The 2011 NFL schedule stretches out over 17 weeks (barring any effect from the NFL Lockout). We at All Sports Talk took it upon ourselves to provide you with the juiciest, most tantalizing, must-see matchups each week of the 2011 football season. 17 of the best games, 17 of the biggest matchups, 17 days of being glued to your overpriced television. Here we go.
It’s opening week meaning that there are a lot of rematches from last year’s playoffs scheduled. The one we have our eye on the most though is probably the Steelers at the Ravens. Their epic playoff matchup last year came down to a couple big plays by the Steelers at the end of the game. You know the Ravens will want their revenge and the winner will have the early upper hand in the vicious AFC North.
Our game to keep an eye on in week two will probably be the Patriots and the Chargers. Both teams have offenses that can light up the scoreboard. Also it’s Philip Rivers’ chance to prove he belongs in the same “best quarterback” conversations with Tom Brady. Watch them duel it out on the field – I know I will.
There are quite a few good games this week including Pittsburgh at Indy, Green Bay at Chicago, and Atlanta at Tampa Bay. But the game we are most interested in is an NFC matchup that is sure to be electric. The Giants and Eagles square off for the first time since DeSean Jackson ruined Tom Coughlin’s day with his punt return TD as time expired. There is a lot of bad blood between these two teams so expect a tough physical game.
This week’s best matchup is all about defense and homecomings. Rex Ryan and the Jets square off against Ray Lewis and the Ravens in Baltimore. Rex Ryan practically built the Raven’s defense, and then left for a head coaching job in New York. Both teams talk enough trash to fill a small ocean, and the week leading up to the matchup might be just as exciting as the game itself.
This week brings us a matchup that up until last year might have been deemed a laugher. The Chiefs and Colts meet in week 5 and the Chiefs will no doubt be looking for revenge. It was the Colts who handed the Chiefs their first loss last year in a close game. If last year is any indication, this will be another epic matchup and perhaps the second of many more to come.
In week 6 we head back to New England when the Dallas Cowboys come to visit. By now, Romo should be fully recovered from his injury and back on top of his game, creating what we hope to be an epic showdown between him and Tom Brady. We see this game as having a similar premise as the Patriots/Chargers game in Week 2 – highly touted young QB challenging a veteran who has accomplished just about everything a guy could want (professionally and personally; wink wink).
This week will again feature some high powered offenses and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a combined 1,000 yards of offense between the two. Yes, I’m talking about the week 7 matchup between the Colts and Saints. If both offenses show up with their A Games, they will blow the lid right off the Superdome. Fans of offense will want to tune in for this Sunday Night Game.
Patriots and Steelers – both teams come in with something to prove (that their style is superior to that of their opponent). The Pats will send their finely tuned offense out against the Steeler’s smashmouth defense. It will be a battle of wills, a test of mettle, a fight to the finish. We just hope it isn’t another blowout like it was last year.
San Diego welcomes the Green Bay Packers to its sunny beaches for this November matchup (yes the beaches will still be sunny in November). The Packers will be looking to defend their Super Bowl title against one of the league’s top offenses. I’m really curious to see how well the Packers play on the road in this one – should be a good matchup.
I know that this is a pretty unconventional pick, especially when we have a Jets/Pats game in the same week, but my game to keep an eye on in week 10 is going to be the Texans and the Bucs. Both of these teams had a legitimate shot at the playoffs last year after spending the past few seasons in relative obscurity. Week 10 is usually a tipping point for teams that are making a run at the playoffs, so this should be an interesting matchup. (Make sure you watch Pats/Jets too though, you know, just in case it’s an important game).
It’s not very often that a game of interest takes place in the NFC West, but if we had to pick one game from that division to keep an eye on this year, it would be the week 11 matchup between the Seahawks and the Rams. Their season’s came down to week 17 last year, winner making the playoffs and the loser going home early. I expect this year’s matchup to have just as much of a playoff picture impact as their previous meeting.
This is Thanksgiving Weekend, so we are going to pick two games – one for Thanksgiving Day and the other for the rest of the weekend. On Thanksgiving, if your family only allows you to watch one game, make sure you tune in for the Dolphins and Cowboys. Two teams with a lot of potential, and hopefully some playoff implications this late in the year. On Sunday, make sure you catch the Bears/Raiders game. With winter being the season where defenses get to shine, you will be looking at two of the best go head to head.
As it gets later in the season, it becomes harder to predict which games will carry more weight and playoff impact, but if everything was 0-0, we would definitely advise against missing the Patriots/Colts annual matchup. This is probably one of the biggest non-division rivalries in football. The game is in New England this year which typically gives Peyton some trouble. No matter what, this is a game that can’t be missed.
One of the league’s best rushers vs. a team that can’t defend the run. One of the league’s best passing offenses vs. a team that would have better luck employing tissue paper at defensive back. I’m talking about the matchup between the Titans and the Saints (if you don’t know which team is which, I’m surprised that you made it this far). I predict Chris Johnson to have a monster game (just in time for your fantasy playoffs!) and Drew Brees to do the same.
Our epic matchup for week 15 sends us off to Philly where the Eagles and Jets square off. It’s tough to say just how healthy Michael Vick will be at this point in the season, but if he is even 75% it will be a great game. The Jets have a brilliant defense, but Michael Vick gives D-coordinators nightmares. You won’t want to miss this matchup.
This is one of the tougher weeks to pick a must-see game, but we are going to give it a shot….Bears and Packers. There we said it, no going back. This is potentially (looking at the matchup from about 8 months before it takes place) one of the most impactful games on the schedule this year. Remember when the Bears and Packers played last year? The Pack sealed their playoff membership and the rest is history. Don’t you think that the Bears want things to go a little differently this year?
Ah week 17, when playoff shoo-ins are resting their starters, last place teams are playing their scrubs, and the teams on the playoff bubble are whining about teams who are mailing it in this week. As we sift through the muck, however, one game appears sparkling and shiny. Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Every game in week 17 pits division rivals against each other, but the Bucs and Falcons are potentially the only two teams matched up this week who will both have a legit shot at the playoffs. I predict that this game will have the most playoff implications and could be this year’s version of Seattle/St. Louis, only in a division the people actually respect.