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

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

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Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

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Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

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Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

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Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

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Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

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Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

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