Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Thursday, September 10th (5:30 PM (PT))
This first selection seems pretty self-explanatory. For the better part of eight months the word “Deflategate” has become embedded in every sports fans mind. Even my grandma has heard about this story and has an opinion about it. Whether you believe that Tom Brady is completely innocent or that the entire thing is a witch hunt, the amount of stories that have been written about this incident and multiple blocks throughout every sports outlet only makes this game more and more intriguing to people.
Mix in the fact that it’s the opening game of the season… and that it’s in Massachusetts… and that the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl Champions… and that Roger Goodell felt so much shame that he decided to skip the game and this is easily a top game this upcoming week.
Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, September 13th (1:25 PM (PT))
The quarterback position is the position that matters more than anything else. In a sense the quarterback can be described as the engine of the car. As long as you have a good one, it helps hide some of the other things wrong with the rest of the car. Maybe you’re interior looks bad and maybe you have worn down tires but a good quarterback hides a lot of the flaws. Remember how bad the Colts were before Andrew Luck got there?
For both the Buccaneers and Titans each team’s front office and fan base is praying that either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota is the savior at quarterback. Neither quarterback has been anything special during the preseason, but neither of them have looked completely incapable of being a capable NFL level quarterback either. That’s all you can really ask of a rookie quarterback, especially considering it’s more than either team can say over the last few years. Week one starts the “who is better” debate that wont end until both of their careers are over.
Baltimore Ravens vs Denver Broncos
Sunday, September 13th (1:25 PM (PT))
In order to play in the NFL you have to be a little insane. Before Peyton Manning ever played a game for Denver he needed to have multiple neck surgeries. Even after that it wasn’t guaranteed that he’d be the same guy. After all, he had NECK SURGERIES… PLURAL. Also, it was reported earlier this year that Manning can’t feel his fingertips, and hasn’t for years. Whatever, he’s a football player. He’ll be fine.
Towards the end of last year Manning finally started showing his age. Those ducks that Manning always threw were now less accurate and getting picked off more than before. Over the last seven games of the regular season Manning had only 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions before losing in the first round to the Colts. His stats still looked good but the once great Manning looked different. Week one gives the fans a good first look to see if Manning can bounce back.
Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers
Monday, September 14th (7:15 PM (PT))
Do you remember when the 49ers were good? Before week 14 last year people thought that the 49ers could still turn their season around and make a deep playoff run. Then they lost to the Raiders and all of that went away. That’s what the Raiders do. If you lose to them, you’re not a good team. If you get cut from their team you’re not a very good. I dare you to tell me otherwise.
Since that loss on December 7th the 49ers have been the metaphorical equivalent of a Jenga tower collapsing. For a while the team adjusted the roster with well-timed trades and key free agent signings. Then, one piece was taken away (Jim Harbaugh) and the entire thing collapsed. If you’re a 49er fan and want to be a complete masochist take a look at the 2013 Pro Bowl team.
The 49ers had nine players on the star-studded roster. Now, a little more than two and a half years later, only two of those players are still on the team. Only NaVorro Bowman and Joe Staley are still in San Francisco and Bowman may never be the same. Goodbye to Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner.
At this point fans will be euphoric if the team goes 8-8 and this Monday will be the first chance people will get to see how they look.
Oh, and Adrian Peterson makes his return after being suspended for the last 15 games of last season because of charges of child abuse. So there’s that too.
Enjoy the fireworks this weekend.