Professional Sports

SHAQ ON SPORTS: 2018 NFL schedule has a great opening week

The 2018 NFL schedule is out and people already are looking forward to what will be the most interesting games of week one.

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will kick off the regular season against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 6. The game will serve as the rematch of the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs in which the Eagles defeated the Falcons in a close showdown game, 15-10.

The game ended with the Falcons having a chance to come away with the win with a first-and-goal on the Eagles 2 yard line. The Falcons needed a touchdown to win the game, but the Eagles held on to win the game and eventually the Super Bowl.

Along with the Eagles and the Falcons season opener, other interesting week one matchups are the San Francisco 49ers at the Minnesota Vikings, the Houston Texans at the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams at the Oakland Raiders.

The 49ers and the Vikings game will be a game of matchups. The Vikings acquired quarterback Kirk Cousins in the off-season. For the 49ers, an argument could be made that their greatest need is a top-level edge rusher. Because teams generally do not let those types of players hit the open market, they must be found in the draft.

After North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, there were not many edge rushers available in the draft, according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. He says, “The worst position in the draft is the pass rushers, be it defensive end or be it outside linebacker, and it is just a terrible position. There is just not that defined first or second round pass rusher outside of Bradley Chubb and he is in a league of his own.”

Whatever the buzz was that was left from the 49ers’ 5-0 finish to last season apparently made its way into the schedule makers headquarters. The 49ers have five prime time games, including one on Thursday night, at home against the Raiders, two on Monday night, at Green Bay and at home against the New York Giants, and also two on Sunday night, one at home against the Los Angeles Rams and the other at the Seattle Seahawks.

The Texans and Patriots game should be interesting with Deshaun Watson battling the great Tom Brady again. The Texans will start the season with one of their toughest games of the year in what could be a fun rematch from 2017. In their first matchup last September, Watson had his coming out party, throwing for 301 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He gave the Texans a chance to win with less than three minutes remaining before Brady led the Patriots, like he does many times, on a game-winning touchdown drive. If this game is anything like it was last season, and I believe it will be, it will be a close one but it will most likely have the same result with Brady and company taking the win.

I will not be surprised if Watson leads the Texans to the upset win, as a matter of fact, that is the outcome I will be hoping for.

The Rams and Raiders game will provide much intrigue for many different reasons. There will be many new faces around for both teams with the Rams acquiring many weapons during the off-season on both the defensive side and the offensive side of the ball. The Raiders will look different as well with a new but old head coach, Jon Gruden.

This Monday Night season opener will be one welcome back to the NFL party for Gruden. His first game on the Raiders sideline since the 2001 season will be a huge test against the likes of the Rams defense with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

The Rams will finally experience what it means to play a first place schedule. They will play in five prime-time games in 2018; all of them against teams that could end up in the playoffs. They’ll also travel very little the first five weeks, giving them a real chance to get off to another good start.

So be sure to tune into the upcoming NFL season.

Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at