The first week of the NFL season is finally here and it’s going to start off with a bang.
This time of the year is important for a lot of people. For some, it’s time to start thinking about the money that will be won or lost in fantasy football, and for others, it’s about shutting out the rest of the world every Sunday and enjoying a full day of football, unhealthy food, and, of course, beer.
The long four-week pre-season is now over, but the storylines will carry over into the regular season.
Storylines such as the seven teams starting the year with a brand new quarterback; the official four-game suspension and conclusion to Deflategate; the notoriously bad teams over the last handful of seasons like the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars who now have expectations of being good teams.
The speculation and projections are over, and the season is set to begin.
Here are the three match-ups during week one, you DO NOT want to miss:
1. Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos – Thursday, 5:30 p.m., NBC
It’s the Super Bowl 50 rematch almost everyone wanted to see. However, things have changed significantly for both teams in just one off-season.
Super Bowl 50 ended last season with a match-up between a guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, and the new face of the NFL, Cam Newton.
With Manning hanging up the cleats after the Bronco’s Super Bowl win, first-year quarterback Trevor Siemian will be taking over the offense.
The quarterback position wasn’t necessarily a strong point for the Broncos last season, but there’s no doubt that opposing teams had to prepare more for Manning than they will for Siemian.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are welcoming back its top receiver from two seasons ago. Kelvin Benjamin broke out during his rookie season back in 2014 to become one of the best wide receivers in the league.
After an ACL injury kept him out all of last season, Benjamin is healthy and ready to go as the number one receiver for Newton and the Panthers.
Prediction: Panthers capitalize on first-year quarterback and win big 34-15.
2. New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – Sunday, 1:25 p.m., FOX
There’s always something newsworthy going on in Big D.
Any time division opponents face off, it’s a big game. It doesn’t matter if it’s week one, ten or 17. This game, however, has a bit more intrigue than a typical Giants, Cowboys game.
With Tony Romo out with another injury to his back, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is taking over as the Cowboys’ starter.
Prescott looked impressive in the pre-season and his play was widely talked about. Although he played well meaningless games, Sunday will be the first time we will see if Dallas found the quarterback of the future.
With the Giants much improved defense and prolific pass offense, New York could be the favorite to win the NFC East this season.
Getting a division win in week one will be huge for either team.
Prediction: Giants edge the Cowboys in a back-and-forth battle, 31-28.
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals – Sunday, 5:30 p.m., NBC
While both of these teams could see each other again in Super Bowl LI, it won’t feel like a Super Bowl preview without Tom Brady on the field.
However, Brady not being on the field is what will make this game so intriguing.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo have success during Brady’s four-game suspension? We will find out on Sunday when he leads the Patriots against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Along with one of the best defenses in the league, Arizona also has a high-powered passing game and one of the best young running backs.
The Cardinals have shown over the past couple years they can light it up in the regular season, but they fail to come through in the playoffs.
This match-up may not be an accurate depiction of the success each team will have this season, both will be playoff teams.
Plus, it’s Sunday Night Football! It’s a must watch.
Prediction: Patriots have issues getting the offense going, Cardinals take advantage and win handily 24-10.