Sunday 24 September 2017 / 06:08 AM

3RD AND LONG: NFL WEEK 1 PRIMER

Every week to get you ready for NFL action, we’ll recap the week past in a variety of ways to get you caught up on last week’s action and preview the week ahead. Consider it a nice little template to get you in the mood for football.

Since it’s week one, however, there’s nothing to recap or to really talk about that’s happened, so instead, let’s look ahead to this first week of the football season and what you should be paying attention to.

Week 1 Storylines

Patriots Look to Repeat

Obviously, the favorites and darlings of the NFL offseason are the defending Super Bowl champs. They brought in Brandin Cooks to a roster already loaded, and got Gronk back. But injuries have them looking a little less stellar, but they’ll kick off the season as the first team playing the stacked Chiefs.

Falcons Regroup

The last time we saw Atlanta, the ‘Dirty Birds’ were blowing their chance at a Super Bowl in the most heartbreaking way of all time. The Falcons return with almost everyone this year, sans their old offensive coordinator. They’ve been quiet all offseason, but have all the tools to go back to the Super Bowl. They get an easy first game against the Bears, but a tough division awaits.

Eagles, Giants Load Up

The NFC East got a lot more interesting this offseason. Both teams beefed up the offensive side of the ball to give their QBs some weapons. The Giants added Brandon Marshall to the most talented receiving group in the NFL. The Eagles added LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, and Alshon Jeffery. That’s an improvement to an underperforming division from a year ago.

Dallas Weathers the Storm

Speaking of the NFC East, the Cowboys sure are in a weird place. They lost a good chunk of their defense in free agency, and now face a (potential) six-game suspension for Ezekiel Elliott. Losing the RB would be bad news for a Dallas offense that was Elliott-heavy a year ago. The Cowboys will have him for the mega matchup against the Giants this week, but if he’s out the next six, things could get wild in the NFC East.

QB Battles Abound

The NFL’s most important position is going to see more competition this offseason, with teams across the league coming into week one with unsure QB situations. The Bears have rookie Trubisky versus Mike Glennon, the Texans have rookie Deshaun Watson versus Tom Savage, the Jaguars have Blake Bortles versus Chad Henne, the Rams are unsure on Jared Goff and the Jets are… the Jets. That’s a ton of changes that could come out of the NFL in just the first week.

Cleveland Looks Interesting

Look, the Browns are probably going to be really bad again. But that still doesn’t take away from appreciating how much talent they have. They finally picked their QB in rookie DeShone Kizer, and have Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers on defense. Add that in to Corey Coleman, Isaiah Crowell and Jalen Collins, and this team actually looks competent. And interesting. Good news, Cleveland!

Steelers Are Going to Score…. More

The Steelers are going to be loaded again – surprise. They are a trendy pick to win the AFC, and it isn’t hard to see why. They’ve got LeVeon Bell back from injury, plus Antonio Brown got his partner back from suspension in Martavius Bryant. This team is crazy good on offense, and that’s not counting rookie runner James Conner behind Bell. Yeesh.

Bucs Get Hype

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (as we’ve talked about here) are a really interesting team for this season. They’ve boosted their offense with some veterans to pair with all that young talent, and this group is dreaming big. They look like an easy wildcard team, but they’ll go as far as the arm of Jameis Winston will take them.

Luck Unlucky

Another season, another rough going for the Colts. Andrew Luck has an injury that no one quite knows how bad it is. That’s bad news for a Colts team that’s been downright awful without him. They aren’t even particularly good with him. That’s bad news for the Colts, but even more for Andrew Luck, who’s getting a little aged to be talking about “potential” without results anymore.

Return of the Cam?

Polarizing QB Cam Newton followed up his MVP season with a struggle of a year this past year. Now, he’s got Christian McCaffery and a new emphasis on the offense around him. They’ve made it a priority to get him help, and now we all get to find out if that MVP season was a flash in the pan, or if last year was the random blip on the radar.

Games of the Week

Kansas City vs. New England (Thursday Night Football)

I mean, duh right? The Patriots open up their defense of the title on Thursday against the Chiefs. Both teams look like AFC competitors, with the Chiefs looking to prove they belong in the talk. It’s hard to win in Foxboro, but this defense is good enough to make this game a fight.

Oakland @ Tennessee

Here’s your early look at two incredibly hyped up AFC teams. Oakland took a big turn last year, gaining big praise as the most talented team in the AFC. But Derek Carr’s injury derailed their plans. The Titans barely missed the playoffs, but Mariota has people talking. This year, both teams are dreaming AFC Championship, and this will show where both are.

Seattle @ Green Bay

The Seahawks are trying to return to their usual dominance this year, but saw more rifts in the locker room. Russell Wilson says this offense may be his best, and he better hope that’s true. They’ll have to score to get back, and Green Bay has the opposite problem. The Packers want to win the NFC again, and know their defense cost them that opportunity last year. They’ve spent money, and now both teams will get to see if the improvements are enough.

New York @ Dallas

This game is interesting for so many reasons. First, it’s always a massive game for the Giants and Cowboys. But beyond that: the Giants have a new offense and weapon to test out. And for Dallas, this may be the only game they get Elliot for the foreseeable future, and that matters. This game can decide so much so early.

Top Fantasy Picks

Matt Ryan, Julio Jones vs. Bears

The Bears defense is awful. I mean, bad. Ryan and Jones will have a big opening day.

Rams Defense vs. Colts

The Colts have no QB, a bad offensive line. The Rams don’t have much either, but the Colts might not get out of the teens.

Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin vs. 49ers

Cam and company are looking for a rebound, and the 49ers had the worst defense in almost every stat last year. This year’s line is better, but that secondary is still bad.

Big Ben, Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell vs. Browns

I like Cleveland this year, but Pittsburgh should score a bunch of points on this young Browns defense Sunday.

See you guys next week for our first real recap! Keep your pads low!

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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