It feels like a lifetime ago that Philadelphia upstaged New England in one of the all-time great Super Bowls at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Fear no more because our nocturnal habits are about to creep back in with Monday morning being owned by a slate of amazing NFL clashes each and every week.
Friday morning we watch the champion Philadelphia Eagles again display the Lombardi Trophy in front of its adoring fans before eight games kickoff in the wee hours of Monday morning, followed by another quartet of matches getting underway as the slightly less dedicated football fans awake – or perhaps just those who actually need some sleep so they can function for a working week…
The famed Monday Night Football schedule gets underway with a double-header featuring a rookie quarterback making his debut and an in-state rivalry on the west coast.
Here’s a snapshot of what to watch for in all 16 games;
FALCONS at EAGLES
Carson Wentz is not yet ready so Nick Foles will again attempt to be the Eagles hero. They’ve added All-Pro Mike Bennett to an already intimidating defensive line whilst former NRL young gun Jordan Mailata has made the final 53-man roster and experts are predicting a big future ahead.
For the Falcons, they enter Lincoln Financial Field in consecutive games after having their 2017/18 season ended in the NFC Divisional Round.
All eyes will again be on the offence to see whether Steve Sarkisian can recapture the devastating explosiveness that Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and co. had during their Super Bowl run.
FANTASY FOOTBALL KING: Julio Jones
TIP: Falcons upstage champs and look like explosive selves again.
BILLS at RAVENS
All eyes have been on draftee Lamar Jackson this pre-season but it will be Joe Flacco again leading the Ravens squad. He will need to perform however or the calls for Jackson will be deafening.
Josh Allen will not get the start despite AJ McCarron being shipped to Oakland. Nathan Peterman has secured that role, which means he must’ve improved significantly since we saw him throw a handful of picks against the Chargers.
FF KING: Alex Collins
TIP: Ravens easily as calls for Allen begin early.
JAGUARS at GIANTS
This is the underrated game of the week.
Eli Manning, a healthy Odell Beckham and rookie sensation Saquon Barkley will attempt to reignite the Giants offence in the face of a deadly Jacksonville front and a shutdown secondary.
Loudmouth Jalen Ramsey versus Beckham Jr will be mouthwatering and I’m predicting former LSU stud Leonard Fournette will run rampant in this one.
FF KING: Leonard Fournette
TIP: Fournette rumbles, shows Barkley how to do it.
BUCCANEERS at SAINTS
Jameis Winston will be watching from his couch which gives Tampa almost no shot. Mark Ingram is also suspended, which could actually be a good thing as Alvin Kamara will be force-fed and we know what that looked like in his rookie season.
Things could get ugly for the Floridians.
FF KING: Mike Thomas
TIP: Saints hammer hapless Bucs.
TEXANS at PATRIOTS
This is the not underrated game of the week.
Houston will bring its ferocious defence to the face of Tom Brady – which has been relatively successful in the past.
Brady will again be without Julian Edelman but Rob Gronkowski is there.
Deshaun Watson returns from his torn ACL and anything near what he produced as a rookie will be amazing – any sign of improvement and Houston are contenders.
FF KING: Rob Gronkowski
TIP: Houston defence again hound Tommy but he finds a way.
NINERS at VIKINGS
Minnesota were dominant at times last season and the defence should remain powerful. In my view, Kirk Cousins is a significant upgrade on Case Keenum so everything is in place for the men in purple. A positive return from Dalvin Cook will be the icing on a very tasty cake.
Jimmy Garoppolo is undefeated as a starting QB for San Francisco but this is one tough ask. Richard Sherman vs. Stefon Diggs will be interesting.
FF KING: Kyle Rudolph
TIP: Both QB’s strong but Vikings defence the difference.
TITANS at DOLPHINS
I have been high on Tennessee but this is a big, big season.
Marcus Mariota needs to remain healthy and inch closer to the top echelon of quarterbacks. He has enough help in Derrick Henry and a solid defence.
Miami do not excite me one little bit but there is always one team I sleep on who become solid. Ryan Tannehill has a big year ahead of him.
FF KING: Derrick Henry
TIP: Tennessee in a slugfest.
BENGALS at COLTS
Zero faith in either squad despite my unashamed love for AJ Green.
Andrew Luck’s return should be met with humble hope. Any signs of his old self will do but a win should be the Colts focus.
FF KING: Tyler Eifert
TIP: Luck rusty as AJ leads Bengals past Indy.
STEELERS at BROWNS
Cleveland will be a must-watch for now. Juice Landry, Tyrod, Njoku, Flash Gordon* and Baker Mayfield waiting in the wings. Myles Garrett looks ready to become a beast.
Pittsburgh will await Le’Veon Bell’s appearance and without him this might be a tough ask.
FF KING: David Njoku
TIP: Bell’s limited workload leaves Bumblebees lacklustre as new-look Browns roll to 1-0.
CHIEFS at CHARGERS
Big faith has been instilled in Patrick Mahomes to take over what was a pretty decent offence last season. Tyreek Hill is a weapon, as is Travis Kelce but Kareem Hunt’s numbers will be intriguing to follow.
LA’s ‘other’ team are a sleeper provided Phil Rivers is still Phil Rivers and injuries do not kill their hopes like they have previously.
FF KING: Keenan Allen
TIP: Fans second-guess Mahomes’ appointment as Chargers celebrate in Cali sun.
SEAHAWKS at BRONCOS
Russell Wilson has been nothing short of sensational. Too much has been asked of him. He loses Jimmy Graham so where is the tipping point !?!
Case Keenum replicating his season in Minnesota would be a big upgrade on recent QB play in Mile High.
FF KING: Royce Freeman
TIP: As usual, Wilson runs for his life but cannot carry ‘Hawks.
COWBOYS at PANTHERS
Two truly unpredictable teams.
Will Dallas desperately miss Dez and Witten and are rumours of Cam Newton’s demise anything near the truth ?
Ezekiel Elliott will benefit from not having ongoing legal drama but will face stacked boxes until a Dallas receiver steps up.
FF KING: Allen Hurns
TIP: Cam and Run CMC leave Dallas defence spinning with passing, running and receiving.
REDSKINS at CARDINALS
More QB changes. Sam Bradford lands in the desert but Josh Rosen is the future whilst Alex Smith is a quietly excellent signing for proven QB-aide Jay Gruden.
Arizona’s defence is not what it was but David Johnson’s return will help both units.
FF KING: Larry Fitzgerald
TIP: Alex Smith usurps popular opinion (again) and leads ‘Skins to victory.
BEARS at PACKERS
Arch enemies square off at Lambeau with Aaron Rodgers fresh off signing a mega-deal. Khalil Mack somewhat surprisingly lands in Chicago which is beginning to look loaded with young talent. Jimmy Graham will go close to leading the league in TD’s.
FF KING: Jimmy Graham
TIP: Rodgers-Jimmy hook-up twice as Pack punish young Bears.
JETS at LIONS
Sam Darnold debuts on Monday Night on the road. Big task.
Matthew Stafford should be sweet dealing with the Gang Green defence in what could be only be a curtain-raiser to the main event.
FF KING: LaGarrette Blount
TIP: LaGarrette Blount adds some ferocity to Lions run game as Lions pounce.
RAMS at RAIDERS
The Rams were a phenomenon last season with their high-octane offence.
Jared Goff looked like an MVP and nameless receivers scored week-in, week-out. Todd Gurley was also pretty good.
Derek Carr is better than he has performed whilst Jordy Nelson should be an upgrade on Mike Crabtree. Losing Khalil Mack hurts them.
FF KING: Jared Goff
TIP: Rams win, but both teams end week one in style with a scoring fiesta.