The opening weekend of the 2020 NFL season has been and gone. All the weeks and months of close season preparation came to fruition, with the major Super Bowl contenders – and pretenders – taking to the field. What did we learn from Week 1 of the NFL campaign? Has it reinforced the preseason views of analysts? Read on as we discuss the teams we believe can make the biggest impact in the regular and postseason in 2020/21.
49ers humbled by Cardinals to suggest Super Bowl hangover
A quick glance at some of the preseason predictions for the NFC West by leading NFL analysts sees the Arizona Cardinals expected to finish third or last by several pundits. Consequently, the San Francisco 49ers’ 24-20 defeat to the Cardinals on the opening weekend does not bode well for them.
The Niners had the Super Bowl in their grasp in February, holding a ten-point advantage going into the final quarter, but eventually succumbed to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. It’s possible there is still a hangover of disappointment lingering from that defeat, with head coach Kyle Shanahan having a huge job on his hands to revitalize his troops.
Chiefs look primed to make another tilt for the Lombardi Trophy
The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their defense of the Super Bowl title with a comfortable 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans. It’s undeniable that there’s an incredible chemistry between the Chiefs’ MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his receivers. The likes of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce seem to be on the same wavelength as Mahomes, scoring a touchdown apiece against the Texans. This can only be bad news for the rest of the NFL.
There’s no doubt that the “Mahomes effect” is having a bearing on the Super Bowl futures markets. The Super Bowl NFL odds have the Kansas City Chiefs priced as favorites for February 2021 (+600) with the Baltimore Ravens not far behind at +650.
The Bucs will need more than Tom Brady to challenge
There was lots of preseason positivity surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The capture of iconic quarterback Tom Brady from the Patriots, along with Brady’s former teammate Gronkowski, raised the bar for expectations among fans. Cynics suggested it was one last pay day for Brady, who had endured one of his least productive seasons in 2019/20.
If Week 1 is anything to go by, the Bucs certainly have their work cut out to try and take the NFC South this season. They were overpowered 34-23 by the New Orleans Saints, who themselves have Super Bowl aspirations of their own in 2020. Brady’s debut raised plenty of question marks, with two poor turnovers and another pick-six in successive games leading to some suggesting that the “GOAT” is no more.
Lamar Jackson continues to shine and underpin the Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes
23-year-old Lamar Jackson is an NFL quarterback at the other end of the career spectrum to Tom Brady. Almost 20 years his junior, Jackson is someone with plenty of development left in the tank – and boy, did he look the part in Week 1. With three touchdowns and 275 yards to his name, Jackson is undoubtedly the second most valuable quarterback in the game right now, after Mahomes.
It’s fair to say that the Ravens’ Week 1 opponents offered very little resistance throughout. In fact, it wouldn’t be rude to suggest that the Cleveland Browns looked a little lost and lacking in chemistry all over the field. The Ravens will have stiffer tests to come, but Jackson is “box office”, of that there is no doubt.
Life after Brady may not be so bad after all for the Patriots
Fans of the New England Patriots will have understandably been somewhat nervous as to what the futures holds following the departure of legendary quarterback Tom Brady. However, their cost-effective replacement of Cam Newton has slotted in perfectly into the Patriots fold. Wearing the number-one jersey, Newton demonstrated why he was once the 2015 NFL MVP, with two rushing touchdowns helping the Pats to a 21-11 victory over the Dolphins.
For sure, the Dolphins are one of the least-equipped franchises in the NFL, but the win cements New England as the seventh favorites for this season’s Super Bowl title. They too will have stiffer tests to come, but Newton will be a savvy pick providing he can maintain his athletic performance.