Advertisement
Share

NFL Week 1 picks: Super Bowl champion Bucs open with win; Raiders lose

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hands off the ball against the Houston Texans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hands off the ball against the Houston Texans during a preseason game on Aug. 28 in Houston.
(Justin Rex / Associated Press)
1

The 2021 NFL season kicks off Thursday with the Dallas Cowboys taking on the Super Bowl defending champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa. The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups and predicts a winner.

Farmer’s record last season: 174-81-1 (.682). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last season would have been 131-119-6 (.524).

Team records are from last season. Times are Pacific. Lines according to FanDuel (O/U = over/under):

2

Dallas Cowboys (6-10) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott jogs off the field before a preseason game against the Houston Texans on Aug. 21.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Advertisement

Thursday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Buccaneers by 71/2. O/U: 52.

Both offenses could wind up in the top five by the end of the season, but Tampa Bay’s defense is 10 to 14 points better. Accounting for rust, it will be a bit closer than that.

Prediction: Buccaneers 38, Cowboys 27

3

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger speaks in a huddle.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger speaks in a huddle during a preseason game against the Detroit Lions in Pittsburgh on Aug. 21.
(Don Wright / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Bills by 61/2. O/U: 481/2.

Steelers are rolling out a new offense — do they build new offenses in Pittsburgh? — and have a revamped line. Buffalo picks up where it left off last season and that could be scary good.

Prediction: Bills 34, Steelers 27

4

New York Jets (2-14) at Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold looks to pass in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold looks to pass in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 27.
(Nell Redmond / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Panthers by 5. O/U: 45.

Sam Darnold faces old team right away, and has a better skill cast than he ever had in New York. Better offensive line, too. Panthers aren’t terrific but good enough to spoil Zach Wilson’s debut.

Advertisement

Prediction: Panthers 30, Jets 20

5

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) at Houston Texans (4-12)

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 29.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Jaguars by 21/2. O/U: 441/2.

The Texans are going to run it on some people, and Tyrod Taylor can do a respectable job. But Houston’s defense is terrible. Trevor Lawrence gets off to a good start as does Marvin Jones Jr.

Prediction: Jaguars 28, Texans 20

6

Arizona Cardinals (8-8) at Tennessee Titans (11-5)

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones runs a drill during team minicamp in June.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Advertisement

Line: Titans by 3. O/U: 521/2.

Bad matchup for Cardinals. The Titans will run it down their throat with Derrick Henry, then play-action off that to A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Arizona’s defense is supposed to be better. We’ll see.

Prediction: Titans 38, Cardinals 31

7

Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) at Washington Football Team (7-9)

Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. celebrates with teammates after a first quarter interception.
Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (26) celebrates with teammates after a first quarter interception against San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 22 at SoFi Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Chargers by 1. O/U: 441/2.

Ryan Fitzpatrick rarely has a good defense backing him but has one now. Justin Herbert is phenomenal, but Chargers are going cross-country and might need time to adjust to Brandon Staley’s D.

Prediction: Washington 27, Chargers 23

8

Minnesota Vikings (7-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looks to handoff during an preseason game on Aug. 29.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Vikings by 3. O/U: 48.

We’ll find out soon how Joe Burrow looks on that reconstructed knee. He has some good options but that offensive line is bad. Big game for Vikings back Dalvin Cook, a fantasy-football beast.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Bengals 20

9

San Francisco 49ers (6-10) at Detroit Lions (5-11)

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff drops passes against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 13.
(Duane Burleson / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 711.

Line: 49ers by 71/2. O/U: 45.

The Motor City would go wild for a win. Not going to happen. The 49ers will trample the Lions with Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon, and it’s going to be tough for Jared Goff vs. that (healthy) defense.

Advertisement

Prediction: 49ers 31, Lions 17

10

Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) at Atlanta Falcons (4-12)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan warms up before a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 29.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Falcons by 31/2. O/U: 481/2.

These teams are bad. This comes down to who’s the better quarterback, and that’s Matt Ryan over Jalen Hurts. Plus, the Falcons are at home. Mike Davis has a good day running for Atlanta.

Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 20

11

Seattle Seahawks (12-4) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gestures as he walks off the field.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gestures as he walks off the field after a preseason game against the Chargers on Aug. 28 in Seattle.
(Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Advertisement

Line: Seahawks by 21/2. O/U: 491/2.

The Colts don’t have receiver T.Y. Hilton, and their best offensive lineman, guard Quenton Nelson, is coming off foot surgery. Great defense, though. Russell Wilson gets it done for the visitors.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Colts 24

12

Cleveland Browns (11-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett jogs during training camp on Aug. 19.
(Ron Schwane / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Chiefs by 61/2. O/U: 541/2.

No scarier QB than Patrick Mahomes. But with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney coming off the edges, and the Browns’ ability to run the ball on Kansas City … this could be Week 1 stunner.

Prediction: Browns 28, Chiefs 27

13

Miami Dolphins (10-6) at New England Patriots (7-9)

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones warms up before a game against the New York Giants on Aug. 29.
(Adam Hunger / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Patriots by 3. O/U: 431/2.

Hard to read how good Tua Tagovailoa will be, but he executes RPO slant as well as anyone and has ideal target in rookie Jaylen Waddle. Mac Jones will look promising for Patriots but is short on help.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 17

14

Green Bay Packers (13-3) at New Orleans Saints (12-4)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston passes during practice on Aug. 31.
(LM Otero / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 716.

Line: Packers by 4. O/U: 50.

The Packers are going to build an early lead and Jameis Winston is going to be chasing. Stage is set for the new Saints QB to throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns ... with four interceptions.

Advertisement

Prediction: Packers 34, Saints 21

15

Denver Broncos (5-11) at New York Giants (6-10)

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley warms up before a preseason game against the New England Patriots.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley warms up before a preseason game against the New England Patriots on Aug. 29.
(Noah K. Murray / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 717.

Line: Broncos by 21/2. O/U: 411/2.

Will be interesting to see how Saquon Barkley looks, but he’s playing behind a bad offensive line. Teddy Bridgewater has poise and weapons, and that Denver defense could be a good one.

Prediction: Broncos 23, Giants 20

16

Chicago Bears (8-8) at Los Angeles Rams (10-6)

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford talks on the sidelines during warmups.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford talks on the sidelines during warmups in a preseason game against the Chargers on Aug. 14 at SoFi Stadium.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Advertisement

Line: Rams by 71/2. O/U: 46.

Rams are preparing for either Bears quarterback, but that’s not going to be the difference. Matthew Stafford makes debut against a familiar opponent and makes good use of his receiving weapons.

Prediction: Rams 34, Bears 21

17

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 14.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Monday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Ravens by 41/2. O/U: 51.

Raiders have gotten a little better on defense, although a little better isn’t going to be enough against Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards, who are going to put up big ground numbers to control it.

Prediction: Ravens 31, Raiders 24

Share