NFL scores, updates: Rookies DeVonta Smith, Trey Lance, Ja’Marr Chase make instant impact

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, sports fans.

Sunday’s early slate of games includes the NFL debut of No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, whose Jacksonville Jaguars hit the road to play the Houston Texans. Last season’s offensive and defensive rookies of the year — Justin Herbert and Chase Young — square off when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Washington Football Team.

In the Sunday afternoon games, the Kansas City Chiefs host the Cleveland Browns in arguably the best matchup of the week. In Jacksonville, the New Orleans Saints “host” the Green Bay Packers as Jameis Winston takes over at quarterback for Sean Payton’s team.

Follow along here as USA TODAY Sports provides updates of the moments from NFL Week 1.
Catch of the week nominees

The lack of preseason games may have limited the amount of on-field time for quarterbacks and their receivers to work together, but some wide receivers already appear to be in midseason form.

Who made the best catch of Week 1?

Here’s Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson hauling in a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone vs. Buffalo.

Washington’s Terry McLaurin hardly had any opportunity to work with backup quarterback Taylor Heineke, but they sure worked some magic in the first half vs. the Chargers.
Odell Beckham Jr. inactive for Browns

The inactives for Sunday’s late games are in, headlined by Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The three-time Pro Bowler was coming back from November knee surgery and looked to be on track to play, despite being officially listed as questionable on the injury report.

Another star coming back from season-ending surgery has been deemed healthy enough to start. Giants running back Saquon Barkley is officially active for their opener against Denver. He’ll be seeing his first game action since tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee in Week 2 last season.
Fitzpatrick injured, Heineke in at QB for Washington

The Washington Football Team made a firm commitment to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this season. However, he didn’t make it through the first half of his first game before leaving with an injury.

Fitzpatrick was hit hard by Chargers edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu in the second quarter and was replaced by Taylor Heineke. The team announced Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury and will not return to the game.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, and wide receiver DeVonta Smith showed some instant chemistry in the Eagles’ opener.
Rookies Smith, Lance, Chase make instant impact

Who says rookies need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game? Two highly regarded first-round draft picks registered touchdowns almost immediately.

Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith’s first NFL catch for the Philadelphia Eagles went for an 18-yard touchdown. It could be the first of many Crimson Tide connections with quarterback Jalen Hurts.

And after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled on his first snap of the game in Detroit, rookie Trey Lance came in for a couple snaps on the next drive. Lance rushed for a yard on his first snap, then came in for a first-and-goal play at the Lions’ 5-yard-line. Result: A touchdown on his first NFL pass.

Not to be outdone, Bengals rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase hauled in his first NFL touchdown reception on a beautiful bomb from QB Joe Burrow, his college teammate at LSU. At the end of the first half, Chase had three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown — after registering only one reception (and three drops) in the preseason.
So much intrigue as NFL season kicks off

Will Urban Meyer become another Jimmy Johnson? Or another in a lineup of hype-heavy coaches who brought immense credentials from the college level — Chip Kelly, Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier, among them — only to fall flat on their playbooks in the NFL?

Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett weren’t even born the last time the Cleveland Browns put together back-to-back winning seasons in 1988 and 1989, but two of the most prominent players on the team that opens Sunday with a playoff rematch at Kansas City have heard all about the history.

Those are just two of the fascinating story lines in the NFL’s season-opening Sunday. USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell examines those topics, as well as rookie Najee Harris’ potential impact in Pittsburgh in his NFL notebook.
Fantasy football advice for Week 1

Of course you want to start the new season off with a win. We’re here to help. Our fantasy football experts have valuable advice to get the most out of your lineup.

Steve Gardner has answers to your Start/Sit questions at our Facebook group, The Ruling Off The Field. Submit questions now and he’ll give you up-to-the-minute lineup advice, starting at noon ET.

For your convenience, we’ve updated our position-by-position rankings for this week’s games. Adjust your lineups accordingly.

Fantasy studs, duds and sleepers for Week 1
Fantasy breakout candidates for the 2021 season
How prop bets can make you a better fantasy player

NFL Week 1 picks

There are 32 teams hoping to use the opening weekend of the season as a springboard to Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

USA TODAY Sports’ panel of experts made prognostications for every game this weekend, predicting which teams will open the 2021 season on the right foot with a victory.
The Bills’ Zack Moss rushed for 481 yards and four touchdowns last season as a rookie.
Bills RB Zack Moss among Week 1 inactives

Running back Zack Moss, was an unexpected addition to the Bills inactive list on Sunday morning. There was no reason listed for his absence on the Bills’ game-day roster against Pittsburgh. Devin Singletary will likely get the start.

In addition, rookie running back Trey Sermon is inactive for the San Francisco 49ers at Detroit. Raheem Mostert is the starter, but the third-round pick was expected to have a significant role. Also, Falcons running back Wayne Gallman is inactive against the Eagles and Washington wide receiver Curtis Samuel is inactive for today’s game against the Chargers.

On Chargers side, running back Austin Ekeler is active after missing practice time during the week with a hamstring injury.
Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ season-opening win.
Tom Brady did his thing in NFL kickoff game

For the 49th time a regular-season game, Tom Brady led a winning drive.

Brady put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into position for Ryan Succop’s go-ahead field goal with two seconds left to give the defending Super Bowl champions a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL’s kickoff game on Thursday night.

Dak Prescott explains his postgame comments to Brady
Jerry Jones addressed the Cowboys’ kicking woes after the loss

NFL 2021 season predictions

There are numerous storylines to monitor throughout the league. In that spirit, USA TODAY Sports’ panel of NFL experts weighed in with their predictions for team and individual success in 2021. Which teams will make the playoffs? Of those teams, which will advance to square off in Super Bowl 56? Who will be the MVP? Offensive and defensive rookies of the year?