The kickoff of the 2021 New Orleans Saints season begins with equal parts trepidation and excitement for the first time in what seems like ages. This Saints team is not the Super Bowl favorite they have been over the past three seasons, but that shouldn’t take away from the joy of finally seeing this team take the field for a season likely to be filled with intrigue and surprise.
No longer are the Saints coming into a season expected to bring New Orleans its second Lombardi title. The Saints will need absolutely everything break their way to have a shot at getting to Los Angeles next February for Super Bowl LVI. Their unlikely path to Inglewood, CA in February begins against Green Bay in Week 1.
A new age is here for New Orleans and its beloved Saints. Some may be clinging to the past, afraid of what lies ahead, while others take the leap of faith into the unknown, into a new and hopefully bright future. The new age has arrived, and the future may be bright indeed.
All season and postseason, Wallace Delery of Canal Street Chronicles will be presenting you with each and every game on the NFL schedule along with my pick for each game. It’s been a long wait for this season to begin, so lets get started.
Thursday, September 9th - NFL Kickoff 2021
Cowboys at Buccaneers
The reigning Super Bowl Champions will unveil their Super Bowl LV in the very same stadium they won the title. Understandably, Tampa is expected to be atop not only the NFC South, but the NFC as a conference this season, but remember, much had to go just right for things to go Tampa’s way on their path to the title. They have brought back the entire cast to “run it back” in 2021, but it is easier said than done, and the competition will be fierce.
Dallas is Dallas, which means we really have no clue as to what they will be this season. The NFC East is certainly up for grabs once again, and if they can show any level of consistency while also avoiding the catastrophic injury bug like a season ago, the Cowboys can compete. They're just not ready to compete with the Bucs. Tampa wins 28-20.
Sunday, September 12th - Early Games
Jaguars at Texans
Jacksonville starts a new era of their own this season, with a new head coach and the top prospect in the draft at quarterback, but there will certainly be growing pains. Fortunately for the Jags, the team they are facing is going through the pain of being in a state of disarray. The Texans have a long season ahead, and they, like the Jags a season ago, may find themselves picking first in the draft next year. Jacksonville wins 28-24.
Chargers at Washington FT
Washington is coming off an NFC East title last season and they may very well be a better squad this season, but the teams over in Dallas and New York will have a say in who gets the crown this season. The Chargers hope the pairing of a new stadium (with fans this time), a new coach, and a young star quarterback will be enough to compete with the KC juggernaut in the AFC West. Justin Herbert will outduel “Fitzmagic” in this one. Los Angeles wins 30-20.
Seahawks at Colts
The Carson Wentz era in Indy as started about as well as it ended in Philly. Despite the QB issues, Indianapolis should have a competitive team this season. Seattle had a lot of smoke in the offseason this year, but they should still be quite good. The big question is if they will be good enough to compete for the NFC West title in arguably the toughest division in football. Seattle wins 37-26.
Jets at Panthers
The Sam Darnold era in Carolina begins, by no coincidence, against his former team. Carolina has pieces in place to be a more competitive team than they were a season ago, but we will see if it is enough to turn things around. The Jets were a bad a you could get in recent years, but another new rookie franchise quarterback and another new head coach look to change the franchises’ fortunes. It has to work this time, right? Carolina wins 33-24.
Vikings at Bengals
Having recovered from an unfortunate season-ending knee injury, Joe Burrow looks to start his first full season (hopefully) with a win over Minnesota, who can ill afford to suffer another disappointing season. A late score by Cincy sends the crowd home happy on opening day. Cincinnati wins 25-24.
Cardinals at Titans
Arizona enters a real “prove it” season for its head coach and star quarterback Kyler Murray. Proven pieces have been added to get this team in contention in a dangerous division and it will be interesting to see if those pieces are going to make the difference or if they are too far past their prime. Tennessee knows all about adding pieces, having acquired All-Pro WR Julio Jones in the offseason, in order to add a more dynamic dimension to their bruising offensive attack. This once will be good, but Tennessee’s moves will pay immediate dividends. Tennessee wins 25-21.
49ers at Lions
San Francisco is poised for a big comeback season this year, as the coaching is in place, the talent is in place, and the quarterbacks are in place. The NFC West is absolutely brutally difficult, but the Niners have what is required to win the division, but health, which derailed their season a year ago, will be paramount. Behind a new “rah-rah” approach and with homefield advantage, Detroit will surprisingly keep this one close. Not close enough, though. San Francisco wins 30-24.
Steelers at Bills
These were two of the AFC’s best last season, and will be expected to be one of the best of the opening week. Pittsburgh continues to move forward with Big Ben and a continuously revolving cast of offensive weapons, and while it has worked quite well for quite some time, returns may diminish quickly this year. Buffalo will see their expectations higher than they've been since the mid-90’s, as anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will be a disappointment. Buffalo is closer to that goal than Pittsburgh this year, and this game will showcase that. Buffalo wins 21-13.
Eagles at Falcons
Philadelphia may very well be primed to be the worst team in the NFC, along with Detroit, this season. On the other side, Atlanta is starting a new era in the coaching staff while trotting out the same team, more or less, that we've seen underachieve for the last few years. A late field goal for the home team secures victory for the Falcons. Atlanta wins 22-20.
Sunday, September 12th - Late Games
Browns at Chiefs - Game of the Week
This is a rematch of January’s AFC Divisional Playoff and features two teams that are expected to be two of the AFC’s elite this season as well. Cleveland finally played to their potential last season and looks to take the next step this year. Kansas City fell one win short of back-to-back titles and reinforced the unit that lost them Super Bowl LV, their offensive line. A postseason weakness has been turned into one of this season’s strengths for the Chiefs. Cleveland kept things very close in Kansas City back in January, but didn't have to face Patrick Mahomes for all four quarters, a luxury they are unlikely to see here. Kansas City wins 30-20.
Broncos at Giants
The Giants could certainly surprise many in the NFC East this season. They have some good pieces in place, most importantly being the return of Saquan Barkley to the backfield, but their fortunes will ultimately rest on the shoulders of QB Daniel Jones. Is he ready to turn the corner? Unlikely, but his time to prove it is here. Denver, behind new starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, will be a tough team to beat this season. They are in a tough division, with the NFL’s top team sitting atop that division, but they will get their fair share of wins, starting here. Denver wins 26-23.
Dolphins at Patriots
The storylines are intriguing in this one. The main story being the matchup of former Alabama starting quarterbacks/teammates in New England’s Mac Jones and Miami’s Tua Tagovialoa. Bill Belichick made some big changes following one of the most disappoint seasons he’d seen with the Patriots, and he is eying his usual spot atop the AFC East. Miami had some ups and downs as well as lingering questions at QB last season, but they have the talent to take a run at the past and present leaders of the division. Miami is mostly on track, but it will take them past this week to really get there. New England wins 27-17.
Packers at* Saints - TIAA Bank Field - Jacksonville, Florida
The Saints should be entering their new post-Brees age in front of a capacity crowd in the newly-minted Caesars Superdome on Sunday, but unfortunately real life and mother nature got in the way. The Saints, just like New Orleans itself, carries on in spite of all obstacles ahead, so Jacksonville will play surrogate home for a Sunday.
In comes Aaron Rodgers and the reigning two-time NFC runners-up in the Green Bay Packers. It goes without saying that Green Bay poses a significant challenge to the Saints in this matchup. Rodgers has shown he can put up a lot of points on Saints defenses, but Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara are prepared to offer a counter attack on offense. Hopefully, we will see more spectacular plays like Kamara had against the Green Bay defense last season.
The Saints defense has the talent and potential to be very good this season, but the Saints have proven time and again that Dennis Allen’s defenses need about a week to warm up before they start looking their best. Unfortunately, the Packers aren't the type of team that you want your defense to start off slow against. This will be a very good game, certainly one of the very best of Week 1, but the opener goes to Green Bay, no thanks to a late field goal attempt securing victory for the Pack. Green Bay wins 34-31.
Sunday Night Football
Bears at Rams
Chicago should be starting the Justin Fields era in this one, but their soon-to-be outgoing coaching staff are stubbornly shooting themselves in the foot. They should be thankful they have Detroit in their division to be the punching bag. It will be a big defensive effort that keeps them competitive in this game. The Rams are primed for a huge season with Matthew Stafford under center. The Rams have big time weapons on both sides of the ball, and although their depth is a major concern, it didn't cause much of an issue for them a season ago. Los Angeles wins 17-12.
Monday, September 13th - Monday Night Football
Ravens at Raiders
Who know what we will get from Las Vegas this season? They have some talent on the roster and the coaching could be much worse, but something is just missing there. Playing in a difficult AFC West does them no favors either. Baltimore has some concerns with high-end offensive weapons to support QB Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens defense will continue to be the Ravens defense. This one will be close, with the Vegas crowd finally seeing their Raiders in person, but Baltimore will leave Sin City with the win. Baltimore wins 31-25.
That’s how I see it, tell us how you see Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season unfolding. Leave your comments and insight below. Finally, Saints football is back! WHO DAT!