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Twelve intriguing regular-season games

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots Getty Images

Schedule-release day! It’s one of the sneaky-good pro football events of the year.

When I ponder the schedule, I look for clues for where a team may soar, wobble or plummet. The following 12 games all look like they could teach us something important about the teams on the field. I generally focused on games earlier in the season than later; it’s tough enough to speculate on how a team could play in September, but projecting a team’s late-December form is even more challenging.

Here are 12 games that particularly interest me:

49ers at Seahawks (Sept. 15) — Appointment viewing. End of story. To paraphrase Mike Mayock, put on the tape of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick from the postseason. Just do it. I’ll be watching for many reasons, but mainly to see whether either West power looks significantly better than the other.

Giants at Panthers (Sept. 22) – This is the sort of game the upstart Panthers will win if they are going anywhere. And it’s precisely the sort of game Tom Coughlin’s team pulls out when in top form.

Lions at Packers (Oct. 6) – The Lions have the offensive might to give any defense fits and were a legitimate playoff entrant two years ago. Can they bounce back after a disappointing 2012 performance? This looks like a big class test for them.

Seahawks at Colts (Oct. 6) – I love out-of-conference battles between two talented clubs. A win for either team is a real nice item to have on the résumé. The Seahawks are capable of winning in a tough venue, but the Colts were very, very tough at home a season go.

Redskins at Cowboys (Oct. 13) — Dallas did not fare well in its first two tries against Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.

Eagles at Buccaneers (Oct. 13) — The Buccaneers had a strong run defense a season ago, and the Eagles’ Chip Kelly-designed offense is talent- and potential-laden. This should be fun.

Ravens at Steelers (Oct. 20) — For years, this has been one of the NFL’s compelling rivalries, and doesn’t figure to change in 2013, not with Baltimore the depending champion and Pittsburgh trying to regain its footing among the AFC elite. The Steelers won in Baltimore last season, one of the highlights of a disappointing campaign.

Dolphins at Patriots (Oct. 27) – Last year, the Bills were the chic pick to make a run at New England’s AFC East supremacy. This year, the Dolphins are the East sleeper. Can Miami live up to the hype? The Dolphins are likely to be underdogs in Foxborough; if that’s the case, how the Dolphins play may trump whether they win or lose, in my view. If the Dolphins give a strong Patriots team a game, it’s a good sign for Miami.

Colts at Texans (Nov. 3) – For the Texans, getting to the playoffs doesn’t constitute great success anymore. For the Colts, a step backwards after a surprising 2012 season would be a big disappointment.

Chiefs at Broncos (Nov. 17) – Who’s going to push Denver in the AFC West? Kansas City might have the best shot. Let’s see how the Chiefs measure up.

Saints at Falcons (Nov. 21) — A weakened Saints team managed to split the season series in 2012. Now, Sean Payton is back, and New Orleans could be ready to seriously contend once again in the NFC South. With both teams again likely to field strong offenses, the play of the defenses could tell the tale.

Broncos at Patriots (Nov. 24) — Including the playoffs, this is the fourth meeting between the teams in the last three seasons — and Denver has had no good answers for New England’s powerful offense. The Patriots have won all three meetings, averaging 39 points in the victories. The Broncos have the ability to be strong contenders, but their problems with the Patriots can’t be overlooked.

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43 Responses to “Twelve intriguing regular-season games”
  1. idealisticapathetic says: Apr 18, 2013 9:23 PM

    pats v dolphins? nope.

    pats v falcons is more intriguing by infinity times.

  2. yourmothertrebek says: Apr 18, 2013 9:24 PM

    broncos: 16-0, mark it down chumps.

  3. Iknoweverything says: Apr 18, 2013 9:24 PM

    You left the most entertaining game of the year off your list.

    Week 3

    Mr. Andy Reid will take his undefeated Kansas City Chiefs team into the nations slimiest city, and in front of the leagues most uneducated, uncivilized, and most classless fans embarrass Chip Kelly and the Eagles.

    The dynasty team he built will take over the stadium and impose its will upon the soft Eagles while Mr. Andy Reid proudly salutes Sir Lurie and the ungrateful fans with the middle finger, while the Eagles fans chant “Chip must Go”!!!!!

  4. thesteelers says: Apr 18, 2013 9:24 PM

    Um, the Steelers are only on here once. What gives?

  5. henryjones20 says: Apr 18, 2013 9:24 PM

    u forgot about the bills

  6. logicalvoicesays says: Apr 18, 2013 9:28 PM

    The Redskins are the most muste-see team in professional Football. #BurgundyandGoldStandard

  7. Iknoweverything says: Apr 18, 2013 9:29 PM

    Sept. 12

    Mr. Russell Wilson puts the nation on notice as he dominates Whiny Harbaugh and the overrated Niners while serving notice to the league that the road to the Jersey Super Bowl MUST go thru Seattle.

    The nation finally recognizes the games REAL DEAL, the truely best QB in the game , Mr. Russell Wilson.

    By midseason the nation realizes they were misled, and conned into believing the East Coasts biased overhype propaganda regarding FRAUDIII, and will soon be burning the frauds jersey.

  8. pnut87 says: Apr 18, 2013 9:32 PM

    What, not hopping the bandwagon on the Giants/Broncos game?

  9. blacknole08 says: Apr 18, 2013 9:37 PM

    What about Andrew Luck traveling to SF to face Harbaugh for the first time as a pro in Week 3?

    Or Shanahan’s return to Denver in Week 8?

    Eli Manning traveling to SD for the first time since 2005?

  10. rickyspanish says: Apr 18, 2013 9:44 PM

    Dear logicalvoice,

    For your sake I hope that you are a young teenager. The way you communicate is no way for a man or woman to act. I’m embarrassed for you.

  11. brianstaple says: Apr 18, 2013 9:48 PM

    Take a look at the Lions first five games from an emotion/motivational standpoint.

    They can avenge 3 defeats in their two first two games at home against Minnesota and on the road in Arizona. Then they get a chance to end the streak at Washington (0-16 all-time) followed with another chance to avenge 2 losses against Chicago. And then finishing up with a game at Green Bay and a chance to end another long losing streak and avenging another two losses.

    That’s an intense start to the year for the Lions.

  12. sparty0n says: Apr 18, 2013 9:59 PM

    You left off Dec 15th Jets at Panthers – That game might decide who get the #1 pick in the 2014 draft.

  13. pacificnw7722 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:00 PM

    49ers at Seahawks (Sept. 12)

    The sacks, hits and picks in this game will be EPIC!

    The Clink will be VERY loud and rockin’

    GO HAWKS!!!

  14. larryboodry says: Apr 18, 2013 10:05 PM

    Mike, I’m disappointed…You’re a Chicagoland guy, and not a single Bears game intrigues you?

  15. nzayir says: Apr 18, 2013 10:21 PM

    Denver’s defense is the most overrated unit in the NFL. Miller is a stud and now he’s going to be getting triple teamed since Denver lost Dumervil. Besides Miller they don’t have much. They have an average secondary with a rapidly declining Champ Bailey to go along with a pedestrian defensive line.

    A lot of Patriots fans hate Kyle Arrington but he’s one of the best slot corners in the NFL. He shut down Cruz in the Super Bowl a year ago and should be able to be competitive with Welker.

  16. therealjr says: Apr 18, 2013 10:21 PM

    Let’s see, let’s see! Week 3:

    Chiefs-Eagles? The return of Reid?
    Texans-Ravens? Defending division champs?
    Colts-Niners? Luck vs. Harbaugh?

    And yet you are particularly interested in Giants-Panthers? I assume you are particularly a Giants fan because most of us are particularly interested in missing that game.

  17. roadtrip3500 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:23 PM

    Giants at Panthers (Sept. 22) – This is the sort of game the upstart Panthers will win if they are going anywhere. And it’s precisely the sort of game Tom Coughlin’s team pulls out when in top form.

    ——————–

    Giants at Panthers, Sept 20 2012 – NYG 36, CAR 7 – a blowout so bad, David Carr played almost half of the 4th quarter for Eli.

  18. We'reFineThere says: Apr 18, 2013 10:27 PM

    I don’t even think Eagles-Bucs is a top 12 game on the Eagles schedule.

  19. taintedsaints2009 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:29 PM

    Denver will have the AFC West locked up by week 3. and yes, it’s more than likely with their competition.

  20. mancave001 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:30 PM

    Chiefs at Eagles????? That should interesting.

  21. anebriated says: Apr 18, 2013 10:42 PM

    No Eagles vs Chiefs? Andy’s return to Philly

  22. ntea6 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:43 PM

    Dolphins-Patriots: “strong Patriots team”?? They don’t have any receivers and their TEs are both banged up and their only option to catch balls. The shift of power in the AFC East began last season…

  23. dbellina says: Apr 18, 2013 10:52 PM

    Vikes Seahawks when they play Percy Sidney and Winny again.

  24. racman766 says: Apr 18, 2013 11:10 PM

    Colts V Broncos? How is this not on your list? I think this might be the most intriguing game all year.

  25. bbwasright says: Apr 18, 2013 11:13 PM

    Are you serious?! Miami is the AFC East sleeper of the year? Sure, they made a ton of big name moves. But tell me the last time that any team did that and good things happened? The acquired players may be great, but a team that has to do that is in huge trouble already and throwing a handful of talented players onto a poorly managed, badly coached team full of questionable talent on the lines and a group of prima donnas in the skill positions is a recipe for disaster. It could work. But calling them the sleeper team reminds me a lot of calling the Eagles the Dream Team last year.

  26. seaeagle707 says: Apr 18, 2013 11:26 PM

    With all of the “building” going on in Seattle and SF, added to the fierceness of our last meeting, I think that many will agree with me that this could prove to be “the game” that’ll be most talked about for much of the season. Certainly it’ll get a ton of ink in the media and on the web, from now until kickoff.

  27. decon49 says: Apr 18, 2013 11:36 PM

    The Seahawks are capable of winning in a tough environment?

  28. 87hollywoodhorn says: Apr 18, 2013 11:47 PM

    Best quarterback Drew Brees
    Best coach Sean Payton
    Best backfield four horseman(PT, Sproles, Ingram, Ivory)
    Best tight end Jimmy Graham
    Best interior lineman Jahri Evans
    Most reliable wide reciever Marques Colston
    worst defense…oh wait 3-4=THE DOME PATROL

    yea saints coming to get it this year, how you loving that, you know what it is. bounties or not we still got headhunters, and you dont wanna lineup across from us on SUNDAY SUNDAY SUCKAFREESUNDAY

  29. redwingfan1234 says: Apr 19, 2013 12:22 AM

    It’s interesting how Denver went from the dark horse to beat New England, to being the team who can’t get it done against them.

  30. tedmurph says: Apr 19, 2013 12:30 AM

    Pats at Dolphins will be much more interesting, at least the fins have a chance then.

  31. phillyfan75 says: Apr 19, 2013 12:43 AM

    Eagles at Bucs?!?! I’m a die hard Birds fan and I don’t even find an ounce of intrigue in that game.

  32. ad28bestever says: Apr 19, 2013 1:20 AM

    Cowboys will whoop the Skins this year. Just don’t hit RJoke3 to hard, you might end his career he is that brittle.

  33. forever9ers says: Apr 19, 2013 3:42 AM

    Wow! Eagles at Buccaneers intriguing? Really?
    A head-scratcher at best.

  34. raiders757 says: Apr 19, 2013 7:14 AM

    I know my team is bad and I have no room to talk, but the Chiefs aren’t pushing anyone anywhere. Let’s not forget just how bad they were last season, and a new regime isn’t going to just up and turn things around overnight. More than likely they’ll be battling my Raiders for the cellar of the AFC West.

  35. CKL says: Apr 19, 2013 9:28 AM

    I’m a Pats fan and I know very well that Mia usually puts up a heck of a fight against my team, every single year. Sure there have been a few lopsided games, but Mia by and large plays the Pats very tough. I would be far from stunned if that happened again.

  36. rc33 says: Apr 19, 2013 9:42 AM

    ntea6 says: Apr 18, 2013 10:43 PM

    Dolphins-Patriots: “strong Patriots team”?? They don’t have any receivers and their TEs are both banged up and their only option to catch balls. The shift of power in the AFC East began last season…
    ——————————
    “Banged up” 5 months before the start of the season is your rationale?
    Laughable.
    Then again, they only made it to the Conference Championship Game last season; clearly in decline. Solid reasoning on your part.

  37. dantarpa says: Apr 19, 2013 9:55 AM

    Hi Iknoweverything,

    The way you talk about Philly tells me your an ignorant fool who knows nothing about the city now or it’s relevance in our nation’s past. You probably know nothing about football either.

  38. thrstr says: Apr 19, 2013 10:25 AM

    I can’t believe all of the “no eagles – chiefs???” comments. Everyone outside of Philly and KC knows that one. Oooh Andy Reid, puleese.

  39. orcahawk says: Apr 19, 2013 10:36 AM

    decon49 – Yes the Seahawks are capable of winnning in a tough environment, like Chicago or D.C. for example.

    The schedule looks pretty good for the Hawks: AFC South and a late season Bye.

    At Houston then Indy for a tough bit early. Another tough road trip later in the season at the whiners then the Meadowlands. All the rest look pretty winnable, at least from my lofty catbird seat up on the high peaks of expectation. Go Hawks !

  40. ntea6 says: Apr 19, 2013 2:46 PM

    RC33: “Banged up” 5 months before the start of the season is your rationale?
    Laughable.
    Then again, they only made it to the Conference Championship Game last season; clearly in decline. Solid reasoning on your part.

    More like, banged up all season and most of their careers…there’s no telling how they’ll be when the season begins. You forgot the rest of my argument which completes its solidity. No receivers, Brady getting older and no offense around him…good luck.

  41. deltaoracle says: Apr 19, 2013 3:55 PM

    Lions haven’t won in Wisconsin since about 1990. Their game in GB is about as “intriguing” as the next Washington Generals tilt against the Globetrotters.

  42. nard100 says: Apr 19, 2013 4:44 PM

    Giants at Panthers (Sept. 22) – This is the sort of game the upstart Panthers will win if they are going anywhere. And it’s precisely the sort of game Tom Coughlin’s team pulls out when in top form.

    ——————–

    Giants at Panthers, Sept 20 2012 – NYG 36, CAR 7 – a blowout so bad, David Carr played almost half of the 4th quarter for Eli.

    - Thank you roadtrip, you beat me to the punch, but stated it perfectly.

  43. mirkymirc says: Apr 19, 2013 8:12 PM

    What about 12/8 Mike Wallace return to Pittsburgh to get shut down by one of the beat young CB in this league in Cortez Allen

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