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Week 1 NFL Action: Mayfield makes his return, plus other stories to watch for.

Week 1 is right around the corner and there are already a million things we need to keep an eye on as these games progress. Let’s dive into some of the biggest things to look out for in the first week of the regular season. 

The first thing that I think we should all keep an eye on is the development of Tua Tagovailoa. The Miami Dolphins have been tossing him around a bit throughout the first two years of his career. He flip-flopped from the bench to being a starter and through it all has never been named a team captain until this point. The Dolphins then went out to trade for Tyreek Hill to partner him alongside Jaylen Waddle, forming a stellar wide receiving duo for the young signal caller. If Tua comes out in Week 1 with no power behind his throws and some inaccuracy, it could be a bad sign for the remainder of the season. Not to mention that this is a wildly difficult matchup against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

Another important thing to keep an eye on is the Seattle Seahawks matchup against the Denver Broncos. Not only will this be the first time Russell Wilson takes on his former crew since being traded, but the Seahawks have a quarterback situation of their own to keep an eye on. Geno Smith has officially been named the starter over Drew Lock for the season opener, but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to hold onto this position for the remainder of the campaign. Couple this quarterback controversy with the new dynamic that Broncos fans will get to see with Wilson, and this stacked wide receiver group, and we have a very exciting storyline shaping up.

Ironically, we have two key things to look out for in the Dolphins and Patriots season opener. This is going to be the first regular season game since the year 2012 in which Josh McDaniel’s isn’t calling plays for the Patriots. In all honesty, the more shocking aspect of this is how New England has chosen to handle that rather than just hire another offensive coordinator. Belichick and the Patriots upper management have chosen to keep their play calling duties up into the air. The two leading candidates to call plays are the defensive coach Matt Patricia and the special teams coach Joe Judge. Patricia called plays during the preseason for the Patriots but wouldn’t admit whether or not he would be calling the plays for them in Week 1. Throughout this entire game against the Dolphins, you should certainly be paying attention to how New England’s offense performs and who is the one making the calls for them. 

The next thing to look out for is Matthew Stafford’s elbow. Stafford just won the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, but since that game, there seems to be an issue with his elbow. For most of the summer, we’ve been hearing reports that tendonitis has been dealing some damage in his throwing arm. He had a decreased workload throughout the offseason for the Rams and has since proclaimed that he has completed everything he needs to do to get the start in the season opener. Even if he is able to get out on the field with no problems, it’s going to be a good idea to keep an eye on his throwing motion and the power behind his passes. 

Then finally, I would pay attention to Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers. Mayfield is starting the first game for the Panthers this year while going up against the Cleveland Browns, the team that tossed him away when they were done with him. Baker is definitely looking to dominate this game with his new squad, so it’s going to be great to see what he can do in a new environment in a healthier state as well. 

Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports