The best day for the typical football has come once again next to kickoff of course and that’s the release of the schedules for the upcoming season. After months of who was playing where and when and on what network, we now know everything. Below are some of the things that have caught my eye for the 2016 season. Enjoy.
– Panthers and Broncos to kick season off: The season will start exactly how it ended. The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will be doing battle once again for the first time since Super Bowl 50 that saw Denver win its first Super Bowl since 1999 when John Elway was finishing up his legendary career. The Panthers will be seeking revenge and hopefully this time around, Kelvin Benjamin will be on the field for the Panthers offense. The big question is who will be under center at quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning decided to call it a career after 18 years and Brock Osweiler decided to take the money and signed with Houston during free agency. The Thursday night opener is always a fun game to watch. Let’s see if Denver’s defense can once again stifle the league’s reining MVP.
– Cardinals host Patriots on Sunday Night Football opener: When we last saw Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, they were on the losing end of their conference championships. A new year means new hope. I love the moves the Patriots have made this offseason. They added Chris Hogan to their receiving core and added a very nice veteran to the mix in Nate Washington. On the defensive side of things, they added Chris Long and beefed up the defensive line by adding Pot Roast AKA Terrance Knighton. Arizona will be the class of the NFC West as the season approaches. We could see a lot of points scored in this one. Two quarterbacks who are more than capable of airing the football out down the field.
– Bengals and Steelers, the rematch: This is the best rivalry going in the NFL today. These two teams simply don’t like each other and you can tell by the jabs given by one another on Twitter and last year’s Wild Card Game showed us all of that. The Bengals had that game won in January but because of costly penalties and a lack of discipline, their playoff woes continued. Even without Martavis Bryant this season, I still like the possibility of what this Steelers offense can be and Le’Veon coming back will help out a great deal. Antonio Brown will gain a lot of attention so the box won’t be loaded as much. This will be another hard-fought battle in the AFC North.
– RG3 Returns to Washington: Things didn’t necessarily pan out for Robert Griffin III after that magical rookie season in 2012 that saw him lead the Washington Redskins to their first division title since 1999. After that, he wasn’t the same guy and I don’t blame that on him at all. Last year, Jay Gruden decided to bench RG3 and go with Kirk Cousins as his starting quarterback. Robert handled that entire situation with class and grace. For the first time, RG3 will be playing as a visitor when the Browns travel to face the Redskins. It’ll be interesting to see what type of reception Griffin will receive.
–The Catch, part two: The Dez Bryant catch will be talked about for years and years to come. When the Cowboys made the trip to Lambeau last year, there was no Romo and the Cowboys were blown out by the Packers. When Romo is 100 percent and the Cowboys aren’t pressing, this is a dangerous team and with Dez back, he makes such a big impact on this offense even if he doesn’t catch the football. This game will feature not only Dez Bryant coming back from an injury but Jordy Nelson as well who was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Two historic teams, two elite quarterbacks with two of the best receivers in our league today.
– Brock Osweiler returns to Denver: The Broncos had their plan all set in stone after Peyton Manning decided to walk away from the game and that plan involved Brock Osweiler. When Peyton went down, Osweiler led them to a 5-2 record and the AFC West title and the one seed in the AFC. When January rolled around, the Broncos decided to start Peyton under center again. This offseason when Manning retired, the Broncos offered Brock a long-term extension, Houston offered him more and of course he took it. Now, he returns back to the Mile High City but this time as a visitor. We were all hoping this game would be on the schedule and it is. What makes it even better is it’s a primetime game.
– NFC Title Game rematch: Let’s rewind back to January. The Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers were both the top two seeds in the conference and they battled for the right to represent the conference in Super Bowl 50. It was a one-sided battle as Cam Newton and his troops scored 49 points on a pretty solid Cardinals defense. Carson Palmer struggled big time in this game as he turned the football over a total of six times. They will meet again in Carolina with playoff positioning potentially up for grabs in the competitive NFC.
– Luck/Rodgers, take two: There’s nothing better than a marquee quarterback match up in our league, right? We have a great one here. For just the second time ever, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers will square off against each other. When they first met, Luck was just a rookie and the Colts won an emotional game after learning that their head coach, Chuck Pagano was battling Leukemia. The league’s best quarterback against one of the best young arms will be featured in this one.
– Super Bowl XLIX, Part 2: We all remember what happened the last time these two teams met. Russell Wilson led the Seahawks down the field and they were closing to scoring and potentially becoming the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions for the first since those Patriots in the 2000’s. I just have two words for you: Malcolm Butler. He made the play of his life to seal the deal for the Patriots to win their fourth Super Bowl. We are in for a treat with a Super Bowl rematch and two top five quarterbacks in the game today. Revenge will be on the mind of the Seahawks in this game. Tom Brady will look to attack the Legion of Boom and Russell Wilson will attempt to take shots down the field with his new passing attack.
– Newton/Wilson VII: This could be the next great quarterback rivalry in the NFL. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. Last season, Cam got the best of Russell twice. The first time being in Seattle and winning a game and then a few months later in January when the Panthers hosted the Seahawks in the playoffs. When these two meet up, it’s a physical battle, it’s a defensive showdown and it comes down to a final play. These two quarterbacks have met a total of six times with Russell holding the edge over Cam, 4-2. This will make up some for those who are missing the Brady/Manning rivalry.