Predictions for the first week of the NFL…including the Vikings against the Packers

The 2020 season is just about here, and that means actual games to finally talk about. There were times over the offseason where I didn’t think we’d get to where we are now, but here we are, and I’m very excited. As I’ve mentioned in my other prediction articles, like my division predictions, this season will be weird compared to previous ones, in both how games are conducted thanks to the pandemic and also the overall changes in multiple teams. 

All times in Eastern Time

Thursday, September 10

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs-8:20 PM

The Kansas City Chiefs return to football for the first time since winning the Super Bowl against the 49ers, and they will go up against a worse Houston team compared to last season, who the Chiefs also beat in the playoffs. The Chiefs will stretch their legs in their first game and show why they are still Super Bowl contenders. Final score prediction: 30-14 Chiefs win

Sunday, September 13

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons-1:00 PM

The Seahawks come into 2020 with high expectations thanks to Russell Wilson and the addition of Jamal Adams to the team’s defense. The Falcons are kind of the opposite. They aren’t expected to do much this season, but because of that, teams might look past them. I think this game might be closer than people expect, but the Seahawks will end up winning in the end. Final score prediction: 20-17 Seahawks win. 

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New York Jets at Buffalo Bills-1:00 PM

The Bills have the expectation to at least compete for the AFC East. This is a result of the Patriots losing so many players due to free agency or opting out, and Buffalo also got better. As a playoff contender, they need to win games against lesser competition, which the Jets are. The Bills are better than the Jets in almost every aspect, and will win this game. Final score prediction: 24-10 Bills win. 

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions-1:00 PM

The Bears should be at least a late-stage playoff contender, but that isn’t the case when Mitch Trubisky is the team’s starting quarterback. Until that changes, the Bears will continue to underachieve, and I think the Lions and Matthew Stafford will show the potential they have when everyone is healthy. Final score prediction: 17-7 Lions win. 

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings-1:00 PM

The Packers were on the doorstep to the Super Bowl last season before getting curb-stomped by the 49ers, but they didn’t improve at all over the offseason, including not adding to the wide receiver position in the greatest wide receiver draft class in recent memory. I think it’s entirely possible they see regression this season. The Vikings have a good roster of players and have the chance to contend this season, but they will need to get past Aaron Rodgers. Final score prediction: 24-21 Packers win. 

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots-1:00 PM

The Dolphins tried to tank at the beginning of last season, and got the quarterback they initially wanted, Tua Tagovailoa. However, that QB is not playing in the first game, Ryan Fitzpatrick is. While the Dolphins got significantly better compared to last season, it might take time before they bring everything together. The Patriots, meanwhile, lost some players to free agency as well as opt outs. Bill Belichick is still the Patriots’ coach, so it is difficult to bet against them. Final score prediction: 20-10 Patriots win. 

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team-1:00 PM

The Eagles went to the postseason last year, and while Carson Wentz and company have  a high ceiling, there is much to be said about them getting worse since getting the Lombardi Trophy. However, they are going up against Washington, one of the worst teams in the league last season. Philly should flex their muscles against weaker competition, even if Chase Young shows why he is one of the most refined rookie pass rushing prospects in years. Final score prediction: 14-7 Eagles win. 

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers-1:00 PM

The Raiders were close to the playoffs last season, and added players to some of their most needed positions, like wide receiver. This season could be the last we see of Derek Carr in a Raiders uniform, however, and that will be a storyline for the season. The Panthers, on the other hand, are going in the opposite direction. They might be one of the worst teams in the league this year even though they have the best running back in the league. This game could be closer than expected, but I think the Raiders win in the end. Final score prediction: 24-14 Raiders win.

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars-1:00 PM

The Jaguars are looking to tank for Trevor Lawrence this upcoming season. They are pulling a Miami Dolphins, but it remains to be seen whether they are Dolphins bad, or Bengals bad. The Colts, however, are trying to utilize a small window with the signing of Philip Rivers and talent at multiple other positions. The Colts should handily win this game. Final score prediction: 34-13 Colts win. 

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens-1:00 PM

The Browns got better over the offseason, with a new coaching staff and improved talent at multiple positions, specifically offensive line. They have actual playoff expectations for the first time in years and it might happen this year. The Ravens are coming off a season where they lost in the first round of the playoffs, and they hope to rebound with another great season while moving further in the postseason. They were so dominant last season that it’s hard to see how they significantly fall off, but it has happened before. I don’t think that happens, though. Final score prediction: 35-28 Ravens win. 

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals-4:05 PM

The Chargers added a new quarterback that they hope will become the starter in the future, but for the time being they are going with Tyrod Taylor. While Taylor is decent, he is not an outstanding starter. They do, however, have a good defense and a decent pass rush, even without Derwin James, which should make it difficult for Joe Burrow’s first NFL game. People have extremely high expectations for Burrow, coming off arguably the greatest college football season for a QB. Considering he hasn’t had any preseason experience, it isn’t heresy to say it might take a little bit of time before he gets going, even if a Bengals fan like myself would love to see him immediately put it all together. However, I don’t think that happens. Final score prediction: 20-17 Chargers win. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints-4:25 PM

I think this has the potential to be the most interesting game in this week’s slate of games, with Tom Brady’s first NFL game in a jersey not laden in Patriots colors, as well as the Saints possibly starting one of the final seasons of their Super Bowl contention with Drew Brees. While both teams have the potential for good offensive seasons, the Saints have a better defense which has been together longer, which could be the edge this game. Final score prediction: 28-24 Saints win. 

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers-4:25 PM

The Cardinals got much better in the offseason, adding DeAndre Hopkins and a top draft prospect in Isaiah Simmons. They have a good chance at bringing everything together this season, with a better offensive line, and a more cohesive defense, which could lead to the postseason if my division preview is to be believed. The 49ers almost won the Super Bowl last season, and hope to get back, but there’s always a team that gets significantly worse after going far in the playoffs. It could be the 49ers this season. Final score prediction: 24-23 Cardinals win. 

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams-8:20 PM

The Rams just made Jalen Ramsey the highest paid cornerback in NFL history, and alongside Aaron Donald, the Rams have a decent combo of talented players on defense. However, Jared Goff makes it difficult to score on the opposite side of the ball. The Cowboys have a little bit of an inverse of that problem. They have a very talented offense, with new wide receiver CeeDee Lamb adding to top-tier players like Zeke Elliott and Amari Cooper. But, their defense lost good players like Byron Jones that could make it difficult to immediately replicate production in those spots. Final score prediction: 28-13 Cowboys win. 

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 10: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys shakes hands with Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings after the game at AT&T Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Monday, September 14

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants-7:15 PM

The Steelers were on the cusp of the playoffs last season, and would have if they had even a subpar QB, so the return of Ben Roethlisberger should immediately help the team, even if he isn’t fully what he previously was. The defense is outstanding, with Minkah Fitzpatrick and TJ Watt. The Giants got better at offense, thanks massively to one of the more refined OL prospects in Andrew Thomas. However, their defense is still a work in progress, so it might take a little bit to get going. Final score prediction: 24-7 Steelers win. 

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos-10:10 PM

The Titans were one of the hottest teams at the end of last season, massively helped by the outstanding play of Derrick Henry, who returns for them this season, The defense was good as well, and might be even better after adding Jadaveon Clowney. The Titans might be a team to watch this season. I would have said that about the Broncos as well, but recently it was reported Von Miller might be out for the season, which significantly hurts their chances. The offense is better with the addition of Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon, and an exciting young QB in Drew Lock. Final score prediction: 23-17 Titans win. 

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