An NFL Opening Night Primer
Some sports fans believe that nothing is sweeter than the day in late March/early April when baseball has it's Opening day. Unfortunately, they're wrong.
Baseball had its day. Now football is king, and there is no greater feeling than Opening Night in the NFL which is upcoming this Thursday.
The NFL season starting on a Thursday is actually a fairly new idea. The first official NFL kickoff game was introduced in 2002. It featured the San Francisco 49ers playing at the New York Giants and it was supposed to be a boost to the New York area, given that, as a country, we were still in the first year of grieving following 9/11.
2004 was the first year to feature the defending Super Bowl champions in the season's first game. In the time since 2004, defending champions are 9-2 in NFL kickoff games.
|2014||Seattle Seahawks||36||Green Bay Packers||16|
|2013||Baltimore Ravens||27||Denver Broncos||49|
|2012||New York Giants||17||Dallas Cowboys||24|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||42||New Orleans Saints||34|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||14||Minnesota Vikings||9|
|2009||Pittsburgh Steelers||13||Tennessee Titans||10|
|2008||New York Giants||16||Washington Redskins||7|
|2007||Indianapolis Colts||41||New Orleans Saints||10|
|2006||Pittsburgh Steelers||28||Miami Dolphins||17|
|2005||New England Patriots||30||Oakland Raiders||20|
|2004||New England Patriots||27||Indianapolis Colts||24|
So what does that mean for tomorrow's kickoff game between the defending champion New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers? If you're a betting man, it means that you should take the Pats at home this week.
Given the success of defending champs, the energy that will inevitably be in the stadium and the massive chip on Tom Brady's shoulder, it's probably not a bad bet.
The game should be a high-scoring affair. Both the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are impressive offensive teams, but both will be without their number-one option at running back which should open up the offense even more.
Neither team lacks in the defensive department, but neither sport an embarrassment of riches either. The defenses should put up a fight, but it will be tough to stay strong for the full game.
Whether the game is high scoring or not, it really won't matter for most of us fans. The real deal is no more 24/7 deflategate coverage, no more OTAs, and no more NFL filler.
Nothing can really compare to the joy created by the kickoff of the NFL season. So grab some popcorn and enjoy the season; football is back!