Whom will the Patriots face to kick off 2015 season?


Put the pigskin away, football season is over.

The most depressing moment each year, as we decompress from a glorious Super Bowl, is that there will be zero NFL-sanctioned football games for the next seven months.

No Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Luke Kuechly, Calvin Johnson, Joe Haden, Andy Dalton or Geno Smith for months. Instead we get to debate potential rookies and spin the free agency wheel before summer workouts finally begin.

To help even out that sobering state overcoming you by the thought of not having a football fix, let's take a moment to consider whom might play opening night (official dates and times to be announced in the spring).

The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open NFL Kickoff 2015 Weekend on Thursday, Sept. 10 at home. Opponents that will travel to Foxborough next year include:

Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Our three favorite potential kickoff matchups:

1. Steelers at Patriots

One former dynasty versus the modern-day titans. The historical storylines jump off the page. The on-field matchup would be just as great. Sure there is the Tom Brady-Ben Roethlisberger quarterback narrative network TV loves, but this one is better than that. The Steelers were one of the hottest teams down the stretch last year before Le'Veon Bell's injury hurt their playoff chances. If Darrelle Revis returns to New England, we'd get the highly entertaining Antonio Brown-Revis faceoff. 

The fun matchups go much deeper, but we'll get into that when the schedule comes out. This would easily be my pick for opening night.

2. Bills at Patriots

The Return of the Rex. Oh. Baby. This game was No. 3 on this list, but just thinking about Rex Ryan blustering for months about opening against the Super Bowl champions bumped it up a slot. Ryan always gives Bill Belichick his toughest contests. The Bills also beat the Pats in Foxborough to win Week 17 -- yes, it was a meaningless game for the Patriots, but let's not allow the truth get in the way of a good narrative. Rex won't.

The Bills remain a quarterback away from threatening the Patriots in the AFC East, but Ryan with those defensive pieces in Buffalo should be entertaining to watch. Now imagine him unleashing them for the first time on Belichick and Brady.

3. Eagles at Patriots

Chip vs. Bill. The established Genius versus the "was he crowned too early?" Genius. Tortured Philadelphia fans versus Spoiled-Rotten-Won-Every-Gosh-Darn-Thing Boston Millennials. Chip Kelly's offense taking off against what could be an even better Bill Belichick defense next year.

I'm already pumped for 2015! (Clearly, I have problems.)

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing interception, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.