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I would like to start today's newsletter by apologizing to the NFL. When the 2021 schedule was released back in May, I thought the league made a horrible mistake putting the Cowboys in the opener and that's mostly because I thought Tampa Bay was going to win by three touchdowns. 

Well, the joke's on me because last night's game might go down as the greatest opening game in NFL history. It had everything you could ever ask for in a game: Dak Prescott looked like Tom Brady, which wasn't enough to beat Tom Brady because Tom Brady looked like Super Tom Brady. The man is 44 years old and he still somehow had enough gas left in the tank to lead a last minute comeback to give the Buccaneers a wild 31-29 win. 

If the rest of the NFL season is just half as exciting as Thursday's game, then this is going to be the craziest season ever. This newsletter is a perfect way to help you keep tabs on all the crazy things that happen over the course of the season so please tell all your friends to sign up. One of my friends signed up yesterday and then sent me an email to tell me he signed up (Shout out to Adam!). You don't have to email me, but you can if you want. 

To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Alright, let's get to the rundown. 

1. Today's show: Recapping the Buccaneers' wild win over the Cowboys


The NFL has been holding a Thursday night opener since 2002 and I have to say, last night's game was definitely the best one yet. The only thing more exciting than the game was the podcast we recorded after the game. 

In today's episode of the podcast, we recapped the Bucs' wild win over the Cowboys. If you missed the game, here's a quick rehash of what happened and what we talked about on the podcast:

  • Tom Brady delivers. For the 49th time in his career, Tom Brady delivered a last second comeback in the regular season. With the Buccaneers trailing 29-28 and just 1:24 remaining, the future Hall of Famer drove his team 57 yards in a span of just seven plays to set up Ryan Succop's game-winning 36-yard field goal. Brady went 5 of 7 for 62 yards on a drive that included a 20-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski and a 24-yard pass to Chris Godwin (The Buccaneers got called for a five-yard penalty if you're wondering how Brady threw for 62 yards on a 57-yard drive). Overall, Brady ended up throwing for 379 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers probably should have been higher, but his receivers kept dropping passes. 
  • Dak doesn't look rusty. After not taking a game snap for 11 months, there was some concern that Dak Prescott might look rusty in Week 1, but that definitely wasn't the case. Prescott's first throw of the game went for 28 yards and at that point, it was pretty clear there was no rust. Not only did Prescott end up throwing for 403 yards and three touchdowns, but he also set an opening week record with 42 completions. 
  • Cowboys killed by kicking woes. Greg Zuerlein's first game of the season was an ugly one. The Cowboys kicker missed three kicks in the first half, including a 31-yard field goal attempt that went way left and an extra point that missed off the upright (You can see how far left he missed on that field goal by clicking here). Those were four key points that the Cowboys could have used (Zuerlein also missed a 60-yard field goal, but the Cowboys probably won't hold that against him). The veteran kicker did slightly redeem himself with a 48-yard field goal that gave Dallas the lead in the final 90 seconds, but the earlier misses were costly and it won't be surprising if the Cowboys decide to try out a few kickers this week. 
  • Controversial finish. The end of the game definitely came with some controversy thanks to a no-call on a potential offensive pass interference play by Chris Godwin. The Buccaneers receiver appeared to push off of Cowboys defender Jourdan Lewis before he made his 24-yard catch that set up Tampa Bay's game-winning field goal. Former NFL referee Terry McAulay, who now works as the rules official for NBC, said he definitely would have called offensive pass interference. For more details on that controversy, be sure to click here

To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there -- be sure to click here

2. Today's show Part II: Best bets for Week 1

The best part about Friday -- besides the fact that it's Friday -- is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After the recap of the Thursday game, Brinson politely asked me and Ryan Wilson to leave so that he could bring in Pete Prisco and R.J. White for a discussion about their best bets for Week 1. 

Actually, Brinson didn't politely ask us to leave, he just hung up on our Zoom call and blocked us from ever calling him again.

Anyway, the guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game being played in Week 1 and we're going to cover three from each guy below.  

Will Brinson 
Seahawks (-2.5) to cover against the Colts
Vikings (-3) to cover against the Bengals
Broncos (-3) to cover against the Giants

Pete Prisco 
Steelers (+6.5) to cover against the Bills
Washington to beat the Chargers (pick'em)
Bears (+7.5) to cover against the Rams

R.J. White
Lions (+7.5) to cover against the 49ers
Chiefs (-6) to cover against the Browns
Seahawks at Colts UNDER 50

To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 1 -- and there are quite a few -- be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast.

3. Ravens hit with two devastating injuries


The Ravens might have had the most painful day of practice in NFL history on Thursday when they saw two key players go down with season-ending injuries. First, the team lost starting cornerback Marcus Peters, who tore his ACL during a non-contact play. A few players later, running back Gus Edwards also tore his ACL. 

After the injury to Edwards, Ravens coach John Harbaugh decided it was time to cancel practice. 

With both players out for the season, here's a look at the Ravens' situation at each position

  • Ravens load up on running backs. Edwards is the third Ravens running back to tear his ACL this season following injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill. With the depth chart so thin, the Ravens have been busy over the past 24 hours adding running backs. First, they signed Devonta Freeman. After that, they also added Latavius Murray. That's on top of the Le'Veon Bell signing, which happened earlier this week. Bell didn't even officially join the team until Wednesday, but John Harbaugh has already said there's a chance he'll play Monday due to how desperate the Ravens are at running back. 
  • Cornerback depth takes a hit. With Peters out for the season, the Ravens will need Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith to contribute even more this year. Smith battled an ankle injury for most of training camp and will likely miss Week 1, but after that, he should become a key contributor. As for Young, he could end up being a huge help as long as he can stay healthy. The 27-year-old started 11 games as a rookie in 2016, but he's missed 47 games over the past four seasons (He missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL and all of 2019 with a neck injury). Right now, Young is healthy and it will help the Ravens a lot if he can stay that way. 

The Ravens open their season on Monday night in Las Vegas. 

4. NFL Week 1 picks

This is the final newsletter of the week, which means I feel morally obligated to cram as many picks as possible into this space. I once crammed four weeks worth of clothing into a carry-on suitcase so I know I'm good at cramming. 

With that in mind, we've got five more Week 1 picks coming your way and those will be coming from Will Brinson, Jonathan Jones, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora along with writers Tom Fornelli and Jordan Dajani. 

Here's how things are going to work: I'm going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you'll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on. 

5. Cam Newton breaks silence after being cut


Ten days after being released by the Patriots, Cam Newton is finally talking about how things ended in New England and he doesn't sound very happy about the situation. During a sit-down interview with his dad that was released on Newton's YouTube page, Newton cleared up quite a few things about his release.

  • Cam felt bamboozled by the Patriots over the COVID misunderstanding. At the time of his COVID violation, Newton was getting his foot checked out by a doctor, a visit the Patriots wanted him to take. Cam thought he was following all the COVID protocols, but apparently, that wasn't the case, "I crossed all the lines. I checked all the boxes," Newton said via "I dotted my i's. And then to find out that I had to sit out? And that's when I kind of felt bamboozled because y'all told me to go. It wasn't like, 'Cam, you know if you go, you're taking it up on your own risk now.' It was not that."
  • Newton was willing to stay as backup, but Patriots didn't offer. "Let me be honest with you," Newton said, via "If they would have asked me, 'Cam, we're going to give the team to Mac, you're going to be second-string; we expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,' I would have said, 'Absolutely.' But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable.... I would have been a distraction. If they would have gave him the starting role, they knew the perception that it would have had if the success didn't come."
  • Patriots would have released him even if he didn't miss five days due to COVID. One interesting thing Newton said is that the Patriots were going to cut him no matter what, "Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly, yes," Newton said of being released. "It was going to happen. Did it help ease the decision? Yes."
  • He thinks Mac Jones is the real deal. "He did what he came to do. He proved that he can be productive, and he will be productive," Newton said of Jones. That should make Patriots fans happy. 

Newton is still a free agent and it will be interesting to see if he signs with a team any time in the near future. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup

It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • T.J. Watt lands record-setting contract from Steelers. Watt is now the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history after agreeing to a monstrous deal with the Steelers. The four-year extension is worth a total of $112 million, which is an average of $28 million per year. The contract means that Watt will definitely be playing on Sunday against Buffalo. 
  • Saints make a trade for Bradley Roby. We told you about this trade yesterday and now the details are in: The Texans will be getting a 2022 third-round pick, plus a conditional pick in 2023 in exchange for sending Roby to New Orleans. The Saints also only have to pay Roby $1.8 million in salary because Houston is taking care of the other $7 million. 
  • Mac Jones and Justin Fields are popular. Of the top-selling NFL jerseys since Aug. 1, Jones and Fields are the only rookies who cracked the top-five. According to Fanatics, Josh Allen sold the most jerseys over the past month, followed by Jones, Tom Brady, Fields and Patrick Mahomes. 
  • Injury to keep an eye on: Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has missed two straight days of practice this week with a hamstring injury. It's not clear what his status will be Sunday, but we'll know more on Friday afternoon when the Chargers release their final injury report. 
  • Saquon Barkley likely to play. Barkley's status for the opener has been up in the air for the past few weeks, but it appears the Giants are finally confident that he's going to play. Coach Joe Judge announced on Friday that Barkley looks like a go for Sunday's game against Denver. The only way Barkley won't play is if there's an unforeseen setback