By Lenn Robbins
Before you know it, the first meaningless NFL preseason game will be played, generating all types of overblown reactions.
If Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is intercepted on his first pass attempt, the comparisons to Sam Darnold, who’s first pass in a regular season game was a Pick 6, will flood the internet like the latest photo of Paige Spiranac giving us her “golf” tips.
If Aaron Rodgers looks lackluster in his first action, it will fuel speculation that he is trying to play his way out of Green Bay. Same holds for Texans quarterback Deshawn Watson, who finds Houston as comfortable as a Stalag in Siberia.
If Daniel Jones is a middle of the pack quarterback midway through the season, getting little help from tackle Andrew Thomas, GM Dave Gettleman might consider plastic surgery and a new identity.
The NFL released its schedule this week and courtesy of the added game the season doesn’t end until the day before Valentine’s Day, ensuring the divorce rate doesn’t suffer a Super Bowl spike. Can you imagine if the Super Bowl was Feb. 14 instead of Feb. 13 and American men had to decide between wings or wives?
We took a hard look the schedule and decided to pick the best games of each week. We had to resist the temptation to pick every Chiefs game because quarterback Patrick Mahomes is just so ridiculously fun to watch.
We tried to include every team but finding a meaningful game for the Lions, Texans, Panthers, and Broncos is hard labor. Here’s our week by week guide to the NFL season.
Week 1: Cowboys at Bucs – The Super Bowl champs raise their banner. Tom Brady strafes the Cowboys secondary. Fire Mike McCarthy campaign begins. Yes, the NFL has arrived.
Runner-up: Jets at Panthers: Zach Wilson vs Sam Darnold. Any questions for Jets GM Joe Douglas? Let’s wait till after the game. Bonus: Matt Ruhle to Darnold, “All you have to do is exist in those two seconds from the snap to handing the ball to Christian ‘Boobie’ McCaffrey.”
Honorable mention: Bears at Rams – A Love Story. Rams fan fall for Matt Stafford. Justin Fields falls for Aaron Donald. Welcome the NFL rookie.
Week 2: Bills at Dolphins – The new hierarchy in the AFC East battle it out. Does Tua have enough shiny new toys to excel? Jaelan Phillips proves me right.
Runner up: Pats at Jets – Jets fans have all eyes on Zach Wilson. Brent Musburger brought in to do the game. CBS cameras have all eyes on Wilson’s mother, Amanda Wilson. What’s this world coming to? The NFL has arrived.
Honorable mention: Lions at Packers – Final Jeopardy. What future Hall of Fame quarterback gets booed in his home debut? Who is Aaron Rodgers?
Week 3: Bucs at Rams – Danger! Danger! Aaron Donald hits Brady – a lot. Bucs offense philosophy of ‘No Risk It No Biscuit looks like high risk for Brady who will be 44 when the season begins.
Runner-up: Eagles at Cowboys – Jalen Hurts faces his first division rivalry game of the season as the NFC East battle for .500 begins. Take the under. Micah Parsons earns Defensive Rookie of the Week.
Honorable mention: Colts at Titans – In his first road game, Carson Wentz is forced to throw because Derrick “D-Train’ Henry is playing keep away.
Week 4: Bucs vs Patriots – Return of the Turncoat; Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick.
Runner-up: Steelers at Packers – Big Ben vs Mr. Jeopardy for the last time. Who is Aaron Rodgers?
Honorable mention: Jaguars at Bengals – Trevor Lawrence asks Joe Burrow why the Bengals didn’t draft an offensive lineman. Burrow asks if Lawrence has tried green chili.
Week 5: Bills at Chiefs – Josh Allen vs Patrick Mahomes. With score 42-39 at halftime, both defensive coordinators are given oxygen and Valium.
Runner up: Pats at Texas – After playing the Dolphins, Jets, Saints, and Bucs, the Pats are lucky to be 1-3 and Belichick goes to Mac Jones on the road and away from the New England media. Bonus: Deshawn Watson massages the Pats defense.
Honorable mention: Lions at Vikings. The Overpaid Quarterback Bowl and the rare chance to get Lions and Vikings in this column.
Week 6: Packers at Bears – Aaron Rodgers vs Justin Fields. What is a Hall of Famer to be vs a Rookie QB?
Runner-up: Cowboys at Patriots. A questionable coach against a Hall of Fame coach. New England’s tight ends vs Dallas’ linebackers.
Honorable mention: Raiders at Broncos. Used to be two elite AFC franchises. That’s it for the Broncos folks.
Week 7: Jets at Pats. GM nightmare: The No.2 overall draft pick vs No. 15 overall draft pick.
Runner-up: Bears at Bucs. “Mr. Brady. Mr. Brady,” says Wilson. “I wasn’t born when you became a star and I was just wondering if you have any advice on, well, everything?”
Honorable mention: Saints at Seahawks – How many quarterbacks equal one Russell Wilson?
Week 8: Steelers at Browns: Garrett Myles introduces his new line of tear away helmets. Mason Randolph volunteers to demonstrate.
Runner-up: 49ers at Bears. GM nightmare: The No.3 overall pick vs the No. 11 overall pick. FCS vs FBS.
Honorable mention – Packers at Cardinals. Two of the five QBs we must watch each week. Who is Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray. Mahomes, Brady and Lamar Jackson are the other three.
Week 9: Packers at Chiefs: Rodgers goes underhand. Mahomes goes behind his back. Both go for touchdowns.
Runner-up: Titans at Rams. The irresistible force meets the immovable object; Henry vs Donald.
Honorable mention: Cards at 49ers: Kyler Murray to Trey Lance – Learn to run, son.
Week 10: Rams at 49ers: Aaron Donald hits Trey Lance. A lot. Bonus: NFL West Division lead.
Runner-up: Seahawks at Packers – “Aaron, have you picked your Hall of Famer introducer?,” says Wilson. “No, Russ, have you?” We vote for Ciara and Shailene Woodley.
Honorable mention: Ravens at Dolphins. A descending AFC power vs an ascending AFC power? Jaelen Phillips makes a spectacular play on Lamar Jackson.
Week 11: Cowboys and Chiefs: “What do you like best about your deal?” Prescott asks Mahomes. “Uh, the millions?”
Runner-up: 49ers at Jaguars: “Have you faced that guy Donald with the Rams?” Lance asks Lawrence. “No, is he as good as they say?” Lawrence asks: “Make sure you get all your guarantees up front,” replies Lance.
Honorable mention: Cards at Packers. Catch Me if You Can Murray vs Sack Me if You Can Rodgers.
Week 12: Browns at Ravens: Lamar Jackson does his thing vs Myles Garrett and Co. Baker Mayfield blames the loss on himself. OBJ agrees. Bonus: First place in the AFC North.
Runner-up: Eagles at Giants: Is either team convinced it has its franchise quarterback? Bonus: First place in the NFC East up for grabs.
Honorable mention: Seahawks at Washington: After getting sacked seven times, Wilson finds a D.C. law firm and files for divorce from Pete Carroll.
Week 13: Ravens at Steelers. Mr. Mobile vs Sir Big Arm.
Runner-up: Pats at Bills. The road to the AFC East title goes through the Mafia. Pacino denies reports he’s been asked to play Scott Norwood in an upcoming docudrama on how a missed field goal attempt opened the door for organized crime to run the Bills.
Honorable mention: Jaguars at Rams: Trevor Lawrence collect call to Trey Lance from Cedars-Sinai Hospital. “You were right about that Donald dude.”
Week 14: Ravens at Browns: Rematch. Hide the women and children.
Runner-up: Seahawks at Texans: “Where do you want to play next season?” Russell Wilson asks Deshaun Watson. “Anywhere but here,” replies Watson. “How about you?” “Ditto.”
Honorable mention: Rams at Cards – The culling of the league’s strongest division has begun.
Week 15: TIE! Cowboys at Giants; Jets at Dolphins: Both NY teams are eliminated from division title contention. Dave Gettleman and Joe Douglas meet in secret in a bar in East Rutherford. Even wearing masks, they’re refused service.
Runner-up: Chiefs at Chargers: Mahomes is magical but Justin Herbert leads a fourth quarter drive for victory and moves into the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks. Suddenly the Chiefs look vulnerable
Honorable mention: Raiders at Browns – After getting utterly dismantled by the Browns, Chuckie and Mike Mayock have their genius cards revoked.
Week 16: Steelers at Chiefs: Roethlisberger vs Mahomes for the last time?
Runner-up: Washington at Cowboys. Savior Ron Rivera vs Suspect Bill McCarthy. Bonus: Oh yes. First place in the NFC East.
Honorable mention: TIE! Ravens at Bengals/Browns at Packers: Baltimore moves into a first-place tie with Cleveland but Joe Burrow-to-Ja’Marr Chase hook up for two more touchdowns, establishing The Bayou Bengals as one of the top five tandems in football. Baker Mayfield takes responsibility for the loss. OBJ agrees.
Week 17: Browns at Steelers. Big Ben’s last game home game? Maurkice Pouncey’s number retired? Browns claim AFC North title despite Mayfield throwing for less than 200 yards and saying he must step up. OBJ agrees.
Runner-up: Bucs at Jets: In his last game ever against the Jets, Brady is tattooed by Robert Saleh’s defense which has become a hard-hitting force.
Honorable mention: Dolphins at Titans. AFC wildcard berth settled. Derrick Henry flirts with a 300-yard rushing game.
Runner-up: Rams at Ravens. There is so much brutal hitting, that with the playoffs ahead, both clubs pull their starting QB’s in the third quarter.
Week 18: 49ers at Rams. What worked better? A rookie QB with tons of upside or a veteran QB with a little off hit fastball? Answer: The NFC West title.
Runner-up: Chargers at Raiders. After Joey Bosa wreaks havoc on the Raiders rebuilt line, dropping them to 5-12 on the season, Chuckie and Mike Mayock receive a call from Las Vegas owner Mark Davis. Something about a 10-year contract.
Honorable mention: TIE: Steelers at Ravens. Many camera angles of a defeated Big Ben standing on the sidelines, towel over his head, looking longingly at the scoreboard clock as his magnificent career runs out. Colts at Jaguars. Has Carson Wentz’s career been reborn? Has the Trevor Lawrence Hall of Fame career been born?