Special Edition: Let’s get ready to rumble

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Special Edition

From The Gist Team

Happy Friday Jr.!

It's an extra happy one because the NFL is back in action. So naturally, today's newsletter has everything you need to know ahead of tonight's 8:20 p.m. ET Thursday Night Football season-opener between the much-improved Detroit Lions and defending champ Kansas City Chiefs. Let's get ready to rumble.


Quote of the Day


[Patrick Mahomes] is about as nerdy as it gets…Man, this guy's studious as f***.

Source: Mikayla Schmidt/chiefs.com

— Kansas City tight end (TE) Travis Kelce, talking about his two-time MVP quarterback (QB) on New Heights, the podcast he co-hosts with his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. Eloquent, as always.

The Breakdown

✏️ The setup

Source: NFL.com

Fluff those couch cushions and stock up on your fave snacks — the NFL regular season runs from tonight's kickoff through January 7th.

In terms of league setup, the NFL's 32 teams are divided into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC), which are further split into four divisions each — North, South, East, and West.

  • Those 32 teams play 17 regular-season games over 18 action-packed weeks (every squad has one bye week), squaring off against each divisional rival twice.
  • And these rivalries run deep, especially considering each division winner automatically qualifies for the postseason, along with the next three best teams in each conference, making up the 14-team playoff field.

The reason for the season? The Super Bowl, of course. Super Bowl LVIII (aka 58) is set for Sunday, February 11th and will be hosted at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Consider this your warning to take the following Monday off now.

🔀 Ch-ch-changes

Source: NY Jets/X

The season setup may be the same, but this year's squads are looking pretty different after an offseason full of movement. Aside from 2023 being the first NFL season since 1999 without legendary QB Tom Brady, here are three impact players who'll be rocking new threads this fall.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, NY Jets: One trade negotiation saga and a darkness retreat later, the four-time MVP is calling a new city home after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. But Rodgers has a tall task ahead of him: The Jets have missed 12 straight postseasons — the longest active drought in the league. Time for a glow-up in the Big Apple.

Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver (WR), Baltimore Ravens: After tearing his ACL in the LA Rams' Super Bowl LVI win and taking last season off to recover, the star WR and three-time Pro-Bowler signed a one-year deal with the Ravens worth up to $18M. With Odell looking like Odell and Lamar Jackson at QB, the sky's the limit in Charm City.

Orlando Brown Jr., offensive tackle (OT), Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive line love, incoming. Brown Jr. spent two seasons protecting the aforementioned Mahomes' blindside, but the former Kansas City OT is heading to the Bengals on a four-year, $64M deal. This is a BFD for Cincy, who have struggled to protect their very good signal caller, Joe "heartbreaker" Burrow.

🏆 The top contenders

Source: Kansas City Chiefs/X

Kansas City Chiefs, AFC West: The reigning Super Bowl champs have been perennial contenders since the Mahomes era began in 2017. And this season is no different with the defending MVP QB once again working with plenty of targets, including the aforementioned human highlight reel Kelce (who is notably questionable for tonight's game). Dynasty, loading ongoing.

Philadelphia Eagles, NFC East: The birds arguably boast the best all-around roster for the second straight season, including 2022 MVP runner-up, QB Jalen Hurts. But with a much tougher schedule this season and new offensive and defensive coordinators, here's hoping there's no Super Bowl hangover in the City of Brotherly Love.

Cincinnati Bengals, AFC North: Featuring college besties QB Burrow and WR Ja'Marr Chase, the Bengals played in their second consecutive AFC Championship last season and are poised to run it back in 2023. Add in WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd and it might finally be time for the Lombardi Trophy to touchdown in Cincy.

San Francisco 49ers, NFC West: With dynamic offensive weapons like RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Deebo Samuel and an absolutely stacked defense, highlighted by newly inked highest-paid defensive player in history Nick Bosa, the 49ers are legit. The biggest question is whether second-year QB Brock Purdy is for real. No pressure, no diamonds.

Together with Verizon

👻 How to avoid spooky season…for free

Source: Verizon

Nightmare scenario: The NFL game clock's ticking down, your team holds a narrow lead, and they're about to make a goal-line stand. You're on the edge of your seat…until spotty service interrupts your streaming like a flag on the play. Scary stuff.

  • The only thing that could possibly be worse? Not watching the game at all, because your team's out of market. The horror.

The solution: Verizon's new myPlan cell phone package. The fully customizable plan with the country's top network also includes NFL Sunday Ticket for free*.

  • That means you'll be able to watch every single regular-season matchup with reliable coverage, plus extra cash to spend on nachos and your team's new jerseys.

And if you're already a Verizon customer, you're also eligible for free Sunday Ticket when you give your home Internet plan a glow-up or upgrade from your cracked phone screen to a shiny new model. No Sunday scaries here.

*Terms and conditions apply.

👀 More players to watch

Source: Ryan Kang/NFL

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: Not only does Allen have a hell of an arm — he finished second behind Mahomes in total yards and touchdowns (TDs) last season — he can run, too, amassing nearly 2K rushing yards and 21 rushing TDs over the last three seasons. As Bills Mafia prep their tables, here's hoping the Madden Curse takes a year off.

  • Other QBs to watch: Justin Fields (Chicago Bears), Justin Herbert (LA Chargers), Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: Though last year felt like a down year for King Henry, the Titans RB still rushed for the second-most yards in the league and 13 TDs. And his legend continues to grow as one of only four RBs to post more than 1,500 yards and 10 TDs in a single season since 2019 — a feat he's accomplished three times in those four years.

  • Other RBs to watch: Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns), Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys), Saquon Barkley (NY Giants)

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Entering his fourth NFL season, Jefferson already has 4,825 receiving yards (the most ever through three seasons), is the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, and has been named to the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro teams every year he's been in the league. He's him.

  • Other WRs to watch: Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders), Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit Lions), Garrett Wilson (NY Jets)

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Andrews has been QB Lamar Jackson's top target since the pair entered the league together in 2018. A three-time Pro-Bowler, Andrews had his best year in 2021, reeling in 107 catches and nine TDs. Expect more of that in 2023 with the Ravens' anticipated pass-friendly offense.

  • Other TEs to watch: Kyle Pitts (Atlanta Falcons), Pat Freiermuth (Pittsburgh Steelers), Darren Waller (NY Giants)

📺 How to tune in

Source: Jeff Nguyen/Detroit Lions

As mentioned, the fun begins in Kansas City tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET with the reigning champs hosting the Lions on NBC in the U.S. and DAZN and TSN in Canada.

  • Then, opening weekend continues with 14 games on Sunday followed by the first Monday Night Football showdown of the year — the Bills vs. the Jets — at 8:15 p.m. ET. Are you ready for some football?
Together with The GIST

Source: The GIST

Designed by and for GISTers, our capsule collection is the perfect way to authentically express your sports fandom and your support of women in sports.

With hoodies, crewnecks, tees, baseball caps and totes, and inclusive sizing ranging from XS to 3XL, you're sure to find a piece (or two…or three *winks*) that you'll love.

Thank you for being a GISTer — we can't wait to see how you rock your new swag.

The GIST's Picks

Peep our squad's MVPs (Most Valuable Picks):

🎧 What to listen to

The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny. Get the latest on all the gridiron happenings from NFL analyst Mina Kimes and her football-loving dog, Lenny. Name a more iconic duo.

🎉 What to celebrate

The record nine women in full-time coaching positions this season. More of this, please.

📺 What to binge

Netflix's Quarterback. The all-access docuseries follows three NFL QBs — Mahomes, Minnesota Viking Kirk Cousins, and Atlanta Falcon-turned-Philadelphia Eagle Marcus Mariota — throughout the 2022 season. Getcha popcorn ready.

🐣 Who (else) to know

The rookies. Falcons RB and emerging artist Bijan Robinson, Carolina Panthers QB Bryce Young, Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter (whose legal troubles followed him into the draft), and Baltimore Ravens WR Zay Flowers are all expected to make a splash in their professional debuts.

Fun and Games

Take Your Pick

Detroit Lions logo At Kansas City Chiefs logo. Source: By https://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/static/wildcat/assets/img/logos/teams/KC.svg, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18320276

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

-115 To Win -105
Even more stoked for the NFL season after reading our primer? Cast your vote on who you think will win tonight's season opener.

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

Sports Betting Guide

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