Here are Derrick Gunn's five matchups to watch for Week 1 of the NFL season.
Falcons at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)
In 2018, these two teams were projected as division winners, but neither made the playoffs. New year, new hopes. The Vikings and Falcons are capable of putting up a lot of points and playing solid defense. Matt Ryan vs. Kirk Cousins should be fun to watch. The Vikes survive what could be a shootout in the dome.
Chiefs at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Last season, Andy Reid’s Chiefs were the most explosive offense in the league — first in total offense and points. Now add LeSean McCoy to the mix and they could be even better this season. Jags fans have been screaming for a legit QB for years and now they finally have one in Nick Foles. The legacy Foles left behind in Philly is well documented. Now he looks to lead his new team to greater things. The Jags can play defense, but they won’t keep KC out of the end zone. Big Red and his red machine start off 1-0.
Giants at Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX)
The Giants have a long way to go in order to climb out of the NFC cellar. Eli Manning is trying to hold down his starting status, but how long will it last with the future in Daniel Jones waiting in the wings? Odell Beckham Jr. is not around anymore to give the G-Men's offense a dose of respectability. Down in Dallas, players like DeMarcus Lawrence, La’el Collins, Jaylon Smith and most recently Ezekiel Elliott have hit the lottery with big new contracts. Old man Jason Witten came out of his brief retirement to provide a safety valve for Dak Prescott. The Cowboys swept the season series last year, but by a total of only eight points. It should be another hard-fought division tussle with the ‘Boys standing tall in the end.
Steelers at Patriots (Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC)
It was strange not having the Steelers in the playoffs last season. Meanwhile, it’s become common to see the Patriots go deep into the postseason and win yet another Super Bowl. Experts say this Patriots squad could be even better than the 2018 team. Anytime you have Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger on the same field, something crazy can happen. Since he’s been with the Pats, Bill Belichick is 11-4 against the Steelers while Mike Tomlinson is 3-7 vs. the Pats. Great matchup to kick off Sunday Night Football. The Brady bunch get the W at home.
Texans at Saints (Monday, 7:10 p.m., ESPN)
This is the first game of a season opening Monday night doubleheader. Drew Brees vs. Deshaun Watson — two very different styles of QBs but both very effective. Houston hopes its offensive line can provide protection better than it did last year when Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times. Keep an eye on two of the elite pass catchers in the game. DeAndre Hopkins finished second in the league in receiving yards in 2018 and Michael Thomas was sixth. The Texans were champs of the AFC South and the Saints won the NFC South. The Saints feel they should have been in the last two Super Bowls. New Orleans goes to 1-0 in its quest to make the third time the charm.
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