After an eventful first Sunday of the 2016 NFL season, Week 1 concludes with a doubleheader on “Monday Night Football.” The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Washington Redskins in the first game, followed by a matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
In terms of how each team performed last season, Monday’s first game is one of the best on the opening week schedule. Pittsburgh reached the divisional round of last year’s playoffs, and they’re considered to be one of this season’s top Super Bowl contenders. Washington is the defending NFC East champion, and they begin the season at home, where they went 6-2 in 2015.
A day after road favorites went 4-0, the Steelers are favored on Monday night. It’s a difficult matchup for the Redskins, who had one of the NFL’s worst defenses last year. Washington ranked 28th in yards allowed, and they are hoping the addition of cornerback Josh Norman improves the team’s worst unit.
Only three teams scored more points than Pittsburgh in 2015, and the Steelers’ offense could be even better in 2016. Ben Roethlisberger is healthy after missing four games last year, and he has the league’s top wide receiver at his disposal. Antonio Brown is coming off a season in which he caught 136 passes for 1,834 yards, and he’s averaging 106.7 yards per game in the last three season openers.
The final game of Week 1, however, isn’t one that’s very appealing. It’s a matchup between the two teams that will likely be battling to stay out of last place in the NFC West all season long. San Francisco is coming off a 5-11 campaign, and they entered the season tied for the worst Super Bowl odds. Los Angeles might not be much better, and they were dead last in total offense a year ago.
Most of the talk surrounding the 49ers has been about Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, but the quarterback wasn’t good enough in the preseason to win the starting job. He’ll be the backup to Blaine Gabbert, who might be the worst starting signal caller in the entire NFL. Gabbert has a career record of 8-27 as a starter, and he hasn’t started more than eight games in a season since 2012.
It was once thought that Monday night could feature the debut of the first selection in April’s NFL Draft, but No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff has been relegated to the bench as the third-string quarterback. Los Angeles head coach Jeff Fisher has decided to go with Case Keenum, who has a 79.8 career passer rating.
Monday night games typically start at 8:30 p.m. EDT, but kickoff in Washington is set for 7:10 p.m. EDT because of the doubleheader. The action begins in San Francisco at 10:20 p.m., and ESPN has TV coverage for both contests. A live stream for both games is available with WatchESPN.