NFL openers worth missing out on our nice weather this time of year
This early fall time of the year has to be just about the best time for weather — it’s mild just like in the spring, but without everything being all wet when we’re still trying to get rid of the snow.
It’s just that it’s awfully hard to put out of your mind how the cold is just around the corner — like maybe later this month if we’re not careful.
So this is a great way to welcome pro football back.
As a Detroit Lions fan, there’s great optimism about coming out of their 21st-century doldrums, but it’s not like our team is exactly Super Bowl-ready just yet.
And if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, it must be like a teeter-totter. You know the Pack is good, but which way are they heading — slipping away or poised to make a more concerted run to the Super Bowl?
The loss of Davante Adams and just the fact that Aaron Rodgers is getting that much closer to age 40 has got to be concerning.
On the other hand, the NFC looks wide open with the most talent stockpiled among a whole host of AFC teams.
And maybe this year will be the year the Packers can fulfill the promise of a great regular season that can be turned into an equally awesome playoff run.
It’s all speculation that’s way off in the distance, so I’ll just focus on Week 1 and its full slate of games.
As usual, there’s a game tonight involving the Super Bowl champion, this year the Los Angeles Rams, but only one Monday night game instead of two like there’s been for a few years now.
The NFL tried slipping one past us, though, putting two Monday nights on the schedule NEXT week.
Without further ado, here’s this Armchair Quarterback’s analysis of Week 1:
Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
Buffalo at Los Angeles Rams — You couldn’t start the season with a much better bang than this matchup, two of the favorites to get to Super Bowl LVII, or 57 for those us alphabetically numerically challenged (is that a thing?).
I’m hearing that the Bills’ weakness is their offensive line, which matches one of L.A.’s strengths, its pass rush. So I’ll take the Rams, 34-30.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
New Orleans at Atlanta — I had to do my second internet search to figure out who the Falcons’ quarterbacks are (the first search was to see what number Super Bowl it’s going to be).
Marcus Mariota is the only name I recognized. Even if he’s any good at this stage of his career, I don’t trust he’ll be up to speed in his first week as the starter, so I’ll take the Saints, 27-19.
Cleveland at Carolina — New Carolina starting QB Baker Mayfield may eventually implode with all the drama he brings upon himself. The key word is “eventually.” In Week 1, I like him, so take the Panthers, 30-23.
San Francisco at Chicago — It’s tempting to go against Trey Lance in his first week as the anointed San Fran starting QB. But I can’t go against his supporting cast that seems so, so, so much better than the Bears. 49ers, 24-16.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati — Super Bowl-losing teams never seem to fare well the following season. But Cincy needs to taste some early success to make a failure to live up to last season’s big playoff run look even more disappointing. Here’s to early success. Bengals, 31-27.
Philadelphia at Detroit — The Eagles are poised to take the NFC East, and I can see a mobile QB like Jalen Hurts giving the Lions’ “D” real fits right out of the gate. Plus Philly is just talented. Eagles, 26-23.
Indianapolis at Houston — A battle of haves and have-nots. Colts, 24-13.
New England at Miami — I’m not so worried about who the Patriots’ offensive and defensive coordinators are as much as who’s playing offense (especially) and defense for them. Dolphins, 33-23.
Baltimore at New York Jets — The Jets are drafting well and probably run better than they have been in years with Northern Michigan University graduate Robert Saleh as head coach. But they’re coming from so far down, I don’t expect them to compete week in and week out just yet. Baltimore I do. Ravens, 27-19.
Jacksonville at Washington — Jacksonville is my sleeper pick to make a huge turnaround now that they’ve got a coach who isn’t tripping them up at every juncture. Washington, well, they’ve got a nickname anyway (the Commanders). Jaguars, 31-20.
Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Kansas City at Arizona — The Cardinals seem to have controversy follows them wherever they go, even when signing QB Kyler Murray to a huge contract.
“I’m sorry, Ralphie, but Kyler can’t come out and play — he’s got to study his playbook for four hours tonight.” Chiefs, 37-27.
Las Vegas at Los Angeles Chargers — Just a few years ago, the L.A. team in this matchup was the Raiders. I like the current La-La-Land team this week. Chargers, 28-24.
Green Bay at Minnesota — The Vikings are stuck with a decent, but not great, QB in Kirk Cousins. I’m willing to take a flyer that Green Bay 2022 won’t be the same as Green Bay 2021 in Week 1, if you remember last year’s debacle vs. the Saints. Packers, 31-23.
New York Giants at Tennessee — OK, so maybe the Giants will be better. But shouldn’t it take at least one week of the regular season to show improvement? Titans, 24-16.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Dallas — I’m seeing both teams are having problems with their offensive lines and both may rely on their defense to carry them much of the season. I’ve just got to take the Buccaneers, 23-20.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Denver at Seattle — Part II of the QB coming back to play his old team, Part I being Baker Mayfield facing Cleveland.
This game I see to be much the same storyline as Mayfield — Russell Wilson’s new team is much better than the old, mainly because the old team hasn’t found a replacement signal caller anywhere as good as the old one. Broncos, 19-14.
Last season’s playoffs, 5-8, 38 percent (ugh!). That’s after getting wrong both the Super Bowl and each of the conference championship games.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.