Everyone likes the first week of the NFL season, as their teams have yet to be saddled with the considerable L-shaped baggage of bad performances. Hope springs eternal, as the saying goes.
But I was particularly pleased to see the Minnesota Vikings open their season on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals because Vikings-Bengals seemed the most random selection of two NFL teams as could have possibly been picked.
The teams have played 14 times dating back to 1973. As far as I can tell, none of the meetings were particularly memorable. The Vikings are now 1-7 in southern Ohio, while the Bengals have never won on any of the Vikings' Minnesota home fields in six tries.
Have you ever met a Bengals fan? I know one, a fellow named Mike who was a maintenance man/public address announcer at a school I covered in the Upper Peninsula who liked to tell everyone that the concessions stand was serving ribs and hot apple pie between periods when it most decidedly was not.
I had to look up if the Bengals were the team with the "Who Dat" or the "Who Dey" slogan. Ironically, the Saints are the "Who Dat" team.
I'm not saying the Bengals have no fans or that they are bad fans, I just don't know any of them, and I kind of like that because then I don't have to defend myself on Monday morning after every game.
Paul Allen could have made up every name on the front seven of the Bengals defense during his radio broadcast on Sunday afternoon and I probably wouldn't have been any the wiser.
There's a place in the world for the non-descript encounters with the San Diego Padres or the New York Islanders or the Orlando Magic. In fact, I'd rather see more of those games than the 15th meeting between the Twins and the Royals this summer.
Late at night during the baseball season, I often choose the weirdest-possible matchup remaining on the West Coast slate: Rockies-Mets, A's-Rays and so on.
I struck it rich on this randomness when, while on vacation in the Bay Area, I bought a ticket for a Reds-A's game at the Oakland Coliseum. The game started nearly two hours late because the lights in left field didn't turn on and since it was Teacher Appreciation Night on a Tuesday in May, the 11,794 that attended had thinned considerably, but those who stuck it out for this otherwise nondescript contest were treated to a Mike Fiers no-hitter.
That's the thing about all these contests. Every single one constitutes an opportunity to see something novel. For me, it was a no-hitter. For the crowd at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, it was a Vikings kicker actually making a clutch field goal attempt.
Now that their business is complete, the Vikings may not be seen in Cincinnati again until 2029 or play the Bengals again until 2025 (unless they are drawn together in the new '17th game' in 2023 or 2027 by finishing in the same place in their division in the preceding year).
That's kind of a pity to me. I thrive on these sorts of random matchups. Week 1 had several: Washington-Chargers, Panthers-Jets, Broncos-Giants, all of which I would have rather watched than the second half of the Packers' no-show vs. the New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville.
Next week, the Packers play the Lions on Monday Night Football. Let's just say the contours of that matchup are a little more familiar.
Brandon Veale is sports editor of the News Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.