We do know that no conflict exists with baseball's Mariners, and so the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks will get to be at home for NBC's prime-time Thursday night season-opener against...well that is yet to be determined.
Let's rank the eight potential opponents from most to least enticing.
1. Denver Broncos: How do you not start with a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII? I know it wasn't a good game, because it wasn't close, but there's no way Peyton Manning lets that happen again. The storylines for this game (Seattle's Super Bowl defense, Denver's redemption) are built in.
2. San Francisco 49ers: A rematch of that thrilling NFC championship game wouldn't be bad either. Plus, this is one of the best rivalries in sports and would almost definitely be a close game. It may be a surprise, but only 2 of 12 Thursday night openers have been divisional matchups.
3. Green Bay Packers: They'd kill in the ratings and might be as strong a challenger as San Fran or Denver. Honestly, any of these first three teams would be gold for NBC and the NFL.
4. Dallas Cowboys: "America's Team" versus the world champs. The storylines would be fun because Dallas is so talented but has been in a rut for so long and the Seahawks are the new kids on the block, relatively speaking. The problem is there's a chance the Seahawks blow them out. If the NFL and NBC are looking for ratings, the Cowyboys are always a great option.
5. Arizona Cardinals: I see no reason why you'd go with Arizona over any of those four teams, but this would be a fun way to try to build another NFC West rivalry. And considering that the Cards are the only team that has beaten the Seahawks in their last 18 home games, they might present a stiff challenge to the champs.
T-6. New York Giants, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders: It'll never happen, unless NBC wants to see a Manning throw more interceptions.
@awfulannouncing make them play somebody, give em an SEC team...
The other 3 possibilities (SF/Denver/Cowboys) are guaranteed ratings on any Sunday. The opener doesn't need that much juice...and Aaron Rodgers/GB is more than enough star power.
SF will start at home anyway for the new stadium.
@awfulannouncing Don't want to waste a matchup like SF on an opener, right? You'll get ratings anyways...
@awfulannouncing has to be SF. Best rivalry right now
@awfulannouncing New England would be good. Popular team, novel matchup, Belichick-Carroll, etc.
@awfulannouncing this list should start and end with SF, rivalry, plenty of pregame opportunity to talk Sherman/Crabtree
@awfulannouncing It will be SF. 100% guaranteed (esp if the NFL likes money)
I don't see Arizona getting it. They are a question mark in terms of ratings power. Which is why you could see Dallas get it, since they are such a rating drawer, good or bad. They tend to get early prime time games, their season opener has been an NBC game the last 4 years.
I think they want The Niners to open Levi's Stadium week one, in fact i see that as The Sunday Night Game (They will want the staff for SNF to not have to travel a great distance from Thurs to Sun)
I'd pick Denver, who wouldn't want to see a SB Rematch open the new season? Regardless of the score of the SB.
@nickdevlin good idea but Seattle is not scheduled to play NE next year at home. Must be one of 8 home games.
@__Helton__ Ahhh, forgot opponents were already out there. My bad.