Tennessee at Cleveland: No team has drawn more attention, positive and negative, heading into the NFL’s 100th season than the Cleveland Browns. The Titans’ defense ought to be stout, and figures to get tested by Baker Mayfield throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, plus Nick Chubb running the ball.
Pittsburgh at New England: The Patriots have been playing down the fact they weren’t chosen for the opener of the NFL’s 100th season despite their latest Lombardi Trophy. Pittsburgh lost two of its biggest stars in receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. But many in the Steel City are seeing that as eliminating huge distractions. Atlanta at Minnesota: Two coaches, Dan Quinn with the Falcons, Mike Zimmer with the Vikings, who need quick starts and solid seasons to enhance their job security.
Los Angeles Rams at Carolina: The Rams are among the most dangerous offenses in football. The Panthers are plagued by uncertainty in many areas, though not a problem is Carolina’s versatile RB Christian McCaffrey, who would truly impress if he can have a huge game against two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense. Kansas City at Jacksonville: For 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes to match last season might be expecting a bit much. For the Jaguars, QB Nick Foles has an enviable track record in tough spots.
Baltimore at Miami: Baltimore will be one of the more intriguing teams as it grows on offense with second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson and also tries to remain powerful on defense. Adding safety Earl Thomas could provide a significant boost. All we can say about the Dolphins is: When does the draft begin next April? Cincinnati at Seattle: Cincinnati should be able to run the ball decently and has a solid defensive base up front. In Seattle, coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have retooled while remaining competitive. Indianapolis at Los Angeles Chargers: While Jacoby Brissett isn’t likely to be the kind of lights-out performer that Andrew Luck often was, he’s hardly a desperation option. For the Chargers, much will depend on the pass rush provided by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Washington at Philadelphia: Coach Doug Pederson’s offense runs so efficiently with QB Carson Wentz that Philly ranks among the NFL’s elite. But Washington isn’t likely to test that D; not having star left tackle Trent Williams really hurts.
New York Giants at Dallas: Zeke is back. If 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley has a big game here, retire his number.
Buffalo at New York Jets: Both clubs expect huge improvement from their second-year QBs, Sam Darnold in New York, Josh Allen in Buffalo.
San Francisco at Tampa Bay: Jimmy Garoppolo should get the chance against the Buccaneers’ leaky D, and the same could be true for Jameis Winston against the Niners.
We find out Sunday if Odell Beckham Jr. and the new and improved Browns are a contender.