Every team enters Week 1 of the regular season with the same record and same optimism. However, we’re going to quickly find out who’s who when the live action starts to happen. If you’ve been hanging out on the sidelines and are only now just starting to pay attention, not to worry. Whether you’re just a fan or betonline, here are the top games to pay attention to in Week 1.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Odds: Bills -6.5
The Steelers and Bills are two of the top teams in the AFC. Both squads registered double-digit wins last season and went to the playoffs.
For the Steelers, their season started with 11 straight wins before they faded. Does Ben Roethlisberger still have it what it takes to lead this offense? Will their young wide receivers mature? And have they found support from the running game in the form of first-round pick Najee Harris? If the answer is yes, Pittsburgh could be a Super Bowl contender. Meanwhile, the Bills are just about there themselves. They made it to the AFC Championship Game last season and have reinforced their roster.
This should be a matchup of two good defenses as the Steelers were third in the NFL in points allowed at 19.5 while the Bills weren’t too far behind at 23.4.
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
Odds: Titans -3
The Cardinals are entering what could be a make-or-break year for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. Kingsbury is an offensive-minded head coach but the Cardinals offense hasn’t taken off under his tutelage. The hope is that things finally change as Murray now has DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore to work with in the passing game, and James Conner in the backfield.
The Titans were a Super Bowl contender last season and added in Julio Jones to what was already one of the best offenses in the NFL. The missing piece for this team is their defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last season.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
Odds: Seahawks -3
The Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts contest is an interesting battle of teams that are trying to stake their claim as contenders. The Seahawks have an electric offense led by Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but as we saw last postseason, that wasn’t enough. The Seahawks went 12-4 in the regular season but their offense only mustered 20 points in the playoffs as they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Are there more dimensions to it this year – maybe with a ground game or a better offensive line?
As for the Colts, they will, in fact, have quarterback Carson Wentz in the lineup for Week 1. There were questions as the oft-injured quarterback was again banged up but he appears to be good to go. The Colts’ defense ranked eighth last season, so if the offense is there for support, they could get back to the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
Odds: Chiefs -6
The Browns and Chiefs showdown will be a rematch from last postseason. The upstart Browns went into Kansas City and had a chance Patrick Mahomes had to leave the game, but the Chiefs held on for a 22-17 win. Now we’ll see what these teams look like in 2021 at full strength. The Chiefs will have Mahomes and the Browns should get back Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup. He missed most of last season, including the playoff game.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Odds: Patriots -3
The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots square off in an early temperature check for both squads. The Dolphins are aiming to prove that they’re a playoff contender while the Patriots are simply hoping to show that last year – their first season without Tom Brady in a long time – was merely an aberration.
For both teams, success hinges on their young, Alabama quarterbacks. For Miami, they need Tua Tagovailoa to step up and show that he’s better than what he was last season. He was tentative and gun-shy, and by the end of the season, the Dolphins turned back to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. For the Patriots, they’ve handed the keys to the car to rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Is he ready to lead? We’ll find out on Sunday.