Frank Doyle looks at the Week 1 matchups in the new NFL schedule, admires the league’s scheduling moxie, but is greatly concerned about possible affronts to the baseball gods.
The NFL 2010 season kicks off this year with Minnesota visiting the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints on Thursday, September 9. Minnesota lost to the Saints in overtime in the NFC Championship Game last year after Brett Favre, not for the first time, threw an ill-advised pass.
The Vikings have been waiting all year to get that one back. They’ll be ready for a trip to Louisiana on September 9.
Pete Carroll’s reign as Seahawks head coach begins with a visit from the San Francisco 49ers. This is not a game that the 49ers would have asked for – nobody really expects that much from Seattle in Carroll’s first year, but it’s getting very near time for the Niners to deliver.
San Francisco is a quarterback away from winning the NFC West, but a long road trip to a divisional opponent isn’t what they would have asked for as an opening game.
Indianapolis travels to Houston in Week 1, which is an interesting game for fans of psychology as well as NFL betting. Indianapolis has to be scarred from losing the Super Bowl and not being as dominant or reliable in the playoffs as the Colts are in the regular season – the Manning Era Colts should have more than one Super Bowl to show for their talent.
Houston is the team that’s always threatening, but doesn’t deliver, not least as the Texans invariably start their seasons so very poorly. Who’ll stumble out of the blocks on this one?
Matt Leinhart’s journey to fill some Hall of Fame boots begins with Arizona’s trip to St Louis, where the Rams have some decision making to do under center themselves. Veteran AJ Feeley or rookie Sam Bradford (presuming Bradford is whom the Rams pick in the draft)?
Monday Night Football in Week 1 has Baltimore visiting the Jets and San Diego visiting the Chiefs. There’s pressure on the Jets and Chargers both to deliver, and an instant chance to compare how the LDT trade worked for both teams.
The NFL noted the tendency of teams to mail in games in the final weeks of the season when there were no post-season implications and moved to stamp that out, by scheduling all the Week 17 games within the divisions. The NFL schedule is one of the instances of genius in the entire league, and one of the reason that the sport has become the dominant sport in America. The schedule is designed so that all teams have a reason to play hard for as long as possible over the duration of the regular season. It’s as important to parity as the NFL Draft or the salary cap.
However, it is depressing that, having not scheduled a Sunday night game to go against the World Series prior to this, Game 4 of the Series will have to compete for airtime with Pittsburgh at New Orleans in the NFL’s Week 8. Like when Billy Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field in 1945, the NFL may have bitten off more than it can chew. It’s never good policy to affront the baseball gods.
More on this one later. In the meantime, we’ll price up the Week 1 matchups and post them in a couple of weeks on the NFL football lines pages. Enjoy.