The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A five-minute guide to NFL Week 1

The NFL season opens Thursday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., where last season ended with Super Bowl LVI. (Tyler Kaufman/AP)

The NFL season begins where it left off, with the Los Angeles Rams playing at SoFi Stadium.

The Super Bowl champion Rams host the Buffalo Bills, a popular pick to play in Super Bowl LVII, in Thursday night’s prime-time matchup of quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen. Fifteen more games follow in Week 1, including prime-time TV matchups that feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks on Monday.

After 272 games, we will have a clearer idea where things stand for all 32 teams. For now, here’s something to know about each Week 1 matchup.

NFL rankings and happenings: Lamar Jackson, Ravens face cutoff as season looms

All times Eastern.


Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m., NBC: Allen and Stafford combined for 77 touchdown passes last year, but the possibility of a shootout rests with Stafford, who reportedly underwent an offseason procedure to alleviate pain in his elbow. The Bills have not forgotten how their season ended, with a 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs, and while Buffalo may be a popular Super Bowl pick, the Rams are 5-0 in season openers under Coach Sean McVay.


New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.: The Falcons have lost their past four home games against the Saints, who now have Dennis Allen as their coach after Sean Payton stepped down. Marcus Mariota replaces Matt Ryan as Falcons quarterback with Jameis Winston back for the Saints, who have the second-best record (58-23, .716) in the NFL over the past five seasons.

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.: The Browns have not won a Week 1 road game since 1994, when their coach was Bill Belichick. Their chances of reversing that may not improve with quarterback Baker Mayfield, now starting for Carolina, facing his former team in one of the most hyped matchups of Week 1. With Deshaun Watson serving an 11-game suspension, Jacoby Brissett will be Cleveland’s starter under center.

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.: The 49ers are Trey Lance’s team, but Jimmy Garoppolo is back — at least for now — with a cap-friendly contract. He is even studying the playbook and practicing with the team again as Lance’s backup, but, as Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young admitted recently, “This is hairy stuff.” The Bears have a new Matt at coach (that would be Eberflus, replacing Nagy) and Justin Fields at quarterback.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.: The post-Ben Roethlisberger era begins with Mitch Trubisky getting the first shot to be his replacement. The eternal question for the Bengals is whether they can protect Joe Burrow, who led them to a Super Bowl appearance last season despite being sacked 70 times in the regular season and postseason (including seven in the Super Bowl). That’s the third-highest total in NFL history (David Carr was sacked 76 times in 2002 and Randall Cunningham 72 in 1986). Good move to sign three free agent offensive linemen in the offseason.

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.: Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, makes his debut against a team with standout left tackle Jordan Mailata and may spend much of the day chasing quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.: Carson Wentz has been dispatched, replaced in Indianapolis by Matt Ryan. The key to the Colts’ offense, though, is running back Jonathan Taylor. Who knows what the key is for the Texans, now with Lovie Smith as their coach and Davis Mills at quarterback?

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.: The Patriots look beatable, and the Dolphins may have been unable to land Tom Brady despite their best efforts, but they do have Tua Tagovailoa, who is 3-0 against Bill Belichick’s team.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: The Ravens will face Joe Flacco, the quarterback they once made the highest-paid player in the league, because Zach Wilson (knee) has not been medically cleared to start. Although the Ravens still have not locked down Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, with a contract extension, Coach John Harbaugh reports that he is “locked in.”

After a reset, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens appear poised to contend again

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders, 1 p.m.: The Jaguars have to be better with Doug Pederson as coach than they were with Urban Meyer, right? And Colts castoff Carson Wentz has to be an improvement at quarterback for a Washington team making its regular season debut as the Commanders, right?

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans, 4:25 p.m.: The Titans were the AFC’s top seed last season, only to be stung by the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs. Star running back Derrick Henry will play in a regular season game for the first time since Week 8 of 2021. As for the Giants, well, the city can always turn its lonely eyes to the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.: The Cardinals were right up there when it came to offseason drama. But Kyler Murray is back, presumably content with a contract extension that pays the quarterback $46.1 million per year. This is the first meeting between Murray and Patrick Mahomes.

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.: The Raiders, picked by many to finish last in the loaded AFC West, finished 10-7 last season, lost to Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs and then added Davante Adams — quarterback Derek Carr’s former Fresno State teammate who has led the NFL in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns since 2018 — and pass rusher Chandler Jones to new coach Josh McDaniels’s team.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 p.m.: The Packers traded Adams, which means Aaron Rodgers’s chances for a third straight MVP rest in the hands of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. No pressure.

Five predictions for an NFL season that’s more unpredictable than ever

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m., NBC: Tampa Bay’s quarterback has been dealing with some … stuff, which evidently happens to 45-year-olds. Brady may have a 6-0 record against Dallas (with five of those games coming with the Patriots), but the Bucs have a tough season-opening stretch with the next three games at New Orleans, home against Green Bay and home against Kansas City. In a season-opening 31-29 win over the Cowboys last year, Brady passed for 379 yards and four touchdowns.


Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m., ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes: For the first time since Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos have a marquee quarterback. Russell Wilson has the second-most passing touchdowns through his first 10 seasons in NFL history, ranking second only to Manning (327 to 317). As Wilson faces his former team, Manning and his brother Eli will be back with their “Manningcast” simulcast.