The NFL season is closer than ever. Training camp started for most teams this week, with the rest to follow in the coming days. That got us thinking — if you could attend only one regular-season game this year, which would it be?
The possibilities are practically endless. It could be a game with your favorite team’s biggest rival, a clash between two of the best teams in the league, or even a bottom-of-the-barrel game between two teams fighting for draft position.
No matter the matchup, we’re all just happy to have football back in our lives. These were our picks for the game that we would attend.
Falcons vs. Patriots (Week 7)
The last edition of the game gave us a Would Have Been Super Bowl MVP performance by Grady Jarrett, Taylor Gabriel destroying Malcolm Butler’s soul, and two of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history by Julio Jones and Julian Edelman.
The game is now going to be the most anticipated matchup of the NFL season. The Patriots and Falcons are believed to have two of the best rosters in the NFL. I am here for the Falcons revenge game that — like many other things in the history of the franchise — will probably not go the way they want. — Harry Lyles Jr.
At first glance, this sounds like a pretty bah humbug way to spend Christmas Eve. Both teams were The Emoji Movie levels of unwatchable last season, and even if the Browns are projected to at least quadruple their win total, the Bears will likely be courting — perhaps even engaged to by then — the No. 1 pick in the draft.
With two weeks left in the season, any number of teams will be fighting for playoff spots. But not these two. There won’t be much on the line at all, really. And that’s why this game is my pick. I mean, who wants to add to their stress during the holiday season?
Instead, I want to go to a game where there are no stakes. I can just ride the chillwaves and watch football in a pure way, with fans who love their teams so much that they’d pay way too much money even when they know the product will only disappoint.
Bonus No. 1: This is likely to be a “switched at birth” rookie quarterback matchup. No one will be surprised if Ohio native Mitchell Trubisky, who once said he wanted to play for the Browns, is the starter for the Bears at that point. The Browns will probably have cycled through enough quarterbacks by Week 16 that DeShone Kizer is under center. At Notre Dame’s pro day, Kizer not-so-subtly campaigned for Chicago to draft him.
Bonus No. 2: I’m not sure if it even snows anymore in Chicago, but at least a quick trip to the suburbs would let me ogle streets lined with Home Alone-looking colonial houses all decorated for the yuletide.
Now, there’s no way I’d actually pay to attend this game. But if someone gave me a ticket or if I ended up with one in a white elephant gift exchange? I’m there with a “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal” smile. — Sarah Hardy
49ers vs. Washington (Week 6)
I’ll admit that this selection is a complete troll job. There’s apparently bad blood between Washington owner Dan Snyder and the Niners’ new head coach, Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington while his father, Mike, was the head coach back in 2010 through 2013. It did not end well. Kyle Shanahan described working in Washington as “different,” which is not a glowing endorsement.
So there’s inherent drama involved when Shanahan heads back to FedEx Field to face his former team as a head coach. Can Shanahan’s 49ers defense beat the quarterback he may be coveting in free agency next season: Kirk Cousins? Will Snyder and Shanahan cross paths, and will they be cordial? Will Shanahan actually run the dang ball when the situation calls for it? So many questions will be answered in Week 6. — Jeanna Thomas
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers are joining the Rams in the nation’s second biggest television market, and they’ll do it in front of a grand total of about 30,000 fans on Sundays. The StubHub Center, which usually hosts soccer games, will be the Chargers’ temporary home, even though it’s hilariously small compared to every other NFL stadium.
It’s not a bad idea, though. The Chargers are playing second fiddle to the Rams in LA and don’t have much of a built-in fan base in their new home. But selling out 30,000 seats is easy and, wow, is it going to be fun to be at Chargers games for a few years.
Imagine dealing with a parking lot with half as many cars and being twice as close to the action on the field. Just getting a ticket that gets you in the door will guarantee you have a seat that provides a better view than about 70,000 people get for Cowboys games at AT&T Stadium.
The Chargers’ home opener is against the Dolphins, and the 30,000 people there will be the first to get an NFL experience that nobody has ever had before. And I’m betting it will be a great one. — Adam Stites
Lambeau Field on an 80-degree day? Amazing. A rematch of the Fail Mary game that helped solve that year’s referee strike? Tremendous. A showdown between what may be the final year of Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary and one of the NFL’s top aerial attacks? EVEN BETTER.
The fact this is an afternoon game makes it all the better. You don’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. to tailgate, unless that’s your thing. You can roll into Green Bay at 11 and still have four hours of grilling brats, eating cheese curds, and sipping brandy old-fashioneds before kickoff. Sure, it may be a bit jarring to take on the frozen tundra in jorts and flip-flops, but there may not be a better game in the NFL this season. — Christian D’Andrea
None of them
You’re starting your Sunday at least $400 in the hole hours before the game even begins.
Once you get there and spend another $50 or more to park your car, you have to make it through the parking lot without someone vomiting on you, stabbing you (if you’re going to a Niners game) or, worst of all, telling you how great their shitty brisket is (wow, you grilled some meat, awesome.)
Don’t forget to put all of your crap in the clear plastic bag!
And then you’re finally inside. Weave through the throngs of sweaty humanity touching you, sneezing on you, coughing, being loud, until you find your seat. Oh, look, the man in front of you isn’t wearing underwear beneath his sweatpants, so now you’ve got to look around his hairy ass just to squint at tiny little specks moving an even tinier little speck around the field.
The real fun begins when those three light beers you drank, for a mere $32, are done filtering through your kidneys. After waiting in line 20 minutes to pee, splashing through the puddle of urine and whatever filth is oozing out of the one overflowing toilet (have you ever pooped at a stadium when it wasn’t an emergency?) and sauntering up to the urinal, you get the privilege of standing next to that guy who wants to talk to you while your frightened, enlarged prostate is making the whole process that much more difficult.
While you’re standing in filth waiting to relieve yourself, you will miss a pick-six, a circus catch, or whatever the one absolute can’t-miss highlight it is that this game will feature. Not to worry — you can catch the replay on TV when you get home.
You could’ve seen that highlight in real time had you opted to save the money and watch the game from the comfort of your own home (where I’m assuming nobody pees on the floor). And you’d have an extra $400-$500 to bet on the games, which is not a huge waste of money, nope. — Ryan Van Bibber
Which game would you pick? We asked Twitter and here’s what they said.