The NFL season is finally upon us, and the first week of games has been full of surprises. Here are three match-ups to keep an eye on in Week 1.
The nfl matchups week 1 predictions is a weekly article that analyzes the three most intriguing match ups of NFL Week 1.
The NFL season of 2021 is officially here! America’s game (sorry baseball) is finally back after a long, football-free slog from February to September. There is no such thing as a worthless regular season (sorry, NBA) that no one is interested in (sorry NHL, MLS, et al.). It’s just 17 weeks of action-packed matches that not only promise but deliver on excitement. That’s what the NFL Week 1 schedule has in store for you.
Pro football, right from the start, provides a slew of intriguing matchups that will help define the 2021 NFL season. Here are the three most interesting Week 1 games to get you prepped for what’s in store beginning Thursday.
Thursday, September 9, 8:30 p.m. EST, NBC, Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (L) and Dak Prescott (R) are NFL Week 1 opponents | Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images; Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
The league isn’t wasting any time in getting down to business. In typical NFL Week 1 tradition, the season begins with a thrilling battle between the defending champions and the reigning champions. To begin it all, it’s Super Bowl vs. Hard Knocks this year.
Brady will equal Brett Favre for the most regular-season games (302) played by an NFL quarterback just by walking onto the field. After that, he’s just 1,154 passing yards away from shattering Favre’s record for most passing yards and five sacks away from breaking his own.
His main aim this season, though, will be to shatter his own records. He has already made history as the oldest quarterback to start a postseason game and win the Super Bowl. Against Thursday, he takes on the Cowboys in the first game of his career.
America’s Team, on the other hand, had a snooze-fest of a Hard Knocks in training camp and has a franchise quarterback returning from a severe injury in 2020 and a minor (perhaps lingering?) ailment in the preseason.
On the other side, they have CeeDee Lamb, a potentially transcendent second-year wideout, and Micah Parsons, a rookie linebacker who looks like a game-changer. The Cowboys’ season in 2021 is unlikely to be ordinary. Either a spectacular comeback to fame or a tire fire awaits.
The tone will be established on Thursday night, regardless of which way things go.
Sunday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones were both recruited in the 2017 recruiting class in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tagovailoa replaced incumbent starter Jalen Hurts in the 2018 National Championship game and guided the Crimson Tide to victory. Jones redshirted his true freshman season. Jones took over when Tagovailoa’s season was cut short due to a hip injury in 2019 and went on to win his own National Championship the following year.
Now, the two are starters for rival AFC East teams vying for second place behind the Buffalo Bills in the division.
Last year, Tagovailoa had a hit-or-miss rookie season. He threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions over the course of his career. He seemed inefficient at times, but it was because he was playing in an offense that was built around Ryan Fitzpatrick, not him.
In 2021, he owns the club (and the offensive). The Hawaiian now has a short window to show he’s the guy before the club, which is now on the verge of winning after years of futility, turns to Deshaun Watson or another quarterback.
The New England Patriots are nipping at the Dolphins’ heels in the race for a wild card berth. Bill Belichick opened the free agency wallet and selected his next Tom Brady in Jones after a dismal first post-Brady season.
The Patriots released former NFL MVP Cam Newton after the 6-foot-3 Florida native performed so well in the preseason. Now, pampered New England supporters are expecting he can do what Brady did two decades ago and impress right away.
The winner of this NFL Week 1 game will gain an advantage not just in the division, but also in their careers.
Sunday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers
Is there any pressure on Zach Wilson to play well in Week 1 to justify the Jets’ choice to choose him over Sam Darnold?
“The group has already decided on a course of action. I’m delighted for him; this is a novel scenario for me. That isn’t even a thought that comes to mind.” pic.twitter.com/ZKkCd0JAkd
September 8, 2021 — Jets Videos (@snyjets)
The Jets QB Bowl in Carolina is the third most intriguing NFL Week 1 game. Only three seasons after selecting USC quarterback Sam Darnold third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets have ditched Darnold in favor of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
By scheduling Wilson against. Darnold in Week 1, the NFL schedule designers wasted little time in placing New York’s choice under the scrutiny.
If Wilson leads the league’s youngest team to an early-season win on the road, the New Jersey-based club might seem like geniuses. In the preseason, the rookie looked excellent, and some analysts, such as Chris Simms, think he was the most gifted quarterback in the 2021 draft. A win in Week 1 would go a long way toward proving that the Jets made the correct choice, particularly if Darnold continues to see ghosts in Carolina.
However, if a change of environment rejuvenates the former No. 3 choice and he begins to resemble the promising young talent the Jets saw three years ago, the decision to give up on him so soon would seem stupid. If Darnold defeats his former club in a head-to-head matchup, things will become much worse for Gang Green.
Whatever happens during Week 1 of the NFL season, the New York Jets’ day of reckoning will be interesting to watch.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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