It's become an annual tradition that the defending Super Bowl champion plays the season-opening game the following season. The NFL always tries to schedule a marquee matchup, hopefully pitting rivals or playoff teams against each other on "Thursday Night Football." This year is no different.
The defending champion New England Patriots are getting the first game of the season, and according to the Boston Globe, they'll be squaring off against a potential playoff opponent: the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots' opening game on Sept. 7 at Gillette Stadium will almost certainly be against the Chiefs, who are coming off a 12-4 season and an AFC West title. A rematch with the Falcons was an option, but they are likely to open the season at home on "Sunday Night Football" to debut their new stadium.
The Panthers played the season-opening game last season against the Broncos, in a rematch of Super Bowl 50, and they were . The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills were unlikely as there have only been two divisional games played in the opener since the Super Bowl champ started hosting it on Thursday night -- the Giants opened the season against Washington in 2008 and the Cowboys in 2012.
That left the Falcons, Texans, and Chiefs. As the Globe noted, the Falcons are likely to open their new stadium at home, and the NFL probably does not want to take a chance on putting the quarterback-starved Texans in such a national spotlight.