NFL football is back and Week 1 is already off to a flying start. The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played out an absolute thriller on Thursday night that saw the defending Super Bowl champions escape with a last-minute 31-29 victory.
The game served as a tasty preview of what’s to come on Sunday and Monday, as the morning, afternoon, and primetime slate of games are filled with exciting matchups.
Opening weekend is always full of surprises. We typically find out that we know less about these teams and players than we thought we did. That’s why we have three bold Week 1 predictions for you.
JA’MARR CHASE TOPS 100 RECEIVING YARDS
This would really be something, wouldn’t it? Much has been made, and I do mean MUCH, of Chase’s struggles this summer. Chase had issues catching the football all throughout training camp and the preseason. It became the biggest story in Cincinnati in August, and the issue captured even more attention this week after Chase allegedly made comments about the size and stripes of the football being different from what he saw in college. Chase would later defend his comments by claiming they were taken out of context.
It’s safe to say everyone in Cincinnati will be paying close attention to Chase as he prepares to play in his first official NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.
I love the matchup here. The Vikings fielded one of the worst passing defenses in the league last season and have a lot to prove this year. I like this game to combine for more than 60 points on Sunday. If that happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that Chase will have plenty of opportunities to make his mark and quiet the concerns that have surrounded him throughout July and August.
RAVENS RUSH FOR 200 YARDS DESPITE MOUNTING INJURIES
I saw somebody on Twitter say that the Ravens backfield has become like Harry Potter’s Defense Against the Dark Arts job. I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but it sure does feel like there’s a curse in Baltimore.
The Ravens will enter Monday’s game against the Raiders with a makeshift backfield after losing not one, not two, but three running backs to season-ending injuries before even kicking off their 2021 season. With J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards all nursing serious injuries, the Ravens will now turn to some yet-to-be-announced combination of Ty’Son Williams, Le’Veon Bell, DeVonta Freeman, and LaTavius Murray.
Nobody knows how this timeshare will play out, but I’m confident that the Ravens will quiet those concerns with a dominant performance on the ground Monday night.
The Raiders’ defense was bad last season. Like really bad. They gave up more than 2,000 yards on the ground last year (say what?). The Raiders have made a lot of changes on defense, but I need to see it to believe it. Even with all of Baltimore’s injuries at the position, this is an awful matchup on paper for the Raiders.
Look for Lamar Jackson and Co. to take advantage of the Raiders’ biggest weakness on Monday by rushing for 200-plus yards as a collective unit.
CARSON WENTZ LEADS COLTS TO A VICTORY
According to multiple reports, the Colts will have their new quarterback Carson Wentz on the field for their Week 1 contest against the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s been a messy offseason for Wentz, to say the least. He went through a public breakup with the Philadelphia Eagles in March that saw him reunite with Colts head coach Frank Reich in Indianapolis. On paper, it seems like a good fit—Wentz had his best years in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Reich. It didn’t get off to a perfect start, though.
The “injury-prone” label that Wentz has so often been branded with throughout his career popped up once again when the former No. 2 overall pick suffered a foot injury that required surgery in early August. Wentz’s Week 1 status was immediately in doubt, but it’s now been confirmed that he’s recovered in time to start this Sunday. Expectations will probably be low for Wentz from a national perspective, and that’s one of the reasons why I expect him to impress us all this weekend.
The Seahawks were absolutely atrocious against the pass last season. They gave up a ridiculous 4,560 yards through the air in 2020. Only the Atlanta Falcons (4,697) were worse in that category. This matchup favors Wentz and the Colts’ new-look passing offense. Look for Wentz to take advantage of a weak Seahawks secondary while playing in front of what is sure to be a fired-up home crowd in Indianapolis on Sunday.