Top 5 Must See NFL Games in Week 1 of the 2021 Season

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 12, 2021 8:41 am PDT

The summer is nearly complete, which means pigskin is around the corner. Fans will be in the seats this season rooting for their favorite teams, giving more of an advantage to home-field.

The NFL season ahead should be full of thrilling finishes with virtuoso performances from star-studded passing games. The opening weekend is full of fun games that should be bonkers.

The season opener is full of matchups that live up to the hype. What memories will we witness this year?

Tom Brady has won yet another Super Bowl ring, meaning the haters will be out in full effect for this upcoming season. The Dallas faithful will be praying they become relevant and start winning again. The Bears finally have a quarterback. Plus, the Browns look good enough to make a deep run in the postseason.

The storylines are endless for the season, and it all starts with Week 1. Going into the first week, here are the top five must-see NFL games.

5. Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans

This matchup gives us two of the most explosive offenses in the entire league. Both quarterbacks have been putting up numbers, but both want to win more. The time is now for them to go bonkers on offense.

Tennessee failed to win a playoff game after they reached the AFC title game the season prior. Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, and Ryan Tannehill are overly talented. They are good enough with a mediocre defense to go deep into the postseason.

Arizona nearly reached the postseason last season, but they fell short. The health of Kyler Murray was a growing concern down the stretch of the season. They were hopeful for an improved rushing attack, but they often went off how Murray performed.

Arizona’s offense could be the fastest squad in the NFL.

DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, Andy Isabella, and AJ Green are five of the more explosive options in their roles for the NFL. Larry Fitzgerald could return to play in perhaps his final season as a pro, but this team is not lacking in talent.

The two are dark horses to make a deep run into the postseason. Murray and Tannehill have a bevy of weapons around them, and Kliff Kingsbury and Mike Vrabel will be hitting all the right buttons.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen just accepted the most guaranteed money in the history of the NFL. Getting $150 million is great, but he is coming off the best Bills season ever. An unstoppable runner when getting to the second level, the Buffalo offense was flawless when the signal-caller took care of the ball.

Allen turned into an MVP candidate that can carry the team on his back.

The addition of Stefon Diggs was crucial after he led the NFL in catches and yards. Diggs has turned into an elite route runner. The dynamic duo has blossomed into some of the best players in the game, and Buffalo should enjoy the ride.

They have not won multiple playoff games in a while before last postseason, so perhaps they can turn into a juggernaut like the Steelers. Pittsburgh has failed to post a losing record under Mike Tomlin, and he took over for Bill Cowher in 2007.

The Steelers have lofty expectations, but many are fading Pittsburgh from reaching the postseason. The offensive line and rushing woes were abysmal last year.

Rushing Yards Per Game Total Offensive Yards
84.4 YPG (Last) 334.6 YPG (No. 25)

Is Big Ben done being a Top 10-like quarterback? The answer may need to be “no” if the Steelers hope to make any noise in week one – let alone 2021.

Najee Harris is a bell-cow back, but holes won’t make themselves. The team has viable passing options, and they managed to win the division despite their inconsistencies.

Their season opener at the Bills will be a pivotal test for both squads. Handling expectations for Buffalo is one of the best 2021 NFL storylines to monitor.

Pittsburgh has an elite defense that carried them towards an 11-0 start last year. If the team gets continued production from that side of the ball, they will stay alive in this game and many others.

3. Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

The first game of the season should be a good one between these two teams. Drew Brees has retired, so the quarterback matchup is less than stellar. However, that’s is why this game is intriguing. Many have debated all offseason on who should be the starter for the Saints.

Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are capable players for Sean Payton, but the offense has lost too many weapons over the years.

Michael Thomas (ankle) has not been the same for about two seasons now, and now he’s stirring up drama.

Last season was a lost one after getting rolled up from behind by Latavius Murray in the season-opening victory over Tampa Bay.

Now the franchise is starting from scratch on offense in many aspects. They will heavily rely on Alvin Kamara to play superman on the offense. Kamara has meant a lot, but they will struggle if other role players cannot improve their games.

Green Bay has had that same issue with their role players, but they keep appearing in the postseason. Getting deep into the postseason has been a concern for the franchise. Even when they get there, they can’t close the deal.

Look at their last three trips to the NFC title game.

2020 2019 2016
L, Tampa Bay by 5 L, San Francisco by 17 L, Atlanta by 23

Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have all contributed their skills over the years.

If any of those three continue to develop, the Packers could realistically make another deep run in the postseason. Plus, watching Aaron Rodgers make his 2021 debut after the chaotic offseason will be must-see television.

Rodgers and Davante Adams alluded to their last dance coming in 2021, so we shall see what they have in store for us this season.

2. Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This game kicks off the season and has been considered one of the highest-scoring matchups of the entire season. Dak Prescott was second in the NFL in passing in the 2019 season, and the offensive weapons rank among the best in the league.

Tom Brady will be defending yet another Super Bowl title of his, and the entire team is back for more. The Buccaneers have a schedule to challenge for the top seed after being a wild card last season. Tampa Bay failed to win the NFC South last season, and a season-opening victory over Dallas could go a long way.

Dallas has not appeared in an NFC Championship in over a quarter of a century. Just look at where they stand compared to teams with the longest conference title game droughts in the NFL.

Cincinnati Washington Detroit Cleveland Miami Dallas
32, 1988 29, 1991 29, 1991 28, 1989 28, 1998 25, 1995

An injury-riddled season at quarterback and the offensive line likely cost them a trip to the postseason.

Returning a productive year from Ezekiel Elliott would be instrumental towards the success of the franchise. Dak Prescott has been a reliable runner, but running downhill with their star back will be pivotal. Elliott has not run for 1,400 yards since 2018, and many are concerned if he can return to that caliber of a player.

There were fumbling concerns in situations last season, but the development of players such as CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard has been impressive. Lamb could be a future Top 10 receiver as early as this season, and has the league on notice.

He has already shined after one season in the NFL, but this is one of those openers that likely will reward the team who has the ball last.

1. Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

This game is one we all want to watch on the opening weekend. Are the Browns capable of making a run at the Super Bowl?

We saw them live up to the hype last season, and there were a few games that ended up coming down to the wire (see vs. KC in Divisional Round). This game should be phenomenal due to the physicality that Cleveland brings.

Patrick Mahomes will likely be in the MVP conversation, and his stellar 2021 campaign kicks off against these Browns. He’s been unbeatable (literally) in past Septembers.

Record Passing TD / INT
10-0 32 / 0

The Chiefs look poised to become the fourth team ever to reach three straight Super Bowls.

Cleveland is so dominant because they have the best talent at the line of scrimmage. There are difference makers on both sides, but Myles Garrett might be one of the ten best players in the league. There is no way to block him consistently with one player, which allows others to step up.

I will gladly sit back with a cold beer and enjoy this premier matchup that could decide who plays in the Super Bowl come February. 

Other Week One NFL Games to Watch

  • Seahawks vs. Colts
  • Bears vs. Rams

Listing every game as one to watch for week one makes little sense. Not every NFL team is worth watching, and not every game is must-see TV.

These two games could be worth tuning in to during week one, though. Indy will hope to be healthy for week one, while both the Colts and Seahawks are likely playoff threats.

The same could be said for the Bears and Rams, while some think the arrival of Matthew Stafford makes L.A. a title contender.

Nothing will be determined in week one, but the NFL games above are still ones to watch as the 2021 season gets going.

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