Besides just the teams that lock horns every NFL year, the schedule also makes for some enticing player, coach and unit matchups as well.
Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery against Darrelle Revis & Brandon Browner
Talk about a headline-grabbing showdown. You have arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the entire NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, both Pro Bowlers on one side. Then you put Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner on the other side, both Pro Bowlers and basically tell them to play each other man to man. The sheer talent and size involved here is staggering, never mind the intriguing secondary clash between the men behind the muscle in head coaches Marc Trestman and Bill Belichick.
Jake Matthews against Greg Hardy
The Atlanta Falcons have not had a franchise left tackle since they drafted Matt Ryan back in 2008. That is expected to change with the addition of 1st round pick Jake Matthews. The second generation standout is a favorite to start day one on the blind side of Ryan given his pass protection skill, and there probably isn’t a better division to test his mettle than the NFC South. Probably his biggest challenge will be Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy. At 25-years old he is fresh off his first Pro Bowl and has 26 sacks over the past two years. He repeatedly victimized the Falcons the last time he saw them, notching four sacks in one game. It will be very interesting to see if Matthews can change that.
Aaron Donald against Michael Iupati and Alex Boone
Regarded as the best interior pass rusher in the 2014 NFL draft, Aaron Donald is expected to start right away at defensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams and become a force to collapse pass pockets from up the middle. The main knock on him from scouts was his lack of size and length, which would allow bigger guards to handle him. So no team is bound to test the real limits of what Donald can do than the San Francisco 49ers. Their guard tandem of Alex Boone (6’8″, 300 lbs) and Michael Iupati (6’5″, 331 lbs) are among the biggest and best in the game. How Donald performs against them will offer a true measure of how high his ceiling can be, now and in the future.
Philadelphia Eagles offense against Seattle Seahawks defense
The last time the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defense ran into a history-making offense, they made it look like a peewee squad. Still, every year is different and they will face one of their greatest challenges to date when Philadelphia Eagles wizard Chip Kelly hosts the defending champs with his fast and furious attack. The questions line up well. Can the Seahawks front seven contain LeSean McCoy? Can Nick Foles attack that dynamite secondary? It’s something that is worth watching at every level from the coaches on down.