It’s one of the weirdest celebrations in professional sports but each year we continue to turn the release of the NFL Schedule as if it should be a national holiday. Seriously, think about it. When the NBA schedule is released...crickets. MLB drops their slate...nada. The NHL unveils their 82...the silence you hear is Lambeau Field. But in the NFL, the world stops.
Whatever, for some reason it’s a ton of fun. So much so there’s primetime release shows on NFL Network and even my guys over at KFAN are running a live Schedule Release Show with Meatsauce & Nordo.
I think it’s great though, I really do.
Especially this year. It has seemed for one reason or another that we’ve been stuck in a rut of seeing the same opponents, both teams and players for a while now. This year, that seemingly changes. Part of it is a shift in divisional rankings as we match up across the board, but most of it is due to a changing of the guard throughout the NFL.
It hasn’t been as immediate as it seems, but when you only see a team once every four years you have an opportunity to turn over rosters. This year, the Minnesota Vikings are going to be seeing a full slate of young NFL stars and it’s going to serve as an exciting schedule for Minnesota fans. It includes the last six top overall selections and it kicks off right away in Week 1!
JOE BURROW, JA’MARR CHASE and TEE HIGGINS - Bengals
To kick off the season Cincy brings second year quarterback Joe Burrow, the number one pick from a year ago, to the table. Before suffering a season ending injury, Burrow was turning heads throughout the league. In ten games he accumulated nearly 3,000 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and began to develop good rapport with fellow rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins who reeled in 900 yards and 6 touchdowns himself. Then there’s the 5th overall pick from this year’s draft and arguably the best receiver coming out of college with Ja’Marr Chase added to the fold rounding out a dynamic young offense in Cincinnati.
BAKER MAYFIELD, MYLES GARRETT and NICK CHUBB - Browns
The Minnesota Vikings have not seen the Browns since the 2017 season. Back then they were still the Browns that we all remember holding down the bottom of the league, let alone their division. That script has flipped in Cleveland and the Browns are one of the most exciting young teams throughout the league. Baker Mayfield has always had the flare, but as of last season he was able to reel in a bit of the gunslinger mentality and pull back on the interceptions to lead the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff win in Kevin Stefanski’s first year as head coach. Nick Chubb stood out in the backfield and they expect Odell Beckham Jr. to return after missing 2020 with an injury. Even on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings will see another #1 overall pick in Myles Garrett for the first time as he was inactive in 2017 last time these teams squared off..