An Early Look at NFL Week 1

NFL Aug 23, 2021

Yeah, there's still one preseason game left to play for each team.  That happens this coming weekend.  Then, the NFL regular season kicks off on September 9th.

It's never too early to start looking at the schedule and handicap games.  You can even make bets.  Keep in mind that lines and total will move.  So, it's always a good idea to try and capture the best odds you can find when you can.

What follows is a short primer on the major storylines for each game in Week 1.  I parsed this list and comments from my good friends at, which is an open forum for sports handicappers.

Thursday:  Cowboys-Buccaneers:
— The main question for Dallas is the health of QB Dak Prescott’s shoulder.
— Last 18 years, the defending Super Bowl champs are 11-4-3 ATS in Week 1 the following year.

— Both head coaches in this game are first-time head coaches.
— Eagles’ QB is 2nd year QB Jason Hurts (1-3 as starter); Falcons’ QB is longtime vet Matt Ryan (113-92)

— Buffalo split its last six home openers, after an 0-13 skid the previous two decades.
— Lots of speculation of future of QB Ben Roethlisberger and this being his last season....look for Steelers to try and be much more of a running team in 2021.

— Klint Kubiak is Minnesota’s 6th offensive coordinator in six years.  That might be part of the problem.
— QB Burrow coming off season-ending injury hasn’t played in preseason; he got hurt November 22. Is he healthy yet? We'll see.

— How long until rookie QB Trey Lance takes over at QB for San Francisco?
— New QB, new coach, new GM; they’re going to run ball more.  Butas they fall behind in many games, things could get ugly.

— Cardinals lost 4 of last 5 road openers; how much will JJ Watt help a defense that's been one of the worst for a while?
— Titans added WR Julio Jones to spruce up the offense, which was already scoring lots of points; HC Vrabel now has COVID

— Seattle is currently the 3rd betting choice in NFC West, which is a first in the Pete Carroll era.
— If he is healthy, fragile Carson Wentz will be Colts’ 4th #1 QB in the last four years.

— Will Brandon Staley’s highly-touted defense be as sturdy now that he is a head coach?
— QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his 17th season, will be starting for an NFL-record 9th team.  If he can play as well in 2021 as last season, Washington could repeat in East.

— New coach, rookie QB, opener on road; not a great scenario for a win or a cover.
— Carolina QB Sam Darnold faces his old team in this game.  

— Urban Meyer is 0-0 as an NFL head coach, 187-32 as a college coach.  All eyes on him these early games, especially this one which is winnable.
— David Culley is 0-0 as a head coach anywhere; he was an OC once, at UTEP in 1990.  Texans are a mess on and off the field.

— Browns are 1-8 SU last nine road openers (3-5-1 ATS); last five stayed under the total.
— Teams that lost Super Bowl are 4-14 ATS in Week 1 the next year; Chiefs have won, covered last four home openers.

— Jacoby Brissett (12-20 as starter) is solid backup for 2nd year QB Tagovailoa (6-3). Miami comes off 10-6 record and could improve.
— New England had #1 net punting average in NFL last season.  Okay, so that's not really a huge fact.  The real story is Cam Newton.  One last shot here for a QB that's been a disappointment last few seasons.

— The over is 12-3 in Green Bay’s last fifteen road openers.  This team loves to throw the ball.
— Who is the new QB in New Orleans? Are Hill/Winston both going to play?  Probably, yes.

— Denver is 32-48 since Peyton Manning retired; Another team with a glaring void under center– who is this year’s QB?
— NY Giants are 10-22 since Eli Manning retired; Glennon is a solid backup to Jones, who must step up this season.

— QB Andy Dalton will start in Week 1; Enjoy, Bears fans!  So, how long before rookie Fields takes over?
— Ex-Lion Matt Stafford is new QB; and there's a new DC, new special teams coach in LA. WRs are improved, defense figures to take a step back.  Might be an over team, now.

Monday:  Ravens-Raiders:
— Baltimore won/covered its last five season openers.  Maybe their preseason stream carries over?
— First game at LV Allegiant Stadium with real fans.  Should be rockin'.