Ranking Week 1 NFL games: Super Bowl rematch tops slate

Von Miller and Cam Newton will meet again in the top matchup of Week 1. Getty Images

What are the must-watch games this week? With the help of ESPN’s Matchup Quality metric, which uses ESPN's Football Power Index to rank games (on a 0-to-100 scale) based on how good each team is and how close the game is expected to be, we determined the best and worst games of Week 1.

1. Panthers at Broncos

Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Matchup quality: 73 out of 100

FPI win projection: Broncos, 57 percent

This rematch of Super Bowl 50 will look a lot different from the game seven months ago. Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan are gone from Denver’s Super Bowl-winning squad, and the defending NFC champions must replace the majority of their feared secondary. How will Trevor Siemian play as Denver’s starter, and what will reigning MVP Cam Newton do for an encore? We’ll get an idea on the opening Thursday night at Mile High.

2. Packers at Jaguars

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 64

FPI win projection: Packers, 57 percent

Despite Jacksonville’s 5-11 record last season, many expect the team to make a huge leap in Blake Bortles’ third season. Will the Jags be contenders or pretenders? Jacksonville’s progression will be on display when the Packers come to town in a game that is projected to be one of the closest of Week 1.

3. Patriots at Cardinals

Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Matchup quality: 62

FPI win projection: Cardinals, 68 percent

"Sunday Night Football" pins the Tom Brady-less Patriots against the Cardinals in a matchup of Super Bowl favorites. In his first career start, Jimmy Garoppolo will certainly have his hands full against one of the most vaunted defenses in the NFL. FPI gives the Patriots a 33 percent chance to win with Garoppolo under center, about 10 percentage points lower than if Brady were available.

4. Steelers at Redskins

Monday (7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Matchup quality: 61

FPI win projection: Steelers, 56 percent

In the first of two matchups on Monday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to FedEx Field to take on the reigning NFC East champions. Ben Roethlisberger will be without two of his top playmakers, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, but with Antonio Brown likely matched up with the Redskins’ newest addition, Josh Norman, this one is worth tuning in to.

5. Bengals at Jets

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Matchup quality: 56

FPI win projection: Jets, 51 percent

The Jets and Bengals enter this season with high expectations after each won at least 10 games last season. Although most of the offseason press surrounding these teams related to their offenses, both teams have the potential to be elite defensively. The Jets might need their defense to step up against Cincinnati because their next five games (at the Bills, at the Chiefs, against the Seahawks, at the Steelers and at the Cardinals) are absolutely brutal.

6. Bills at Ravens

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Matchup quality: 53

FPI win projection: Ravens, 60 percent

Two familiar faces, Rex Ryan and Tyrod Taylor, return to Baltimore in a Week 1 matchup of teams that appear to be on the cusp of the playoffs. The Ravens are happy to welcome back Joe Flacco from injury, but he will be tested against a Ryan defense that was uncharacteristically poor at generating pressure last season.

7. Dolphins at Seahawks

Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

Matchup quality: 52

FPI win projection: Seahawks, 80 percent

Welcome to the head-coaching ranks, Adam Gase. For your first test, you get a trip to CenturyLink Field to face the No. 1 team in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings. Not surprisingly, this is expected to be the most lopsided matchup of Week 1, but there are no surefire wins in the NFL -- especially early in the season.

8. Chargers at Chiefs

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Matchup quality: 52

FPI win projection: Chiefs, 73 percent

In their two meetings last season, Kansas City held the Chargers to a grand total of six points on 20 drives. The San Diego offense can’t get much worse, but a trip to Arrowhead against one of the top defenses in the NFL will certainly be a challenge. The only outstanding question is whether newly signed Joey Bosa will be ready to go in Week 1.

9. Lions at Colts

Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 49

FPI win projection: Colts, 71 percent

In no other game will the offensive line be under a greater microscope; the Colts drafted four offensive linemen, including center Ryan Kelly in the first round, to help protect Andrew Luck, who was under duress on a third of his dropbacks last season. The Lions used two of their first three picks on the offensive line (tackle Taylor Decker and guard Graham Glasgow) to improve a rushing attack that ranked last in yards per game a year ago.

10. Bears at Texans

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 47

FPI win projection: Texans, 68 percent

All eyes will be on Brock Osweiler and his $72 million deal with the Texans. Luckily for him, he will face a defense that FPI ranks as the fourth worst entering the season, and he’ll do so at home. But don’t count out Jay Cutler. Despite a 6-9 record as a starter last season, he had one of his most efficient seasons in a Bears uniform.

11. Raiders at Saints

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 46

FPI win projection: Saints, 54 percent

If you want points, this is the game to watch. The Saints’ defensive troubles have been well-documented, but New Orleans also should remain one of the top offenses in the league with Drew Brees showing no signs of aging. Many expect Derek Carr to take a big step forward in 2016, and he should be able to put up impressive numbers against a Saints defense that allowed an NFL-record 45 passing touchdowns last season.

12. Vikings at Titans

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 42

FPI win projection: Vikings, 59 percent

Even after accounting for Teddy Bridgewater’s injury, FPI still expects the Vikings to win. Most believe the Titans are still a year away, but with the last two Heisman Trophy winners -– Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry -– and DeMarco Murray in the backfield, they are an intriguing team that could turn some heads in Week 1.

13. Giants at Cowboys

Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 38

FPI win projection: Cowboys, 52 percent

Based on the quality of play, this might be one of the worst games of the week, but, given the intrigue of the matchup, it could rank in the top five. Dak Prescott might go down as the greatest preseason player in the history of the NFL, but this is our first chance to see how he performs in a real game. Two other rookies -– Ezekiel Elliott and Sterling Shepard -– will also make their NFL debuts for teams needing them to produce this season.

14. Buccaneers at Falcons

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox)

Matchup quality: 37

FPI win projection: Falcons, 61 percent

The Buccaneers and Falcons struggled down the stretch, but both teams enter this season with hopes of a bounce-back season. Tampa Bay is hoping that Dirk Koetter can build upon a strong rookie season from Jameis Winston, and Atlanta is banking on an improved pass rush in Dan Quinn’s second season as head coach.

15. Browns at Eagles

Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Matchup quality: 25

FPI win projection: Eagles, 69 percent

Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and Cleveland’s Hue Jackson will make their head-coaching debuts. Robert Griffin III will be making his first start with the Browns, but he will face a familiar foe in the Eagles, who -- coincidentally -- were the last team he beat as a starter, all the way back in 2014.

16. Rams at 49ers

Monday (10:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Matchup quality: 23

FPI win projection: Rams, 53 percent

The award for the worst matchup of Week 1 belongs to (drumroll, please ...) the Rams and 49ers. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t on-field intrigue. Will No. 1 pick Jared Goff play for Los Angeles? How will Chip Kelly’s new-look offense perform for the 49ers? We’ll find out in the second of two MNF games.