Professional football is back! Well, sort of. The NFL preseason kicked off on Sunday with the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, OH, where the Minnesota Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3. Now that NFL fans have had their first taste, they're dying for more. Thankfully, many only have to wait until tomorrow night for their hunger to be satisfied since 12 more NFL teams will take the field for the first time ahead of the 2015 season.
Okay football fans, while you still have to wait five months for the NFL season to begin, you now know when your favorite team will be matched up against which opponent. Last night, the National Football League released the 2015 NFL schedule via a primetime special. The program, which aired on the NFL Network, announced the schedule for all 256 regular season games and also featured an analysis of the schedule and meaningful matchups.
Although the NFL schedule was released last night, it was in late December when the NFL released each team’s home and away opponents for the 2015 season. Some may ask why the schedule isn’t just released simultaneously, but it’s not as simple as one may believe. There are many factors contributing to a schedule for a league which consists of 32 teams, each of which play 16 games. Some of the more important circumstances include broadcast requirements, stadium availability, competitive balance, as well as travel factors. In terms of scheduling, everything needs to be as fair and balanced as possible for the teams, while also featuring compelling matchups for the fans.
The storylines in play at this season's Super Bowl seem endless. They go from stupid and overblown (deflategate) to historic (New England Head Coach Bill Belichick going for a record-tying fourth title). One of my favorites though is the match-up of quarterbacks. On one side you have Tom Brady, the 37 year-old veteran playing in his sixth Super Bowl; and on the other side you have Russell Wilson, the third-year player and defending champion. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, and it often takes a great quarterback to become a champion. Everyone has a list of their top Super Bowl QBs, so I decided to take a crack at it myself:
#1. Tom Brady
Yes, I am biased. Yes, I am a New England Patriots fan. In this case, however, I think I have a pretty strong argument. This is his aforementioned sixth time playing in the big game, winning three times before. The other two times, the Pats lost late in the fourth quarter. He is a few breaks away from winning all five. He has won two game MVPs and now is the all-time leader in postseason touchdown passes. You can make an argument for other players, but it's tough to knock the credentials of Brady.
#2. Joe Montana
While I have Brady slightly ahead, most other people place Joe Montana at the top of their lists, and with good reason. Montana played in and won all four times he appeared in the Super Bowl. He was game MVP three of those times, and in the only game he didn't win MVP, he led the 49ers on a last minute drive to win the game.
#1 (Maybe ever). Odell Beckham Jr. vs. the Cowboys
Wow. The catch that Odell Beckham made in their Week 12 game vs. the Cowboys on Sunday night was one of the those plays that transcends sports and has been described as one of the best plays in sports history, not just football. LeBron James took notice. So did Mike Trout. As did fellow wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin. Get ready to see replays of the catch, because it will be shown for years to come.
#2. Rob Gronkowski vs. the Broncos
Prior to Beckham's catch, the best one-handed grab of the year belonged to Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. Against the Denver Broncos in Week 10, Gronk snagged ball out of the air with his left hand and was nearly able to find his way into the end zone (one play later, he caught a touchdown pass). In the weeks since the catch, Tom Brady has said that it was the greatest catch he had ever seen on one of his passes. Randy Moss disagreed.