The NFL released the 2016 regular-season schedule on Thursday night. And we'll start the coming campaign where we left off last season: Panthers at Broncos on Thursday, September 8. Yep, it's a Super Bowl 50 rematch. But that's certainly not the only eye-catcher on this freshly minted sked -- it might not even be the most enticing game of Week 1. (Can I interest you in Patriots-Cardinals on Sunday Night Football?)
So, this begs the question: Which game are you most looking forward to in the 2016 NFL season?
This is my way-too-early Super Bowl pick for the coming season. You can easily make the case that the Patriots and Cardinals have the two best rosters in the game today. Both teams have superb coaches and front offices. And Chandler Jones gets to open the season against the club that just traded him in a blockbuster deal. On national television. In prime time. Yes!
Adding to the excitement, Glendale, Arizona, has turned into a fantastic environment for prime-time games, with its gorgeous stadium and incredible sea of red.
This is the Bizarro
Super Bowl 50 matchup we didn't get to see: The two losing teams from Championship Sunday.
Tom Brady going against Jones and that Cardinal defense? I'm counting the days.
Broncos bragged about how they stymied Newton after that contest, and Newton gave his critics plenty of ammunition by pouting through his postgame press conference. And need we mention the suggestion that Newton bolted from his media session after
allegedly hearing Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. boasting about Denver's strategy of making Newton beat them from the pocket? Nobody has confirmed whether Newton did hear those words, but that game should provide ample motivation for the upcoming prime-time rematch.
Houston has a good defense, and
Lamar Miller will help the running game. You know the
Texans are going to be hyped up -- in that past, they did not handle that well when they played in New England. Will it be different this time around?
All that said, had
Marshawn Lynch not retired this game would've been
even more fun. But as it stands, it still tops my
list of the best games on the 2016 slate.
But my question is ... Can Miami's defense live up to the hype of what the Dolphins have tried to create with Mario Williams and Ndamukong Suh? In addition, this is head coach Adam Gase's first game with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is facing one of the best defenses in the league right off the bat. There are a lot of questions surrounding the Fins, but there's also a lot of opportunity for them in their Week 1 road trip to Seattle.