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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Caputo

Week 1 Picks & Playoff Bracket Predictions - 2021 NFL Season

By Brandon Caputo & Miklos McMaster

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Preseason Playoff Picks

Miklos' Playoff Bracket




Division Winner Seed 1

KC Chiefs (West)

TB Buccaneers (South)

Division Winner Seed 2

CLE Browns (North)

GB Packers (North)

Division Winner Seed 3

BUF Bills (East)

SF 49ers (West)

Division Winner Seed 4

TEN Titans (South)

WSH Football Team (East)

Wildcard Seed 5

NE Patriots (East)

ARI Cardinals (West)

Wildcard Seed 6

BAL Ravens (North)

NO Saints (South)

Wildcard Seed 7

LA Chargers (West)

CHI Bears (North)

Brandon's Playoff Bracket




Division Winner Seed 1

KC Chiefs (West)

GB Packers (North)

Division Winner Seed 2

BUF Bills (East)

TB Buccaneers (South)

Division Winner Seed 3

TEN Titans (South)

LA Rams (West)

Division Winner Seed 4

CLE Browns (North)

WSH Football Team (East)

Wildcard Seed 5

NE Patriots (East)

SF 49ers (West)

Wildcard Seed 6

IND Colts (South)

MIN Vikings (North)

Wildcard Seed 7

BAL Ravens (North)

ARI Cardinals (West)


Week 1 Picks


Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons (3.5)

(Over/Under 48.0)

Miklos: ATL under 48.0

The first game of the Sunday slate is less than inspiring (no offense coach). With that being said, the retooled Atlanta Falcons are poised for a bounce back season. With a new DC and a new shiny offensive weapon for Matty Ice; what better way to start their season off than a matchup against the disaster Eagles. This should be a cakewalk for the Falcons and a great way to start their season. In fact Philadelphia is my preseason pick to finish last in the NFL, you heard it here first.

Brandon: ATL over 48.0

The retooled Falcons offense on the fly with new Head Coach (and play-caller) Arthur Smith coming over from Tennessee, as the most highly regarded coaching candidate on the open market this past-offseason should be a huge help for Matt Ryan under centre. The loss of all-time great Julio Jones will be a loss, but drafting a possible generational talent at Tight End in Kyle Pitts will hopefully soften the blow. Calvin Ridley is now the WR1 & Mike Davis should provide them with some production from the Running Back position.

The Eagles in my opinion are in a lot of trouble & not a real direction on what the identity nor the culture will be in Philadelphia. The Falcons defense should be improved (not saving much) but still cannot be trusted.

Philly will score some points in a high scoring game, but I expect a positive result at home in the

Mercedes Benz Stadium in the Battle of the Birds.

New York Jets vs Carolina Panthers (5.0)

(Over/Under 45.0)

Miklos: NYJ under 45.0

It hasn't taken long for Sam Darnold to get his revenge game. Week 1 and the brand new quarterback for the Carolina Panthers already gets to take on his old team. Who, are also revamped with a whole new front office and a brand new shiny quarterback of their own.

This is likely going to be a great match up despite the lack of superstar talent on either side. What a great opportunity for Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson to announce themselves to the rest of the league. Sorry Sam the Jets are going to disappoint you yet again.

Brandon: CAR Under 45.0

Even though both defenses are not to be trusted (especially the Jets), Robert Saleh will finally be a stable presence that this franchise needs. 1st Year QB Zach Wilson looks like he is poised to take them in the right direction, as now opposing QB Sam Darnold never got a chance to do in his years as a Jet.

Crazy to think that Sam's 1st game away from New York will be against his old team, which should be a revenge matchup for him. I expect Darnold with an underrated set of skilled players around him in Carolina to dominate this game.

Christian McCaffrey should make Fantasy Owners very happy for taking him 1st Overall once again &

Robby Anderson gets his QB back for a Jets reunion in Carolina. An all-around interesting dynamic between these 2 teams this week in what may be an underrated game to watch due to the player history.

Los Angeles Chargers (1.0) vs Washington Football Team

(Over/Under 44.5)

Miklos: WSH under 44.5

This is a huge matchup between two top teams in their respective conferences. If they didn't play in the same division as the Chiefs, the Chargers would be candidates to win their division and Washington is the presumptive favorite by many people to win their division. Both teams are loaded with talent and while the Chargers may have a slight edge with Herbert under center compared to Fitzpatrick, the Chargers history and Washington's defensive line will be too much for them in this week one match up.

Brandon: WSH under 44.5

With Austin Ekeler banged up & Justin Herbert not seeing much of any preseason action, I think this is a bad matchup for them for Week 1. The Washington defense (more specifically the Defensive Front) is one of the best in all of the NFL, which will cause the Chargers a lot of issues. Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in & gives Washington a gunslinging QB threat that they have been sorely lacking.

Even with Curtis Samuel out at WR, I believe the Football Team has the weapons to take the load off of their defense when needed. The Chargers are a skilled team but have some work to do and really can never be trusted as favourites.

Washington & Riverboat Ron at Head Coach continue their positive trajectory back up the NFL ranks as a respectable franchise.

San Francisco 49ers (7.5) vs Detroit Lions

(Over/Under 45.0)

Miklos: SF under 45.0

Dan Campbell has lit a fire and brought some soul back to the Motor City. It is great news for Detroit and their fan base. Unfortunately, the lack of talent on this roster is going make this season a difficult one. It starts early with the refreshed and healthy 49ers who are really looking for a bounce back season and looking better and healthier than ever.

Brandon: SF under 45.0

As Miklos said, Dan Campbell & Brad Holmes will hopefully bring stability & respectability into the Lions franchise. They are on the right path, but still have a long way to go. Not much to say here as the only question for the 49ers is how much will they win by & how much action will Trey Lance see at QB this week.

The 49ers defense should be familiar with Jared Goff from his time as a division rival with the Rams, which will unfortunately be bad news for the Lions. Hopefully they will "bite a few kneecaps off" as they go down swinging, as Dan Campbell preaches physicality from his rebuilding group.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills (6.5)

(Over/Under 48.5)

Miklos: BUF over 48.5

I think this week one match up is really going to represent a changing of the guard in the AFC. It took awhile but Pittsburgh was eventually revealed to be frauds at the end of last season. While they did get Najee Harris in the draft they're still rolling out Big Ben and I don't know how many games he has left in him. The Bills on the other hand appeared to be still on a meteoric rise and if they can get out of their own way (Cole Beasley and Co) then they will definitely be competing for the Super bowl again this season. Big win for the Bills in week one.

Brandon: BUF under 48.5

In what SHOULD be the Sunday Night game with a full rocking capacity in Buffalo for this close proximity matchup between 2 polarizing teams, this is going to be the 1st test for Josh Allen to show that this Bills team are for real this season. The Steelers have many question marks with Big Ben's arm strength being a concern, an ultra talented rookie RB in Najee Harris expected to be relied upon heavily, and All-World defensive player

T.J Watt being questionable for the game with an injury.

Given that this is home game for the Bills, their fans will play a huge factor in this game & propel this AFC Contender to a statement victory against the dreaded Steelers franchise. Too many offensive weapons at

Josh Allen's disposal for Pittsburgh to handle this early + a defense that is poised for another Top-5 season.

Seattle Seahawks (2.5) vs Indianapolis Colts

(Over/Under 49.5)

Miklos: SEA under 49.5

Another match up that would have a lot more intrigue if it wasn't for quarterback uncertainty. Wentz is currently slated to be healthy and start week one but, who knows how he is going to be given how rocky of a preseason he is had. On the other hand the Seahawks are hoping to improve on last year's disappointing finish and get Russ and the boys back to the Super Bowl. Their defense looks as solid as ever and DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett might be the best wide receiver tandem in the league.

Brandon: IND under 49.5

Even though the Colts have injury concerns on offense with QB, OL, & WR this team is still one of my dark horse picks for an AFC Contender. The defense was phenomenal last season and was a legit Quarterback away from possibly taking the Bills down in the 1st round of the playoffs last season, with all-do

respect to long-time pro Philip Rivers.

With Carson Wentz coming o ver from the Eagles and reuniting withFrank Reich who had major success in their 1 season together in Philly, it should be a motivated & rejuvenated Wentz, which could be just what he needs to get back to elite status.

The Seahawks are talented with a very solid offense led by Russell Wilson, but the defense could be vulnerable. With this game being at Lucas Oil Field as opposed to the "12th Man" in Seattle,

I am giving the edge to the Colts in what should be a very close game between 2 respectable teams.

Minnesota Vikings (3.5) vs Cincinnati Bengals

(Over/Under 47.5)

Miklos: MIN over 47.5

This is a big matchup for both teams involved. The Vikings are hoping to avoid another slow stumbling started the season and the Bengals are hoping that Joe Burrow can pick up where he left off last season before his injury. On paper this is a 1 sided affair but the Vikings have underachieved in the past. I think Dalvin Cook gives the Vikings the edge as they can always rely on his unbelievable running if they get in trouble and the Bengals just don't have the horses on defense.

Brandon: MIN over 47.5

2 teams who are both trying to make a statement for respect around the league with very talented skilled positions, this should be a fun game to watch. The Bengals are getting franchise QB Joe Burrow back & giving him one of his favourite weapons from their college days at LSU in Ja'Marr Chase. The Vikings have a very young defense after Mike Zimmer gutted most of it a few years back, which was improved in the 2nd half of last season after being historically bad in the 1st half.

Look for Dalvin Cook to have a field day & make fantasy owners happy for drafting him in the Top-3 of most leagues as Kirk Cousins will get it into his play-makers hands. Justin Jefferson should have a 100-yard game on the outside as well. Mike Zimmer gets the victory against the team he used to coach in Cincinnati as the defensive Coordinator. The young Bengals keep it respectable and put some points up as long as their O-line can protect Burrow in the pocket & RB Joe Mixon coming out of the backfield.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3.0) vs Houston Texans

(Over/Under 47.5)

Miklos: JAX under 44.5

There are few games that look this bad on paper and have this much anticipation built up for it. Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer couldn't ask for a better match up for them week one to get their NFL feet wet. Granted, the Texans aren't going to make it easy for them and Tyrod Taylor is a competent NFL quarterback. But outside of that, this should be a good opportunity for the two former college superstars to make their NFL mark right off the bat.

Brandon: JAX under 44.5

Not much to say about this game. The clear cut 2 worst teams in the AFC South & possibly the AFC Conference. Jacksonville are in good hands drafting hopeful Franchise QB Trevor Lawrence with the 1st Overall Pick in this years' NFL Draft. The jury is still out on College Standout Urban Meyer whether his coaching style can translate to the NFL game, but the Jaguars are hopefully going to take a positive step forward out of the basement of the NFL this season.

The Texans are a complete disaster with DeShaun Watson still on the roster but not playing. A bunch of long-time NFL cast-offs thrown together with this team and 1st year Coach David Culley has his work cut out for him to say the least. Tyrod Taylor, David Johnson, Philip Lindsey, Mark Ingram, & Brandin Cooks sounds like a good accumulation of players, if it was 2016...

The Jaguars take it in what should be a very ugly game, other than getting to see Trevor Lawrence take the field in his 1st NFL game. The Jags offense puts up some points, but I don't know how it gets close to 44.5 combined points with what Houston are putting out on the field.

Arizona Cardinals vs Tennessee Titans (3.0)

(Over/Under 52.0)

Miklos: TEN over 52.0

We have been excited about both of these teams for the past two seasons. The Titans have had more success and while I believe that Arizona will end up going further in the playoffs this year than the Titans I do think it's going to take a couple of weeks to get all their new pieces and new talent gel. The Titans on the other hand are returning their extremely potent offense with the addition of Julio Jones. Even though Tennessee's defense has been shaky I think their ability to ground in pound with Derrick Henry will allow them to control this game and come out on top.

Brandon: TEN over 52.0

As high as I have been on the Cardinals the past 2 seasons, I have to say that I expect a loss in Week 1.

The Tennessee Titans are loaded at offense with Derrick "King" Henry out of the backfield with A.J Brown now having Julio Jones lining up opposite to him. A good problem for QB Ryan Tannehill to have as he has been impressive during his time as the Titans QB with a career renaissance after floundering in Miami.

Both defenses have question marks, but the offenses do not. I expect this to be one of the highest scoring & most exciting offensive matchups of the weekend but Tennessee comes out on top as the home team in Nashville. Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury will have this Cardinals team in a playoff spot when it is all said & done, while the Titans should win the AFC South pretty handily with the Colts being their only legitimate threat this season.

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots (3.0)

(Over/under 43.5)

Miklos: NE under 43.5

This is yet another extremely exciting match up with Mac Jones taking on Tua Tagovailoa. these two former Alabama superstars are looking to duke it out in the NFL for the next decade. Tua has the edge in NFL experience but Jones seems to be a match made in heaven for the Patriots and Bill Belichick.

I do think that this is going be a very close game an extremely exciting matchup to watch in the years to come. But, I am always going to give the edge to a Belichick run team when given the opportunity. Sorry AFC East fans the Patriots are back!

Brandon: NE over 43.5

As much as this pains me to write being on the receiving end of the 28-3 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots,

I think it is safe to say that Bill Bellichick's team is back after 1 bad season riddled by defensive injuries and incompetent play on offense. Getting a plethora of defensive starters back on defense, spending a brinks truck worth of money in free agency, & rookie QB Mac Jones taking over for Cam Newton; New England should once again be a playoff team in the AFC.

As good of a job as Brian Flores has done turning this once disastrous Dolphins franchise around, the questions of Tua Tagovailoa and whether they have enough depth throughout the roster will be brought to the test.

Unfortunately, due to having the Bills & Patriots in their division I just do not see the Dolphins going far this season as positive I am about their franchise trajectory.

The Patriots take this divisional matchup up in Foxborough, but Miami may get revenge later in the season as New England always has problems going down to Florida to play the Dolphins on a yearly basis.

Denver Broncos (3.0) vs New York Giants

(Over/Under 41.5)

Miklos: NYG Over 41.5

Both Denver and New York have been extremely frustrating to watch over the past couple of years. Both should be a lot better than they have been and it looks like they might be able to take that step this year. I had predicted Denver taking a big step last year before they got absolutely decimated with injuries. While they are healthy and back this year their quarterback situation remains questionable despite the addition of Teddy Bridgewater. It is possible but he gets back to the quarterback that he once was before his injury in Minnesota.

However, he's on his third team in as many seasons and could take some time to get going. The Giants on the other hand looked poised for a big breakout season and should hit the ground running in week one. It's now or never for Danny Dimes.

Brandon: DEN Under 41.5

I have positive thoughts about both of these teams going into the season, as they are both have young exciting pieces. The Giants have been extremely banged up during Training Camp with Kenny Golladay & Saquon Barkley both coming off major injuries last season. I think it will take time for Daniel Jones & this Jason Garrett led offense to get things together. I think it is a difficult test for them to start the season against a very stingy Vic Fangio led Broncos defense.

The Broncos get many of their players back after being decimated with injuries last season, so expect this offense to look better all-around. Denver and Teddy Bridgewater get it done out east in New York for Week 1. The Giants will get stronger as the season progresses.

Green Bay Packers (4.5) vs New Orleans Saints

(Over/Under 50.0)

Miklos: GB over 50.0

With the retirement of Drew Brees this match up has lost some of its prestige and fire. The Saints are not the same without the first ballot hall of famer. They are really hoping that Jamies Winston can be the 5000 yard 40 plus touchdown quarterback he was in Tampa Bay without the 40 interceptions that went with it. Under Sean Payton's tutelage this is definitely possible but it may take some time.

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay just came out of one of the roughest off seasons in recent memory and if it was even possible have a more pissed off Aaron Rodgers then last season. This does not bode well for the NFL and Aaron might just cap off this probable repeat MVP season with a Super Bowl ring.

Brandon: GB over 50.0

With Aaron Rodgers back for what looks like a "Swann Song" with the Packers, he has all-pro Davonte Adams, capable running backs in Aaron Jones, A.J Dillon, breakout TE Robert Tonyan, and the reacquisition of one of his favourite targets over the years in Randall Cobb. This Packers team are poised for another top finish in the NFC Conference and have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl if Matt LaFleur's play-calling is on the same page with MVP A-Rod.

1st round pick Jordan Love is waiting in the shadows as Rodgers once was behind Brett Favre, which would be the ultimate "mic drop" if Rodgers can go out in Green Bay with another Super Bowl ring to add to his Hall of Fame resume. The Packers get it done against a Saints team who has lots to prove with the retirement of Drew Brees & whether Jameis Winston is able to lead this Michael Thomas-less offfense to a playoff spot. The Saints quality defense will be pushed to its limits as the offense tries to figure out its identity.

Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs (6.0)

(Over/Under 54.5)

Miklos: CLE over 54.5

Browns versus Chiefs is an early preview of what I expect the AFC championship game to be. If it wasn't for their depressing franchise history the Browns would be one of the favorites in this conference given the unbelievable wealth of talent that they have on both sides of the ball. Kansas City just remade their offensive line and look better prepared than ever to go and avenge their Super Bowl loss from last year. Even though both teams have strong defenses there might be 200 points scored in this game. I'm looking for a close heavyweight match that will come down to the wire where I think a team that has played in back to back Super Bowls will have the edge, likely by a field goal.

Brandon: KC over 54.5

In what may go down as the best game of the weekend, this may very well be a rematch we see in the AFC Playoffs come January. As high as I am on this Kevin Stefanski led Browns team, you cannot bet against this Kansas City team who have ran through the AFC for multiple seasons now. Both teams have some of the top offenses in all of football, with the Browns even getting the edge on the defensive side of the ball.

i still expect this to be an absolute show of 2 great teams who are trying to make their mark as projected Division Winners this season. I just cannot bet against Patrick Mahomes & Andy Reid, but Baker Mayfield will have something to say about this before this game is all said & done. An instant classic to start with Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. Let's hope for a January encore between these 2 teams!

Chicago Bears vs Los Angeles Rams (7.5)

(Over/Under 46.0)

Miklos: CHI under 46.0

The first Sunday night game of the NFL season is an interesting match up between a team that is looking to win now in the Rams and a team that is newly revitalized in the Chicago Bears. Although Andy Dalton is starting off the season under center the hype around Justin Fields is sky high and only going higher. The Rams have a new quarterback of their own in are hoping Matt Stafford can get them over the hump and to the promised land as they have mortgaged their future to get there.

Losing to the Rams might be the spark it takes to get Justin Fields on to the field and kick starts this new era of Bears football. But I still have faith in the Bears defense to keep it close.

Brandon: LAR over 46.0

With this game being at Sofi Stadium I think that changes things significantly for the Rams. If this game was being played at Soldier Field in Chicago, I may lean towards the Bears to cover in this game.

The 1st game for Matt Stafford in hollywood as he tries to prove that Detroit just did not put a team around him to succeed during his long-time career as a Lion. Sean McVay & this team have given up extreme draft capitol over the years to put this team in a "win now" situation, which he feels confident now that he has his guy at QB.

I do expect the Rams to win a very competitive NFC West which has the possibility of bringing 3 teams to the NFC playoffs this season, so for their sake they better make a deep run with not much coming through the pipeline as far as draft picks.

Although the Bears have a solid defense, I think this Sean McVay led Rams offense will be too much to handle with playmakers on the outside; along with this questionable Bears offense going up against All-Pro's in

Aaron Donald & Jalen Ramsay on this Rams defense. Rookie QB Justin Fields should be under centre in a few weeks after Andy Dalton gets thrown to the wolves. Rams take it in a surprisingly high scoring game.


Baltimore Ravens (4.5) vs Las Vegas Raiders

(Over/Under 51.5)

Miklos: LVR over 51.5

Saving the best for last and having my Raiders play on Monday Night Football! I have a lot of reasons to be excited about this game. The Raiders have revamped their defense, the offense looks better than ever, and in the Jon Gruden era we have kicked every season off on fire. So, I have every reason to believe that we will win this game, potentially definitively, and then follow it up with another 9-8/8-9 season where we blow it down the stretch. The Ravens are really looking for an opportunity against a weak Raiders secondary to get a passing game of any kind to support Lamar Jackson and the running backs. Especially with several of their running backs going down with injuries in the preseason. This may be a set back for them to start the season off but I expect them to bounce back and be the Ravens we know them to be as the season goes on.

Brandon: BAL under 51.5

The Ravens have been completely decimated by injuries before the season even started. They lost their entire Running Back room in Dobbins, Edwards, & Hill + All Pro Cornerback Marcus Peters all to season ending injuries. To fill the holes, the Ravens have signed 3 former 1000 yard rushers during their primes in Le'Veon Bell,

Devonta Freeman, & Latavius Murray. Murray is the only one who may have gas left in the tank, but they also expect un-drafted rookie Ty'Son Williams to step up into a hugh role now due to this situation.

QB Lamar Jackson will still do the bulk of the running as this team is built from its all-around run-game.

The Ravens always have a forceful defense and although the loss of Matthew Judon will be big, I still expect the Ravens D to step up. They have fast weapons on the outside for Lamar Jackson to get the ball out to if he so chooses, but I still expect the Ravens to be contenders with the Browns for the AFC North crown in 2021.

The Raiders still have many question marks in my mind (sorry Miklos) and a lot to prove if they want to be seen as legit contenders once again. All 3 other teams in the AFC West got better and I am not sure that the Raiders did. A solid 1-2 punch at Running Back with Josh Jacobs and newcomer Kenyan Drake will be the heartbeat of this team & will go as far as they can take them. Derek Carr has All-Pro Darren Waller at TE & 2 young receivers in Ruggs & Edwards on the outside to prove that he should still be the long-term starter for Jon Gruden's team going forward.

I am unconvinced that the Raiders defense will be able to stop the Ravens run game, so I do think that Baltimore pulls out the victory in a rocking Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the REAL stadium opener this season, with an expected full capacity of Raiders Nation fans in the new "Black Hole."

Most confident picks of the week


Gold Pick: San Francisco over Detroit

Silver Pick: Minnesota over Cincinnati

Bronze Pick: Seattle over Indianapolis


Gold Pick: Green Bay over New Orleans

Silver Pick: New England over Miami

Bronze Pick: LA Rams over Chicago

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