Yesterday was sort of depressing. To diehard football fans, the day after the Super Bowl is kind of like the day after Christmas. You go from the most important day in the football world to a cold, snowy wasteland with seemingly no end in sight.
What the hell are we supposed to do, watch basketball or hockey?
Fortunately, the NFL offseason is stocked with a series of merry football events, starting in two weeks with the NFL Combine, which brings the football world back to Indianapolis. Free agency begins on March 13. The draft? End of April. Minicamps and OTAs will at least provide fodder in May and June, and by the time August arrives we’ll be previewing the 2012 season.
But with all due respect to the NFL preseason and the CFL regular season, we won’t see real football again until Sept. 6, when the Super Bowl champion New York Giants host (fill in the blank) at MetLife Stadium in prime time.
And although that’s 212 days away, it’s never too early to start breaking it down. Based on the eight teams the Giants are slated to host this year, here are top potential matchups we’d like to see on that Thursday night, from favorite to least favorite to completely out of the question:
1. Packers at Giants: A battle of the last two Super Bowl champions, just like we had last year when the Packers hosted the Saints in the prime-time kickoff game. Plus, this is also a rematch of a 2011 playoff affair. A lot will unfold between now and September, but I’d have to imagine this would be the tightest spread — maybe even a pick’em.
2. Saints at Giants: This isn’t likely to happen, because I doubt the NFL would schedule New Orleans for three consecutive nationally-televised openers. But they’re the only other 2011 NFC playoff team on New York’s home schedule.
3. Steelers at Giants: Only twice in 10 years has the league scheduled a non-conference opponent in the opener, so this isn’t likely to happen either. That said, the Ben Roethlisberger-Eli Manning battle is superb. The two 2004 first-round picks have combined to win four rings and make five Super Bowls in only eight seasons.
4. Eagles at Giants: Michael Vick and the failed dream team will probably be almost entirely intact, and based on the way they finished 2011, they’ll be expected to give New York a run for their money in the NFC East.
5. Cowboys at Giants: If the Cowboys hadn’t choked in astonishing fashion back in Week 14 against New York, the Giants wouldn’t have even made the playoffs. A good, competitive division rivalry here.
Not happening: Redskins/Browns/Buccaneers at Giants.
The defending champion has never lost in this game, going 8-0 since the league adopted this format. But before that, they played the Thursday night opener for two years between two more random teams. And in the first-ever prime-time opener, back in 2002, the Giants actually lost at home to San Francisco.
After winning the Super Bowl in 2007, New York won this game in ’08, holding the Redskins to just seven points at Giants Stadium.