10 games that have gotten a lot more interesting

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At the end of every NFL regular season, the next year’s opponents become set in stone, for every team.  In April, when the “when” gets applied to the “who” and “where,” a rash of articles emerge regarding the best games of the coming season.

In every prior year, the official schedule came out a month or so after free agency began.  This year, free agency started three months later than the release of the schedule.

So now that we’ve seen a reshuffling of talented veterans, let’s look at 10 regular-season games that suddenly got a lot more interesting after the schedule was released.

Vikings at Seahawks, August 20.

Before getting to the 10 regular-season games, let’s consider one preseason game.  With the Seahawks swiping receiver Sidney Rice (whom the Vikings wanted to keep) and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (whom they didn’t), this one could have a little more spice than a normal exhibition contest.

Jackson will have something to prove to everyone who doubted him, including the folks in Minnesota who preferred to put him on the bench the past two years in favor of Brett Favre — even though one of those folks was former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, now the offensive coordinator in Seattle.

With these two teams not playing in the regular season and with the Vikings facing a tough road to the playoffs, this will be the only chance for Jackson and Rice to make their former employer regret letting them get away.

Packers at Panthers, September 18.

With Cam Newton possibly on track to be the starting quarterback out of the gates in Carolina and with the Panthers spending a ton of money in the hopes of getting better quickly, they’ll get an early look at how they stack up with the best of the best when the Packers come to town in Week Two.

Like every team playing the Packers this season, the Panthers will bring their proverbial A-game.  And even though there’s a chance that this season could end up as another D-minus in Charlotte, they play the Packers at a time when it’ll be way too early for a bad record to kill interest in the game.

Given what new coach Ron Rivera has been able to do to Peyton Manning when Rivera ran the defense in San Diego, it would be unwise to assume that the Packers will blow out the Panthers.

Eagles at Falcons, September 18.

Last year, when Mike Vick’s former team came to Philly, Vick was nursing a nasty case of broken ribs.  When the two teams seemed to be on track to meet in the postseason at the Georgia Dome, the Packers threw a wrench into those plans, throwing each team out of the playoffs.

This year, Vick should be healthy for his return to Atlanta, where he was welcomed with open arms in 2009 — and where he threw for a touchdown and scored once on the ground in a 34-7 romp.

The fans may not be as supportive two seasons later, given that the Falcons are hoping not only to have a great regular season but also a great postseason.  Despite the fact that the game lands early enough to become largely irrelevant to the crucial dynamic of late-season momentum, the winner will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, which could go a long way toward determining where any potential rematch may occur.

Packers at Falcons, October 9.

The Eagles, given a slew of new arrivals on defense, hope to get past the Packers by containing their offense.  The Falcons, with the addition of Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers via the draft, instead hope to outscore it.

With the Falcons last week adding defensive end Ray Edwards, who knows a thing or two about chasing Aaron Rodgers around from Edwards’ time in Minnesota, the Falcons also may be better suited to keep the Packers under 40 points this year.

Dolphins at Giants, October 30.

We’ve added this one to the list under the assumption that the Dolphins will sign running back Tiki Barber.

If Tiki Barber becomes a member of the Dolphins, he’ll make two trips to the Meadowlands in October.  First, on the 16th, he’ll face the Jets.  Then, on the 30th, he’ll play his old team.

Though Tiki never played in the new stadium, his returns to New York will drive interest and stir passions and, at least for one year, make Giants fans hate the Dolphins even more than Jets fans do.

Cowboys at Eagles, October 30.

This one is always a big game, especially when played in prime time.  But the recent moves made by the Eagles and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s vow to “beat [the] asses” of the “all-hype team” takes this one to a level even higher than when Ryan’s dad and Jimmy Johnson were shouting sweet nothings into each other’s ears.

Jet at Bills, November 6.

Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum recently told PFT Live that he didn’t want to lose all-purpose offensive and special teams threat Brad Smith, especially not to a team in the same division.

Come November 6, the Jets will get their first look at the Bills’ new weapon, who could be used in Chan Gailey’s offense the same way Gailey used Kordell Stewart when Gailey served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

Cardinals at Eagles, November 13.

Though former Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb has always said the right things regarding the events of 2010, anyone with any amount of competitiveness and pride would be miffed at losing his job after suffering a concussion — and after being told that he’d be the starter once he was healthy.

When the Cardinals and Kolb return to Philly on November 13, Kolb will have a chance to show the Eagles that they kept the wrong guy.  Regardless of either team’s one-loss record at the time, this one will be worth watching.

Jets at Eagles, December 18.

Though the bubble may have burst for either team well before December comes, any game featuring the darlings of their respective conferences needs to be circled with a Sharpie.

Jets coach Rex Ryan called his shot well (again) before the lockout even started; the Eagles have made clear their belief that 2011 will be a success only if they win the Super Bowl.

In the end, this one could be a potential Super Bowl preview that has serious ramifications when it comes to playoff seeding.

Vikings at Redskins, December 24.

The Redskins benched Donovan McNabb twice last year.  This year, they traded him to Minnesota for a gently used pair of wrestling shoes, and an extra pair of laces.

McNabb claims that he no longer finds motivation in a desire to prove people wrong, but it’s safe to say that McNabb will want nothing more than to go to Washington, beat the Redskins, and then tell Mike Shanahan to stick the game ball in his trophy case.

Giants at Jets, December 24.

It’s unclear how long it will take Jets receiver Plaxico Buress to rediscover his Super Bowl-winning form.  By Week 16, he’ll be a lot closer than he is in Week One.

And in Week 16, he’ll get a crack at the Giants and coach Tom Coughlin.

Surely, Plaxico would relish the chance to deliver a blow that knocks the Giants out of the playoffs — and that possibly cements the end of Coughlin’s career.

68 responses to “10 games that have gotten a lot more interesting

  1. A couple worth mentioning Ravens versus Steelers should be fireworks @ M&T
    Jets versus Ravens, Rex gets back in town..
    Heck all games should be fun with the exception of the Cardinals, Redskins and Seahawks

  2. 4 of them are Eagles games? Really? I know you guys have a hardon for them (generates page views!) but surely there are more intriguing games.

  3. Oh come on – what about Broncos at Dolphins (10/23)?

    Imaging how awkward it will be when the Miami fans chant “We want Orton” during this one.

  4. One thing I learned very quickly last year in my first full season of football playing, pay no attention to those who make a living bring us their “OPINIONS” on these teams.

    Since their opinions is based on nothing more than what team is hot for the moment, I’d say, the Panthers will do way better than many in the sports media are predicting this football season. Especially when many of them were the same ones who keep putting the Patriots in the SB. Even I predicted that they wouldn’t get past the play-offs and damn was I right.

  5. The eagles kept the wrong qb…….r u retarded? Kolb is getting picked off 4 times at least that game. Pure bum, I can’t wait for that game

  6. Last game of season Lions @ Packers could be a big game just as last years Bears @ Packers was.

  7. Especially when many of them were the same ones who keep putting the Patriots in the SB. Even I predicted that they wouldn’t get past the play-offs and damn was I right.

    Don’t ya love people that tell you how right they are?

    Usually & undoubtably it means a lot more to them than anyone else…

  8. The Eagles don’t play Dallas on 11/6…

    They play Dallas at home on 10/30 or 12/24..
    The Eagles play the Bears on 11/7…

  9. What about two young on the rise teams in the Bucs, and Lions to start the season. Remember the Lions beat the Bucs late in the season which is what caused them to miss the Playoffs with a 10-6 record.

    Either Tampa will get revenge, or the Lions will prove they are not a fluke, and they may be the team looking at 10-6 this year with the playoffs.

    I don’t know but it sure feels like a top 10 game

  10. dcbronco says:
    Aug 4, 2011 12:12 AM
    You forgot December 11th. Washington/NE.

    Hey, hey, hey.
    I think even his ex-teammates expect him to show up bigtime for that one.

    As a Pats fan and besides the obvious headbutting contests like Colts, Jets, SD, I look forward to their playing the Chiefs, though it would have been better if Weis was still there. A BB team has already beaten a RAC coached team.

  11. I am looking forward to the tom cable , robert gallery, zach miller reunion with the raiders. last game of pre-season so starters will only play one to two possesions, but I hope the raiders d put miller and gallery on their butts.

  12. No Colts @ Bucs on MNF 10/3? It’ll be a rematch from the Buccaneer meltdown on MNF back in ’03.

  13. Did you really just put the Jets at Bills is going to be a lot more interesting b/c the Bills now have Brad Smith!? Really?

  14. The Eagles sure know how to make a game interesting. I loved watching the birds hit homerun plays left and right with their dynamic offense last year, but I hope they can find a way to pick apart a defense and grind a drive all the way up the field with some continuity..instead of relying on the big play ALL the time.

  15. All eagles games will be boring once Vick gets hurt again….Skins knocked him out last yr but this yr its going to be the whole season….. karma is a beach Vick… Dirty 30 gonna light that azz up..

  16. Patriots at Raiders, October 2.
    Dedicated to the retired Randy Moss.

    Raiders at Vikings, November 20.
    Dedicated to the returning Randy Moss.
    It is unknown whether he returns to Oakland for a 2nd stint.
    Or if he hits the trifecta in Minnesota.

    Packers at Vikings, October 23.
    Dedicated to the retired Bret Favre.

    Vikings at Packers, November 14.
    Dedicated to the returning Bret Favre, who comes back to play for Donovan McNabb, due to the lack of cardiovascular endurance.

  17. 4 Eagles games? They will be interesting to see, but come on! You do realize there are 32 teams right? Don’t be like ESPN…

  18. If the Cardinals have a “one-loss record” when they play on November 13th, Kolb is probably the MVP.

    That said, it is a pretty meaningless game. The Cardinals got obliterated by philly on thanksgiving in 08 (giving their idiots fans an ego stroke), only to beat them in the NFC Championship Game.

  19. I love all the cool and up to date stories we get here but…… Please get off of the USUAUL teams NUTS! Okay we get it, Eagles, jets, patriots, jets, eagles, patriots, jets, eagles, patriots, jets!! Come on! There’s other teams that have rosters as good or even better than those teams. But I guess that’s all you guys wanna talk about the last season or two now.

  20. Pats/Colts is still the game of the year, as it has
    been for awhile.

    That’s why it’s always a nite game during network sweeps.

  21. Jets and Bills?
    More like the Jets and Patriot games.

    whatswiththehate says:
    Especially when many of them were the same ones who keep putting the Patriots in the SB. Even I predicted that they wouldn’t get past the play-offs and damn was I right.

    Pretty sure no one last year was saying the Pats are SB bound, they were predicted to go 8-8 with the rebuilding of the defense, after they let Moss go, they were even more skeptical to do as well as that, as least as far as i remember.

    Its ok to hate on a rival team, just lay off making stuff up.

  22. I guarantee you a preseason game between Minnesota and Seattle is going to be the least interesting game of all time.


  23. The most anticipated game of the year will be the first rematch of the best game of 2o11: Giants vs. Eagles. New York vs. Philly is far bigger than Rob Ryan’s mouth.

  24. Saints @ Packers not a big game? The last 2 super bowl champs meet on opening day? Two explosive offenses…Two play making defenses…
    And since you guys love “sub stories” how about Packers choosing Mike McCarthy over Sean Payton as head coach..

    Oh, don’t forget the Bears @ Packers. Always a big game…plus, Brian Urlacher’s comments before the superbowl and through out the off season should be plenty motivation for both teams

  25. Pats/Colts is the game of the year, every year.
    That’s why it’s always a nite game during sweeps.

  26. The only reason Vick was welcomed back in Atlanta was the white-black OJ-style label the Vick issue took on and the Atlanta majority forgetting how terribly Vick screwed them in favor of backing him on a race issue.

  27. Week 14 Patriots @ Redskins……… we’ll know well by then if Haynesworth has come to play in New England….but boy wouldn’t it be something else if he turned back up in Mike Shanahans house and blew up his offensive line. Would be a sickener for Dan Snyder, whos pockets are too deep for his own good.

  28. Geez, you might as well just listed every Eagles and Jets game. Everybody now: OVER-RATED, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap

  29. the egirls kept the wrong qb,absolutely correct. mv is not a leader,esp. in playoffs,check his history, HAIL

  30. Anything with my Panthers feels like a non-event until they start playing like an NFL-caliber team again. I hope it’s this year and I even believe it’s this year, but until I see it…

  31. Top 10 games that need something else to make them even remotely interesting:

    10. CAR @ ARI [9/11/11] … There will be a tiny bit of hype to this one if Cam and Kolb both start, but that will marred by sloppy defensive play on both sides.

    9. MIA @ CLE [9/25/11] … Will anyone be chanting “Kyle Orton” or “Brady Quinn” at this game??

    8. CLE @ ARI [12/18/11] … This game might wind up a fairly competitive affair, but neither team may have much more than pride on the line.

    7. CIN @ TEN [11/6/11] … The uptick will be the fact that this may be one of the few games of the season that the competition will make CJ seem like the best RB in the NFL again.

    6. ARI @ CIN [12/24/11] … If Kolb torches a terrible secondary late in the season, but nobody sees it, does he still show up in the FEDEX AIR/GROUND player of the week option list?

    5. JAC @ TEN [12/24/11] … Its only saving grace is its a divisional game, but the loser of this will likely be the real winner and drafting in the top 3 in 2012.

    4. ARI @ SF [11/20/11] … Another divisional game saving it from being in the top-3 on this list. This is another chance for Kolb to assert himself and pad his stats for the season so he looks better than the other awful NFC West QBs.

    3. MIA @ BUF [12/18/11] … A divisional game to decide the worst team in the division and possibly one Buffalo’s last games in Buffalo.

    2. TEN @ CAR [11/13/11] … Two teams run by the most idiotic of owners, featuring spares for coaches and a small handful of legitimate athletes. Just awful!

    1. BUF @ CIN [10/2/11] … This is as bad as it gets. Pick your QB matchup, doesn’t matter…all the QBs for both of these teams are either garbage or horribly inexperienced. Aged/has-been and unproven RBs, terrible WRs and sloppy-tackling ensure this will be a truly forgettable game.

  32. The Eagles are the most compelling team right now with many sub-stories. That does not mean that they are the best team in the NFL, it just means that they have produced the most headlines and garnered the most interest during this young season.

    Consider the comments for each story – most stories get attention from the involved teams’ fans, but every time the Eagles get mentioned fans from teams all around the league chime in.


    Really? Not once has anyone mentioned the Patriots at Eagles game this year on CBS the Sunday after Thanksgiving?? That is clearly the NFL Regular Season Game of The Year. It’s a possible Super Bowl preview and a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIV. Brady vs Vick. The two longest tenured Headcoaches in Belichick vs Reid.

  34. There is a ton of Eagles hype generated from the signing. Just one question, what happens when Vick gets hurt? His history and style of play show that it is likely. If that happens at the beginning of the year, can Young or Kafka do it?

  35. The assumption that Tiki Barber will sign with the Dolphins is a pretty bold one. One measly workout and no news since.

  36. Packers @ Chargers

    Aaron Rodgers taking on Philip Rivers, two of the best young QBs in the league…
    They don’t checkdown and hide like Flacco/MattyIce… These dudes put up Numbers.

    Patriots vs Eagles:
    Two defenses in kinda limbo, improved, who knows; but with Vick n The Eagle’s weapons up against Brady and his Guys….Expect a Shoot-Out!

  37. Seahawks/Vikings preseason? Please… Jared Allen will come flying full speed at Jackson, he’ll get his deer in the headlights look, attempt to execute his patented Jump-No-Pass, and get buried into the field turf. He will then proceed to miss the next 3 weeks with a boo boo. Different team, same old T-Joke.

  38. “Jared Allen will come flying full speed at Jackson…”

    Jared Allen will be flat on his back after Okung puts him there.

  39. Well the Viking/Hawk game won’t be as “intense” as he makes it out to be. Its a preseason game…..starters will play for like 1 quarter then its just the backups who are trying to make the team. And neither of them will be serious about winning the game, so who cares.

    And Jets/Eagles?? Cmon now, tell me you know how tie breakers work. A non conference game is the least important type of game you can have when it comes to playoff seeding. So saying it has serious ramifications for playoff seeding is just wrong.

  40. “damnskins703 says:
    Aug 4, 2011 1:14 AM
    All eagles games will be boring once Vick gets hurt again….Skins knocked him out last yr but this yr its going to be the whole season….. karma is a beach Vick… Dirty 30 gonna light that azz up”

    Yeah! And you and all the other haters from D.C. was screaming at Dan Snyder to get Vick when he was available two seasons ago.

    Tearing the Deadskins butt on MNF was the ultimate Karma for taking him! HAHA

  41. The Bills are not nearly as bad as everyone is making them out to be. There is no way that Miami is better than them. It’s also very possible they split with the Jets and Patriots.

  42. damnskins703 says: Aug 4, 2011 1:14 AM

    All eagles games will be boring once Vick gets hurt again….Skins knocked him out last yr but this yr its going to be the whole season….. karma is a beach Vick… Dirty 30 gonna light that azz up..


    How did that second Eagles game for you go?

    You know what Philly fans call that MNF game?

    The “Madden on Easy” game. Hahahaha!

  43. since this list is based on storylines and soap opera drama and expecially since it includes T Jackson in the second week of pre-season
    Chicago at Denver on Dec 11 should have been mentioned

  44. chatham10 says:
    Aug 4, 2011 6:47 AM
    The Seahawks and Vikings in preseason, I don’t see this as very exciting, real season yes.

    The preseason will probably be the only chance to see T-Jack play.

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