Ranking Each Sunday NFL Game By Watchability

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Each week this season, OutKick will get you primed for an NFL Sunday on the couch by telling you which games deserve the most attention. For Week 1, here we go…

NFL Games Worth Watching From Opening Kick Until Final Whistle

  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 (CBS)

When these two AFC North rivals meet, it’s always must-see TV. OutKick’s Armando Salguero wrote an excellent piece on why this is the Game of the Week, which you can read here.

  • Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25pm (CBS)

Main storyline: It’s hard to nail this down to one storyline. How will the Chiefs look without Tyreek Hill? Will Patrick Mahomes stake his claim as the NFL’s best quarterback after what Josh Allen did on Thursday night? To me, though, the story is the other quarterback: Kyler Murray. Murray was the subject of a ton of criticism following reports that he doesn’t watch any film. But, he still got paid. How will he look in his first game following a fat new contract against a Chiefs defense that was average to below-average last season?

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 8:15pm (NBC)

Main storyline: How will Tom Brady play after all the distractions this offseason? Reportedly, his wife Gisele Bündchen is living with the kids away from Tom, angry that he returned to football. Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history, but even he has to be susceptible to off-the-field distractions. I mean, he’s not a robot, right? RIGHT!?

Even the NFL’s GOAT, Tom Brady, is susceptible to drama affecting his play … right??? (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFL Games To Flip To During Commercials Of Better Games

  • Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers, 1pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: How will Jacoby Brissett play in his first start as a Cleveland Brown? Just kidding, the story here writes itself: Baker Mayfield faces his old team in his first game with his new team. The Baker “revenge game” angles are fascinating, but can he put emotions aside and just play a strong 60 minutes? Mistakes have plagued Baker throughout his career, but now he has two incredible offensive weapons in Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. Can he get out of the way and just let them do their thing?

  • New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: Is Tua Tagovailoa the future of the Miami Dolphins? Obviously, we will not get this answer on Sunday. But it’s an important Week 1 game for Tua. All offseason the talk has been about whether he can take the next step and be THE guy for Miami. He starts against a division rival, the best head coach in the league and another young QB in Mac Jones. Miami has been good at home against the Patriots in the past and a win here would do wonders for Tua’s confidence moving forward.

  • Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: Will Kirk Cousins show he’s the best QB on the field? OK, that’s admittedly a bit of an inside joke at OutKick. I am a major Kirk Cousins defender and I don’t think Michael Irvin was crazy to suggest that he could win league MVP this season. Plus, he’s got far better offensive weaponry than the more-talented Aaron Rodgers. How will Rodgers fare without Davante Adams? This game just missed making the top tier, but is one I am heavily invested in watching.

  • Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: How does Justin Herbert begin his MVP campaign? Yes, you read that correctly. Herbert is my pick to win the NFL’s MVP this season and this is a great spot for him against an average Raiders defense. Speaking of defense, the Chargers completely revamped theirs in the offseason, trading for former Raider Khalil Mack and signing JC Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson. How will they look against a formidable Las Vegas offense? The Raiders now feature Davante Adams along with standout tight end Darren Waller and slot man extraordinaire Hunter Renfrow? Can Derek Carr prove that he’s good enough to lead this team to the next level?

Chargers QB Justin Herbert is poised for a MASSIVE year this NFL season (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

I Guess It’s OK If These Show Up On RedZone

  • New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 (FOX)

Main Storyline: A battle between former 2015 Top 2 draft picks. It seems like forever ago, but in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston went #1 and Marcus Mariota went #2. A battle we thought we might see for years to come never really came to fruition as both players have had massive ups-and-downs in their careers. The Bucs drafted Winston but he left and stayed in the NFC South to join the Saints. Tennessee drafted Mariota before he left to spend two years as Derek Carr’s backup in Las Vegas. Now, he gets a fresh chance to start and he’ll do it against the guy who beat him out for the #1 overall pick. The NFL is so much fun, you guys.

  • San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1:00 (FOX)

Main Storyline: I’m clearly a sucker for QBs picked in the first round of the same draft. I get it, this matchup doesn’t look great on paper. Hear me out, though. Trey Lance — the #3 overall pick in 2021 — is making his first career Week 1 start and just the third overall of his career. The 49ers elected not to trade Jimmy Garoppolo seemingly because they’re worried Lance might not work out. That’s a lot of pressure on the second-year signal-caller. While there doesn’t seem to be any pressure on Justin Fields because the media constantly makes excuses for him, I’m still curious to see how he plays. Personally, I think Fields is already a bust and won’t amount to much in the league. My media brethren believe it’s all because of the team he’s on. To that I say, a little column A and a little column B.

The Trey Lance-Jimmy G dynamic is one of the NFL’s best storylines this season (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If You’re A Fan Of These Teams, I Guess You Might Care. But I Don’t.

  • Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, 1:00 (CBS)

Main Storyline: Did Lamar Jackson bet on himself because he knew he was playing the Jets in Week 1? Seriously, is there any better way for Lamar to begin his “I deserve $500M” campaign than against the New York Jets? The Ravens are my pick for survivor pools, I like them to easily cover any number under 14 and this game shouldn’t be remotely close. Joe Flacco “revenge” game? Please. If that’s your angle, I wish you the utmost excitement in trying to enjoy this game.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders, 1:00 (FOX)

Main Storyline: Trevor Lawrence, Year 2. That’s it. That’s the story. The only thing keeping this game in this tier and ahead of the garbage games in the last tier is T-Law’s quest to prove that last season’s disaster was because of Urban Meyer. It’s not an easy start, either, as Washington boasts a formidable pass rush — although he’s spared from facing an injured Chase Young. As for Carson Wentz as a Commander … good luck, Washington fans. You’re gonna need it.

  • Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions, 1:00 (FOX)

Main Storyline: What will Dan Campbell say after the game? I know that seems like a copout since it’s not even technically a game storyline, but this is another one that was barely spared from the basement tier. Jared Goff vs. Jalen Hurts? Yawn. I am excited to see AJ Brown in a new uniform, but unfortunately he goes from one average QB (Ryan Tannehill) to another (Hurts). But content machine Dan Campbell and the Hard Knocks Lions at least make for some potential entertainment.

AJ Brown is so good, he almost makes me want to watch an NFL game I have no interest in. Almost. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

If These NFL Games Show Up On My TV, I’m Punting It Off My Back Deck

  • Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1:00 (CBS)

Main Storyline: Ah, the ESPN Wild Card Special. When I worked at ESPN, there was always a running joke about which AFC South team we were going to get in the one NFL playoff game ESPN was allowed to broadcast. You see, the NFL hated ESPN (join the club, amiright) and they always gave ESPN the worst game. That’s how the network ended up with some classics like Connor Cook vs. Brock Osweiler matchup in 2017. Or the Colts vs. Texans matchup a year later in 2018. At least that game featured Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson, but was still a 21-7 snooze-fest. Those QBs are long gone and now we have Matt Ryan vs. Davis Mills. Unless you have fantasy football implications, I can’t see you being interested in this game. I don’t, and I’m not.

  • New York Giants at Tennessee Titans, 4:25 (FOX)

Main Storyline: Apologies to OutKick’s fearless leader, Clay Travis, but I just don’t see anything interesting about this game. Even OutKick betting writer Geoff Clark, who is a NY Giants fan, said he has three TVs in his house and none of them will be on this game. Keep in mind, there are only four games in the late window.

Like most of the American public, I bet on games that I otherwise have no vested interested. You know, put some “skin in the game” so that I will care. I have the Titans at -5.5 because I think less than a touchdown for last year’s AFC #1 seed against Daniel Jones and the NFL’s poorest-run franchise is criminal. But even though I have money on it, I still won’t watch a second of this game. I set an alert so that when it goes final I get a notification. Yeah, that’s how much I care.

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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