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New Faces (With Masks) in New Places

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Written by Alexis Barton

Football. Is. Back. Thursday, the reigning Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs took on the Houston Texans to kick off the league’s 101st season. Week One has an entirely new look with health and safety measures for both players and fans, and it also has some exciting matchups. 

If you are tuning in to the NFL this weekend, the biggest difference you will notice is the absence of fans. Millions of Americans will be cheering on their favorite teams from their living rooms this year rather than being on the sidelines. A few teams, however, will allow a limited number of fans to watch their games live and in-stadium. In a message to fans, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay says, “We’ve gotta do what the players do with our coaches, follow the playbook and do what they [public health officials] say… the sun will rise, we will play games, and we will all be united together again.” The Colts are among seven teams that will offer limited in-person attendance to select fans, including reigning Super Bowl Champions the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys. Most of these seven teams are opting for a “trial run” of 1-2 games with fans to see if they can potentially host more fans as the season continues. 

Regardless of where or how you are watching, there are going to be some exciting matchups and rivalry games to start off the new season this weekend. After winning the NFC East last season, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to continue their dominance against division rival Washington. The Eagles will look to quarterback Carson Wentz to lead their team despite numerous injuries throughout their usual starters. With Wentz himself coming back from a minor injury, that burden may soon fall to potential backup quarterback Jalen Hurts, a rookie coming off a Heisman-nominating season at the University of Oklahoma. Week One also brings important games for players that have had a change of scenery over the offseason, including New England’s Cam Newton. As they face the Miami Dolphins, Newton will have to prove that he is able to fill the shoes of former Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady as the Patriots’ new starter. Newton describes his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick as a “match made in heaven,” but only time will tell if Newton is able to do his job and bring the franchise their seventh Super Bowl title.