NFL Predictions: Expert 2020/21 NFL Tips

Our NFL guru will be sharing his NFL predictions right throughout the 2020/21 season. The NFL Analyst will have comprehensive previews for each prime-time match in the regular season, as well as the Playoffs and the Super Bowl.

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New England at Seattle

Monday 21 September, 10:20am AEDT

Monday’s late game sees the New England Patriots visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The post-Brady era started with a win for the Patriots, with Cam Newton leading the way in a convincing win against the Dolphins. But they will be coming up against much tougher opponents in Seattle, who had a victory over Atlanta in week one.

The Patriots used a run-heavy approach in their week one victory, utilising their superior offensive line against an outmatched Dolphin defensive front for a 21-11 win. Quarterback Cam Newton led the way, rushing 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns, with the 15 carries the second-most in his career.

The Patriots called run or play action on 83% of their offensive snaps, which may hint at the style of play they will look to implement this year. While the offense was much changed, the defense looks to have picked up where they left off. With 3 interceptions on only 30 pass attempts, the Patriots’ defensive backfield looks to be one of the NFL’s best again this year.

In contrast to the Patriots, the Seahawks had to much firepower for the Falcons in a shootout, winning 38-25. Seattle coach Pete Carroll may have been listening to NFL fans everywhere who have been screaming out for Russ Wilson to be unleashed, with the Seahawks passing the ball on 16 of 21 early down snaps.

The usually run-heavy Seahawks passed the ball on 60% of snaps in the first half to build a lead, with Wilson passing 31 of 35 for 322 yards and four touchdowns for the game. Wilson showed his elite accuracy when attacking the undermanned Atalanta cornerbacks, with none of his 35 passing attempts going to a receiver with a defender within one yard.

This year’s Seattle defense is a far cry form the Legion Of Boom heyday, but they do have the hard hitting Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams. If Cam Newton runs the ball 15 times again in this contest, he should expect a lot of attention from these two.

With Wilson coming up against arguably the best defensive backfield in football, the game should come down to whether the Seahawks can get their passing game going. Wilson has had success against Belichick led defenses in the past, completing 64% of his passes for a 6:0 TD to INT ratio at over 10 yards per attempt in four contests. If Wilson gets going early, I don’t see Cam Newton being able to keep up.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Seattle -3.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

Friday 18 September, 10:00am AEST

Week two kicks off with a divisional game between the Cleveland Browns and the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are coming off week one losses and will be looking to get a win on the board, going 0-2 in this division will make reaching the playoffs difficult for the loser.

The Bengals’ loss came against the Chargers and their highly-rated defense, with the game ending at 16-13. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrows showed composure in his first game under what seemed like constant pressure from the Chargers and he will be hoping his offensive line can provide a bit more time and space this week.

He took the Bengals 80 yards on their final drive, having a game-winning touchdown called back for an offensive pass interference penalty. The following 31-yard field goal was missed by kicker Randy Bullock, so the Bengals will be disappointed not to get the win, or at least a chance in overtime.

The Browns were convincingly beaten by the Ravens in week one, with the offense, in particular, struggling in the 38-6 loss. With new head coach Kevin Stefanski having success running the ball during his time as the Vikings offensive coordinator, he will be hoping to establish the running game early after falling behind against the Ravens and resorting to a more pass-happy approach.

The Browns defense were torched through the air by Lamar Jackson, but this may have been by design to stop last year’s leading rushers. They held the Ravens to 107 rushing yards, which is the lowest total they have posted since the 2018 season.

Cleveland’s struggles on offense should give the Bengals a chance to stay in this one, with more expected from Burrows in his second start. The Bengals defense had success in the two matchups with the Browns last year, forcing more interceptions than passing TD’s allowed. I’m seeing this being closer than the bookies are predicting, with the Bengals a chance at taking the win.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Bengals +5.5

Tennessee Titans v Denver Broncos

Tuesday 15 September, 12:15am AEDT

The season’s first Monday Night football game has the Tennessee Titans visiting the Denver Broncos. The Broncos won last year’s match up 16-0 at homer, but a lot has changed for the two teams since then.

The Broncos enter the season with some optimism, going 4-1 to finish the season after moving to rookie quarterback Drew Lock, the only loss coming against the Superbowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. But a lot of this success was built around the defence (19 points against in those wins), which will be much changed for the 2020 season.

Superstar Von Miller has suffered a possibly season ending ankle injury in training, with emerging edge-rusher Bradley Chubb still recovering from an ACL tear. This is in addition to offseason departures of cornerback Chris Harris, defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis and safety Will Parks. The Broncos did add running back Melvin Gordon in the off season, along with drafting wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the first round. Jeudy joins emerging pass catchers Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, giving the young quarterback some promising weapons.

The Titans made a midseason quarterback change of their own, moving to veteran Ryan Tannehill during the 16-0 loss to the Broncos. The move prompted a commitment to the running game and in particular Derrick Henry, who ended the season as the league’s top rusher. The Titans finished the regular season 7-3 after the change, followed by victories over the more fancied Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs, before bowing out to the eventual Champion Chiefs in the AFC title game.

Signing both Tannehill and Henry to new contracts in the offseason, the Titans look to be keeping the same strategy this year. Much of the offence remains the same, with offensive lineman Jack Conklin being replaced by Dennis Kelly and rookie Isaiah Wilson the only major change. The Titans did sign former number one pick Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley to their defensive line, but also lost All-Pro defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

The depleted Broncos defence should struggle with the power running game of the Titans, who are now favourites after the injury to Von Miller. The Titans covered the line in all 7 of their wins after the change in QB last year and should do so again.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Titans at -2.5

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams

Monday 14 September, 10:20am AEDT

The Dallas Cowboys visit the LA Ram to debut the brand new SoFi Stadium. The Rams will be looking to make their way back into the playoffs after missing out last year, but will need to contend with the toughest division in the league. The Cowboys on the other hand will contest one of the weakest and start favourites to top the division after winning last year.

The Rams have lost a couple of key offensive pieces from last year, with Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley departing in the offseason. They will look to replace both from within, only rookie running back Cam Akers looking like breaking into the rotation in the skill positions. On the defensive side of the ball, they did resign cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the richest contract in the positions history. They also return Aaron Donald, arguably the best defensive lineman in the league, but lost Dante Fowler Jnr and Clay Matthews from that defensive line.

After a protracted contract saga over the offseason, the Cowboys keep Dak Prescott at quarterback. They also add first round draftee CeeDee Lamb to an already strong wide receiver group. With superstar running back Ezekiel Elliot and a strong offensive line, the Cowboys offense looks to be among the leagues best. On the defensive side of the ball, Pro Bowler Everson Griffen has been added to a defensive line that already included Demarcus Lawrence. They’ve also added pass rushers Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory, who both spent time out of the league with suspensions.

The new additions to the pass rush could prove key in this matchup, with Rams quarterback Jared Goff showing he was susceptible to pressure last year. His QB rating dropping from 99.5 when in a clean pocket, to 60.4 when under pressure. With the Rams not upgrading their below average offensive line from last year, Goff should continue to see pressure in this match, which will make keeping up with this Cowboys offence tough.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Cowboys at -3

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs

Friday 11 September, 10:20am AEDT

The season kicks off with the defending champs playing host to the Texans, who split their two meetings last year, the second being a huge comeback from the Chiefs in the playoffs where they trailed 24-0.

With the starting QBs Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson well settled within their offensive schemes, the interruptions to training camp and preseason may impact the defensive side of the ball more so than the offense. All signs are pointing towards an entertaining, high-scoring game.

The Chiefs are returning most of their key offensive personal from last year, though starting running back Damian Williams opted out of the season, replaced by explosive first-round draftee Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The Texans have lost superstar wide receiver Deandre Hopkins in trade during the offseason, receiving running back David Johnson in return.

After a couple of injury-affected seasons, the Texans will be hoping he can reclaim his previous form. Hopkins was replaced by speedster Brandin Cooks, who will offer further deep ball threat to the Texan wide receivers but isn’t the true number 1 receiver Hopkins is.

The Chiefs’ high-powered offense shouldn’t have any issues scoring against this Texans defense that projects to be middle of the road again this year. The Texans have shown they are capable of scoring when chasing the game, covering the total points line in five of their seven losses last year. With all the makings of a shootout, I expect the total points line to be covered.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Over 54.5

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