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

Ryan SuccopSep 1 04:22p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) to an undisclosed deal and released PK Travis Coons Monday, Sept. 1.

Josh ScobeeSep 1 11:43a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), DT Sen'Derrick Marks (shoulder), PK Josh Scobee (quadriceps) and OT Zane Beadles (undisclosed) are practicing Monday, Sept. 1.

Larry DonnellSep 1 11:43a

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell is the starting tight end on the team's unofficial depth chart. TE Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson are second- and third-string, respectively.

Quintin DempsSep 1 11:23a

New York Giants SS Quintin Demps is the lead kick returner, while WR Preston Parker is the lead punt returner.

Ben TateSep 1 10:52a

Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate is expected to stay on the field on third downs, according to head coach Mike Pettine. This is good news for his PPR [ More ]

Charles BrownSep 1 10:43a

New York Giants OT Charles Brown (shoulder) and OT James Brewer (back) returned to practice Monday, Sept. 1.

Ahmad DixonSep 1 10:22a

The Dallas Cowboys released SS Ahmad Dixon.

Lonnie PryorSep 1 09:52a

The Buffalo Bills signed free-agent FB Lonnie Pryor (Buccaneers) and OG D.J. Morrell (Rams) to the practice squad.

Tony HillsSep 1 09:32a

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent LB David Hinds (Titans), TE Jacob Maxwell (Lions), CB Lowell Rose (Chargers) and WR Tommy Streeter (Buccaneers) to the practice squad. C Sam Brenner, [ More ]

Emil IgwenaguSep 1 03:53a

In addition to the previously announced signings of TE Michael Egnew and RB George Winn, the Detroit Lions inked OG Rodney Austin, FB Emil Igwenagu, S Nate Ness, WR [ More ]

Chase FordSep 1 03:42a

Nine players were signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players joining the squad include RB Joe Banyard, WR Kain Colter, DT Isame Faciane, TE [ More ]

D.J. SmithSep 1 03:33a

The Carolina Panthers brought 10 players onto their practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players signed were CB Carrington Byndom, LB Adarius Glanton, WR Tavarres King, SS Robert Lester, [ More ]

Trevin WadeSep 1 03:22a

The New Orleans Saints signed six players to their practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Signees include WR Brandon Coleman, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Seantavius Jones, OT Tavon Rooks, [ More ]

Champ BaileySep 1 02:52a

Although the New York Jets are in need of cornerbacks, they are unlikely to pursue free-agent CB Champ Bailey, who was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, [ More ]

Dee MillinerSep 1 01:02a

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls and FS Antonio Allen could start at cornerback Week 1 because of the injury to CB Dee Milliner (ankle).

Jeromey ClarySep 1 12:23a

San Diego Chargers OG Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) underwent hip surgery around a week ago, and his status for the 2014 season is uncertain, according to sources. Clary has [ More ]

Ryan SuccopSep 1 12:12a

Free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) is receiving significant interest from the Tennessee Titans and could sign with them as early as Monday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Kenjon BarnerSep 1 12:02a

Philadelphia Eagles RB Kenjon Barner (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Vincent BrownSep 1 12:02a

San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Brown (calf) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

DeMarcus Van DykeAug 31 11:52p

Kansas City Chiefs CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Jake StoneburnerAug 31 11:32p

Green Bay Packers TE Jake Stoneburner (undisclosed) and OT Aaron Adams (knee) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after they were waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

M.D. JenningsAug 31 11:22p

Chicago Bears FS M.D. Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Steve VallosAug 31 10:33p

The Tennessee Titans released C Steve Vallos Sunday, Aug. 31.

Damian WilliamsAug 31 10:22p

The Miami Dolphins released WR Damian Williams Sunday, Aug. 31.

Mike ThomasAug 31 10:12p

The Houston Texans released WR Mike Thomas Sunday, Aug. 31.

Duke IhenachoAug 31 09:53p

The Washington Redskins have claimed SS Duke Ihenacho off waivers from the Denver Broncos.

Brandon HarrisAug 31 09:53p

The Tennessee Titans have claimed WR T.J. Graham off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, WR Kris Durham from the Detroit Lions and CB Brandon Harris from the Houston Texans.

Garrett GilkeyAug 31 09:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed OG Garrett Gilkey off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

MarQueis GrayAug 31 09:32p

The Minnesota Vikings have claimed TE MarQueis Gray off waivers from the Cleveland Browns and OT Michael X. Harris from the San Diego Chargers.

Brandian RossAug 31 09:22p

The Miami Dolphins have claimed CB Brandian Ross off waivers from the Oakland Raiders.

Mickey ShulerAug 31 09:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed TE Mickey Shuler off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

Damaris JohnsonAug 31 09:12p

The Houston Texans have claimed OT Jeff Adams off waivers from the Tennessee Titans, WR Damaris Johnson from the Philadelphia Eagles and CB Darryl Morris from the San Francisco 49ers.

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