Minnesota Vikings (0-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-0)
- Time: 4:05 p.m.
- Odds: Cardinals by 3.5 (50.5)
: The Arizona
Cardinals, in a four-way tie for first in the NFC West with a perfect record, will play host to a team that’s also tied for first in its division, the NFC North, albeit with an imperfect mark.
Facts: Minnesota rallied from a 21-7 deficit in last week’s outing at Cincinnati before falling in overtime, 27-24, the Vikings’ second straight opening-week loss as a favorite. The home team in this series has won in the past seven meetings dating to 2009, with five of the games in Minnesota. This will be only the second game in the desert between these clubs the past 11 seasons. Arizona’s Chandler Jones had five of the Cards’ six sacks in their 38-13 win at Tennessee last week. The record for a player in a game is seven (KC’s Derrick Thomas in 1990).
Analysis: Mike Zimmer’s Vikings could be in for a long afternoon trying to fend off Arizona’s pass rush. QB Kirk Cousin’s feet will no doubt be happy Sunday, especially if star RB Dalvin Cook can’t do a better job carrying the running load after getting a only 3.1 yards on 20 carries vs. the less-than-stellar Bengals defense. Minnesota’s best chance is to harass QB Kyler Murray much the way it did against Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, getting five sacks. But then again, Murray is far more mobile, experienced and not coming off a serious knee injury.
Game Forecast: Cardinals 34, Vikings 20
Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Tampa Bay Bucs (1-0)
- Time: 4:05 p.m.
- Odds: Bucs by 12.5 (52)
The skinny: If the Falcons under rookie coach Arthur Smith were flummoxed by QB Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Eagles last week in a 32-6 loss, what’s going happen against the GOAT in Tampa?
Facts: This is the first of two straight road games for the Falcons in which they’ll be facing a team coming off an extended break after playing on Thursday night. Next week it’s at the 0-2 NY Giants. … Tampa Bay and QB Tom Brady have scored 30-plus points in an NFL record-tying eight straight games, including 31-27 and 44-27 victories late last season vs. Atlanta. In the seven seasons prior to Brady’s 2020 arrival, the Bucs never had even three straight games of 30-plus. … Atlanta rushed for 85 yards its first two drives vs. Philly, totaling 12 first downs. But thereafter amassed only seven firsts and 39 ground yards. Now the Falcons will be dealing with a rush defense that ranked No. 1 the past two years.
Analysis: Brady threw for 390 and 399 yards in TB’s two wins over Atlanta in 2020, and judging by the fact the Falcons made Hurts look like a Pro Bowler, Brady should have another strong outing. If Atlanta is going to keep it close they’ll need more input from standout rookie TE Kyle Pitts, who caught only four of eight targeted throws from QB Matt Ryan for 31 yards.
Forecast: Bucs 38, Falcons 17
Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at LA Chargers (1-0)
- Time: 4:25 p.m.
- Odds: Chargers by 3.5 (55)
The skinny: Dallas will be looking to avoid its first 0-2 start in 11 years when it takes on the Chargers, who will be playing before their fans for the first time in SoFi Stadium.
Facts: Dallas QB Dak Prescott had 403 passing yards in their last-play 31-29 loss to defending champion Tampa Bay last Thursday. It was the Cowboys’ third straight loss dating to last year when Dak throws for 400-plus. In LA’s 20-16 win at Washington the Chargers were 14-for-19 converting on third down and killed off the final 6:43 of the game with a 15-play drive that came to a kneel-down conclusion iniside the Football Team 10. … Dallas lost last week despite a plus-3 turnover margin. In 2020, teams were 17-5 with such a differential.
Analysis: The Chargers manhandled Washington’s heralded defensive line last week and this time get to take on a Cowboys unit that’s not nearly as good, even when healthy, and will be missing its best lineman by far in DE DeMarcus Lawrence. He injured a foot midweek in practice and will be out a couple of months. And even with him last week “touched” Brady only once. The other top DE, Randy Gregory, likely will be inactive because of COVID issues. And with Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott continuing to be largely irrelevant, getting only 33 yards on 11 carries last week, Dallas is in trouble. For sure, Prescott had better have his head on a swivel with DE Joey Bosa bearing down.
Forecast: Chargers 35, Cowboys 24
Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
- Time: 4:25 p.m.
- Odds: Seahawks by 6 (54)
The skinny: Steady rain throughout and temps in the low 60s are expected to greet the Titans and Seahawks.
got off to a terrible start in its opener at home vs. Arizona, trailing 17-0 and having minus-16 net yards. … Seattle improved to 13-1 in the Eastern time zone the past four seasons with its 28-16 win at Indianapolis last week. But the Seahawks are only 6-5 when returning home for their next game, including a 17-12 loss to Giants last season as an 11-point favorite. … In the Titans’ loss, Arizona’s average starting field position was its 42, the best for any team in Week 1. Teams were 1-20 last season (0-21 ATS) when their foe had a launch-point norm of the 40 or better.
Analysis: Now that the wave of COVID issues has mostly abated in Titans camp, QB Ryan Tannehill has had a chance to mesh with offseason acquisition Julio Jones, a wide receiver who was a seven-time Pro Bowler with Atlanta. Together, with 1,000-yard receiver A.J. Brown, the Seahawks’ secondary should be kept busy. And, as usual, when a defense can’t put most of its concentration in stopping two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry (58 yards, 17 carries vs. Arizona) he’ll be set up for a big game.
Forecast: Titans 28, Seahawks 21