The 2014 NFL season is upon us. We’ve evaluated the minimal film from the preseason. We’ve broken down the injuries, suspensions and general ridiculousness of athletes.
Now we can finally toss all of those discussions and analyses of the sport and just watch some football games as we head into Week 1.
Thursday, September 4
Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks
The 2014 season gets underway on Thursday, and it looks eerily like the last Super Bowl. A dominant secondary in the Seattle Seahawks defense takes on a high-octane Green Bay Packers offense. This could very well be the make-up of the NFC Championship, considering how the rest of the NFC can’t seem to keep their players or playbook under control.
All that is missing right now is some sort of drama, like Richard Sherman bad-mouthing Jordy Nelson on Twitter and an interview with the reason we all hate Aaron Rodgers again: his new girlfriend, Olivia Munn. Then again, maybe a game without any off-the-field controversy is the perfect way to start up the NFL season.
Over/Under on how many times a cameraman pans to Olivia Munn in the stands: 7
Sunday, September 7
Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets
You know that a football team is in trouble when they decide to bench their expensive free agent quarterback for a rookie and last year’s bust. Introducing the Oakland Raiders.
Maybe the Raiders got the memo that Matt Schaub really isn’t that good. Maybe Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie finally watched some tape from Schaub’s last season and thought, “Woah. Let’s think about this for a second.”
Either way, this game is good news for the New York Jets. With a secondary that is so thin that the name “Champ Bailey” is starting to get thrown around, the Jets defense needs all the practice they can get before they play a real football team.
Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have a lot to be excited about. Jay Cutler is healthy… for now. They have two receiver threats in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery… provided Jay Cutler can stay healthy. And Matt Forte is still here.
Usually so much focus on offense would be a bad thing when playing the Buffalo Bills, but the Bills are in a major transition. Not only is their defense in flux due to injury, but their ownership, future home and even their nationality are in question for the future. This means that Jay Cutler will probably stay healthy for a second week.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
Some people believe that Drew Brees can beat Peyton Manning’s record numbers this year. Many of those people seem to mistake the AFC North’s defenses for the NFC East’s, which is like mistaking Kate Upton for Betty White because they both have hair.
But then you look at this first game against the Atlanta Falcons defense and think, “Maybe there’s a chance…”
The Falcons are a lot like the New Orleans Saints offensively, except for a tight end that people can name. They have a lot of weapons and are built to score. The next step is to find a secret Ryan brother to be their defensive coordinator. There has to be another one.
Over/Under on penalty yards due to the Jimmy Graham Rule: 30
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
Once again, the Cincinnati Bengals have been given success and said to themselves, “You know what? That was too easy. Let’s try it a way we’ve never done it before.” This is pretty much the idea as they push for a more balanced offense that doesn’t involve Andy Dalton chucking the football up in the air and hoping A.J. Green catches it.
With the emphasis on a running game to go along with a stout defense, the Bengals seem to be fashioning themselves to be the Baltimore Ravens from three years ago. All that’s missing is Ray Lewis stomping on the ground in an effort to dance before every game.
The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, have finally replaced the annoyance of Ray Lewis with the abrasiveness of Steve Smith, which means Ray Rice may not be the most hated player on the team.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles
Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns may be making the most headlines, but Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be making the most progress under the radar. Sure, it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Bortles has to be better than Blaine Gabbert, and he’ll have a great receiving corp if Justin Blackmon is ever not suspended.
The Philadelphia Eagles won’t get to test Bortles, but they will be tested by former Adrian Peterson sidekick Toby Gerhart while making sure that Jeremy Maclin doesn’t injure himself getting out of bed.
Washington Redskins @ Houston Texans
If there was any question about the health of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, they will be answered this weekend. This isn’t just because we all want to see how he and DeSean Jackson fit into a Jay Gruden offense. We also want to see if RG3 can survive what can be considered the Murderer’s Row of the NFL with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
The Houston Texans, meanwhile, will be turning the clock back on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick by setting themselves up like the Bills of 2011-2013: solid defense, erratic offense. Hey, anything after Matt Schaub’s farewell tour is an improvement.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cleveland Browns look like a rusted out car from 1988 that decided to get some new rims put on. They’re not pretty, and they need a lot of work on offense, considering their best pass-catcher is their tight-end by default.
Luckily, the Browns get to play a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that decided to throw a few rookies in to make the average age about 47. It’s the type of defense that makes fans check to make sure that Ben Roethlisburger is healthy and that Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount aren’t doing Cheech and Chong.
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams
Hey, did you hear the last 100,000 times I’ve said this? Norv Turner is in Minnesota! Hide your running backs, hide your quarterbacks, because if Norv hasn’t run them out of town by the end of the season, then he hasn’t done his job. Well, it wouldn’t be too bad if Matt Cassel got run out of town, but the Minnesota Vikings would probably like to keep Adrian Peterson on their team.
The St. Louis Rams have their own issues at those same positions, but for different reasons. Sam Bradford didn’t let us wait long for his annual, season-ending injury, and Zac Stacy seems to be as tired-looking as Frank Gore, just without the years. The good news is that Tavon Austin is in his second year as an NFL receiver, which means he can either break out or break fans’ hearts again. The Rams also don’t have Norv Turner, in case there was any question as to how many times I can refer to Norv Turner in one game preview.
Over/Under on broadcasters mentioning Norv Turner: 15
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Tennessee Titans have a lot to be excited about this year. Quarterback Jake Locker is healthy. Kenny Britt has left the building. Chris Johnson was replaced by a younger Shonn Greene… Ah, I knew there was something out of tune in Nashville. But don’t worry. Jake Locker will probably survive the hijacked defense of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Meanwhile, Alex Smith has become the league’s most expensive game manager after signing a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. Sure, it may be a bit overboard, but when you’ve had a line of quarterbacks that includes Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, you have to reward someone who doesn’t give the ball up at least twice a game.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
Dear Miami Dolphins players,
We’re sorry, but this season’s scheduling just happened to put you up against the New England Patriots for your home opener.
We’re sorry that you will have to deal with possibly the only game that Rob Gronkowski plays in this season. We’re also sorry that all of the hype about your quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, will have to wait another day with Darrelle Revis patrolling the secondary.
As a consolation prize, we are allowing Joe Philbin to continue to tuck each of you in at night without any sort of mockery. At least for this week.
Hugs and Kisses,
Sports media writers everywhere.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
In a more logical football world, this game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys would have all the potential of sludge being poured on asphalt: it would have been slow and ugly, mostly because Colin Kaepernick would only have to throw one touchdown before letting Frank Gore crash into the Dallas defense.
But this isn’t a logical football world. Half of the 49ers defense that made other teams fear them are either injured or suspended. This means that Tony Romo may actually get a ball or two to Dez Bryant, which means that Colin Kaepernick will have to keep throwing all game long and make me look like a fantasy football oracle for drafting him.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not surprised that this game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is buried away in the late afternoon game slot next to the 49ers-Cowboys matchup. The game is in Tampa, which means that a blackout is always a possibility, even for an opening game.
It’s the Panthers, a team that has the perfect mix of defense and play-action to make even the biggest Tim Tebow fans fall asleep. And then there are the Buccaneers, a team whose biggest off-season splashes were designing uglier uniforms and dragging Lovie Smith out of retirement.
At least partiers on the big pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium won’t have to worry about much cannon fire ruining their good time during this game.
Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos
In case you were wondering, yes, you’ve already seen this game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos last season. It must be some sort of sick joke for the NFL to pit Peyton Manning against his home team as much as possible. The twist is that the Colts won last year. I know, I had to check the scores to believe it, too.
What is most surprising about this game is that Wes Welker will not be playing in it due to an alleged positive test for amphetamines. It’s rumored that Wes Welker took the drug ‘Molly’ at the Kentucky Derby, which sounds ridiculous. What’s the point of taking something like that when you’re just watching horses race?
Over/Under on how many times Peyton Manning says Omaha during the game: 37
Monday, September 8
New York Giants @ Detroit Lions
I think I finally understand Ben McAdoo, the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. It is so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before: Ben McAdoo is Jon Gruden in a fake mustache and beard. This means that Eli Manning just has to watch hours of tape of Gruden’s days with the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to understand the play schemes. Easy!
What I’m really excited about is seeing how Jon Gruden will both host Monday Night Football and call plays for the Giants at the same time without the rest of America catching on.
As far as the Detroit Lions go, their secondary may finally get that injection of self-esteem that has kept them from being a nominally effective group.
San Diego Chargers @ Arizona Cardinals
In case there was any hope that The Philip Rivers Show will not be seen during Week 1, think again. The Arizona Cardinals are primed up on defense, which means that we’ll be seeing Rivers yelling at officials as much as he will be tossed to the ground. Luckily for the San Diego Chargers staff, Rivers may be given more power to call plays on the field, which means that he’ll either be yelling at himself for screwing up or yelling at head coach Mike McCoy for giving him all that power.
Carson Palmer, you are given a pass this week, but we’re watching you.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.