NFL Week 1 Upsets: Who’s on Upset Alert to Kick Off the Season? Let’s take a look…
The NFL slate is bookended by the two most difficult weeks to predict. The season’s final week features backups galore and coaches keeping things close to the vest in terms of playing time as teams battle for playoff security or positioning.
Week 1 is chock full of uncertainty, especially in a year with only three preseason games where many starters never saw the field.
Let’s examine three Week 1 favorites that should be on upset alert when the 2021 campaign kicks off this coming weekend.
NFL Week 1 Upsets: Packers (-4.5) vs. Saints
This game opened with the Saints as the favorites, laying 3 points at home to visiting Green Bay. Then, Hurricane Ida displaced Sean Payton and company, and after a scheduling conflict rerouted them from the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, the Saints will “host” the Packers in Jacksonville.
Perhaps New Orleans saw Aaron Rodgers’ record and numbers in the state of Florida, as last year’s MVP is 3-4 all-time with a career QBR of 78.1 in the Sunshine State. On the other hand, Rodgers was 4-1 with 17 touchdowns and just one interception indoors last year.
Plus, throw in the fact that the Packers ended the Saints’ season last year in the dome in the NFC Divisional Round, marking the end of Drew Brees’ career.
NFL Week 1 Upsets: Chargers (-1) vs. Washington Football Team
Yes, a 1-point line hardly qualifies the Chargers as a favorite in this one, but expectations in Los Angeles are high in the second year of the Justin Herbert era. Unfortunately, he’ll have to fly his team cross country for a 1:00pm EST (10am PST!) kick against one of the top defenses in the NFL.
Herbert has plenty of weapons at his disposal (Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook). Still, he has a first-year offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi who will take some time adjusting. And it won’t be an easy task against a unit that finished second in the league in pass defense and sixth in sacks.
Plus, Week 2 has the Chargers hosting the Cowboys in what should/could be a shootout with LA playing in front of a home crowd in their new digs for the first time since the venue opened. There is a lookahead factor written all over this one.
NFL Week 1 Upsets: Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Browns
Another revenge factor game in play here. The Chiefs sent Cleveland home in the AFC Divisional Round a year ago and host the up-and-coming Browns to start the 2021 season.
Cleveland has not had much luck in season openers recently, going just 5-15-1 ATS since 2000, but Kevin Stefanski, Baker Mayfield, and company proved that the tides are starting to turn. Plus, teams coming off a Super Bowl loss are 5-16 ATS in Week 1 of the following season, since 2000.
The Browns outscored the Chiefs 14-3 in the second half of that playoff game, albeit after Patrick Mahomes went out with an injury, but this has all the ingredients for an early-season upset in one of the most compelling Week 1 matchups on the entire card.