After an exciting couple of weeks of college football, the NFL is back on Thursday. The week will be packed with intriguing matchups and the best news is that this is just the first of 17 games – not 16 – as the league has extended the regular season by one contest. Let’s take a look at the five best matchups for Week 1.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is officially the first game of the 2021 NFL regular season. Dak Prescott makes his long-awaited return with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb all prepared to make his job easier. The Buccaneers come into this new year as the reigning Super Bowl champions with all 22 starters from that 2020 season. Can Brady continue to play at a high level despite his age?
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
We get the privilege of getting an AFC Divisional Round rematch on opening week with the Cleveland Browns taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns should finally be getting their star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back onto the field after he suffered a serious injury that held him out all last year. He could give Baker Mayfield a big weapon to put this offense over the top. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes and company are coming back into this season fully healthy and will be looking to beat back the Browns again.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
The Green Bay Packers finally got through all of their drama regarding Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams in the offseason. It appears that they are all-in for one more run at a championship in 2021. The New Orleans Saints can’t really say the same. Legendary quarterback Drew Brees retired in the offseason, which leaves Jameis Winston as the starting man. Michael Thomas will also not be in this game after he decided to get surgery on his ankle while simultaneously stirring up some drama with the organization. On top of that, due to Hurricane Ida, the Saints lost this home game as it will be played in Jacksonville instead.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
The Pittsburgh Steelers convinced Ben Roethlisberger and company to run it back one more season. They hope to right the ship in 2021 behind a stellar offense and newly drafted running back Najee Harris. The Buffalo Bills barely missed out on the Super Bowl as they lost in the AFC Championship game to the Chiefs last season. Two solid defenses will be taking on two fantastic offenses in this matchup but which one will be able to get the best of the other?
Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans
The Arizona Cardinals will be showcasing their new additions with J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore and Zaven Collins all making their debut to the roster. Chandler Jones will also be back for the first time since his injury. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans boast a brand-new receiver in Julio Jones to combine with the truck that is Derrick Henry at the running back position. And don’t forget about A.J. Brown. Two offenses with the potential to be league breaking square off here.