The seemingly endless NFL preseason has finally come to a close. Rosters are down to 53 players, and most importantly, regular-season NFL football returns Thursday with a matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.
In addition to the Super Bowl 50 rematch between the Panthers and Broncos, Week 1 features plenty of other juicy matchups, including an NFC West clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers and, on the other side of the country, an NFC East battle between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
506 Sports has got you covered with coverage maps so you can find out which games are being shown in your area:
We also have all the information you need on the TV schedule for Week 1's games, as well as game previews and predictions below.
|Week 1 Schedule and Predictions|
|Sept. 8||Carolina Panthers||Denver Broncos||8:30 p.m.||NBC||Panthers|
|Sept. 11||Minnesota Vikings||Tennessee Titans||1:00 p.m.||Fox||Vikings|
|Sept. 11||San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Chiefs|
|Sept. 11||Chicago Bears||Houston Texans||1:00 p.m.||Fox||Texans|
|Sept. 11||Oakland Raiders||New Orleans Saints||1:00 p.m.||Fox||Raiders|
|Sept. 11||Green Bay Packers||Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 p.m.||Fox||Packers|
|Sept. 11||Cincinnati Bengals||New York Jets||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Bengals|
|Sept. 11||Cleveland Browns||Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Eagles|
|Sept. 11||Buffalo Bills||Baltimore Ravens||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Ravens|
|Sept. 11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||1:00 p.m.||Fox||Falcons|
|Sept. 11||Miami Dolphins||Seattle Seahawks||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Seahawks|
|Sept. 11||New York Giants||Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Giants|
|Sept. 11||Detroit Lions||Indianapolis Colts||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Colts|
|Sept. 11||New England Patriots||Arizona Cardinals||8:30 p.m.||NBC||Cardinals|
|Sept. 12||Pittsburgh Steelers||Washington Redskins||7:10 p.m.||ESPN||Steelers|
|Sept. 12||Los Angeles Rams||San Francisco 49ers||10:20 p.m.||ESPN||49ers|
|NFL.com; author predictions|
Seahawks Will Drown Dolphins
The Seattle Seahawks are the biggest favorite of the week, giving up 7.5 points, per Odds Shark.
If you're the betting type, you can expect the Seahawks to beat the Dolphins by at least two scores.
The Dolphins are having some injury issues as they prepare to head into one of the toughest NFL stadiums, CenturyLink Field. Starting center Mike Pouncey and receiver DeVante Parker missed practice Wednesday, the team reported:
Meanwhile, the Seahawks' fortunes are looking up.
Running back Thomas Rawls, who fractured his ankle at the end of the 2015 season, will in fact play against the Dolphins in Week 1, but his snaps will be monitored. Christine Michael will get the start, per the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta.
Seattle is also looking dangerous on both sides of the ball after establishing a higher-octane passing attack toward the end of last season, a trend that should continue into this season.
The Dolphins will be hard-pressed to defend Seattle's varied attack and to put points up on the Seahawks' vaunted defense. That should result in a lopsided score in Seattle's favor.
Carson Wentz Will Impress in Debut
The Eagles' initial plan was to sit their first-round draft pick to start the season, but that changed when Philadelphia traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings and announced that rookie Carson Wentz would start.
Wentz didn't get a lot of opportunities this preseason to show fans what they should expect from him as their starting quarterback. A rib injury suffered during the preseason meant Wentz saw action in only one game.
Moreover, according to ESPN.com's Tim McManus, Wentz didn't begin taking first-team reps until this week. There are concerns that his learning curve will be steep, given how little time he has to prepare for the role and build chemistry with his teammates.
But despite those obstacles, the reasons the Eagles fell in love with Wentz are all still there.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman praised his physical attributes on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, via Around the NFL's Conor Orr: "He's got this long stride and then he just throws the ball—it's accuracy, it's arm strength, it's velocity."
Wentz may not eclipse 300 passing yards and throw multiple touchdowns and zero interceptions. But nevertheless, for a rookie with fewer than 30 passing attempts under his belt, expect him to look composed in the pocket and confident against the Cleveland Browns—the team that traded away the No. 2 draft pick the Eagles selected him with.
Panthers-Broncos Will Fail to Thrill
On paper, this matchup between the last two Super Bowl adversaries seems like great television, especially considering that the Panthers are still a favorite to make it back to the Big Game this season. (Odds Shark has their chances at plus-1100, the fifth-best of any team.)
However, the Broncos are a different team since the departure of Peyton Manning, and it's not clear that Trevor Siemian will be able to handle a stout Panthers front seven.
The Broncos will look to C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker to get things going on the ground, hoping to establish a balanced attack between the pass and the run.
But while Siemian does still have some of Manning's favorite weapons in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it's hard to imagine the Broncos' piling up multiple scores against the talented Carolina defense. Expect this game to end with a surprising score differential in the Panthers' favor.