The start of the 2021 NFL regular season is just one week away! Here are three teams that we expect to be sure losers – not necessarily against the spread – on the first Sunday (Sept. 12) with the NFL game odds.
2021 NFL regular season week 1
Steelers at Bills (-6.5)
Shocked this spread is below 7 points. The Steelers started last season at 11-0 but then fell off a cliff – which included a 26-15 loss in Buffalo in Week 13. The game was decided midway through the fourth quarter after Buffalo’s Tyler Bass hit a 23-yard field goal to put the Bills up 26-15. On Pittsburgh’s third play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger’s deep pass up the right sideline intended for James Washington was intercepted by Wallace. Roethlisberger finished 21 of 37 for 187 yards with touchdown passes to Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster and two interceptions.
This will be the seventh straight year the Steelers will open the season on the road, with a 3-2-1 record during that time. It will also be another opportunity for the Edmunds brothers, Terrell, Trey and the Bills’ Tremaine to play each other.
The last time the Bills and Steelers opened the season as opponents was in 1978 when head coaches Chuck Knox and Chuck Noll squared off. The game was won by the Steelers, who would go on to win their third Super Bowl title. It was also the only time Buffalo and Pittsburgh faced each other in Week 1 until now. Pick: Buffalo
Jets at Panthers (-5)This is the Sam Darnold Bowl. Back in April, the Jets traded Darnold, their starting QB since 2018, to the Panthers for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022. Darnold was the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 and the Jets took BYU QB Zach Wilson at No. 2 this year. They became the first team in the common draft era (since 1967) to select two quarterbacks within the top three overall picks in a four-year span.
Wilson did look good in the preseason, but rookie quarterbacks rarely win Week 1 of the regular season on the road. Darnold by all accounts has looked reborn with Carolina. Running back Christian McCaffrey is back for Carolina after missing 13 games with injuries last season, and wide receivers D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are coming off 1,000-yard campaigns.
New York has been hammered by injuries in training camp and the preseason and will be starting a very young group. This will also be the NFL head coaching debut of New York’s Robert Saleh. The last time the Jets opened a season against an NFC South opponent was 2013, against Tampa Bay at MetLife Stadium. The Green & White have never opened a season on the road against the Panthers or any other NFC South team since 2002. Pick: Carolina
49ers at Lions (-7.5)Detroit looks like easily the worst team in the NFC with likely only the Houston Texans of the AFC worse overall. This will be the Detroit head coaching debut of Dan Campbell and QB debut of Jared Goff, acquired this offseason from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford deal.
“It’s a new regime, new staff; they weren’t very good last year,” Goff told reporters. “It’s a whole new thing, and I understand it, but just like every other team in this league, there are expectations. I don’t know what the stat is, but every year there are new teams in the playoffs. Every year there are teams that were in the playoffs last year that aren’t. Why not us?”
Detroit will actually have a kicker! The Lions moved on from both of their kickers at the deadline to cut down to 53 players but picked up Austin Seibert on waivers. Seibert played in five games last year, four of which came with the Bengals. He connected on 6-of-9 field goals on the year and made all but one of his nine extra points.
San Francisco reached the Super Bowl following the 2019 season but regressed last year due to injury – the Niners should be NFC contender again. Jimmy Garoppolo will open the season as the starting QB but it’s only a matter of time before rookie first-round pick Trey Lance takes over. Pick: San Francisco