DALLAS, September 9, 2020 — The waiting is over. Seven months after a thrilling Super Bowl, the National Football League returns. For those wanting to discuss the politics invading football, look elsewhere. Narcotics For Leatherheads is about football and only football. The world is going through a pandemic, but with God’s grace COVID-19 will not stop professional football.
The theme for Week 1 is relocation.
While many Americans are in lockdown, NFL teams cannot stop moving. When the Green Bay Packers take on the Minnesota Vikings, the remarkable note will be that both these teams play in those respective cities.
For years, the New York Jets and Giants have played in New Jersey. The Buffalo Bills play in New York, although Buffalo is really just a satellite city of Toronto, Canada. The San Francisco 49ers play in Santa Clara, which is near San Jose. The New England Patriots play in Massachusetts. The Kansas City Chiefs play in Missouri, not Kansas.
The Indianapolis Colts used to play in Baltimore. The Chargers spent one season in Los Angeles and a few decades in San Diego. Now for some reason, they are back in Los Angeles. The Rams went from Cleveland to Los Angeles to St. Louis and now back to Los Angeles. The Raiders went from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland. Now they begin their inaugural season in Las Vegas.
The Houston Oilers moved to Memphis and then Nashville as the Tennessee Titans. The Carolina Panthers spent one season in South Carolina before crossing the border into Charlotte, North Carolina.
The real circus is in Washington, DC.
For once, it is not politicians causing the chaos. For decades, the Washington Redskins existed. As of 2020, the team has permanently retired the Redskins name and replaced it with…nothing. The non-Redskins will simply be known as the Washington Football Team, an idiotic decision by America’s dumbest NFL franchise. The team should call itself the Washington Riveras, since coach Ron Rivera is the only respectable guy associated with this franchise.
Forget home-field advantage. Some teams are playing games with fans while others will not. The official NFL COVID policy on fans is to let owners decide. Raiders owner Mark Davis finally has the stadium his father could never get. Davis has said fans will not attend home games.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the greatest capitalist since P.T. Barnum. Nobody should be surprised that Jerrah will have fans at Jerryworld for home games. The man conducted the NFL 2020 virtual Draft from his yacht.
Now that we finally know who is playing and where in front of God knows who, let us get down to the business of football.
Here is the NFL 2020 Week 1 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 10, 8:20 p.m.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9) —
Last year in the playoffs, The Texans went into Kansas City and stormed to a 24-0 lead. By halftime the Chiefs had the lead and blew out the Texans 51-7 the rest of the way. Andy Reid finally won a Super Bowl and left the Walrus Lite moniker behind permanently. He has now been upgraded to full walrus status along with Mike Holmgren, Jerry Reuss, Craig Stadtler, and pre-shave Ken Hitchcock.
Patrick Mahomes just signed the richest contract in NFL history that spans 10 years and is worth 503 million dollars. Mahomes recently proposed to his girlfriend, so after marriage and taxes he should still have a few million dollars left. Texans coach Bill O’Brien has had seven months to figure out Mahomes and the Chiefs. Give him seven years. It will not matter.
Mahomes is an alien life form. He might be from Melmac. At home with the championship banner being unfurled, expect the Chiefs to win easily.
Sunday, September 13, 1:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Eagles (-6) at Washington non-Redskins —
Ron Rivera will turn his nameless football team around, but do not expect him to do so immediately. The Eagles are a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl in 2017, but they still have more talent than Washington. At least the Eagles have a name. Carson Wentz has a lot to prove. The spread is high given how many factors are up in the air. Eagles win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5) —
For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady will not be quarterbacking the Patriots. This is the game where evil hoodie Bill Belichick sets out to prove that it was all him. Cam Newton is now the quarterback. Whether he still has gas left in the tank is irrelevant. The Dolphins have not played inspired football this century. The benefit of the doubt is earned, and the Dolphins have earned nothing. Patriots cover.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) —
Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre, but now it is Rodgers trying to hold off Jordan Love. Rodgers played well last year, but Minnesota has given him fits over the years. Rodgers also was not given much Draft help this year. Mike Zimmer knows defense. Kirk Cousins has plenty to prove, but in this NFC North slugfest, just take the home team. Vikings cover.
Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
Andrew Luck is retired, but Frank Reich has Philip Rivers under center now. The Jaguars who reached the AFC Title Game in 2017 are a distant memory. The spread is high, but Reich will unleash Rivers. Colts cover.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3) —
Virginia McCaskey and Martha Ford are a combined 192 years old. This is a storied rivalry, which is NFL window dressing for two teams expected to again lose the division. Somehow, Mitchell Trubisky kept his starting job. Matthew Stafford will get it done at home if anybody bothers to help him. lions cover.
Las Vegas Raiders (-3) at Carolina Panthers —
This is the third year of Jon Gruden 2.0 and his 10 year, 100 million dollar contract. For several years, Derek Carr had to do everything himself. Last year he was finally given a bruising running back in Josh Jacobs. This year he has been several more weapons who will not be mentioned until they produce. The Panthers are starting from scratch. The Raiders will win games if their horrendous secondary is finally fixed. Raiders cover.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5) —
Sam Darnold and Josh Allen can both play, but Sean McDermott is a far better coach than Adam Gase. The Bills have a defense. Outside of the trip-state area, nobody thinks these teams will break the billion-year New England reign over the AFC East. Bills cover.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8) —
Every year the Browns are supposed to finally be improved. Then an actual game is played and they fail. Baker Mayfield is all talk until proven otherwise. The Ravens may not go 14-2 like they did last year, but they are still elite. John Harbaugh is among the best in the business, and Lamar Jackson grew last year by leaps and bounds. Jackson will have his doubters until he wins a playoff game, but the Ravens have the defense to smother the Browns whoever is behind center. Ravens cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Atlanta Falcons —
Pete Carroll is the oldest coach in the NFL, but he gets younger every year. Dan Quinn saved his job last year, but his offense with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones has not lived up to expectations. Carroll is a great teacher and molder of young men. Even after the Legion of Boom era ended, Carroll rebuilt a great defense. Russell Wilson is still elite. Seahawks cover.
Sunday, September 13, 4:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals –
After 15 years, Philip Rivers left the Chargers for better options. Red Rifle Andy Dalton is out of Indianapolis. The Joe Burroughs era has begun. The Chargers also have a new quarterback, but it will take a lot more than one draft to fix these moribund franchises. Giving the Chargers the benefit of the doubt on the road is too much to ask, even against Cincinnati. Upset special, Bengals win outright.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-7) —
The 49ers had a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl before an alien life form in Kansas City obliterated them 21-0 in the final few minutes. Jimmy Garoppolo overthrew a deep bomb that had 49ers fans grousing about Joe Montana and Steve Young glory days that ended over 25 years ago. Kyle Shanahan has found a way to lose two Super Bowls, including one where his team led by 25 points. Luckily for the 49ers, the Cardinals are not a challenge. Larry Fitzgerald cannot play every position. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray may not be the typical Cardinals futility, but they might be. 49ers cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5) —
Do not adjust your television sets or your eyeglasses. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bruce Arians is an offensive wizard. Not only will Brady and Gronk keep winning, but they might even start smiling while doing it.
Unlike the dour leader of their former team, Arians actually treat football like a game that is supposed to be fun. As for the Saints, they still have the pinball wizards Sean Payton and Drew Brees. After 15 years together, they are still a legitimate contender. Alvin Kamala and Michael Thomas are for real.
This could be the NFC Title Games. For fans who miss the epic battles between Brady and Peyton Manning, Brady vs. Brees could be epic. This could tilt the scoreboard and go down to the final play. Saints win but fail to cover.
Sunday, September 13, 8:30 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Los Angeles Rams —
Last year Jared Goff regressed. Todd Gurley is no longer on the team. The Cowboys still have Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Emanuel, but Prescott has yet to win a big game. The Rams fell apart on defense when Sean McVay forced out Michelin Man Wade Phillips. That move remains unexplainable. Cowboys cover.
Monday, September 14, 7:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at New York Giants — Joe Judge comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, and none of those branches have won anything. For all Giants fans know, Mike Judge is the coach. The stable Steelers still have Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben may be in his final season, but he has a lot to prove after missing last year with injuries. The Giants are a mess, and Daniel Jones has fumbleitis. As bad as the Giants are, the Steelers play to the level of their competition and win ugly. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Monday, September 14, 10:20 p.m.
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Denver Broncos —
As great as Travis Henry is, the revival of Ryan Tannehill will be chalked up as a fluke unless the Titans avoid regressing. Their appearance in the AFC Title Game last year was surreal. The Broncos may finally have a quarterback in Drew Lock. Von Miller is still a stud on defense. In the Mile High air, go with the home team. Upset special, Broncos win outright.