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Jags to take bite of Kansas City? Get NFL Week 1 tips for Sunday

Leigh Copson 3 Sep 2019
Kansas City Chiefs (credit:Scott Winters/Zuma Press/PA Images)

NFL predictions for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. The Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints are considered leading contenders for the Super Bowl – can they both make a winning start on Sunday? And will the defending champion New England Patriots make a successful start when they host Pittsburgh? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (18:00 BST)

Baltimore officially hopped aboard the Lamar Jackson ‘hype train’ in the offseason, jettisoning veteran quarterback Joe Flacco who had fallen out of favour during the 2018 season. Jackson was thrust into the starting role in Week 10 of the season with the Ravens floundering at 4-5 after going into the bye week on a three-game losing run, and the decision appeared to pay off when the team won six of their final seven games to book a place in the playoffs, with the sole loss coming in overtime against Kansas City. It would be one-and-done for the Ravens in the postseason, but Jackson had done enough to confirm to the team that he should be holding the reins on offense in 2019, and now the huge question is can he ‘up’ his game because there are certainly some serious question marks hanging over him. The Baltimore QB is dangerous with his feet, but he appeared to be very limited in the passing game and unless that can be addressed the Ravens are going to have a tough time against the better teams. The good news is Miami are not a good team. In fact, the Dolphins have a real stench about them heading this season and it says a lot that they have been shaking up the roster so close to their season opener – can you say, tank! It also says a lot that they traded for Josh Rosen but then opted to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the season opener. Fitzpatrick was dubbed ‘Fitzmagic’ when he led Tampa Bay to a 2-0 start a year ago, knocking off the Saints in New Orleans before toppling the Super Bowl champion Eagles a week later, but Chicago did not believe in magic in Week 4, pounding the Bucs and sending Fitzpatrick back to the sidelines. The Dolphins must be hoping that Fitzpatrick can rediscover that magic wand in Week 1, but I do not see that happening. An early-season game in Miami is very tough due to the weather conditions, but Baltimore should overcome the heat and humidity to make a winning start in a low-scoring game.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars (18:00 BST)

Kansas City’s incredible offensive output grabbed plenty of plaudits last season, but I always felt like their poor defense would be their undoing in the postseason and that proved to be the case as they coughed up 37 points in an overtime defeat to New England in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead. The Chiefs have acted on that during the offseason, overhauling the defensive staff, switching the system and bringing in several new players, including Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, and all of this suggests they will be much stronger on that side of the football this time around. If they are then the rest of the league could be in serious trouble because I am not expecting to see a regression on offense this season. Patrick Mahomes is not a one-season wonder and despite the departure of Kareem Hunt he is surrounded by weapons on offense, with the newly-acquired LeSean McCoy only adding to the level of quality surrounding the young signal-caller. Everything is there for the Chiefs to make a run at the Super Bowl and everything is in place for them to win in Week 1. Hosts Jacksonville went into last season as one of the teams to watch after their stellar defense took them to the brink of a first ever Super Bowl appearance the year before, but the Jaguars failed to live up to pre-season expectations and won just five games as the offense spluttered and the defense slumped. Blake Bortles was finally given the boot in the offseason as Jacksonville brought in Nick Foles – the backup QB who led Philadelphia to Super Bowl glory in 2017 and then took them to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season – and that looks to be a considerable upgrade because there is an air of positivity about that offensive unit head into the new season. But has it really improved to the point where it can compete with Mahomes & Co, and, more importantly, can that defense recapture the level of performance in showcased in 2017 in order to somehow slow these Chiefs. The answer to both questions is a resounding ‘no’. Kansas City will win by at least a touchdown.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (Monday 01:20 BST)

One day this incredible era of New England Patriots dominance will come to an abrupt end – but when will that day be? Every year the rumblings start that this could be the season in which father time finally catches up with Tom Brady and that Bill Belichick will finally be mastered, but every year this pair answer their critics in the best possible fashion by winning games, booking AFC Championship Game appearances and winning Super Bowls. Last season’s Super Bowl may have been an absolute snoozefest, but the Patriots completely outsmarted the Los Angeles Rams, following the blueprint that Chicago laid out in the regular season to halt that LA offense and grind out the win. Belichick may have followed somebody else’s blueprints in that one, but once again he showed himself to be a master tactician and it is no surprise that the Patriots are once again considered a front-runner for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But can he really lead them to a seventh Super Bowl win under his stewardship? If there is one thing that we have learned in the past few seasons is that it is dumb to write off Belichick, Brady & Co. and if you want to add a second thing we have learned over the years, it is never wise to go against the Patriots at home. Of all of the statistics that I can throw at you, this ones says all you need to know – New England are 71-9 at Gillette Stadium over the past decade. That simply cannot be ignored no matter who the opposition are, and in Week 1 the opponents are a Pittsburgh team who are in something of a transition following the departures of two key offensive weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Ben Roethlisberger still has a good supporting cast around him though, led by JuJu Smith-Schuster, and they continue to boast one of the best offensive lines in the game. Defensively they are strong too so I am not expecting them to get blown out here. In fact, the Steelers will pose problems for New England in this one, but ultimately the Patriots are at home and when they are they have to be fancied.

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Jags to take bite of Kansas City? Get NFL Week 1 tips for Sunday

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