By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y) 7/7/2019
Only single digit weeks now until the NFL season begins. Hurrah! So I decided to have a bit of a look at the games this season and start building up a bit of hype!
The NFL regular season is 256 games in total. I’ve tried to whittle it down to the top 10 games that are going to be the most anticipated. Bias dictates that these are all wrong unless your team is in involved in the rankings, but let’s be honest, no-one is excited about Miami @ NY Giants in week 15…nor will it be flexed. Moving on:
Listed in Week Order as quite frankly, I don’t want to provide a countdown. I’m already behind the 8 ball with the games I’ll miss out.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears – Opening Kickoff Week 1
Chicago could be the opening night for Aaron Rodgers’ “Flip the Bird to the NFL” Tour.
This game of course is the first game of the 2019 regular season which only annoys Patriots fans so that’s fine. Seriously though, this could kick the season off with a bang and it will be fascinating for many reasons; Are the Bears here to stay? What is the impact of the defection of Adrian Amos to the Packers? Is the Packers’ defence improved enough to get them back to January football?
These two teams met on primetime in week 1 last year on Sunday Night Football and Rodgers once again broke the hearts of the Bears fans, overcoming a 20-0 hole from late in the 3rd. Whilst that’s not quite Patriots vs Falcons levels, it was still pretty awesome to see the fireworks late on and Rodgers working his magic including that 75yd Randall Cobb TD pass.
If we get anything like that on opening night, the long offseason wait would already have been worth it.
Indianapolis Colts @ LA Chargers – Week 1
Both teams had a playoff win last season, and both fans will expect a few more this season. In what COULD be a dress rehearsal for the AFC Championship game come the end of January 2020, we get to see what shape two of the main protagonists in the hunt are in for this week 1 tussle. These teams were top 10 last year in both Points for and Points allowed. The Colts will be hoping to get off to a better start than they did last year whilst the Chargers have a history of starting slow except for last year. Who starts hot in the Stub Hub? Can the Colts defence take another step forward? Is this the year Anthony Lynn and the Chargers put it all together? Is this the AFC title game come January?
Game Pass lovers please pray this one won’t succumb to the Sky Sports blackout.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots – Week 1 (SNF)
In the first time since the early 2000s, the defending SB champions won’t be playing on opening night (see above). The Patriots are however, playing on the first Sunday Night football. Hosting the Steelers, the 2 AFC juggernauts go at it straight out of the gate and there are question marks to be answered by voids left on both teams. Can Pittsburgh survive without Bell and Brown (and Jesse James of course!)? What does a Rob Gronkowski-less Patriots look like? Add in to the week 1 hype and the fact that at this point we want all of the football stuffed down our throats, this will be a game that is eagerly anticipated. Week 1 makes up almost a third of this list. NFL is back with a bang, baby.
New Orleans Saints @ LA Rams – Week 2 (SNF)
This one will have 99% last year’s NFC Championship game footage and 1% 2019 week 2 game time if TV Broadcasters have their way. The rumblings over the PI challenge change has rumbled all the way through the summer and Vegas will be prop bet crazy for this one (as will the fans…insert Futurama Fry take my money meme). If the Saints have still not picked up their broken, stomped on hearts before this game starts, they may be sorry yet again with QB1 Blake Bortles Jared Goff looking to shake off his poor end to last season.
On the field, the Saints will want to confirm their dominance and lay down a marker in what could be Drew Brees final season and this potentially will be his last visit to South California, the place where it all started for him with the Chargers (ok, it was San Diego at the time).
The Rams will want to show that they are the dominant team in the NFC again in this game and lets not forget that both these teams were fighting for the #1 seed last year after being head and shoulders above the rest. It’ll also be a good indicator to see if both teams have plugged the losses they suffered over the offseason (Ingram/Unger/Suh etc)
McVay vs Peyton, Brees vs Goff, Kamara vs Gurley/Henderson/Brown. It’s gonna be a goodun’.
Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders (London) – Week 5
The Khalil Mack Bowl in the 1st NFL game at White Hart Lane (Tottenham Hotspur’s purpose-built NFL Stadium). What else is there to say?
Well, the Oakland Raiders didn’t travel too well to London last year. Gruden hates flying, they didn’t schedule the travel well from the front office and the Raiders could still be in rebuild mode. They have added a few nice pieces but I think that it could take another year or so before the Raiders are a noisy neighbour to the Chiefs and Chargers. Ranked bottom 10 in total offence and defence last year, they may fear the majority of their fixtures in 2019, but not as much as this one.
Mack and his Bears will be looking for a mauling here but it will be interesting to see the progression of Mitch Trubisky or if there is any and whether the Bears can stay hot. They have the talent to do so and they have Matt Nagy who took like a duck to water as a Head Coach last year. BUT, they have lost a few pieces on both sides of the ball, Vic Fangio has gone to Denver and this is a team that ranked 21st in Total Offence last year.
Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks – Week 11
2 games in Week 11 that are worth circling here. First up, we have another grudge match.
It’s perhaps not quite the Khalil Mack bowl, but Earl Thomas returns to the Hawk’s nest at Century Link Field to face his former team. It’s fair to say there was bad blood here with the way things ended for Thomas in Seattle and the whole contract situation, but there is more to this game. These two are expected to fight for divisions let alone Wildcard berths so this cross-conference battle has way more than the Earl Thomas storyline that the broadcasters will feed us in the 1st half. Expect this one to be a slobberknocker two with the two heaviest running games from 2018 going at it and you will have to use more than your fingers and toes to count the bruises that the lineman suffer in this one. One for the throwbacks, one for the old school NFL fans with the ground and pound. Should be a fun one.
Kansas City Chiefs @ LA Chargers – Week 11 (MNF)
Monday Night Football doesn’t always offer us the tastiest of games (or broadcasts, let’s be honest) but this one is the pick of the bunch.
It will have divisional and seeding ramifications as well as the usual head to head tiebreakers. These 2 served up two good divisional games last year (remember the Charger’s win in Arrowhead last season with the 2-point conversion?) and you have to expect more of the same here. LA at home never have the advantage but are now accustomed to playing at the Stub Hub which saw them banish the ghosts of their usual sluggish starts. Will Tyreek Hill be back at this point? Probably, which is unfortunate.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots – Week 14
Pretty sure UK fans will lose this one to the Sky Sports Blackout farce so set your VPNs to Venezuala or Brazil or whatever you can in order to get this game on the TV.
Brady. Mahomes. Belichick. Reid.
Potentially seeding ramifications with this one for the postseason and it will be interesting to see what Mahomes has learned from the AFC title game from just a few months ago.
Tyreek Hill will (hopefully not) be back for this game and if he isn’t, you have to wonder how the Chiefs have fared to this point. This game may be more difficult for the Chiefs being at Foxboro in December but this one will be just as much a slobberknocker as the last time these two teams met.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles – Week 16
Many will expect this one to decide the division. The winner could be home and hosed for the playoffs whilst the other could still be scrambling for a wildcard spot.
Dallas swept the Eagles last season so Wentz and co will be looking to put that right. Well, if Wentz is still healthy at this point.
Arguably 2 of the most talented teams in the NFL let alone the NFC will be battling it out just a few days before Christmas. I’ll be hoping that Santa gives Dallas an early Christmas present with a little division title under the tree all wrapped in a nice blue ribbon. Dallas are looking for back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in over a decade whilst Philly will be looking to ensure their SB win wasn’t a flash in the pan and that they rule the East.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets – Week 16
By this point in the season, we’ll know exactly whether or not the move for LeVeon Bell was a good one. It’s more than likely the Steelers will be nearer the playoffs than the Jets at this point, but what if LeVeon Bell could stop the Steelers reaching the playoffs by helping his new team get the victory at home? Headlines are there to be written; “Bell ends Steelers SB hopes”.
It’ll be championship week in Fantasy too. Get the trophies and the popcorn at the ready.
So there you have it, obviously hard to fit 256 games into 10. Well, 240 if you take out the Miami fixtures (sorry for the hate guys!). If you feel there are any outrageous omissions, please let me have the heat! @Full10Yards on the social or you can bring your angry mob to me personally at @Tim_MonkF10Y.
Now we wait…