The Week 1 slate of the 2020 NFL Season has some match-ups that are... what’s another word for “lit”? I don’t want to say “lit”. I’m too old to say “lit”. They’re really intriguing battles is what I’m trying to say here. Beyond the Philadelphia Eagles match-ups to watch, what does the NFL have to offer?
We broke that down on The Palpably Unfair Podcast #1 w/me and Kyle Posey, which is part of The SB Nation NFL Show family of podcasts. Here are my picks for the most interesting game, unit vs. unit battle royale, and individual rumpus for Week 1...
GAME OF THE WEEK
While the Saints and Buccaneers will garner a ton of national attention, and it should, the prime time showdown between the two high-powered offenses of the Rams and Cowboys should be a banger and it also involves an Eagles rival, so, there’s that.
Alright, so maybe the shine has come off the Rams offense since their 2018 run ended with a 3-point effort in the Super Bowl, but that’s what makes this match-up fascinating. Can the Rams move past the staleness they’ve experienced lately and regain their status as an offensive juggernaut? They have the right defense to do it against, as the Cowboys are projected to be in the bottom half of the league.
Turning Jared Goff into a real boy again needs to happen for Sean McVay quickly if they’re to keep pace in a boat race against the Dak Prescott led Cowboys featuring the best set of playmakers he’s had to work with in his career.
UNIT VS. UNIT
While the 49ers attempt to avoid regression on both sides of the ball after skyrocketing in 2019, the Cardinals will attempt to keep the train going on their own eye-popping come up.
Football Outsiders tracked single-season DVOA improvements from 1986 to 2019, and the Cardinals offense saw a historically great leap from year-to-year. Only two teams, the 2011 Panthers and the 2017 Rams, had greater jumps in offensive efficiency. That’s thanks to new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his diminutive quarterback Kyler Murray.
It’s not wild to think the Cardinals could put in work against the stout 49ers defense. They were the first to snap the 49ers eight week streak of not allowing 20 points in a game, and Murray played well in both outings. The Cardinals grouping of choice, 10 personnel, presented the 49ers unique spacing problems that they struggled to answer. This was especially true in the run game where the 49ers conceded a combined 288 yards on the ground in their two meetings.
Now add DeAndre Hopkins to the mix and you have the potential for a neck and neck divisional dogfight to open the season.
Andrew Thomas/Cam Fleming vs. Bud Dupree/TJ Watt
On one side of the docket, you have a pass rushing duo that combined for 26 sacks and 12 forced fumbles in 2019. On the other side, you have a quarterback that fumbled 18 times, 5th highest in history. That quarterback is being protected by a rookie and a seven-year veteran on his third team that has never started more than seven games in a single year.
This battle on the edges has game-wrecking potential. Best case scenario for the Giants is that new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett consistently schemes open first reads for Daniel Jones, who struggles mightily in progressing through reads. The quick game has to save this from being a massacre.
It would be a big positive for the Giants if fourth overall selection Andrew Thomas is able to simply hold his own. It doesn’t need to be a dominating performance for the rookie, he just needs to survive so his quarterback can survive. It’s one heck of an ask. As for Cam Fleming... put a tight end next to him, I don’t know what else to tell you.
Those were my picks, what about Kyle Posey’s selections? You can hear that on The Palpably Unfair Podcast #1, part of The SB Nation NFL Show. Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load.
NEW @SBNationNFL SHOW— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 9, 2020
The Palpably Unfair Podcast #1 w/me & Kyle Posey (@KP_Show)!
Join us for our TNF preview PLUS games & unit/individual match-ups we're most excited to break down from the Week 1 slate!