Circle your calendars! The NFL released its schedule this week, and with that, teams and fans have started to obsess over the matchups, circling games on their schedule. Marquee matchups of the week, revenge games and when they play their rivals are all the most important things that fans sought out today. However, with 256 games on the slate, quite a few matchups may have been lost in the shuffle when you reviewed the NFL schedule. Here’s what you need to know about every week on the 2016 NFL schedule.[Jeff]
Marquee Matchup: Patriots at Cardinals – What are the odds that these two teams match up to start and end the season? Pretty high. The Patriots and Cardinals are two of the top teams in the NFL, both with their windows closing due to the age of their quarterbacks. These teams also made a move together in the offseason, with Chandler Jones going to Arizona in exchange for a second round pick and OG Jonathon Cooper
Revenge Game: Panthers at Broncos – This is a no-brainer. The 2016 season kicks off with the last real game any of us watched. The Super Bowl 50 matchup will kick off the entire season. The main difference? The Broncos still don’t know who will be under center for them when the season kicks off.
Rivalry Game: Rams at 49ers – There’s a lot at play here. It likely won’t be a great game, but given the Rams gave the world to secure a #1 pick and the allure of Chip Kelly, this late Monday Night Football game is at least worth a look.
Marquee Matchup: Chiefs at Texans – These two teams are now built extremely similarly. Great defense, a focus on the run game, and a quarterback they depend on to not hurt them. This will likely be the best matchup of the year if you love defense.
Revenge Game: Colts at Broncos – This matchup has been the one to watch over the last couple of seasons, ever since Andrew Luck replaced Peyton Manning. This year its allure stems from the fact that the Broncos sent the Colts’ 2015 careening off the rails after Andrew Luck was knocked out, eventually for the season, from a hit caused by the Broncos.
Rivalry Game: Bengals at Steelers – The powerhouses of the AFC North square off in a rematch of the crazy playoff game last season. Vontaze Burfict will not be back, but it will still be worth watching.
Marquee Matchup: Rams at Buccaneers – The trade that went down that sent a haul of picks to the Titans in exchange for sending the top pick in the 2016 draft to Los Angeles. This is setting up a matchup between this years’ #1 overall pick (Carson Wentz or Jared Goff) and last years’ (Jameis Winston)
Revenge Game: Texans at Patriots – This one isn’t as much of a revenge game as it is a Bill O’Brien homecoming, and that’s basically the same thing. The Texans head coach is the former Patriots’ quarterbacks coach and a disciple of Bill Belichick. With new QB Brock Osweiler in tow, O’Brien is hoping to pull off an upset.
Rivalry Game: Redskins at Giants – The Eagles are a mess in the wake of Chip Kelly’s disastrous run as a general manager, and the Cowboys are another Tony Romo broken collarbone away from mediocrity. This is potentially an NFC-East deciding matchup
Marquee Matchup: Chiefs at Steelers – The league’s best offense against arguably the league’s best defense. The Chiefs and Steelers both were bounced from the playoffs earlier than they wanted. Going into 2016, this is the ultimate clash of philosophies game.
Revenge Game: Browns at Redskins – The prodigal son returns. Or the probably benched son returns, depending on how you look at it. RG3 is hoping to play at FedEx Field in the regular season for the first time since 2003.
Rivalry Game: Bills at Patriots – The prickly relationship (to put it mildly) between Bills’ (formerly Jets) head coach Rex Ryan and Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick is the underscore for this game. These two always create an intriguing matchup when they face off.
Marquee Matchup: Buccaneers at Panthers – Just like the Rams and Bucs, this matchup features two #1 overall quarterbacks. The difference Jameis and Cam are set to set the league on fire for years to come. The Bucs are a team on the rise, and this game could be their debut on the stage of league relevance.
Revenge Game: Jets at Steelers – While the teams did not play each other in week seventeen last season, the Jets loss and Steelers victory in the last week of the year last season sent Pittsburgh to the playoffs and sent the Jets home. The Jets will be looking for retribution for their denial into the playoffs.
Rivalry Game: Chargers at Raiders – Two AFL powerhouses, San Diego and Oakland almost became co-tenants in a new stadium. Instead, they remain in-state rivals who straight up hate each other. While not as widely advertised as many NFL rivalries, it is one that will have one of the greatest repercussions on the 2016 final standings.
Marquee Matchup: Cowboys at Packers – Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best quarterbacks of this generation; as they go, so too, go their squads. This should be a fun, gunslinging contest between two of the best in the game. And who knows, it may also be an Ezekiel Elliott-Eddie Lacy matchup?
Revenge Game: Falcons at Seahawks – The first of two games reliving the 2013 NFL playoffs, the Seahawks will look to take out the Falcons, who denied them entry into the Super Bowl in 2013. Particularly stinging to “12s” who thought it was their year was that the 49ers, the Seahawks’ bitter rival (at that time) made the playoffs in their stead.
Rivalry Game: Colts at Texans – This one should be a doozy, and if the Texans’ gamble paid off, Brock Osweiler and Andrew Luck should be facing off for the first of a long line of battles. These two AFCS teams have represented the division in the playoffs every year since 2009.
Marquee Matchup: Seahawks at Cardinals – The NFL is lucky that two of their best teams play in the same division. The Cardinals/Seahawks matchup should be a great competition, and may even be an NFC Championship Game preview.
Revenge Game: Texans at Broncos – It’s not very often that a signal caller leads his team to several victories, gets benched, and his replacement goes on to win the Super Bowl for his squad, but that is the situation Osweiler faced last year. He then got what he considered an insufficient offer from Denver and became the man in Houston this offseason.
Rivalry Game: Patriots at Steelers – Now that Peyton Manning has retired, here is the list of recent AFC Champions whose quarterback is still active:
That’s all you need to know as to why this is a rivalry game.
Marquee Matchup: Cardinals at Panthers – A replay of NFC Championship game of last season, the two best teams in the NFL square off. For the Cardinals, they hope to get revenge for last seasons’ playoff trouncing.
Revenge Game: Cardinals at Panthers – A game so nice it was listed twice, the Panthers and Cardinals will be the game to watch this week.
Rivalry Game: Jaguars at Titans – The Jags and Titans are two teams on the rise, and since the Texans and Colts have created a rivalry, Jacksonville and Tennessee are quickly forming their own rivalry behind Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota, respectively.