Brett Favre isn’t contemplating a return to the NFL (yet) and Rex Ryan hasn’t had much to say in a while, so with two months to go until the first Sunday of NFL football there is not a whole lot to talk about. To pass the time here is a weekly projection of NFL games that will likely be the most hyped, the best matchups, and games worth avoiding.
Week One, Sept. 5-10
Most Hyped: Steelers at Broncos, SNF: Pittsburgh seeking revenge for their playoff loss takes a sub-headline to the return of Peyton Manning.
Best Game: 49ers at Packers, late: the NFC’s best defense versus the NFC’s best offense; it would not be the least bit surprising if these two were to meet next January in the NFCCG.
Worst Game: Jaguars at Vikings, early: Last year Minnesota ranked 31st in points allowed; the Jags scored the 4th fewest points.
Pats Game: at Titans, early. Pats fans may want to turn on a 2nd TV set to keep an eye on the Bills at the Jets, playing at the same time.
Week Two, Sept. 13-17
Most Hyped: Jets at Steelers, late. I have a very strong feeling that at least one, if not both of these teams will miss the playoffs – but you will never know that from the pre-game promos.
Best Game: Lions at 49ers, SNF. I’ll be very interested to see how two teams that came out of nowhere to make the playoffs last year handle success. One other matchup of note: it’s a shame most of the country won’t get to see the Ravens at Eagles in one of the early games.
Worst Game: Redskins at Rams, late.
Pats Game: home versus Arizona early. The Cardinals defense started to show life late last season; this likely will not be as easy as the last time these two met.
Week Three, Sept. 20-24
Most Hyped: Packers at Seahawks, MNF: The master (Rodgers) versus the protege (Flynn); Texans at Broncos, late: you know CBS will ride the Peyton hype as long as they can.
Best Game: Pats at Ravens, SNF: what is the over/under on the number of times we see replays of Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal and Sterling Moore knocking the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands in the week leading up to this game?
Worst Game: Jaguars at Colts, early.
Pats game of of interest: Jets at Dolphins, early.
Week Four, Sept. 27-Oct. 1
Most Hyped: Giants at Eagles, SNF: let’s see if NBC can hype the NFC East as much as Fox does.
Best Game: Saints at Packers, late: I can’t imagine what the over/under will be.
Worst Game: Redskins at Bucs, late: if you live in the Tampa Bay area the above game gets blacked out. At least those in the DC area can go to a sports bar to see that game.
Pats Game: at Bills, early. Based on all the confidence from their fans in their off-season moves, the Rock Pile should be mighty loud for this game.
Week Five, Oct. 4-8
Most Hyped: Broncos at Patriots, late: the Brady – Manning rivalry is renewed after a one-year absence. Oh yeah, there was a beat down in the playoffs last year too.
Best Game: Aside from the game above I’ll say the Texans at the Jets.
Worst Game: Packers at Colts: this should be over well before halftime.
Pats game of interest: Bills at 49ers, late: let’s see how Buffalo responds to traveling to the west coast to face a quality opponent after an emotional game versus the Pats.
Week Six, Oct. 11-15
Most Hyped: Giants at 49ers, late: rematch of the 2011 NFCCG
Best Game: Packers at Texans, SNF
Worst Game: Rams at Dolphins
Pats Game: at Seattle, late: don’t overlook the Seahawks, their defense, the loudest crowd in the NFL, or having to travel coast to coast.
Week Seven, Oct. 18-22
Most Hyped: Jets at Pats, late: do we really think the Jets have changed and won’t be talking at every chance leading up to this game?
Best Game: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, SNF: is this the year the Bengals get past their division rivals? Their defense seemed to be on the rise last year, while the Steelers seem to be aging.
Worst Game: Cardinals at Vikings, early
Pats game of interest: Titans at Bills, early
Week Eight, Oct. 25-29
Most Hyped Game: Giants at Cowboys, late: has Fox ever not made a big deal about a game between these two?
Best Game: Falcons at Eagles, early
Worst Game: Bucs at Vikings, TNF: matchups like this don’t entice people to switch service providers so they can get the NFL Network.
Pats Game: in London versus the Rams, early. Roll out a second tv to keep an eye on the Dolphins at the Jets at the same time.
Week Nine, Nov. 1-5
Most Hyped: Steelers at Giants, late; Panthers (Cam Newton) at Redskins (RG III), early.
Best Game: Eagles at Saints, MNF: a rare good game for Monday Night Football. Cowboys at Falcons on SNF should be worth watching too,as well an early game with Buffalo at Houston.
Worst Game: several to choose from: Dolphins at Colts, Bucs at Raiders, Vikings at Seahawks.
Pats have a bye, but an early game of interest is the Bills at Houston.
Week Ten, Nov. 8-12
Most Hyped: Cowboys at Eagles, late: Fox cranks up the old reliable NFCE promo machine.
Best Games: Texans at Bears, SNF; Giants at Bengals, early
Worst Game: NFLN strikes out again with the Colts at Jaguars
Pats Game: Bills at Pats, early: this could arguably be the best game of the week.
Week Eleven, Nov. 15-19
Most Hyped: Ravens at Steelers, SNF
Best Games: Chargers at Broncos, late; Bears at 49ers, MNF
Worst Games: Cardinals at Falcons;Jets at Rams
Pats Game: early at home versus Colts. Of AFCE interest there is Miami at Buffalo on TNF.
Week Twelve, Nov. 22-26
Most Hyped: Packers at Giants, SNF: rematch of last year’s playoff game featuring the last two Super Bowl winning teams. I guess they weren’t kidding when it was announced that NBC would be getting better games in exchange for higher broadcast rights fees.
Best Game: 49ers at Saints, late: what could be better than an elite defense versus a record setting offense?
Worst Game: Rams at Cardinals: are there any fans in St. Louis who still conflicted about this?
Pats Game: Thanksgiving night at the Jets. Don’t fill up on too much turkey and adult beverages, you wouldn’t want to miss this one.
Week Thirteen, Nov. 29-Dec. 3
Most Hyped Game: Giants at Redskins, MNF; Eagles at Cowboys, SNF. Fox may as well close up show for a week without any of their NFC East teams to pump up. There will be much pandering to the market sizes of these teams – although I have to admit I wouldn’t mind seeing Washington beat the Giants yet again.
Best Game: Steelers at Ravens, late. There is certainly no love lost between these two clubs. This may be the best rivalry in the NFL as of this moment. Runner-up goes to the Saints at Falcons on Thursday, as the NFL Network finally gets a good game.
Worst Games: Colts at Lions and Vikings at Packers look to be uncompetitive blowouts; Browns at Raiders is a snoozer.
Pats Game: at Miami, early. Regardless of the disparity in talent Miami almost always gives the Pats a battle, especially when the games is played in south Florida.
Week Fourteen, Dec. 6-10
Most Hyped: Lions at Packers, SNF. This should be an intense, high scoring affair between division rivals.
Best Game: Saints at Giants, late. Another game featuring two high powered passing offenses.
Worst Games: Chiefs at Browns; Cardinals at Seahawks; Dolphins at 49ers
Pats Game: home versus Houston on MNF: this should be one of the most difficult games of the year for the Patriots.
Week Fifteen, Dec. 13-17
Most Hyped: Steelers at Cowboys, late. Will CBS promote it as Ben versus Romo, or Aikman versus Bradshaw?
Best Games: Bengals at Eagles, TNF. How did this happen, the NFLN got another good game? Some other early games worth watching: Giants at Falcons; Packers at Bears; Broncos at Ravens.
Worst Games: Redskins at Browns; Vikings at Rams; Jaguars at Dolphins.
Pats Game: home versus 49ers. Another highly competitive game for the Pats late in the season.
Week Sixteen, Dec. 22-23
Most Hyped: Giants at Ravens, early
Best Games: Saints at Cowboys, early. Others worth watching: Falcons at Lions, TNF; Titans at Packers, early; Bengals at Steelers, early; Chargers at Jets, SNF.
Worst Games: Rams at Bucs: fans of either or both of these teams could be thinking more about the 2013 draft than winning at this point.
Pats Game: at Jacksonville, early. Hopefully there is not a letdown after the two previous games.
Week Seventeen, Dec. 30
Most Hyped: it really depends on the standings come week 17, but I’ll say Eagles at Giants.
Best Games: Similar to above, but I’ll guess Ravens at Bengals. Bears at Lions could have a playoff berth on the line too.
Worst Games: games with one team looking to the draft and another to the playoffs could include Bucs at Falcons, Texans at Colts, Packers at Vikings and Cardinals at 49ers.
Pats Game: home versus Miami. The other division game is the Jets at the Bills.
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