It is traditional for the reigning Super Bowl champion to host the season opener and if you have been living under a rock, that means that the New England Patriots should kick off the 2017 NFL Season at home and in prime time.
The one question remains: which team will the Patriots face?
The growing consensus by NFL reporters like ESPN’s Mike Reiss and MMQB’s Peter King is that the Patriots will not be facing the Atlanta Falcons in the opener as a rematch of Super Bowl LI; don’t forget that the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead and lost to the Patriots in overtime.
Last season, the Carolina Panthers complained that they had to face the Denver Broncos in the season opener as a rematch of Super Bowl 50, and the league office listened. Additionally, the NFL league wants to give the Falcons a prime time home opener for their new stadium, per King, and that means the league probably wouldn’t make the Falcons play the first two weeks of the season in prime time.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the league is trying to get the schedule out by April 17th-21st. Until then, here are the possible options:
AFC East rivals
Buffalo Bills; Miami Dolphins; New York Jets
I would consider these unlikely to happen because divisional games don’t have the required national appeal in prime time.
Kansas City Chiefs; San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs are a quality team with a good defense that could face the Patriots in prime time. The Chargers are another interesting option, but they’re not as talented of a team.
Atlanta Falcons; Carolina Panthers
The Falcons are unlikely, and it would be laughable for the NFL to give the Panthers the season opener two seasons in a row, especially after they complained in 2016.
AFC South Winner
The Texans gave the Patriots a run for their money in the playoffs and should get J.J. Watt back for the season opener. If the Texans had a good quarterback, this would be a no-brainer. We’ll see.
Which team should the Patriots face in the 2017 season opener?
This poll is closed
I think the Chiefs and the Texans as the top choices. Which team would you want the Patriots to face?