What to Watch for in the N.F.L.’s Week 1 Games

Whether a product of the pandemic, collateral injury from an eradicated preseason or simply the approach issues go in soccer, the 2020 N.F.L. season was marred by vital accidents and postponements.

As completely different as the league could look this season, soccer followers will discover a extra acquainted N.F.L. this season, replete with followers in the stands. Here are some story traces to listen to throughout Week 1’s matchups.

All occasions Eastern.

Aaron Rodgers and Travis Kelce may attain profession milestones.

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City, four:25 p.m., CBS

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints, four:25 p.m., Fox

Reaching Week 1 is a milestone in and of itself, contemplating the Covid protocols and vaccination push it took to get right here. But Kansas City tight finish Travis Kelce is on milestone watch already, heading into Sunday’s regular-season opener in opposition to Cleveland. Coming off a season in which he ranked second amongst all N.F.L. move catchers with 1,416 yards receiving (a report for a good finish), Kelce, who has 7,881 profession receiving yards, can change into the quickest tight finish in league historical past to attain eight,000. He wants 119 yards in opposition to the Browns to declare the report, at the moment held by Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski.

Aaron Rodgers’s potential last season as a Packer begins in opposition to the Jameis Winston-led Saints. Rodgers, the reigning league most precious participant, wants to acquire 231 yards passing in opposition to a Saints protection that was top-five in opposition to the move final season to surpass Hall of Famer John Elway for the 10th-most passing yards in N.F.L. historical past.

Throwing to one among the league’s prime receiving threats in Davante Adams is as a lot a security internet as Rodgers may ask for, however Rodgers may even have one among his favourite targets in Randall Cobb, the veteran receiver the Packers introduced again to the staff this low season at Rodgers’s request.

Whose A.C.L. healed the greatest?

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m., Fox

Jets at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS

Denver Broncos at Giants, four:25 p.m., Fox

We didn’t see a lot of Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the discipline final 12 months (he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee final October), so Cleveland’s offense leaned as a substitute on the punch that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt gave their dashing assault. It helped, too, that quarterback Baker Mayfield had the best of his first three seasons, posting a career-best 95.9 passer score.

Sunday’s rematch of January’s divisional-round playoff sport, a 22-17 Kansas City win, provides Beckham the excellent stage to present he’s nonetheless the similar electrical receiver he as soon as was and — if he and Mayfield can re-establish their chemistry — that the Browns’ 2020 breakthrough wasn’t an anomaly.

In San Francisco, shedding defensive finish Nick Bosa to an A.C.L. harm in Week 2 plunged the 49ers out of great competition virtually instantly. He’s again and prepared to pounce on the Lions.

The Panthers’ do-everything working again Christian McCaffrey and Giants working again Saquon Barkley additionally return this weekend, however how a lot they’ll contribute in their debuts stays to be seen. Barkley appeared in two video games final season earlier than tearing his proper A.C.L. and skipped the preseason, however is totally prepared, Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett stated. The Giants will possible not ask an excessive amount of of him Sunday in opposition to the Broncos as a result of he’s pacing to be a focus in an offense that was stricken by receivers’ dropped passes and turnovers by quarterback Daniel Jones, who’ll be chased by Denver’s Von Miller, coming back from a season-ending ankle harm.

McCaffrey was sidelined for all however three full video games in 2020 with a number of accidents, however performs an enormous function in the Panthers’ passing sport, which can not want a lot of a raise in opposition to the Jets. Sam Darnold already has a extra stable receiving duo in Carolina, in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, than he could also be used to.

Rookie standouts will attempt to make a second-year leap.

Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team, 1 p.m., CBS

If Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert plans to make a leap in Year 2, going through the Washington Football Team’s dominant defensive finish Chase Young might be one among the most tough methods to begin. Young, the 2020 defensive rookie of the 12 months, will meet Herbert’s Chargers Sunday afternoon. It will probably be the second straight season the place the reigning offensive and defensive rookies of the 12 months will meet in their season opener: Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray confronted Bosa’s 49ers in Week 1 final season.

In 2020, Young anchored one among the league’s greatest defenses, which allowed simply over 300 yards per sport, second fewest in the N.F.L. Herbert completed the season with the most passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396) of any rookie in league historical past.