2016 NFL schedule: What will be the top matchups of week 1?

Movie quote of the day:

“You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, don’t you? Practice.”

– Lt. Aldo Raine, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Denver OLB Von Miller.
Denver OLB Von Miller.

The 2016 NFL season schedule will be announced tonight and I feel like celebrating just like Von Miller in the photo above. I did a post like this last year and it was one of favorites. I felt the need to do it again this year. For those that don’t understand how the schedule works, the opponents for each team are already decided, it just needs to be decided when they will play. I’m going to take a guess on which teams will be playing for the top matchups for Opening Weekend.

Carolina QB Cam Newton and former Denver QB Peyton Manning.
Carolina QB Cam Newton and former Denver QB Peyton Manning.

Thursday Night NFL Kickoff Game:

The defending Super Bowl champions are always assigned to play at home for the first game of the regular season. So, the Denver Broncos will be the home team. There are three teams that would be intriguing matchups for the Broncos. No. 1, the Broncos’ opponent from the AFC Championship, the New England Patriots. Everyone will tune in to watch Tom Brady and his squad play on Thursday. No. 2, the Houston Texans. Brock Osweiler left the Broncos to Houston in the offseason. It’d be interesting to see him square off against his former team to start the season. Lastly, the Broncos’ opponent from the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers. Reigning MVP Cam Newton and the Panthers seek revenge for the embarrassing loss in Super Bowl 50. I think people will want to see that.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos

Sunday afternoon games:

Dallas QB Tony Romo and Washington QB Kirk Cousins.
Dallas QB Tony Romo and Washington QB Kirk Cousins.

A lot of teams to choose from. I’m going to turn my attention to teams that were contenders to win the Super Bowl last season. For the AFC matchup, the New England Patriots are always going to get viewers. The Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals were considered the top teams in the AFC for most of last season. Both teams have a ton of talent and don’t play a lot. I think people will like to see them face off on Sunday afternoon.

CBS prediction: Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots

Same goes for the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC. I can’t remember the last time the Cowboys didn’t have a primetime home game to start the season. The Cowboys have a strong viewership and there’s no better venue than AT&T Stadium. I think the Cowboys will most likely start the season against division rival Washington Redskins. The Redskins are the defending NFC East champions, and Dallas-Washington is a huge rivalry. It makes sense.

FOX prediction: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sunday Night Football game:

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and New York Giants QB Eli Manning.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and New York Giants QB Eli Manning.

A lot of people have Pittsburgh as the Super Bowl favorite this year. They’re going to have some interesting opponents for this season, like the New York Giants. That game sounds intriguing for week one. Both teams should be good. It’s Ben Roethlisberger versus Eli Manning. Every time these quarterbacks have met, the game has been close. In three meetings, the outcome was decided by a total of 14 points. That will draw a lot of attention from fans. Plus, it’s a matchup between two of the largest fan bases in the NFL.

Prediction: New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Monday Night Football games:

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians.

ESPN always gets a double-header for the first Monday Night Football installment of the season. One game on the East Coast, and another on the West Coast. I’ve already tackled most of the teams that will draw viewership. However, I think it should be the Baltimore Ravens as the home team for the East Coast game. Keep in mind, ESPN rarely gets a game between rivalry teams for MNF. So, it’s unlikely the Ravens will play a division/conference rival. A team like the Buffalo Bills would be the matchup the Ravens would get for this game. It’ll be a battle of talented rosters. They’re not in the same division and don’t play a lot. It fits the typical MNF matchup.

East Coast prediction: Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens

As for the West Coast, I can’t think of a better setting for the second game than Southern California to show off the renewed Los Angeles Rams. The problem is the Rams’ schedule. They only have seven home games this season because they get to play a home game in London. Also, four of those seven opponents are from the Eastern Time Zone. It’s unlikely the NFL will schedule an East Coast team to play so late at night. Like I said above, ESPN doesn’t usually get any kind of rivalries for MNF, but Los Angeles is too good of a setting to pass up for the last primetime game of Opening Weekend, especially now that L.A. just traded up for the No. 1 pick in the draft and will certainly select its franchise quarterback. The NFL might have to swallow its pride and give the Rams a NFC West division opponent to face.

West Coast prediction: Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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