We’ve stolen the title from Getting Blanked, our more clever, tobacco-chewing cohorts, but the concept has existed for some time. Because you might have nodded off or unplugged during the lockout and forgotten to catch up in the abbreviated offseason, you might not be entirely sure what to watch as Week 1 in the National Football League quickly approaches.
Here, we give you five to watch. And because it’s more fun, we’ve ranked ‘em…
(Team rankings are based on our latest power rankings, which will be published tomorrow. Spoilers!)
1. No. 7 Saints at No. 1 Packers (Thursday, 8:30 ET on NBC)
Obviously the hype surrounding the opener is through the roof. The last two Super Bowl champions battle in prime time at a football cathedral. I’ll probably tune in.
2. No. 16 Cowboys at No. 10 Jets (Sunday, 8:20 ET on NBC)
The battle of the Ryan brothers will likely be overshadowed by the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’ll be emotional, and it’ll be a matchup between two very good teams with large national followings.
3. No. 14 Lions at No. 8 Buccaneers (Sunday, 1:00 ET on Fox)
Two teams that are supposed to break out and become elite this season. They’re young and energetic and exciting and blah blah blah. All that matters is there’s a good chance these franchises will be battling for NFC wild-card spots three months down the line.
4. No. 5 Steelers at No. 12 Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 ET on CBS)
The trash talk-filled rivalry continues. The Steelers are pretty much the same team we saw in 2010, but with Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup from the get-go this time. The Ravens have a new look along a bad offensive line and in the secondary. But at home, they’re sure to put up a fight against the defending AFC champions.
5. No. 18 Colts at No. 9 Texans (Sunday, 1:00 ET on CBS)
Indy’s first game sans Peyton Manning since Dec. 21, 1997 comes against the team that is supposed to finally slay the long-time kings of the AFC South. Not only will it be wild to see Kerry Collins taking snaps in a Colts uniform, but we’ll also get our first chance to see Houston’s retooled secondary and Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.