On Thursday night, the NFL season officially kicked off with the rematch of the Denver Broncos against the Baltimore Ravens. Numerous questions swirled for this game including how would the Ravens defense look? Does Peyton Manning still have it? Does he have chemistry with Wes Welker? How will the Ravens look without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta?
Many of the questions were answered with the 49-27 Broncos rout but the night belonged to Manning with his record-setting game.
He threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes. Not a weekly occurrence given the fact that Joe Kapp of the Minnesota Vikings was the last quarterback to do so back in 1969.
Manning also tied retired quarterback Brett Favre’s league record for his 23rd career game with a minimum of four touchdown throws and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ record of seven career five-touchdown games.
For the night, Manning went 27 for 42, 462 yards, zero interceptions and an incredible 141.1 quarterback rating.
As for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, he was 34 for 62 (a career high), 362 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
I’d say his team has some work to do but hey, it’s only Week 1.
With Thursday’s game starting the season out on a great note and one of the week’s most intriguing matchups, there’s still a few more to follow on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (1 p.m. ET)
The Atlanta Falcons had a great 2012 season with a league-best 13 wins and a visit to the NFC Championship Game. Things didn’t end the way they wanted it to so they’ll enter this new season hungry to make another Super Bowl run (and let tight end Tony Gonzalez end his career on a high note).
As for its division foe, it wasn’t the New Orleans Saints year with its 7-9 finish. The absence of head coach Sean Payton had a large effect and its defense was horrendous.
The Saints will look to get back on their feet with Payton’s return and its new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Last season, these two each won a game against each other with the Saints beating the Falcons 31-27 at home and in 2013’s first match up, the Saints will again act as the host.
Will fans and the team walk away thinking the winner has the advantage for the NFC South division title?
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET)
For a second straight time, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will kick off their season by meeting each other. Last year, the 49ers won 30-22 and in the postseason, they got a second win at 45-31.
Will the streak continue?
If Aaron Rodgers has anything to do with it, it will snap as he’ll come out, hitting the ground running. Will the team’s rookie running back additions and healthy players steer the Packers in the right direction? Will this team have chemistry again?
The Niners enter the season with high expectations to again make to the Super Bowl but their free agency wasn’t so great and quarterback Colin Kaepernick needs to adapt without his favorite wide receiver Michael Crabtree. This is technically Kaepernick’s sophomore season and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll hit a slump or will he show he is who thought he is?
Coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t like to lose and this game could be a preview for future meetings later in the season.
Other intriguing games include the Chicago Bears vs. the Cincinnati Bengals (1:00 p.m. ET). After watching the Bengals on HBO’s Hard Knocks, you have to wonder how the 2013 season will go. They’re well coached but are they talented? For the Bears, they’re playing without veteran Brian Urlacher. How will the Bears fare in the Marc Trestman era? Can they get a first win against the hungry Bengals?
For those who still need more football, the first Monday night game has the Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Redskins (6:55 p.m. ET). It’s Chip Kelly’s first game as an NFL coach. How will the team adapt to his high-tempo offense? Is Michael Vick the right choice as the Eagle’s starter? Then there’s the Redskins. Quarterback Robert Griffin III is back and is ready to prove something. Will the Redskins be a competitor? Can they slow down the Eagles?