: Titans 24, Broncos 20

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

Time/station: 8:20 PM EST, NBC

Texans-Chiefs point spread: Chiefs -10 (56.5 over/under)

There’s more good news for the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs after an offseason that saw them spend hundreds of millions to lock up their core long-term. This game will be played with at least some fans in attendance. This also bad news for a Texans team that most expect to take a step back following the shocking trade of DeAndre Hopkins back in March.

Related: Texans’ Bill O’Brien under scrutiny

The biggest issue for Houston will be being able to keep up with Kansas City’s high-flying offense. It’s something that came to the forefront during the two teams’ playoff outing a season ago. Tyreek Hill’s matchup with former Buccaneers first-round bust Vernon Hargreaves will make it nearly impossible for Houston to keep up here. Week 1 NFL predictions: Chiefs 35, Texans 17

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