Regardless of what happens Sunday in Houston, we’ll probably see the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots face off again very soon.
Since NBC started Sunday Night Football at the beginning of the 2006 season, the network has had rights to the kickoff game at the start of every regular season. That game is traditionally on a Thursday night, and it’s frequently a marquee matchup.
During that time, the two Super Bowl teams have only matched up in the following regular season twice, but in 2017, the Falcons are scheduled to visit the Patriots as part of their once-every-four-years trip through the AFC East. You’d have to think that NBC will want this matchup to start the 2017 season for their Thursday night extravaganza.
That was the case back in September, when the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers started the 2016 season in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Yet again, there will be no bigger storyline to start the 2017 season than the Super Bowl rematch, so you have to figure NBC will order up the game as soon as possible.
The NFL is such a finicky league, with good teams suddenly falling apart the next season (hi, Panthers), so the league probably won’t want to risk playing this rematch late in the season. They’ll want to see the Falcons face the Patriots as soon as possible, before injuries or other problems arise, since that would pull maximum ratings and storylines.
So even though nothing has been announced yet, I fully expect Atlanta to be headed to Foxborough on Thursday, Sept. 7.Follow @Sean_Breslin