The opening odds for the ranking heads are worst to best
The NFL offseason is going with another procedural matter that somehow became an interesting event: the release of the regular season schedule.
All 32 home and away opponents have been locked in for some time, but the true shape of the season will be revealed by 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, when the league is set to announce its full 18-week, 272-game slate. . And given that the NFL has traditionally allowed the defending champion to serve as the Thursday night host of Week 1, it looks like the Kansas City Chiefs are ready to turn the lights back on at Arrowhead Stadium to launch a new campaign.
With nine home games for Patrick Mahomes and company this year, there are several intriguing options for a meaningful first act of the fall. While only a few of these matchups seem like viable opener candidates, here are all the possibilities, ranked from worst to best as options for starting the 2023 NFL season.
9. Chicago Bears
With all due respect to Bears General Manager Ryan Poles and the improvements he’s made to the roster in the past couple of months, there’s a good chance the team with the worst record in the NFL in 2022 has its first open week in one of the league’s toughest. Places. This is perhaps a more competitive rivalry later in the season, when the various free agent additions settle in and new #1 wide receiver DJ Moore strikes up a relationship with Justin Fields. For now, though, the Matt Nagy Revenge Bowl has the trappings of an early Sunday game.
8. Las Vegas Raiders
None of the three AFC meetings seem to be good bets to open the new season, since the only time the NFL has opened with a team game in the past 10 years was with the Green Bay Packers’ Chicago Bears in 2019 – a special exception made To honor 100 NFL honoreesy season. Mahomes vs. Jimmy Garoppolo is probably the least interesting quarterback showdown in all of Kansas City’s home game. And there’s little chance that a weak Las Vegas defense might have an answer for Andy Reid & Co. after the Chiefs averaged 37.5 points per game in their last four contests against the Silver and Lions.
7. Denver Broncos
There will undoubtedly be a lot of early intrigue surrounding Sean Payton and his efforts to reform Russell Wilson. However, that probably isn’t enough to raise the latest iteration of a lopsided rivalry — the Chiefs have a career-best 15-game winning streak — which looks more like a mid-season “Friday Night Football” affair.
6. Detroit Lions
With Detroit emerging as the favorite to claim its first division title in 30 years, the Chiefs will provide a salutary test of where the team stands in relation to a well-established competitor. But perhaps this game would make sense for another slot, like Germany’s already announced Kansas City game.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The only significant hurdle standing between the Chiefs and their eighth straight AFC West titles is Justin Herbert. The arrival of Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore could mean big things for the Chargers quarterback and the rest of the offense. However, while each of the final four contests between division opponents has been decided by no more than six points, there may not be enough new or unknown elements to truly sell this to a national audience.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
You can’t go wrong starting the schedule with the league’s crucial rivalry of the past two seasons. The feud is also organic, with the postseason “Burrowhead” brawl representing the latest points of contention. That bitterness hasn’t faded, as Travis Kelsey described former teammate Orlando Brown Jr.’s defection to Cincinnati this season in the March edition of his podcast: “It’s like watching your best friend turn evil on you.” But if this confrontation is set for early September, it will be the fifth confrontation in 21 months between the two sides. Maybe a little spacing out — and letting each team find the shape of the peak — would work for everyone.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
A rematch of Super Bowl 57 might seem like an easy option to open the season, especially with the Eagles emerging like the overwhelming frontrunner in the NFC after bringing back the bulk of their core shareholders. However, given the massive interest this game would certainly generate, the NFL could benefit from being placed in a prime-time slot from the beginning to the middle of the season and looking elsewhere for the opener. This may also be the toughest week 1 draw for the Chiefs offense, which may have poor early pass protection behind freshman offenses Donovan Smith and Joanne Taylor while the unit also resets its receiving corps. However, no matter where this game lands in the schedule, it will probably be one of the most anticipated games of the entire regular season.
2. Miami Dolphins
Is Tyreek Hill going all-out against his former teammates for the first time since making his way out of Kansas City via a trade? Jalen Ramsey and new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio plot ways to slow down Mahomes? Tua Tagovailoa return to the field? There is no shortage of great subplots to be found in this showdown, and there are a slew of stars on every side. Other games with solid powers may end up with a closer final outcome. But with these teams not having met since Mike McDaniel took over and turned the Dolphins’ offense into one of the league’s most explosive units, there’s a unique dynamic here that’s worth highlighting in the opener.
1. Buffalo Bills
Do not think about this. Putting the NFL’s two best offenses and most dynamic quarterbacks against one should always create a winning bid for the league. And that particular equation gave us one of the greatest playoffs of all time less than a year and a half ago. Buffalo, of course, already spoiled the opening Super Bowl title defense last year when it defeated the Los Angeles Rams, so maybe the league is looking in a different direction this fall. But the entertainment value whenever these two teams meet is sure to be astronomical.
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