NFL Week 1 Storylines To Watch For: Are the Browns Super Bowl Contenders?

Can the Browns prove that they're legitimate Super Bowl contenders? OddsChecker's Matt O'Leary takes a look at some top storylines for Week 1.
Matt O'Leary
Sat, September 11, 5:33 PM EDT

NFL Week 1 Storylines To Watch For: Are the Browns Super Bowl Contenders?

In the NFL, there’s never a shortage of storylines. This week, to kick off the 2021 season, a season where fans are returning after a weird 2020 COVID-impacted season, fans can’t wait to be a part of the action.

There are numerous games on the slate that are enticing from a gambler’s perspective, but what about storylines? Here are the biggest storylines this week.

Sam Darnold Versus His Old Team

God bless the schedule makers. Whoever decided to put Sam Darnold up against his old team in Week 1 is an absolute genius. The Carolina Panthers are favored by four points right now as the line has moved down.

For Darnold, he has a chance to prove that it was a bad decision to move on from him. While from the Jets side, they want to see what rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has in his debut performance under rookie head coach Robert Saleh.

While neither the Panthers nor Jets have playoff aspirations for the season, this game is a must-watch just from the drama perspective.

Trevor Lawrence's and Urban Meyer's NFL Debuts

You’re used to watching Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence on Saturdays -- but how will they do on the transition to the NFL? Vegas likes them this week, as they’re currently favored by three points on the road against Houston.

As a number one overall pick, there is always pressure to produce right away, but when you consider the added pressure of bringing in a high-profile coach like Meyer into the mix, it just adds to the story.

They have a very winnable game on their schedule to start the year -- let’s see if they’re able to get the job done and start off their season on the right foot.

Are the Cleveland Browns Contenders or Pretenders?

Expectations are high for Cleveland as they have one of the NFL’s best rosters for the 2021 season. Under Kevin Stefanski in 2021, they finished 11-5 and ended up squaring off against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.

Kansas City ended up getting the better of the Browns, winning 22-17, but the Browns hung tight in a game where the Chiefs lost Patrick Mahomes. This week, there’s a motivated Chiefs team who was embarrassed in the Super Bowl the last time we saw them play.

Can Baker Mayfield and Browns hang with the elite of the AFC, or are they pretenders in 2021? Well, Vegas looks at the Chiefs as 6.5-point favorites so maybe that tells you all you need to know.

Hollywood Stafford

Last year, the Rams featured the best defense in football but were held back by Jared Goff. Goff finished 23rd in passer rating, 23rd in QBR, and 19th in touchdown passes. The Rams front office saw this and decided to make a blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford.

For years, Stafford has been in the top half of the league in production at the quarterback position but was never able to get over the hump, perpetually stuck on abysmal teams in Detroit. Now, with a loaded roster and one of the brilliant offensive minds in Sean McVay as his head coach, will he finally be unleashed?

The Rams are favored by 7.5 points in Week 1 and are tied for the fifth-best Super Bowl odds in 2021, so Vegas tends to think that the Rams -- Stafford included -- will be very good this season.

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