The NFL gifted us with several premier Week 1 matchups, including the Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans. Both of these teams have high hopes entering 2021. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are eyeing their first winning season together and hopefully a playoff berth, while the Titans have Lombardi Trophy dreams.
Plenty of stars will be out in Nashville this weekend. DeAndre Hopkins is well-acquainted with the Titans thanks to his days as a Houston Texan, Derrick Henry is eyeing his third rushing title in a row and star wideout Julio Jones will be making his first appearance in the Music City wearing two-tone blue.
Here's a preview of this Week 1 AFC showdown:
How to watch
Key matchups to watch
Cardinals WRs vs. Titans secondary
If you had to point to a weak spot on this Titans roster, it's the secondary. Tennessee parted ways with three of its four starters this offseason, and that has put pressure on the young Kristian Fulton, Amani Hooker and Breon Borders to eliminate the big play. They have a tough matchup ahead of them this week, however, as the Cardinals have a surplus of weapons they can utilize in many different ways. Hopkins is always going to be a problem, and Arizona added veteran A.J. Green as well. Then there are the shifty slot guys like Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and rookie Rondale Moore, all of whom can hurt defenses in multiple ways. Throw in Chase Edmonds and James Conner at running back, and this looks like a loaded offense on paper.
This is the first time we will see Murray operate with this full cast of characters, so how Kingsbury will hand out touches is unknown. He would be smart to use all of the weapons at his disposal and try to stretch this secondary to the point where they can't keep up.
Cardinals D vs. Derrick Henry
The name that will always be first on the scouting report when preparing for the Titans is Henry. He led the NFL in rushing for the second straight year with 2,027 yards in 2020 -- becoming the eighth player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. The Alabama product averaged 100.8 rushing yards per game in eight home games in 2020, and Tennessee loves to set the tempo with his legs.
The game plan for defeating the Titans over the past two years has been containing Henry. That may be a little different now with Jones added to the mix at wide receiver, but limiting Henry is certainly the focal point for Arizona.
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The Cardinals made several great additions on both sides of the ball this offseason, but it could take a week or two for them to get on the same page -- especially offensively. Ryan Tannehill orchestrates a comeback victory in the second half to nab a Week 1 win.
Pick: Titans 31, Cardinals 27
Check out CBSSports.com for even more predictions on this game and the rest of Week 1.