NFL
May 14, 2021

Predicting Every NFL Team's Week 1 Starting Quarterback in 2021

As usual, the NFL Draft is the last major event of the NFL offseason. Even though there are a couple of months until the start of training camp, it’s not too early to start thinking about Week 1. Specifically, it’s time to start thinking about the quarterback position.

The draft helped to settle the quarterback situation for a few teams, although in a way, it created a little more confusion for some teams. We don’t want to make assumptions about what teams will have a quarterback competition during the preseason and what teams are settled. So we’ll just go ahead and predict the Week 1 starting quarterback of every NFL team for the 2021 season.

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen

After his breakout season in 2020, Josh Allen figures to be the quarterback in Buffalo for a lot of years to come. The biggest question is, will he have an MVP run this year? 

Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa

The Dolphins brought in Jacoby Brissett as an insurance policy, but barring a disastrous preseason, Tua Tagovailoa is going to get the start in Week 1 with a chance to prove himself.

New England Patriots: Cam Newton

The Patriots didn’t bring back Cam Newton so he could be a backup. The former Auburn star isn’t returning to New England to be a mentor, especially to a former Alabama quarterback. Unless Mac Jones is head and shoulders ahead of him during the preseason, Newton will get the nod in Week 1.

New York Jets: Zach Wilson

Currently, the Jets don’t even have a veteran backup who could possibly challenge Zach Wilson for the job. The rookie from BYU will be the starter in New York right away.

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson still doesn’t have a big-money extension, but there’s no question he’ll be the starter for the Ravens in Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow should have plenty of time to recover from the knee injury that ended his rookie season early. Barring a setback, he’ll be ready to resume his career in Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield

The Browns picked up the fifth-year option on Baker Mayfield’s contract, so they’re committed to him at least through the 2022 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger

The only question in Pittsburgh is whether or not this will be the last time that Ben Roethlisberger is the team’s Week 1 starter.

Houston Texans: Tyrod Taylor

There’s no way the Texans can put Deshaun Watson on the field in Week 1, right? His offseason has been a disaster away from the field, which will force Houston to hand the keys to Tyrod Taylor at the start of the season.

Indianapolis Colts: Carson Wentz

The Colts haven’t had the same quarterback start on opening day in back-to-back years since Andrew Luck in 2015 and 2016. Carson Wentz continues that stretch, although he’ll have a chance to give the Colts some consistency after this year.

The biggest mystery will be if Wentz will be the Colts starter at the end of the season. If he is, then it's likely the Colts' will have to surrender their 2022 first-rounder to the Eagles

Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence

Gardner Minshew doesn’t pose a threat to Trevor Lawrence any more than new tight end Tim Tebow does. It’ll be Lawrence in Week 1.

Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill

For better or worse, the Titans have tied themselves to Ryan Tannehill for a few years, but not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This could be quite the transition year for Tannehill, who lost his offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, No. 2 receiver Corey Davis and top tight end Jonnu Smith in the offseason. 

Denver Broncos: Teddy Bridgewater

If Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay, Denver could be the most likely option. But we’ll believe it when we see it. Until that happens, expect Teddy Bridgewater to beat out Drew Lock during the preseason to earn the start in Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

We know Patrick Mahomes will be starting in Week 1, although the real question is whether the Kansas City offensive line will be able to protect him better than they did in the Super Bowl.

Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr

It doesn’t matter if the Raiders are 100% sold on Derek Carr or not; he’s going to be the starter in Week 1 and beyond.

Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert

The Chargers have surely found their quarterback for the next decade or more. We’ll see how his second season goes, but there’s little reason to doubt Justin Herbert based on his phenomenal rookie year.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott appears to be on track to recover from the injury that ended his 2020 season in time for Week 1 of the 2021 season. The Cowboys don’t have anyone else on the roster who’s a legitimate threat to him, so they must believe he’ll be healthy.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones

Mike Glennon is the backup, but nobody believes he’s a serious threat to earn the starter’s job. Instead, it’ll be Year 3 of the Daniel Jones Experience.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts

There is some talk of the Eagles being the favorite to acquire Deshaun Watson, but why put the organization through another PR nightmare? Jalen Hurts will get his chance, giving the Eagles time to evaluate the dual-threat QB, especially after upgrading at wide receiver.

Washington Football Team: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Washington didn’t draft a quarterback, so unless Ron Rivera has a trick up his sleeve, it’s Fitz-Magic time in the nation’s capital.

Chicago Bears: Justin Fields

The Bears, for some reason, gave Andy Dalton $10 million this offseason so he seems like the favorite to start Week 1. But if Justin Fields is even close to looking ready, he'll be thrown out to the wolves early. 

Why waste time with someone you know isn't the future? Let's see if the first-round passer can save Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace's job.

Detroit Lions: Jared Goff

Jared Goff gets a chance to start over in Detroit, although the supporting cast around him will be a huge drop-off from what he had in Los Angeles.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers

All eyes are on Green Bay at the moment, but there is still a lot of time for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to work out their issues and get on the same page.

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins

If it barely works, don’t fix it. Clearly, that’s Minnesota’s attitude as they prepare for another year with Kirk Cousins. But if Kellen Mond surprises in the preseason then things could get juicy. 

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan

The Falcons aren’t ready to move on from Matty Ice just yet. With a new tight end in tow, Atlanta will go with the veteran for at least one more year.

Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold

There’s no quarterback competition to watch, although it’ll be interesting to see Darnold now that he’s with a functional organization and has Christian McCaffrey in the backfield.

New Orleans Saints: Taysom Hill

Does anyone else have the feeling that Jameis Winston will do something to mess up his chances of being the Week 1 starter?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady

At the moment, the NFL has no mandatory retirement age.

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray

The Cardinals have to be excited about what Kyler Murray will do in his third season in the NFL after obvious strides were made in his second season.

Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford

Did Matthew Stafford struggle to win all of those years in Detroit because he was with a bad organization or because he’s just not a winning quarterback? We’ll start to get our answers in Week 1.

San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance

It's still unclear if Jimmy Garoppolo will even be on the Niners' roster on Week 1. While he'd make an expensive backup, Jimmy G just doesn't get the juices flowing for coach Kyle Shanahan's like his shiny new toy does. 

Many people think Trey Lance needs to sit, but he's arguably the most NFL-ready rookie passer thanks to his work in a pro-style offense at North Dakota State that put a lot on his shoulders. Lance needs reps, and that means he'll be under center Week 1 against the Lions

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson

The Seahawks are likely to trade Russell Wilson one day. But it’s unlikely that they’re going to do it before the start of the 2021 season.

Photo: Getty Images