After another long offseason, the wait is finally over with a new NFL season set to kick off this week. The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will open the year against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, before a highly anticipated slate of games that pack the schedule for the first Sunday of the NFL season. Here is a look at the top five games on the schedule for Week 1.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings
Line: Minnesota -6
One of the most intriguing games on the Week 1 schedule will feature two high-profile quarterbacks leading legitimate playoff contenders in a key head-to-head NFC showdown. Jimmy Garoppolo won his first five starts after he was traded to San Francisco and then in the offseason signed a massive deal that will pay him $27.5 million per year. Meanwhile, Minnesota upgraded its quarterback situation after it fell one win shy of reaching the Super Bowl by signing Kirk Cousins to an unprecedented $86 million fully guaranteed. Beyond the quarterbacks, both teams are viewed as playoff contenders, so this will be an interesting matchup.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
Line: Jacksonville -3
Jalen Ramsey had a lot to say about Eli Manning and just about every other NFL quarterback this offseason. Now he gets to face Eli and we’ll see if he can walk the walk.
The Giants are coming off a terrible season but made wholesale changes to the offensive line, backfield and defense. A win here would bring a fresh air of optimism after a fairly disappointing 2017 campaign.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
Line: New England -6.5
A year ago, the Deshaun Watson-led Texans nearly upset New England on the road in a Week 3 meeting that signaled to the NFL that the young quarterback was ready for the spotlight. Now they’ll looking for revenge in a Week 1 matchup against Tom Brady and the defending AFC champions.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers
Line: Carolina -2.5
A pair of talented quarterbacks trying to bounce back from disappointing seasons. Dak Prescott won’t have Dez Bryant to throw the football to, but he will have one of the game’s elite running backs to hand the ball to in Ezekiel Elliott as the Cowboys try to prove they belong in the playoff conversation. Meanwhile, Cam Newton has struggled with consistency since winning MVP in 2015 but now he’s working with what might be his best cast of weapons, led by running back Christian McCaffrey. This is an important early-season matchup as both teams look to make a statement.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Line: Green Bay -7.5
The Bears sent shock waves through the NFL with the deal they made to acquire Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. Now they might field one of the conference’s best defenses. We’ll get our first look at how much they’ve closed the gap when they face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Rodgers begins his redemption tour with an eye on the Lombardi Trophy following a season-ending injury a year ago. He didn’t get much help from his receivers or running game last year, so keep a close eye to see how – or if – that’s changed.