The NFL offseason was filled with drama, intrigue, and must-see storylines. Drew Brees retired, Aaron Rodgers publicly flirted with a divorce from the Packers and Deshaun Watson’s legal issues overshadowed his request for a trade from the Texans.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg. The league truly operates on a 12-month schedule now for better or worse.
As we flip the calendar to September, let’s shift our focus to the on-field product and dive into what we believe are the three most compelling NFL Week 1 matchups.
3 Most Compelling NFL Week 1 Matchups-
Browns at Chiefs – 4:25pm EST CBS
Jim Nantz and Tony Romo draw the assignment in Arrowhead for this marquis afternoon matchup on CBS. This national broadcast features a playoff rematch from a year ago pitting Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs against Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
KC ended Cleveland’s season in the AFC Divisional Round despite losing Mahomes to injury in the second half to become the first team to host three consecutive AFC Championship games.
Odell Beckham, Jr returns to action after his own season-ending injury and Cleveland bulked up an already potent defensive line by adding Jadeveon Clowney.
KC will look to advance to a third straight Super Bowl and will open that effort as six-point favorites in Week 1.
Jets at Panthers – 1:00pm EST CBS
On the surface, this has no business garnering much attention in this space, but it’s not very often a starting quarterback gets traded in the offseason only to face his former team in the first game of the following season.
But that’s exactly the case as Sam Darnold will oppose the Jets as a member of the Panthers after spending the first three years of his career in New York. Darnold has the best collection of offensive weapons since entering the league, including all-world running back Christian McCaffrey who is back after an injury-plagued 2020 that saw him play in just three games.
Dolphins at Patriots – 4:25pm EST CBS
Had we posted this article a day or two ago, this game probably wouldn’t have made the cut. But after a shocking ‘cut’ on Tuesday, the intrigue increased in the AFC East tenfold. By releasing Cam Newton, the Patriots set the stage for Mac Jones to start from day one.
And as it turns out, Jones’ first opposing quarterback will be a former Alabama teammate in Tua Tagovailoa as the Dolphins pay their annual visit to Foxborough. That is, as long as Deshaun Watson isn’t dealt to Miami before kickoff.
Apologies to Bears and Rams fans but when Chicago declared Andy Dalton the Week 1 starter, that game lost some of its potential luster. They had an opportunity to unveil Justin Fields in front of a national audience on Sunday night, but opted for the veteran against a very tough defense.
Brees’ aforementioned retirement takes some of the shine off Packers Saints as Rodgers-Winston doesn’t quite have the same ring to it either, but New Orleans is out for revenge after Green Bay ended their run at home in last year’s NFC playoffs.