The New England Patriots are the Super Bowl XLIX champions. That earned them the Lombardi Trophy, a parade throughout snow-ravaged Boston and a ton of air time. It also gives them the opportunity to host the 2015 NFL Kickoff on Thursday, September 10 to open up the regular season. While we do not know whom the Patriots will face on that evening, it is rather easy to at least narrow down the possibilities.
Like all 32 NFL teams, the regular season schedule offers three home games against divisional foes as well as five additional home games. For the Pats, that means that they will obviously host the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets from the AFC East. They will also welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans from the AFC South, the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins from the NFC East and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the team’s lone home matchup against an opponent residing in the AFC North.
Right off the bat, we know that we should be able to eliminate the Jags an Titans. The NFL would like to at least have the possibility of having the season opener be a close game with a lot of fan interest. The Jaguars and Titans won’t likely qualify for either.
I think we can also wipe out the chances of the Redskins heading to Foxboro to kick off the 2015 campaign. No offense, but they aren’t likely to be that much better next season than they were in 2014. The fanfare may be there, but the competition level will not.
That leaves us with five. The Jets make for perhaps the team’s greatest rivalry, but I don’t see this one happening. Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champs hosting… Geno Smith and new head coach Todd Bowles? I can’t see it.
What about the Dolphins? A decent up and coming team that clearly plays better early in the season than late. The problem is, the Dolphins normally host the Patriots first and then travel to New England late in the season. This isn’t the matchup that the NFL wants to kickoff the season.
If my limited math skills are right, we are down to three potential opponents for the Patriots to host on September the 10th. The Bills are a possibility. Not because of talent, but because of their new head coach, Rex Ryan. Sure, the Bills have a solid defense and a great young receiver in Sammy Watkins, but Ryan would be the No. 1 reason that this game could occur to begin the season.
The Steelers and Patriots have certainly had some wars in the past, with a lot on the line. More often than not, the Pats have gotten the better of the Steel Curtain. Still, many of their games have come down to the final minutes and have been very entertaining. This is certainly one of the favorites.
The other one, by process of elimination, is obviously the Eagles. Bill Belichick vs. Chip Kelly. The present vs. the future. Two great football minds. A great defense vs. what could be a dynamic offense. I like this one. I can definitely see the Eagles traveling to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in the 2015 NFL Kickoff game.
What do you think?