The NFL is back!
The actual football games, that is. Between Deflategate, Jason Pierre-Paul’s July 4 fireworks fiasco, and Robert Griffin III’s unhappy marriage to the Washington Redskins, the NFL never quite went away this summer, but at least now we’ve got some real games to go with all the controversies, suspensions, and court cases.
Although a lot of big-name players and coaches found jobs in new cities over the summer, once again it’s the same top dogs from past seasons that are our favourites to heading into the regular season.
Take a look at where each team stands going into Week 1.
Week 1 opponent: at St. Louis Rams
What's good: The Seahawks re-signed Russell Wilson and picked up TE Jimmy Graham in the off-season. The Hawks look primed for another deep run.
What's bad: There's still no end in sight to All-World safety Kam Chancellor's holdout. Neither side is budging and it's looking now like Chancellor will miss the regular season, if the Seahawks don't trade him first.
Week 1 opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers
What's good: Tom Brady's four-game suspension was overturned, giving the entire Patriots offence a huge boost, and improving their outlook for the first month of the season.
What's bad: The defence remains a concern, particularly in the secondary where they lost Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner.
Week 1 opponent: at New England Patriots
What's good: The Steelers are aiming to have the NFL's most dynamic offence, and they have the tools to do so.
What's bad: Many of those weapons, including Le'Veon Bell and Martvis Bryant, are suspended to start the season.
Week 1 opponent: at Atlanta Falcons
What's good: Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso, and DeMarco Murray are all part of Chip Kelly's completely overhauled team.
What's bad: Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy are among the many players that landed elsewhere as Kelly blew up his team. Who knows what to make of the Eagles? Only time will tell before we can assess Kelly's hyperactive summer.
Week 1 opponent: at Houston Texans
What's good: The Chiefs added Jeremy Maclin to an offence that didn't have a single receiving touchdown all year!
What's bad: There are still a lot of doubts about Alex Smith getting the ball to the end zone, Andy Reid's play-calling, and 28-year-old Jamaal Charles' ability to carry the offence for another season.
Week 1 opponent: vs. Detroit Lions
What's good: The Chargers beefed up their offence with first-round pick running back Melvin Gordon and guard Orlando Franklin, giving Philip Rivers some needed help.
What's bad: They might not be in San Diego very long!
Week 1 opponent: at Washington Redskins
What's good: The Dolphins have a soft opening to the season, with their first six games coming against teams that didn't make the playoffs last year. It could be a nice transition for a team with several new pieces.
What's bad: The Dolphins are an improved team in a widely improved AFC East. They could play well and still finish behind the Patriots, Jets, or Bills.
Week 1 opponent: at San Diego Chargers
What's good: Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford are as dangerous as ever, and rookie RB Ameer Abdullah (a fantasy sleeper) has lit up preseason.
What's bad: Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are gone. Haloti Ngata won't be able to replace both of these guys up front.
Week 1 opponent: at San Francisco 49ers
What's good: The Jets are stacked on both sides of the ball. Incoming additions include: Brandon Marshall (WR), Zac Stacy (RB), Stevan Ridley (RB), Darrell Revis (CB), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Leonard Williams (DE).
What's bad: Off-field incidents have put a damper on the excitement, with Sheldon Richardson getting suspended for violating the substance abuse policy before getting arrested for driving 143 miles per hour, and Geno Smith getting punched in the face and breaking his jaw.
Week 1 opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks
What's good: The scary defensive line got scarier with the off-season addition of Nick Fairley.
What's bad: Rookie RB Todd Gurley isn't expected to play until Week 4, and cornerback EJ Gaines is out for the season. The offence could really struggle behind Nick Foles, especially when you factor in two games against both the Seahawks and Cardinals. They could be in LA before we know it!
Week 1 opponent: at Dallas Cowboys
What's good: Shane Vereen is in town as the new running back, and Odell Beckham Jr. is already one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.
What's bad: Injuries, as usual, are plaguing the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul will miss at least the first month of the season, and the secondary is a shell of itself. The Victor Cruz situation doesn't sound promising, either.
Week 1 opponent: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
What's good: The Falcons spent their summer trying to improve their league-worst defence. They fired head coach Mike Smith and replaced him with Dan Quinn, the former Seattle Defensive Coordinator. They used their first pick on Clemson pass rusher Vic Beasley.
What's bad: Their running game is a question mark, too, as second-year Davonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman are both untested and unproven.
Week 1 opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers
What's good: Mark Trestman is out as head coach. New head coach John Fox is a major upgrade. There's basically nowhere to go but up after last season, which is good!
What's bad: Brandon Marshall is out of town, and who knows what to make of Jay Cutler. The Bears won't get any divisional help, either, with the Packers, Vikings, and Lions all playoff contenders.
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