- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Patriots are one of eight candidates to be part of the NFL’s 2013 season-opening game, at Baltimore on a Thursday night, and here’s the question: Would that be a good thing?
It is traditionally a tough game for the road team to win, in part because of the emotions of the night with the defending champions in their own stadium and celebrating their previous accomplishment one final time.
Since 2004, when the tradition of having the Super Bowl champion host the NFL opener on a Thursday night began, the road team has won just once (Cowboys over Giants, 2012).
The Patriots aren’t a lock to visit the Ravens to kick off 2013, but would have to be viewed as a top candidate.
The other options are the Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Jets, Texans, Packers or Vikings. Of that group, the Browns and Jets seem like good bets to be eliminated from consideration, and since the Ravens opened with the Bengals in 2012, it would be unlikely that the NFL would do that again.
So that would leave five candidates.
Maybe the NFL likes the idea of showcasing reigning MVP Adrian Peterson and the Vikings in that spot? The Vikings lost to the Saints, 14-9, in the NFL Kickoff game in 2010 and are a club rising from a national spotlight perspective.
The Packers are another good draw, although they played in the game as recently as 2011, which might be a consideration to shy away from them.
One thought to keep in mind that could work against the Packers and Vikings: Since 2004, the NFL has only once made its kickoff game an AFC vs. NFC affair.
A matchup against the Steelers always is a good take and features some of the NFL’s most physical football. The Steelers last played in the NFL Kickoff game in 2009.
The Texans have never been in that spot and likely would draw consideration. The NFL loves to promote its stars and reigning defensive player of the year J.J. Watt is someone commissioner Roger Goodell referenced in his opening remarks at his Super Bowl news conference.
Then there’s the Patriots.
YOUR TURN: Do you like the idea of the Patriots playing in the NFL season opener at Baltimore? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.