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Around the NFL: Week 1 Preview

We officially made it. The NFL is back.

NFL: Super Bowl LIV-San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We are just days away from the commencement of the 2020 NFL regular season. What seemed like the longest offseason of all time has finally come to an end, and football is coming back.

Many things changed in the NFL since last February, and there are tons of interesting storylines to look forward to in 2020. So before we get set to kick off the 2020 regular season this Thursday, here’s a preview of what to watch for in Week 1.

Most Intriguing Matchups

1. Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs - Thu, 9/10 8:20 ET

We get to kick off this regular season with an outstanding matchup on Thursday night. The two newly-paid quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, will square off at Arrowhead. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs being their quest towards another title as heavy favorites in the AFC.

The Texans, on the other hand, come into the 2020 season with plenty of unknowns. They recently locked up Watson to a mega deal, but got rid of his favorite target, All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, in the offseason. Houston still has big questions on their offensive line, but are still the favorite to win the AFC South at +225 according to Oddsshark.

This matchup features a rematch of the 2019 AFC Divisional Round when the Texans blew a 24-0 lead to the Chiefs. Offense figures to be the main show in this matchup, and whichever of the star quarterbacks has a better day likely will lead their team to victory.

Prediction: Kansas City 31 - Houston 24

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints - Sun, 9/13 4:25 ET

If you asked around for the best two teams in the NFC, there’s a good chance the Buccaneers and Saints would be among the answers. Tampa Bay had arguably the biggest offseason in all of football, adding Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette.

The addition of Brady automatically propelled Tampa Bay from the middle of the NFC to the top-tier, but adding weapons around him made them a true favorite in the conference. Brady will have a receiving corp that includes All-Pro Mike Evans and Pro Bowler Chris Godwin to complement Gronk.

For New Orleans, their season ended in pure heartbreak for the third year in a row. After a 13-3 regular season, the Saints lost in the Wild Card round to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints return their three-headed-monster of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas on offense and once again expect to be one of the NFC’s elite, but the question of can they get over the hump is very real. Also, New Orleans currently is not having fans at their games, something that has been a huge advantage for them in the past.

Like the kickoff game, this matchup figures to feature a ton of offense. In the end, the Buccaneers are an improved team but their could be some early season growing pains without a preseason. Regardless of whoever wins this game, both these teams figure to be serious contenders all season long.

Prediction: New Orleans 28 - Tampa Bay 21

3. Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams - Sun 9/13 7:20 ET

Sunday Night Football and the Dallas Cowboys are a match made in heaven. The Cowboys constantly lead the NFL in primetime games, and 2020 will be no different. Dallas opens up the Sunday Night Football schedule this season traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Rams.

The Cowboys are always an intriguing team, but this year things are even more interesting. For the first time since 2010, Dallas has a new head coach. Mike McCarthy becomes the Cowboys head man, replacing Jason Garrett. McCarthy is not the only big Cowboys storyline in 2020. There’s Dak Prescott’s contract, CeeDee Lamb’s high expectations, Aldon Smith’s potential bounce back, and about 25 more you could easily name.

For the Rams, they’ll get a chance to christen their new home, SoFi Stadium, to kick off the season. Los Angeles returns most of their talent on offense, minus running back Todd Gurley, and is looking for a better year from former number one overall pick, Jared Goff. Their defense still has stars Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but lacks some depth. With Sean McVay at the helm, the Rams’ offense figures to still be competitive, but there is a real question if this team is still talented enough to be a true competitor in the NFC.

The Cowboys high-flying offense should be able to move the ball well against the Rams’ defense. On defense, Dallas will likely be able to put some pressure on Goff, forcing him into rushed throws and possibly turnovers.

Prediction: Dallas 31 - Los Angeles 20

Five Picks To Click

NFL: Super Bowl LIV-San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1. Patrick Mahomes, QB Kansas City Chiefs

The Super Bowl MVP should have his way in the opener against the Texans’ defense.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2. Dak Prescott, QB Dallas Cowboys

Prescott is going to have a breakout, MVP-caliber year, starting by carving up the Rams.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

3. The Buffalo Bills defense

The Bills outstanding defense gets a favorable Week 1 matchup against the lowly New York Jets.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

4. The Philadelphia Eagles offense

Like the Bills, Philadelphia gets a favorable matchup against the Washington Football team. Despite battling injuries, Philly should put up points against the Washington defense.

Oakland Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

5. The Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ defense is one of the most talented units in all of football. Going up against rookie quarterback Joe Burrow with a dreadful offensive line in his NFL debut is a recipe for great success.