It has felt like an eternity since Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs lifted the Lombardi trophy in February. The world has well and truly been flipped upside down in 2020 and no country has felt this more than the United States of America. However, the NFL, which is one of the staples of American culture is back.
The 2020 NFL season kicks off on Friday (AEST) and there are plenty of high-quality match ups to bring in the new season. Here is my outlook on how week 1 will unfold:
Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans
These two sides played an absolute thriller or a divisional round clash last season. The Chiefs found themselves down 21-0 after the first quarter, but due to some Mahomes magic, the Chiefs clawed their way back to win 51-31. The Texans have made a few mind-boggling roster decisions during the off-season, highlighted by trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. Houston Quarterback Deshaun Watson will have to step up without arguably the best receiver in the league.
I am predicting that Kansas City will pick up where they left off after their Superbowl win and make easy work of the Texans. Tip: Kansas City Chiefs
Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks
Week 1 games are often unpredictable and difficult to tip, this clash is no different. Both sides will be looking to make amends for last season. Russell Wilson was phenomenal in the 2019 season and will need to continue that form if the Seahawks are to make a deep playoff run in 2020. The Falcons finished the season in fine form, winning six of their last eight matches. Despite this hot run, they could not overcome a poor 1-7 start to the year and missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record. They gained former Rams running back Todd Gurley last season and he will need to combine with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to spark the Falcons attack.
I am going to go with the home side Atlanta in what will be an awfully close game. Tip: Atlanta Falcons
Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
In what will be a crucial game in deciding the AFC East standings in 2020, the Jets head to Buffalo to take on the Bills. The Buffalo Bills qualified for the playoffs last season in what was quarterback Josh Allen's breakout year. They earned a Wildcard spot on the back off an 11-5 record but went down to Houston in the Wildcard round. The Jets finished with a 7-9 record in 2019 but finished strongly, going 6-2 in their final eight matches, including a week 17 win over Buffalo. The Bills have been tipped as the team to dethrone the Patriots as the dominant AFC East team, the acquisition of WR Stefon Diggs will more than help their cause.
I am tipping the Bills to get the W here. They will come out firing after last season's disappointing end. Tip: Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
What a great way to bring in NFC North football for 2020, two historic franchises with a long-standing division rivalry clashing in week one. After disastrous campaigns in 2019, both sides will be eager to atone for their mistakes and make an early statement. The Lions fell apart after losing star QB Matthew Stafford early into 2019, whilst Chicago completely capitulated after a promising 12-4 season in 2018. Linebacker Khalil Mack will need to get back to his best and help the Bears live up to their nickname ‘The Monsters of the Midway'. Stafford is on a big money deal for the Lions and will need to earn every cent to beat the Bears.
This game will be close, however with Stafford returning, I believe the Lions can pull off the win. Tip: Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers
Yet another historical NFC North rivalry to kick off the season. Both sides made playoff appearances in 2019 and both went down to the 49ers by 17 points. With the packers drafting Quarterback Jordan Love with their 2020 first round pick, it seems as if time is running out for Aaron Rodgers to get himself another Superbowl ring. Rodgers and the Packers will need to hit the ground running to make a run in 2020. The Vikings have lost star wideout Stefon Diggs to the Bills, meaning that Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph will need to star if the Vikings are to notch up the win.
I think the hometown advantage will be too much for the Packers to overcome. Tip: Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins
The second AFC East clash of the weekend will see the Miami Dolphins head to Foxborough to play the new-look New England Patriots. Fans of the Dolphins will be praying that the reign of the Patriots has finally ended with the departure of 6-time Superbowl champion Tom Brady. The Dolphins have always been competitive against the Pats and have managed many upsets against them. 2015 MVP Cam Newton has made the switch from Carolina to New England in hopes of resurrecting his career. While coach Bill Belichick is still leading the Pats, they will remain a contender for not only the division, but also the Lombardi. Miami drafted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with their first-round pick in 2020, however it is journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick who will take center stage for the Dolphins. Often a hot or cold player, Miami will be hoping that Fitzpatrick finds his best form and lives up to his cult status as ‘Fitzmagic'.
Despite the loss of Tom Brady, I think Cam Newton will revive his career this weekend and lead the Pats over the Dolphins. Tip: New England Patriots
Washington Football Team vs Philadelphia Eagles
A long-standing NFC East rivalry will be revived this weekend, whilst the Washington side have adopted a new name, the match will be as fiery as ever. The Eagles made it to the Wildcard round in 2019, barely scraping past the Dallas Cowboys to seal the NFC East title. The Redskins were nowhere near contention for the division, sitting at the bottom of the NFC conference with a 3-13 record. They ended up with the #2 draft pick for 2020, in which they selected DE Chase Young, whom many argued was the best player in the draft. Young is seen as a once in a generation talent and will need a strong debut in the league to announce himself. Philly QB Carson Wentz is back from injury in week one after going down in last season's playoff loss.
I am picking the visitors to win this in a convincing fashion. Tip: Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers vs Las Vegas Raiders
Sin City finally has their own NFL club, the city convinced the iconic Raiders to move to Nevada. Despite the move, the brand-new Allegiant Stadium will have to wait until week two to host the Raiders. The Panthers have gained quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from their division rivals down in New Orleans. Bridgewater played as a back-up for the Saints and performed admirably when filling in for the injured Drew Brees. Las Vegas will have long-term QB Derek Carr under center and the QB duel will be the highlight of the match. The Panthers will improve out of sight with the QB-RB duo of Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey and I think they will get the win over the Raiders. Tip: Carolina Panthers