Monday Night Football is finally back this week, with not one but two NFL games to help quell your withdrawal symptoms from the long and difficult offseason. We go back to the usual format of one Monday night game a week next Monday, so you don’t need to worry about overdosing and/or getting divorced as the season goes on.
We’re starting off with a couple of great matchups: Philadelphia at Atlanta and Minnesota at San Francisco.
Eagles at Falcons (6:55pm ET, ESPN)
With new quarterback Sam Bradford coming off of an unusually strong preseason performance after missing the 2014 season because of an ACL injury, the Eagles are poised to make some real noise in the NFC East, particularly with newly minted teammate DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards in Dallas last year, lining up behind Bradford. The Eagles’ offense looked fearsome in the preseason, but then again it was the preseason.
Philadelphia also made some changes to its defense, adding Byron Maxwell to a beleaguered secondary. But Atlanta is poised to put it to an early test, with QB Matt Ryan leading one of last year’s best passing offenses, and Julio Jones and Roddy White returning on the wings. Atlanta’s secondary, led by standout CB Desmond Trufant, could well expose Philly’s preseason air show as a fluke, but after last week’s preseason struggles against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, that’s far from guaranteed.
Vikings at 49ers (10:15pm ET, ESPN)
Much was made of the 49ers’ announcement that they’ll wear all-black uniforms in the season opener, which seems fitting given QB Colin Kaepernick’s heel turn over the last two seasons. (We’re a long way from the Joe Montana-Steve Young era.) Regardless of the imagery, the 49ers are not quite the team that made the NFC Championship three years in a row, finishing last season 8-8.
With RB Adrian Peterson’s return to the Minnesota offense, the Niners will have their hands full, particularly after losing LBs Chris Borland, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis and DE Justin Smith. After missing most of last season to well-publicized legal problems, Peterson is likely to go on a rampage, particularly against a weakened defense.
Note: Both games are unavailable on mobile phones.