The 2023 NFL season kicked off Thursday night, and one game in, we've already enjoyed some surprise: The underdog Lions grinded out a 21-20 upset of the reigning champion Chiefs, taking a first step toward delivering on offseason hype.
What's next? Here are five bold predictions for this weekend's full slate of Week 1 action:
1. Bryce Young leads last-minute upset of Falcons
Atlanta is more than a field-goal favorite to start 1-0 at home, and everyone has talked aplenty about the Falcons' improved lineup, which now features Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite Bijan Robinson. Carolina's setup for Bryce Young, meanwhile, looked shoddy at best in the preseason. But this is a real game. Young's played big ones at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before, and Atlanta still has underrated question marks in the secondary. The No. 1 overall pick will remind everyone why he deserves No. 1 billing.
2. Patriots turn to a backup QB during Tom Brady's return
Mac Jones endured all kinds of issues in 2022, and theoretically, Bill O'Brien's arrival as offensive coordinator should help. But the third-year QB is still behind a makeshift O-line, and he'll open against an ever-persistent Eagles front that added Defensive Rookie of the Year hopeful Jalen Carter. After a notable shuffling of emergency QBs, New England will be forced to at least temporarily move to either Matt Corral or Bailey Zappe due to Philly's attack, all while the retired Brady is in town to be honored during the season opener.
3. Saints blow out the Titans in Derek Carr's debut
This profiles as a potentially ugly, low-scoring affair, with both Dennis Allen and Mike Vrabel capable of guiding gritty defensive performances. But Allen's unit has a clear edge in talent at premium spots, even with DeAndre Hopkins joining Tennessee. Motivated to dominate in his first post-Raiders action, Carr should have Michael Thomas available alongside Chris Olave in a booming Caesars Superdome, helping New Orleans extend its franchise-record Week 1 win streak to five games.
First-rounder Zay Flowers has just as much, if not more, upside as a new target for Lamar Jackson, but few players showed as much raw electricity as Dell in the preseason. And while Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud figures to lean on more sure things early, whether it be workhorse back Dameon Pierce or ex-Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, the speedy newcomer has the kind of game-breaking ability to ascend Houston's depth chart in a hurry. The Ravens may win, but the Texans will unearth a true weapon.
5. Bears run wild, but Jordan Love prevails
Justin Fields and Khalil Herbert have jets, and we could easily see them combining to eclipse 200 rushing yards against a Green Bay defense that struggled to contain the run in 2022. But for as much fun as Chicago should be now that Fields also has D.J. Moore at his disposal, this will be Love's coming-out party as Aaron Rodgers' successor. Matt Eberflus' "D" is better in the middle, but without an elite edge rusher, Love will have time to showcase that strong arm of his for an encouraging start to his run as QB1.