The NFL season opener, a marquee game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, will take place Thursday - so what time does the game start on TV?
NBC TV will broadcast the game live beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, but there will be plenty of hub-bub before kickoff. NBC will host Football Night in America - a one hour pregame show - starting at 7:30 p.m.. Around 8:10 p.m., the Patriots will unveil their 2016 Super Bowl banner at Gillette Stadium and officially kick off the NFL season with pregame festivities. Here is a preview of the Patriots - Chiefs showdown in Foxboro.
3 things to watch for
1. Remember 2014
For all the talk of a 19-0 season, the Chiefs could absolutely upset the Patriots on Opening Night Thursday (8:30 p.m., NBC).
Kansas City nearly sent Tom Brady in early retirement three years ago on a Monday night as it clobbered the Pats, 41-14. The Chiefs defense made Brady look Mark Sanchez-esque that night as TB12 finished with a stat line of 14-of-23 for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. That was good for a passer rating of 59.9.
The Chiefs return the majority of the defense that did the damage that night. Safety Eric Berry, cornerback Marcus Peters, nose tackle Bennie Logan, and linebacker Justin Houston lead the way for the KC defense.
The Pats’ offensive line, which looked suspect at times in the Super Bowl against Atlanta and the divisional round against the Texans, will need to be on point.
2. New toys
Patriots fans will get their first real look at wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, tight end Dwayne Allen and wide receiver/punt returner Phillip Dorsett on Thursday night.
The Pats aren’t shy about playing with their new toys in Week 1 as last year Chris Hogan came up big against Arizona (three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown) and 10 years ago Randy Moss scored the Jets in his Pats debut with nine catches for 183 yards and a TD.
Maybe Cooks has a similar debut?
3. Play to your strengths
The Patriots defense gave up the least amount of points per game last season, allowing just 15.6 PPG.
The Chiefs offense doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents as boring old Alex Smith is still under center. Some KC fans are already clamoring to give rookie Patrick Mahomes a shot, but it’s almost certain the Pats will see Smith exclusively on Thursday night. Smith’s main target on offense is Tyreek Hill, but look for the Pats to lock him up Deandre Hopkins-style.
Kansas City’s strength on offense remains in the run game, with impressive rookie Kareem Hunt expected to get the brunt of the carries.