Predicting every NFL Week 1 game using a Madden 21 simulation.
NFL Week 1 is upon us. There were times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic this offseason when that was not inevitable but we’ve arrived. The Kansas City Chiefs, our reigning Super Bowl champions, play host to the Houston Texans on Thursday night to open the 2020 NFL season. Then we’ll be off and running.
But why wait for the action? Let’s go ahead and spoil everything that’s going to happen — if you trust Madden 21. We went into Franchise Mode in the latest edition of the EA Sports title and simulated Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. And let’s just say many of the results were pretty shocking.
Make of these simulated results what you will but this is how NFL Week 1 is going to play out according to our Madden 21 simulation.
Houston Texans 20 at Kansas City Chiefs 17
The 2020 NFL season starts out with a shocker on Thursday Night Football. Houston, clearly with revenge on their mind after blowing a 24-point lead in the playoffs, comes into Kansas City and knocks off the Chiefs as Deshaun Watson throws for 282 yards and rushes for a score. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes gets held in check, throwing for just 220 yards, one score and a pick.
Seattle Seahawks 24 at Atlanta Falcons 27
Russell Wilson throws for 282 yards in this game and Chris Carson rushes for 66 yards and two touchdowns — but the Seahawks still lose? Madden apparently has the same concerns about Seattle’s defense that I do as Matt Ryan throws for 239 yards and two scores, Todd Gurley goes for 86 rushing yards and Ito Smith gets a score as the Falcons win at home.
Philadelphia Eagles 14 at Washington Football Team 21
Dwayne Haskins outdueling Carson Wentz would be quite the shocker but that’s what happened in this simulation. The second-year Washington quarterback went 209-1-1 while Wentz was limited to only 122 yards. Chase Young gets his first sack of his NFL career and the Football Team’s defense proves to be dominant in a shocking win.
Miami Dolphins 14 at New England Patriots 35
Miami has played well in Foxborough but not in this matchup, apparently. Ryan Fitzpatrick tosses two picks while Cam Newton has a fine game with 194 passing yards and three total touchdowns while Sony Michel finds the end zone twice on the ground. Not a bad start for the Patriots in their first game in 20 years without Brady.
Green Bay Packers 35 at Minnesota Vikings 17
There are quite a few people saying the Vikings will overtake the Packers this year but that doesn’t happen in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers came out firing with 230-3-0 as his line while Kirk Cousins had just 226 yards, no scores and a pick. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 29 carries, 124 yards and a score in a resounding victory.
Indianapolis Colts 21 at Jacksonville Jaguars 27
So much for going 0-16 in Jacksonville. Gardner Minshew went off in this one with 345 yards and four touchdowns while Philip Rivers did throw for 352 yards but just two scores. The rushing attacks were relatively ineffective in an all-out aerial battle won by the mustachioed hero.
Chicago Bears 20 at Detroit Lions 23
Mitchell Trubisky throwing for 271 yards would be a pleasant surprise for the Bears — the two picks, not so much. Matthew Stafford was limited to just 154 yards and a score but the Lions defense stifled Chicago’s run game to eke out a season-opening win.
Cleveland Browns 35 at Baltimore Ravens 13
Whoa baby. Yes, the Browns beat Baltimore early last season — but a 22-point win where the Ravens score only 13 points? That’s huge.
Baker Mayfield was fine with 277 yards but only one score but Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for 22 carries and 110 yards with two touchdowns. Most importantly, the Cleveland defense shut down Lamar Jackson, who threw two interceptions and had only nine rushing yards.
New York Jets 35 at Buffalo Bills 17
Sam Darnold lived up to the hype in this one, throwing for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Allen surprised with 337 passing yards but just one score. Le’Veon Bell was the real shocker, though, showing life with 81 rushing yards and a score while the Bills rushing offense couldn’t get anything going at all.
Las Vegas Raiders 14 at Carolina Panthers 24
Derek Carr didn’t fully take advantage of his new weapons with just 147 passing yards, even with two scores. But Teddy Bridgewater looked good in his new home, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Christian McCaffrey was big with 20 carries for 105 yards and Curtis Samuel shined with 96 yards and a score to give the Panthers a big win.
Los Angeles Chargers 21 at Cincinnati Bengals 26
Joe Burrow’s debut was special. Yes, he only threw for 214 yards and tossed a pick but he had three passing touchdowns and outdueled Justin Herbert, who took over for Tyrod Taylor. With Joe Mixon also rushing for 103 yards, the Bengals came out firing with their new quarterback to pick up a win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 at New Orleans Saints 31
Probably the game of the week lived up to the billing. Tom Brady’s debut in Tampa was big-time with 316 yards and three scores while Drew Brees had 294 yards but just one touchdown and an interception. Alvin Kamara was the difference-maker, though, with 14 carries for 72 yards and two scores, giving the Saints the huge win to set the NFC South tone.
Arizona Cardinals 21 at San Francisco 49ers 28
Raheem Mostert led the 49ers elite rushing attack with 17 carries for 79 yards while Jerrick McKinnon put up two rushing scores. Pair that with the San Francisco defense keeping Kyler Murray, who threw for under 250 yards, in check, and that was a recipe for a hard-fought Niners victory.
Dallas Cowboys 17 at Los Angeles Rams 20
Honestly, this game only combining for 37 points might be the biggest shock of NFL Week 1. Dak Prescott and Jared Goff both threw for under 250 yards and one score but the former tossed a pick. Ezekiel Elliott was a beast with 18 carries for 99 yards but the Rams defense held enough to scratch out a low-scoring win.
Pittsburgh Steelers 35 at New York Giants 31
Daniel Jones started out year two firing with 355 passing yards and two touchdowns while Big Bens return was pedestrian as a passer, going for 266-1-1. Saquon Barkley had a big game with two scores but James Conner matched him, as did Roethlisberger with two rushing scores of his own. In a shootout, the Steelers get a shockingly close road win.
Tennessee Titans 21 at Denver Broncos 31
Capping off the week late on Monday night, Drew Lock threw for 216 yards and two scores while Ryan Tannehill threw for 225 and three scores but with an interception. Rushing touchdowns from Lock and Royce Freeman proved to be the ultimate difference, though, as Derrick Henry was kept out of the end zone despite rushing for 73 yards.