When the NFL releases its schedule each season, it is tempting to try and judge who has an easy or difficult schedule. To attempt to do so suggests that pundits are fully aware of what teams will gel this autumn and what teams do not have what it takes. Truth is, no one knows. It is way too early to give any solid predictions on what teams will be good and what teams will struggle in next season.
Having said that, the schedule release does get people excited for what could turn out to be some interesting matchups. Every year there are games that on paper look like they could be great and they turn out to be duds.
Here are the top five games I hope turn out to be great ones:
- Week 16 – San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
Hopefully, this game will be fun just because it is on Christmas Eve. I can only imagine what the “Black Hole” will have in store for this game. Both teams could be sub .500 at this point or one of them could be fighting for a playoff spot. It would be a great opportunity for Derek Carr to showcase to a national audience just how special he could be.
- Week 6 – New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
This game will be billed as Tom Brady versus his heir apparent, Andrew Luck. While that may have a smidgen of truth to it, to me, this game is important because of possible playoff implications. These two teams met in the AFC Championship game last season and of course both are looking to return. The Colts hope this time it will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium. The Pats have beaten the Colts in two consecutive postseasons; the Colts will need this game just to prove to themselves they can beat Brady and Co.
- Week 12 – New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
This could be the last time for the Brady versus Peyton Manning matchup. Manning will tell the media that it is just another game but we all know better. Manning is a historian of the game and knows how important this rivalry has been to the NFL over the past 14 years. This could be Manning’s last season and surely he does not want to end it with another loss to Brady.
- Week 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
These games tend to always be fun. Add to that, DeMarco Murray will be returning to Dallas for the first time and this one has the potential to be special. Chip Kelly is trying to build a new brand of juggernaut in the NFL, while the Cowboys are still living out the old adage of running the ball and solid defense. This clash of styles should make for an interesting game.
- Week 10 – Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Last season, the Cardinals had the division all but locked up when injuries happened. They found themselves in the playoffs but with their top two quarterbacks sidelined. The Seahawks had a late push and won the division and eventually the conference. They were a play away from winning back-to-back Super Bowls. The NFC West is the most competitive division in football and that does not look to change this upcoming season. The Cardinals feel like it should have been their chance last season, and the Seahawks are looking to prove that fully healthy the Cards still aren’t as good as them. This one could be special.