Football season is about to be in full gear, friends and fans. The 2017 NFL season kicks off this evening with an AFC duel featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots in Foxboro (or Foxborough). A handful of great matchups could make for a very fun opening weekend, and a few of those include multiple Sooners taking the field. Like last season, we’ll bring you weekly updates on all your favorite stars who once donned the Crimson & Cream.
To kick things off, here’s a preview of Week 1.
Kansas City @ New England
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
The rookie Joe Mixon hopes to become a sensation from the get-go after impressing through the preseason with the Bengals. Don’t be surprised if Mixon is the starter in the backfield by mid- to late season in Cincinnati. Joining Joe in Cincy is former OU co-captain Jordan Evans, who is currently listed behind Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Ray at weak side linebacker. The two Bengals make their pro debuts in Baltimore this Sunday against former Sooner DB and newly signed Raven Tony Jefferson.
Speaking of Tony Jefferson, the former Arizona Cardinal Jefferson chose to leave fringe NFC contender Arizona for the defensive beasts of the east, the Baltimore Ravens. He faces a solid Bengals offense and will have a few looks at his fellow Sooner, rookie Joe Mixon, as he patrols the field looking to stuff the run, his bread and butter that earned the Sooner Shark a huge payday this offseason.
Arizona @ Detroit
Carolina @ San Francisco
Zack Sanchez had an eventful week in Carolina. The cornerback was recently cut from the Panthers roster only to make his way back on — and now sits firmly on the IR. Hopefully, Zack comes back strong and gets back on the field this season.
Sanchez’s teammate Daryl Williams will line up at offensive tackle in Week 1 against the 49ers’ stout defensive front.
Seattle @ Green Bay
Aaron Ripkowski kicks off his season with the Packers at home gainst the Legion of Boom and the Seattle Seahawks. Few would see a touchdown coming from Rip this weekend. One of those few would not be Pete Carroll, who may still be figuring out the importance of goal-line handoffs. So, by all means Aaron, hand the ball off to Aaron.
Jacksonville @ Houston
Alright, I didn’t plan this, but here’s another Aaron. Aaron Colvin, who is a solid part of the rotation in the Jaguars secondary, begins 2017 at Houston. If it’s DeShaun Watson under center for the Texans, here’s hoping Owasso’s finest cornerback picks off the Clemson rookie and starts his season off with a bang. Sooner Nation would rejoice.
Also, making his much anticipated debut with the Jaguars is the speedy Dede Westbrook. The Biletnikoff Award winner has already shown flashes of his field-stretching ability and breakaway speed after putting up big numbers and catches in preseason play. His route-running has been very impressive for a rookie, and Westbrook starts out behind leading receiver Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee on the depth chart.
New Orleans @ Minnesota
The indomitable Adrian Peterson makes his Saints debut on Monday Night Football AT MINNESOTA! The former Vikings star will take on his old team in what could be one of the best games in Week 1. It’s going to be weird at first seeing AD in black and gold but here’s to hoping he can quickly get back on track in New Orleans, even if it’s in a reduced role. Can’t imagine how pumped up he must be about this matchup.
For the Vikings, the NFL’s all time record-setting passer in completion percentage, Sam Bradford, can hopefully stay upright more this season. When given time, Sammy B has shown he’s one of the, if not THE, most accurate passer in the National Football League. He’ll have his shots at the Saints secondary on Monday.
Joining Sam in Minny is recent waiver-wire pickup Blake Bell. The tight end formerly known as The Belldozer landed with the Vikings this offseason after just being released by the 49ers last week. How about Blake Bell possibly catching a touchdown pass this season from Sam Bradford?
New York Giants @ Dallas
Oklahoma’s favorite son Sterling Shepard will look to make a few big plays on Sunday night in Dallas. The Giants tangle with their NFC East rival Cowboys in the first primetime matchup of the season. With Odell Beckham Jr.’s status (or snaps) yet to be known, Shep could be a big part of the Giants offense from the get-go.
Tight end James Hanna and defensive lineman Charles Tapper — who earned high praise this offseason after missing all of 2016 with injury — will suit up on the other side for the Cowboys. Tapper is expected to contribute this season and could make some real noise if healthy.
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Landry Jones, the league’s most stylish backup, joins his teammates on the sidelines this Sunday at Cleveland. If the Steelers can rout the Browns, maybe ‘Stache Bro can get a few snaps (and probably a pick) in to kick off 2017 in his usually spectacular fashion.
Linebacker Dominique Alexander is back for another season with the Browns as he and his teammates try to contain the powerful Pittsburgh offense at home.
Oakland @ Tennessee
The dynamic DeMarco Murray is coming off a bounce-back season in Nashville and looks to get back to his NFL-leading form in 2017 with a Week 1 matchup in Oakland. With a few more weapons on the Titans offense and an improved quarterback in Marcus Mariota, Murray has a great shot to get back to the Pro Bowl this season. On the other side of the ball is defensive end David King, who will make his debut for the Titans in Week 1.
Philadelphia @ Washington
A trio of Sooners in Washington make their season debuts at home against their NFC East rivals from Philadelphia. Rookie running back Samaje Perine looks to become a major part of the committee in the backfield after a promising preseason but for now will begin 2017 as a backup to starter Rob Kelley. Also making his Washington debut with Perine this week is newly acquired defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who crossed the country to join his new team after playing in Oakland last season.
Leading the way for this Sooner group in Washington is none other than five-time Pro Bowl stud Trent Williams, who has recently adopted veganism this offseason. Here’s hoping Big Trent’s (slightly) slimmer, more athletic frame will help continue his Pro-Bowl streak and career as one of the most feared linemen in the league.
Also kicking off 2017 on the offensive line is Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, who hopes to enjoy a full season in Philly after serving a 10-game suspension in 2016.
Atlanta @ Chicago
Punter Tress Way looks to continue his strong-footed ways after going from Washington to Chicago this offseason.
LA Chargers @ Denver
Linebacker Corey Nelson, listed behind starter Brandon Marshall at left inside linebacker, kicks off 2017 on Monday night at home against the Chargers. Joining Corey on the Broncos is left tackle Donald Stephenson.
Tampa Bay @ Miami (Postponed)
Pro Bowler and Hard Knocks star Gerald McCoy, linebacker Devante Bond and their Buccaneers teammates saw this weekend’s game against the Dolphins moved to Week 11 due to the impending threat that is Hurricane Irma. G-Mac and Devante are in our thoughts, as is the Dolphins’ Sooner trio of Kenny Stills, Damien Williams and Jordan Phillips. The Bucs and Dolphins will play 16 straight games through this season starting in Week 2.