Ahhhh, revenge. An emotional cocktail in which the id, ego and superego jostle for the front seat in a game of retribution for a loss, slight or indignity.
For most laypersons enjoying workaday lives, revenge comes mostly on a low-level scale. It's getting Joan back for breaking your favorite pen (dammit, Joan!). It's seeking vengeance on your neighbor for letting his dog Frodo relieve himself on your lawn three times this week. Or it's plotting a scheme to bamboozle Marvin when he goes to use your dressing in the work refrigerator.
For NFL players, revenge can come in a more direct form. Players traded, cut or let walk in free agency can enact retribution on their former team with a big game and win. Teams that lose in a big spot have a chance to earn victory against that opponent the next go-around.
- 2017 NFL SCHEDULE RELEASE
▹ What you need to know
▹ Toughest schedules
▹ Easiest schedules
▹ Top 7 revenge games
▹ Nine best prime-time games
▹ Top 17 games of '17 season
- SCOUT'S NOTEBOOK
▹ Coach: Chiefs can win SB with Smith
▹ Malcolm Butler worth first-rounder?
- 2017 NFL DRAFT
▹ AFC Draft Needs:
▸ West | North | South | East
▹ NFC Draft Needs:
▸ West | North | South | East
▹ Draft Do-overs:
▸ 2008 | 2011 | 2015
▹ Debate: Number of Round 1 QBs
- END AROUND
▹ Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'? Giddy up!
On the gridiron, payback can be decisive. Not in the same sense as Maximus playing a deadly game of Why are you hitting yourself? with Commodus in "Gladiator," but revenge nonetheless.
As we wander into a new season, let's run down seven revenge games sure to have fans and players seething heading into kickoff.
Eddie Lacy at Green Bay Packers
Will a change of scenery, new coaching staff and different style of offense rejuvenate Lacy? The running back moved on from Green Bay after two injury-ravaged seasons in which he dealt with weight issues. Pete Carroll doesn't believe the weight will be a problem and the Seahawks' downhill running style could suit the 26-year-old back. It bodes well for Lacy's revenge factor that he faces his former team right out of the gate, when injuries and fatigue shouldn't be an issue. How terrible would it be for Packer fans to watch Lacy do a Lambeau Leap wearing a Seahawks jersey?
Brandin Cooks at New Orleans Saints
Cooks' exit from New Orleans was foreshadowed after the receiver complained about his lack of targets late last season. The speedy receiver was fortunate to swap one Hall of Fame quarterback for another. Cooks' speed and double-move ability fit seamlessly with Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense. After complaining about being overshadowed by rookie Michael Thomas down the stretch last season, Cooks can stick it to Sean Payton and the Saints with a huge game in New Orleans' home opener.
Mike Glennon at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After just 18 starts, the Bucs ditched Glennon, leaving the quarterback to wallow on the bench behind Jameis Winston. Glennon won't have to wait long to visit his old haunt and attempt to show Tampa fans what they could be missing. The 6-foot-6 quarterback was inconsistent in his first two years in Tampa, but he was never given a chance to display growth. The Bears offered Glennon a chance to prove himself capable of being a starter. There is no revenge like a quarterback left for dead waltzing into his old town and laying one on his former team.
Matt Ryan at New England Patriots
Ryan owns major shares of the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history. Ex-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan received much of the blame for his play calling during the 25-point turnaround in February, but Ryan played a starring role. His fumble allowed the Patriots to get back into the game. Then, when the Falcons had a chance to ice the contest, he took a sack that pushed Atlanta out of field-goal range. Ryan and the Falcons have said all the right things about putting the Super Bowl disaster behind them, but the quarterback must be seething underneath the surface. The week leading up to this prime-time matchup (Sunday night on NBC) will be excruciating for Falcons players and fans. Even a win won't lessen the weight of the Super Bowl loss, but beating Tom Brady in Foxborough can lead to some measure of revenge for Atlanta. It also could put the Falcons on a path for a potential Super Bowl rematch with the best team in the AFC.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Chicago Bears
Jeffery believed he was worth more than the Bears were willing to pay for a long-term extension. Instead of signing a lesser deal, he agreed to a one-year prove-it contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jeffery will get the chance to prove it to his former team in late November, when the Bears visit Philly. After back-to-back seasons of 1,100-plus yards, injuries and suspension derailed Jeffery over the past two years. As the focal point of the Eagles' revamped receiver corps, the 6-foot-3 wideout has the chance to get back on track. With the Bears still owning question marks in the secondary, Jeffery could eat up his former team on a date he surely circled upon seeing the schedule.
Stephon Gilmore at/vs. Buffalo Bills
The Patriots swooped in to snag the lanky corner away from their division rivals. Bill Belichick believes Gilmore's size will allow him to match up against No. 1 receivers without much aid. Gilmore will have two chances in December to exact vengeance on his former team. The frustration levels in Western New York will skyrocket if Gilmore locks down Sammy Watkins in back-to-back matchups as Tom Brady picks apart the Bills' secondary.
Matt Kalil vs. Minnesota Vikings
Offensive lineman revenge? Darn skippy. Kalil spent the past several seasons in Minnesota being heckled and harassed by fans -- it even drove him off Twitter. The former No. 4 overall pick was dreadful the last three seasons while dealing with injury, and played in just two games in 2016. Joining his brother, Ryan, in Carolina, Matt is out to show he can return to the form he showed his rookie season in 2012 (he was paid handsomely to do so). He'll get a chance to the prove to the Vikings they shouldn't have given up on him. Pancaking the plethora of pass rushers Mike Zimmer deploys is an O-lineman's dream revenge. (Or he'll be injured by Week 8 and watch Cam Newton get pummeled from the sideline.)