2014 DRAFT GUIDE
10 games we can't wait to watch

Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:24pm
By the National Football Post

You’ve really got to hand it to the NFL. No other business in the world is capable of turning an administrative task such as creating a schedule into an all-hands-on-deck spectacle complete with it’s own show on ESPN.

Call it creative marketing if you want to, but Tuesday’s release of the 2012 regular season schedule has caught our attention. Players are checking for their bye weeks, fans are hard at work figuring out which road games they want to attend and guys like me are looking for the best matchups to write about.

The Pittsburgh-Baltimore and Chicago-Green Bay rivalries will always hold a special place in our hearts, but the purpose of the following list is to highlight ten matchups that we don’t necessarily get to see all that often.

And I’ll apologize in advance for not including the much-anticipated Cleveland-Indianapolis showdown that will likely hold serious implications for the 2013 NFL draft.

1.  A rivalry renewed: Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

Peyton ManningNew jersey, same burning desire to beat Tom Brady.

Week 5: Sunday, 4:15pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: Simple, it’s Manning vs. Brady. The two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks have faced each other 13 times over their illustrious careers, with Brady holding a 9-4 edge in the series (7-3 regular season, 2-1 postseason). Manning is just 2-6 lifetime at Foxborough against his AFC counterpart, so you can bet that this is the first game the former Indianapolis Colt circled on the calendar once the schedule went public.

2.  Why can’t we be friends?: Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers

Week 2: Sunday night, 8:20pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: Forget the fact that these two teams combined to post a 23-9 record during the 2011 regular season, this showdown is all about what happened after the 49ers went to Ford Field and beat the Lions 25-19 last October. That’s right, you didn’t already forget about the handshake, back slap and subsequent chase between the two head coaches, did you? Expect the replay of that infamous moment to be aired no fewer than 36 times before kickoff.

3.  The history lesson: Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys

Week 15: Sunday, 1:00pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: The Steelers and Cowboys have combined to win 11 of the 46 Super Bowls that are in the books, but they’ve only met twice during the regular season since 2004. The Steelers came away victorious in both instances, but neither win came by a margin of greater than seven points. Expect this game to garner an abundance of hype in the countdown to kickoff.

4.  Payback: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants

Week 12: Sunday night, 8:20pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: A Super Bowl win in February of 2011 followed by a 15-1 regular season campaign had the Green Bay Packers as the heavy Vegas favorite to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second consecutive year. But Eli Manning and a nasty Giants defense had other ideas, as Big Blue went into Lambeau Field during the Divisional Round and booted the Packers from the playoffs en route to a second ring in five years. And don’t forget that these two played a 38-35 thriller in New York last December that saw Green Bay emerge as the winner.

5.  Watch your knees: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints

Jim HarbaughEarning a win in New Orleans will be no easy task for Harbaugh and the Niners.

Week 12: Sunday, 4:15pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is gone and head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the season, but that won’t stop the media from creating a frenzy around this game based on the nauseating audio files that surfaced of Williams’ little “speech” prior to last January’s playoff showdown between these two teams. It’s ironic that after operating a bounty program for three years designed to knock opposing players out of games, the Saints enter the season with a target on their backs.

6.  Intrastate hate: Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 5: Sunday, 1:00pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: The Eagles and Steelers don’t get together all that often, but make no mistake about it, these two fan bases hate each other. This particular morsel of knowledge has never been more evident than over the last week as Pennsylvania’s two professional hockey teams have been engaged in an all-out brawl during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Should the Flyers put the finishing touches on an improbable sweep of the Stanley Cup favorites Wednesday night, Eagles fans can expect a hostile welcome at Heinz Field in October.

7.  The opportunity: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Week 3: Monday night, 8:30pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: With the amount of money he was going to command on the open market, there was no way the Green Bay Packers could afford to keep backup quarterback Matt Flynn. So the Seattle Seahawks stepped up and shelled out $26 million over three years for a relatively unproven signal-caller that absolutely shredded the Detroit Lions in Week 17. The Packers should entire this matchup as the Vegas favorite, but Seattle is no easy place to steal a win. The Seahawks have gone 51-29 at home over the last ten years (.638) and would grab the national headlines if their new quarterback could engineer an upset of his old team.

8.  Sanchez’s last stand?: San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets

Week 4: Sunday, 1:00pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: With Tim Tebow breathing down his neck, Mark Sanchez will need to get out to a fast start if he wants to remain under center for the Jets in 2012. By my count, Sanchez will have four games before Rex Ryan thinks about pulling the plug in the face of intense heat from the New York fans and media. Should the former USC product fail to elevate his play in his fourth professional season, this could be the game that officially breaks twitter.  Remember, Sanchez and the Jets open up at home against the Bills and then hit the road to play the Steelers and Dolphins before this showdown with San Francisco.

9.  Redemption: New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos

Week 8: Sunday night, 8:20pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: Drew Brees has never won a game in Denver (0-4) and is 1-2 lifetime in road contests against Peyton Manning. However, Brees was able to defeat Manning in the 2010 Super Bowl, which gives the Broncos’ new quarterback just as much motivation to come out on top in this one. You can try to spin another storyline for this matchup, but the bottom line is that it all comes down to the quarterbacks.

10.  The next generation: Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins

Week 9: Sunday, 1:00pm eastern

Why we’re jacked up: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand that most of you may have no interest in watching this game. But it’s our first chance to check out a showdown between the last two Heisman Trophy winners in Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III. If Carolina can build on last year’s 6-10 campaign and Mike Shanahan can finally begin to turn the Redskins around, this has the chance to develop into one of the league’s best young quarterback rivalries.

Other games to keep an eye on…

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (Week 7): The Texans have posted an 0-6 franchise record against the Ravens that happens to include a Divisional Round loss in last season’s playoffs. With a healthy Matt Schaub back under center, this could be the game where Houston finally breaks through.

Robert Griffin IIIThe Rams paved the way for the 'Skins to draft RG3. Now Griffin will have a chance to steamroll St. Louis.

St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins (Week 2): After trading the No. 2 pick in next week’s draft to the ‘Skins, the Rams better hope that RG3 doesn’t tear them apart when these two teams get together. I can’t imagine the St. Louis faithful would find that amusing.

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots (Week 15): We were an overtime away from seeing these two teams play in last February’s Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (Week 9): Newly-minted defensive end Mario Williams returns home to face the team that drafted him back in 2006. Matt Schaub should be on high alert.

San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (Week 16): Since 2000, the Chargers are just 2-5 over their last seven meetings with the Jets, which includes a 27-21 loss at New York last year that saw the Bolts blow a 21-10 halftime lead.  A December date could spell disaster once again for Norv Turner's crew.

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (Week 3): Believe it or not, the Ravens have only defeated the Patriots one time (1-7) since 1996. It’s been a great rivalry to watch, but be advised that this could be the last opportunity we get to see Tom Brady and Ray Lewis on the field at the same time.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans LBs Brian Cushing (knee), Brooks Reed (groin) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. RB Alfred Blue (ankle), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Johnathan [ More ]

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were limited.

Brian RobisonOct 30 06:32p

Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (hamstring) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), TE Virgil Green (calf), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

Billy WinnOct 30 06:22p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DE Phil Taylor (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), S Jim Leonhard (ankle), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Chris JohnsonOct 30 06:12p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson, who carried the ball just three times for seven yards in Week 8, said he's frustrated with his limited role in the offense. [ More ]

Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

Patrick PetersonOct 30 05:42p

Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 30 05:22p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (hamstring, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Eric Berry (ankle) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) were [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 30 05:22p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), OG Willie Colon [ More ]

Keenan RobinsonOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:02p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

Andre BranchOct 30 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Will Blackmon (finger), DE Andre Branch (groin), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), LB Geno Hayes (non-injury) and DT Roy Miller (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB [ More ]

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