The 2021 season finally kicks off tonight, with a long 18-week season ahead. For financial and entertainment purposes, the NFL has added an extra game to every team’s schedule. I’ll be picking every game this season, competing against our followers on Instagram @thesportswaveoffical. As TSW’s finest Andrew Tolva would say, without further adieu (he says “a do” and I have to fix this error every single time), let’s get right in.
Cowboys vs Buccaneers
Tom Brady and the defending champs open the season against a resurgent Cowboys team that will surely improve on their 6-10 record in 2020. Dak Prescott is surely an upgrade from Andy Dalton and Ben Dinucci, as he returns from a devastating leg injury. LBs Keanu Neal and first round pick Micah Parsons are also important additions, but the Cowboys stand no chance against one of the best teams in the league. Tampa Bay retains all 22 starters for the 2021 campaign, which should open with a comfortable win.
Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Cowboys 17
Seahawks vs Colts
Two above average, but nothing special teams kick off their season with a tight contest in Indianapolis. Carson Wentz is expected to start for the Colts despite yet another injury, but even when healthy, Wentz has struggled. On the other hand, the Seahawks are clinging to relevance in a brutally tough division. Russell Wilson received some help in the form of veteran guard Gabe Jackson, but his weapons are questionable at best outside of DK Metcalf. This one could go either way, but ultimately the Seahawks have the edge in my book.
Prediction: Seahawks 26, Colts 23
Jaguars vs Texans
It’s a shame that one of these teams will open the season with a winning record. I’ve got nothing else to say.
Prediction: Jaguars 15, Texans 10
Eagles vs Falcons
We’ve got another boring matchup here, contested by two teams that have fallen off massive cliffs since making Super Bowl runs. Jalen Hurts opens his second year against one of the worst secondaries in the league, which could buy him slightly more time as a starter. Both offenses added rookie weapons, Philly with Devonta Smith and Atlanta with Kyle Pitts. Unfortunately, that is where all the noteworthy storylines end. Expect a shootout with sloppy defensive play.
Prediction: Falcons 30, Eagles 27
Chargers vs WFT
Justin Herbert begins his sophomore year with many key players returning from injury, as well as a much improved offensive line. Despite a tough division, the Chargers are a strong playoff contender. They visit the Washington Football Team, who are Ryan Fiztpatrick’s 9th career team. The talent gap between these two teams is too large, and if not for some special Fitzmagic, the Chargers should win comfortably.
Prediction: Chargers 27, Football Team 10
Steelers vs Bills
In 2020, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the season with 11 straight wins, but it looks as if any dreams of repeating such a feat will be squashed this Sunday. The Bills are a legit contender and can hang with the league’s best, let alone the Steelers. Mike Tomlin and his squad are no laughing stock, but with an aging Big Ben and completely new offensive line, a tough start is in store for the Steelers.
Prediction: Bills 23, Steelers 12
49ers vs Lions
Jared Goff opens the year against a familiar foe- a formidable one for what it’s worth. Injuries were the storyline of 2020 for the 49ers, from running backs to receivers to key defensive pieces; even Jimmy G wasn’t always healthy throughout the year. Niners fans are anxious to see Trey Lance make his debut, but Garoppolo will have no trouble taking care of business against one of the league’s basement dwellers.
Prediction: 49ers 25, Lions 10
Vikings vs Bengals
This article has been quite quarterback-centric (after all, it is the most important position on the field), but I must note, Kirk Cousins thrives against bad and mediocre opponents. The Bengals are mediocre at best with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, so Danielle Hunter will enjoy a sack-filled return to action after missing the entire 2020 season. Please leave your thoughts and prayers for Joe Burrow.
Prediction: Vikings 31, Bengals 13