Week 1 of the 2020 NFL Season is here. Want to be more than the uninformed guy screaming at the TV? Me too. Hopefully we get there together.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Best mismatch for Chiefs: Travis Kelce against Houston’s back seven. This was showcased during January’s AFC Divisional, when the Chiefs rolled up 51 points, and Kelce scored three second-quarter touchdowns.
Best mismatch for Texans: A depleted Kansas City secondary. The Texans don’t have Deandre Hopkins, but the speedy trio of Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks (maybe) and Randall Cobb will have opportunities against a secondary without Bashaud Breeland.
Stat to know: Last year, Kansas City’s offense ranked second in the NFL with 6.2 yards per play. Houston’s defense ranked dead last in allowing 6.1 yards per play.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Best mismatch for Falcons: Seattle’s lackluster secondary. The group allowed the sixth-most passing yardage in 2019. Although adding All-Pro safety Jamal Adams helps, the corners aren’t ready to deal with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
Best mismatch for Seahawks: Atlanta’s lack of speed. The Falcons allowed the fifth-most yardage after the catch last year. Seattle should exploit those issues with a pair of speedy wideouts in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Stat to know: The Falcons saw teams commit 127 penalties against them last year, most in the NFL.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Best mismatch for Bills: Buffalo’s quality offensive line. The Jets had a hurry rate of 7.7 percent a year ago, ranking 27th.
Best mismatch for Jets: Stopping the run. In 2019, the Jets surrendered a league-best 3.3 yards per carry. It’ll be tough sledding for Devin Singletary.
Stat to know: The Jets averaged scoring on 23 percent of their offensive drives last year, the worst number in the league. Against Buffalo’s defense, teams only scored on 23.6 percent of their drives, the second-lowest figure in the NFL.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Best mismatch for Lions: Run defense. Detroit ranked eighth in 2019, allowing 4.1 yards per carry. The Bears mustered little on the ground, notching 3.7 YPC, third-worst in the NFL.
Best mismatch for Bears: Facing the blitz. The Lions only blitzed 18 percent of the time last year. Mitchell Trubisky should have time to throw, and he needs it.
Stat to know: The Lions missed 127 tackles last year, the fifth-worst figure in football.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Best mismatch for Vikings: Third down. Minnesota’s offense ranked ninth on third down (42.8%), while the Packers (38.1%) struggled, coming in 18th on third-down defense.
Best mismatch for Packers: The Smith Bros. Za’Darius and Preston Smith should feast. Last year, Green Bay sacked Kirk Cousins six times while sweeping the series.
Stat to know: Minnesota’s defense gets camera time. The average drive against it was 6.3 plays, third-longest in the league.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Best mismatch for Patriots: Secondary against Miami’s receivers. The Patriots missed the fewest tackles (66) of any team in 2019, and permitted the second-fewest yards after the catch.
Best mismatch for Dolphins: Run defense. New England ranked 26th in yards per carry (3.8) and although Miami ranked 23rd against, the additions of Emmanuel Ogbah, Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson should do wonders.
Stat to know: Miami allowed the second-worst yardage per kick return (27.0) last year.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team
Best mismatch for Football Team: Philadelphia’s lack of weaponry. A season ago, the Eagles averaged 10.4 yards per completion, 30th in the NFL.
Best mismatch for Eagles: Getting to Dwayne Haskins. Washington’s sack rate against was 9.5 percent, only better than the Tennessee Titans. Philadelphia ranked ninth in QB pressures (24.3%).
Stat to know: Washington had the league’s worst third-down defense, surrendering a 48.9 percent success rate.
Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers
Best mismatch for Panthers: Teddy takes his time. The Raiders finished 24th in sack rate (5.7%) last year. Teddy Bridgewater should take advantage of an extra half-second.
Best mismatch for Raiders: Josh Jacobs sees creases. Carolina ranked dead last in YPC against (5.2). The defense is rebuilt, but the changes won’t happen overnight.
Stat to know: The Panthers averaged the lowest time of possession per drive (2:25) in the NFL last season.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Best mismatch for Jaguars: Kick the ball. Jacksonville was tops in field goal percentage in 2019, converting 97.1 percent of attempts. Indianapolis was 29th (71.0%).
Best mismatch for Colts: Return game. Indianapolis was the league’s best team on punt returns, averaging 17.4 yards per attempt. Could lead to big field position swings.
Stat to know: Jacksonville averaged the worst starting field position (own 25.9-yard line) of any team in 2019.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Best mismatch for Ravens: Run that rock. The Ravens averaged 5.5 YPC — tops in the NFL — on their way to a historic ground game. Cleveland was third-worst defensively, allowing 5.0 YPC.
Best mismatch for Browns: Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams against Baltimore’s receivers. The Browns should handle Baltimore’s receivers without requiring doubles. This leaves more in the box for Lamar Jackson.
Stat to know: The Ravens blitzed more than any team in football last year, doing so on 54.9 percent of defensive snaps.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
Best mismatch for Bengals: Joe Burrow gets confidence. Los Angeles allowed a league-worst 70.7 completion rate. Burrow has the weapons to make the Chargers pay.
Best mismatch for Chargers: Friendly Jungle. In 2019, Cincinnati permitted 6.1 yards per play, ranking 32nd. Look for the Chargers to move the ball on short passes and the run game.
Stat to know: Los Angeles logged the second-most time (3:22) per offensive drive in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Best mismatch for Saints: Protect the ball. The Saints were only intercepted on 1.0 percent of passing attempts, third-best in the NFL. Tampa Bay ranked 26th (1.8%) in defensive interception rate.
Best mismatch for Buccaneers: Red zone. New Orleans’ defense ranked 20th (59.6%) in said area. Tom Brady could take advantage with his new weapons.
Stat to know: The Saints scored on 47.2 percent on their offensive drives in 2019, ranking behind only the Ravens and Chiefs.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Best mismatch for 49ers: Pressure on Kyler Murray. Arizona allowed 50 sacks (T-5 worst) while San Francisco was third in 2019 with an 8.5 percent sack rate.
Best mismatch for Cardinals: Capitalizing on chances. San Francisco came in 23rd in red zone defense (60.0%). Arizona has the weaponry — see Deandre Hopkins — to make the Niners pay.
Stat to know: The Cardinals allowed 2,249 yards after the catch last season, ranking 32nd.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
Best mismatch for Rams: Jared Goff gets time. Los Angeles allowed the fewest sacks in football with 22, while the Cowboys ranked a pedestrian 15th in pressure rate at 23.4 percent.
Best mismatch for Cowboys: Third down. Dallas checked in second to Kansas City with a 47.1 percent conversion rate. Los Angeles was middling defensively in this regard, ranking 16th (39.4%).
Stat to know: The Rams led the NFL with 92 quarterback hurries last season, while Dallas allowed a 3.7 percent sack rate, second-best in football.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
Best mismatch for Steelers: Give me the ball. Pittsburgh took the ball away 38 times in 2019, a league-high. New York had 33 turnovers, third-worst.
Best mismatch for Giants: Special teams special. New York had the best kick coverage, allowing only 18.1 yards per return. Pittsburgh’s return game was putrid, ranking 31st.
Stat to know: New York had 18.3 percent of its offensive drives end in a turnover, the third-worst rate from last year.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Best mismatch for Broncos: No cheap yards. The Broncos may not allow A.J. Brown and Corey Davis to get loose. In 2019, Denver was eighth-best with only 96 missed tackles.
Best mismatch for Titans: Bring the boot. Tennessee’s Brett Kern ranked second with 47.1 yards per punt. In the altitude, it could be closer to 50 yards.
Stat to know: Vic Fangio’s defense was the league’s stingiest red-zone unit, allowing a 39.1 percent conversion rate. However, the Titans were the best offensively at an absurd 75.6 percent clip.