Here are 10 things from NFL Week 1 that intrigue me:
1. Jimmy Garoppolo starting his first game at quarterback for the New England Patriots : With Tom Brady missing the first four games in a league-imposed suspension, it’s Garoppolo time. He will face an Arizona defense that will throw a lot of different and exotic looks his way. It’s not an ideal opponent to be facing in your first NFL start, and it will be interesting to see how the young quarterback handles the pressure in his face.
2. Green Bay’s offense with Jordy Nelson back at receiver: Nelson missed all of last season when he tore his ACL in the preseason. That really impacted the Green Bay offense. It just wasn’t the same. Nelson is back now, but where is he in terms of speed and conditioning? It might take him a few games to get rolling
3. Rookie Carson Wentz , the No. 2 overall pick, making his first start for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Cleveland Browns and fourth-round pick Dak Prescott starting for the Dallas Cowboys : Wentz went from the No. 3 guy to the starter last week when Sam Bradford was traded. It’s the right move. He needs to play right away. Facing a Cleveland defense without a lot of talent will help Sunday. Prescott will start the first six to 10 games for Tony Romo , who is out with a back injury. Prescott was really impressive in the preseason, but can it carry over when it’s not as vanilla? I think it can.
4. How well will Houston Texans defensive star J.J. Watt and his back hold up? Watt missed the entire preseason recovering from back surgery. He is starting against the Chicago Bears , but anything involving a back issue can be tricky. I think he will be OK, but you never know.
5. Will it be Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford starting at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings against the Tennessee Titans ? With Teddy Bridgewater out for the year, coach Mike Zimmer is playing it coy on who will start. Hill knows the offense and Bradford has only been with the team for less than a week after coming over in the trade from the Eagles. The Titans think it will be Bradford, but that would be risky. I would start Hill.
6. How does Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco play in his first game back after tearing his ACL? Flacco tore his ACL last November, but has made a fast return to the field. He played in the third preseason game, and showed no issues when it came to the knee. He will be playing behind two rookies on the left side of his line, his blind side.
7. Can the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars live up to the preseason hype out of the gate? Both face tough challenges right away for different reasons. The Jaguars play at home against the Green Bay Packers , who I think will win the Super Bowl, while the Raiders face a long, tough trip to play the New Orleans Saints in a loud venue. That’s big-time challenges for both trendy teams.
8. The return to the field of Robert Griffin III as a starter: It was a short time ago that he was considered a star. But RG3 fizzled after tearing up a knee when he struggled to develop as a pocket passer for the Washington Redskins . He’s now with the Browns and playing for Hue Jackson, a sharp offensive mind. Can RG3 finally develop as a legitimate passer without all the gimmicky stuff he ran with the Redskins?
9. The New York Giants ‘ new-look defense: They spent a ton of money to sign Olivier Vernon , Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins . They also will have a healthier Jason Pierre-Paul . It will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dials up against the rookie Prescott.
10. Will anybody sit or kneel for the national anthem? It will be the 15th anniversary of 9/11. That is a day to honor those who lost their lives. But there has been talk of protests by players, much like Colin Kaepernick did in the preseason. This might not be the day, even if you respect a player’s right to do so. Again, though it is their right — even if you don’t agree.