Five most anticipated NFL games in September and tips on where to watch
The leaves may not change colors in Arizona as fall weather approaches but you can definitely feel the seasons shift as football kicks into gear.
While the 2016 season may have been a disappointment for Arizona Cardinals fans, USA Today has them at No. 14 in its preseason NFL power rankings, while ESPN has them at No. 10. September’s games should provide a better clue about where they really belong.
The 2017 season starts with some entertaining matchups in September.
Whether watching from home or from your favorite sports bar and grill, here are some games you don’t want to miss.
Chiefs vs. Patriots, Sept. 7
Opening night of the 2017 season features the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots against the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. The two teams never met in 2016, so this gives Alex Smith, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill a chance to highlight their skills early in the year, says NFL.com. The game is in New England, where the Patriots rarely lose.
Cardinals vs. Lions, Sept. 10
The Cards open their season in Detroit this year, facing the Lions. After a disappointing 2016 when the Cardinals were expected to compete for the Super Bowl, the team will be looking for a fast start. Unfortunately, they might be up for a challenge.
Matt Stafford and his team had nine wins and made the Wild Card game, where they lost to Seattle. ESPN projects Detroit has a 61.6 percent chance of winning the opening matchup with Arizona.
Saints vs. Vikings, Sept. 11
The first Monday night contest of 2017 features running back Adrian Peterson wearing a New Orleans Saints uniform and facing off against his old team. But that won’t be the only reunion.
“Coach Mike Zimmer will start the year against Sean Payton, his good friend from their time with the Dallas Cowboys,” writes Ben Goessling for espn.com.
The last time the Minnesota Vikings met the Saints in the season-opener was in 2010, a follow-up to their loss in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. They lost to the Saints in that opener as well, 14-9. Brett Favre was the quarterback of the team that year in his final NFL season.
Packers vs. Falcons, Sept. 17
These two teams already played in 2017 in the NFC Championship game, where the Atlanta Falcons dismantled the Green Bay Packers 44-21. Expect Aaron Rodgers and his teammates to give their best effort in this game featuring two of the NFC’s strongest teams.
Cowboys vs. Cardinals, Sept. 25
After the Cardinals open the season playing in Detroit and Indianapolis, they finally get their home opener against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a Monday evening tilt on ESPN, so the Cards have a great opportunity for early exposure — a chance to show last season was an anomaly.
The Cowboys did better than expected in 2016 with inexperienced quarterback Dak Prescott. Now that he has his first season behind him, Dallas is entering this season with plenty of confidence.
These two teams already met in the preseason where the Cowboys scored a 20-18 victory. Of course, preseason games are relatively meaningless and this time the Cards will have home-field advantage.
Now that you have highlights, you’ll want to choose the perfect spot to watch the game.
Here are five things to consider when choosing a location:
TVs and more TVs
When it comes to watching football, there can never be enough televisions. The right TV set-up can make you feel like you’re part of the action. Watching in HD makes it even better. Don’t be fooled by thinking any bar with a TV makes for a great game day experience. Poor planning and positioning can result in sun glares and blocked views. Sports bars that specialize in gameday viewing, such as Native Grill and Wings make sure there’s a great view from any seat in the house.
Speaking of seats…
Serious football fans will undoubtedly sit and stand throughout the game so make sure there is room for both. If you’re planning on a group of people watching together, this can be a challenge. Hi-top tables are generally a good option for the ‘sit and stand’ scenario, making it easy to jump out of your seat when cheering for your favorite team. Less emphatic fans may appreciate a more casual style of booth seating or tables. Try to choose a location that offers plenty of all three options.
Foods for a feast
Roughly 1.25 billion chicken wings were eaten during Super Bowl LI last year and that’s just part of the story. Another 28,000,000 pounds of chips were consumed along with countless amounts of pizzas and other snacks — and that’s just on one day alone! Yes, it seems football fans love food as much as they love the game. Yet, trying to please everyone in the group can be a little tricky. Make sure to choose a location that serves a variety of foods including salads, pizzas, burgers and even gluten free to accommodate food allergies.
Drinks for all
For a lot of people, watching a football game isn’t complete without the right beer. Corona Extra and Pacifico Mexican lagers make for easy drinking when paired with spicy wings or nachos. Serious Eats suggests food friendly beers, such as Negro Modelo, pair nicely with items like BBQ chicken and ribs. For non-beer drinkers, a full bar with a variety of liquor options may be needed. Spicy Mary’s or a margarita can be a nice change of pace. Some locations may feature game day drink specials so call ahead to see what’s offered.
The right crowd
Part of the fun of watching football is having a group of fans to share the ups and downs of the game. There’s nothing worse than watching your favorite team score the winning touchdown and having no one to share the excitement. When you choose a place that’s passionate about sports and creating the perfect game day experience, you can’t go wrong.
So, there you have it, Football Fans: Five ‘Must See’ NFL games in September and tips for choosing where to watch. This season is looking good already.