It’s finally here. Real NFL football. The college season kicked off last week, but now it is time for the pros to take over on Sundays. Here is what to watch for in Week 1, beginning with Bruuuuce getting things started on Thursday night.
Thursday (All times Eastern)
Packers at Seahawks 8:30 NBC
The Seattle Seahawks were the last team off the field to end last season with their Super Bowl victory over the Broncos. On Thursday night, they’ll try to pick up where they left off when the NFL opens its season against perennial NFC contending Green Bay.
Bruce Irvin missed the entire preseason while recovering from offseason hip surgery. The Seahawks activated him this past Sunday when he put on pads for the first time since the Super Bowl. The team plans to use him more as a pass-rusher this season than last, so plan on seeing him try to get to Aaron Rogers early and often. Don Barclay could have been a starter at center for the Packers had he not suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp. They will start a rookie there instead.
Vikings at Rams 1:oo FOX
Tavon Austin begins Year 2 in the NFL with the Rams with a home tilt against Minnesota. The Rams will be without QB Sam Bradford, who tore his ACL for the second time in less than a year, and Stedman Bailey, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. ESPN projects Austin to have a nice game to open the season. They predict 51 yards receiving with a TD.
Raiders at Jets 1:00 CBS
Year 2 of the Geno Smith era begins for the Jets. After showing great progress over the last four games of his rookie season, he has continued to make strides throughout the offseason and training camp. His footwork, reads, decision-making, knowledge of the playbook and confidence have all improved. The Jets added the top free-agent receiver in Eric Decker, the top RB free-agent in Chris Johnson, and one of the top tight ends in the NFL Draft in Jace Amaro. The offense has chance to be much more potent this season than last year’s mostly stale showing. ESPN predicts 203 yards passing, one TD and 19 rushing yards.
Browns at Steelers 1:00 CBS
Will Johnson, Terence Garvin and the Steelers begin the season against Cleveland in what is sure to be a highly watched and talked about game–because of the Browns backup QB. For Johnson, he gets a chance to go back to a role he played at WVU when he gets some reps at TE. The team decided over the offseason that they wanted to get Johnson on the field more. Last season, the reps for the FB were greatly diminished in Todd Haley’s first year as the Steelers’ OC. Johnson is listed as the starter at FB, but look for him to line up in multiple places. Garvin provides depth at linebacker and has grown in his second season with the team.
Jaguars at Eagles 1:00 CBS
Two former positional teammates at WVU will line up across the field from each other when LBs J.T. Thomas (Jaguars) and Najee Goode (Eagles) take to the field. Thomas played well in the last three preseason games after missing much of camp with a hamstring injury and will backup at LB and play on special teams. The Eagles love Goode’s potential, and could see a lot of action on defense.
Bengals at Ravens 1:00 CBS
Will Clarke will make his Regular Season début with the Bengals. A third round pick in May’s NFL Draft, Clarke showed progress throughout the preseason. Clarke backs up at left defensive end and will mostly watch and learn during his rookie season. The team views him as a project, but are excited about his potential. Adam Pacman Jones returns from one of the best seasons of his career at corner. Look for him to try to break one (or two) on punt returns.
Bills at Bears 1:00 FOX
Ryan Mundy won the starting strong safety job for the Bears after coming over from the Giants during the offseason.
Panthers at Buccaneers 4:25 FOX
Keith Tandy comes off another strong preseason with the Bucs. Going into his third year, Tandy is a solid backup at safety.
Colts at Broncos 8:30 NBC
How far can Pat McAfee punt the ball? We might find out when he kicks in the thin Mile-High Stadium air.