Last week, we took a look at the matchups to watch in weeks one through eight in the upcoming NFL season. Now, we turn our attention to the rest of the season.[Jeff]
Marquee Matchup: Colts at Packers – With Peyton Manning retiring, the league needs a new marquee matchup to highlight. While the Packers and Colts will only play every three years, the league certainly hopes they can get an Andrew Luck-Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl sometime in the next few years (the one thing they could not get with Brady-Manning). These are both high flying offenses looking to bounce back from sub-par 2015 campaigns.
Revenge Game: Broncos at Raiders – The Raiders are finally on an up-swing after years of rebuilding, and the Broncos are mired with one of the worst quarterback situations in the league. The Raiders are looking to lay a smackdown on the defending champs and get revenge for the years of beatdowns the Raiders have endured at the hands of the Broncos. They won their last matchup in Denver, but the Raiders haven’t treated the Black Hole to a Broncos defeat since December 2010.
Rivalry Game: Ravens at Steelers – The two dominant teams of the AFC North square off once again in what has become must-see television over the years. The age of Troy Polamalu and Ray Lewis trading hits is over, but these two teams and fan bases still hate each other immensely.
Marquee Matchup: Cowboys at Steelers – Two of the best quarterbacks of their generation (Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger) square off with two of the best wide receivers of their generation in tow (Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown, respectively). Add a dash of Le’Veon Bell and two questionable defenses and you have the recipe for a scoring bonanza. This would have been Sunday Night Football if not for…
Revenge Game: Seahawks at Patriots – Do you think Seattle will run it on the one? Marshawn Lynch is retired, and some of the faces have changed, but the Seahawks will be up for this game after they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Super Bowl 49.
Rivalry Game: Texans at Jaguars – Two up-and-coming AFC South teams matchup in the battle of Osweiler vs. Bortles. The Texans took the division last year mostly thanks to Andrew Luck’s injury, but they hope J.J. Watt, Nuk Hopkins, Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller will lead them to more playoff berths in the coming years. For the Jaguars, they have one of the best young receiving corps in the league, a dynamic Chris Ivory-T.J. Yeldon backfield duo and the strong arm of Blake Bortles slinging it all over the yard.
Marquee Matchup: Titans at Colts – I fully understand if you stop reading here, close the browser and ask yourself why you spent your time reading this, but hear me out. The AFC South is positioned to be good. With the Colts bouncing back from a lost year and the suddenly revamped Titans battling under Marcus Mariota’s sophomore campaign, this is the game to watch this week. These two teams, alongside the Texans and Jags will make the AFC South fun and exciting for the next half decade.
Revenge Game: Packers at Redskins – The Packers embarrassed Washington at home and sent them packing early last year, with an absolute drubbing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. With newly signed Josh Norman in tow, they hope to take down the Packers to get revenge for the beat down. The Packers hope the return of Jordy Nelson and the slimming down of Eddie Lacy vaults them back atop the list of best offenses in football.
Rivalry Game: Saints at Panthers – The Saints and Panthers have won six of the last eight NFC South titles and have had some great duels over the years. While the two teams are going in vastly different directions, this may just be the last time Drew Brees suits up in Nashville. The Saints aren’t good anymore, but Brees, at least, will come to play.
Marquee Matchup: Steelers at Colts, Thanksgiving – The NFL was smart and put the best game of the week as the Thanksgiving nightcap. There won’t be a lot of defense played in this matchup, and the offenses will be slinging it all over the field. This is exactly the type of game the NFL wanted to get on Thanksgiving night to try to stave off those tryptophan naps.
Revenge Game: Patriots at Jets – The Patriots’ Super Bowl hopes may have been derailed in the Jets-Patriots matchup last year. The Patriots lost out on home field advantage throughout the playoffs last year when they chose to kick off in overtime and the Jets scored a touchdown on the very first play. This put them at 12-4, and tiebreakers had them travel to Denver. Had they won, they would have gone 13-3, had home field and likely would have strolled into the Super Bowl.
Rivalry Game: Bengals at Ravens – While the Ravens and Steelers have owned the AFC South, the Bengals have started to make waves in recent years. The exodus of receiver talent for the Bengals makes their offense questionable, but much like Ravens-Steelers in week ten, these two fanbases hate each other.
Marquee Matchup: Panthers at Seahawks
Revenge Game: Panthers at Seahawks
Rivalry Game: Panthers at Seahawks
There’s one game worth watching this week, and it’s the two powerhouses of the NFC squaring off in a rematch of the NFC Divisional Round that had Crying Jordan memes everywhere, as Russell Wilson literally threw the game away in the first half. This is the game of the week, month and year.
Marquee Matchup: Raiders at Chiefs – Much like the Broncos, the Raiders are seeking to dish out some punishment on teams that have been successfully taking them down while they rebuilt. Now they have a stacked offense and defense and are ready to make a run at the AFC West crown. This Thursday Night Football matchup will be one of the few that won’t be awful.
Revenge Game: Seahawks at Packers – For the second straight week, the Seahawks take on a team that they had a classic playoff matchup against. This time it’s the Packers in a rematch of the game the Seahawks should have lost in the 2014 season playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is hoping to excise the demons of Brandon Bostick and the botched onside kick recovery.
Rivalry Game: Texans at Colts
Marquee Matchup: Patriots at Broncos – In a replay of the AFC Championship game, the defending champs take on the team they defeated in a thriller last season. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won’t admit it, but they already have this one circled on their calendars. They’ll stand a better chance of winning this one than they did the Championship game; the Broncos QB may not even be on the roster yet.
Revenge Game: 49ers at Falcons – The 2013 NFC Championship Game. The Pick at the Stick. The baffling decision to not go for it. The last three times the 49ers and Falcons squared off, the Falcons fell on their faces and gave the Niners a victory. Chip Kelly is now the man in charge in San Francisco and he is hoping to continue the trend. The Falcons are hoping to buck it.
Rivalry Game: Steelers at Bengals – The newest AFC North rivalry ended the Bengals season in one of the weirdest season enders you’ll find. Jeremy Hill and Vontaze Burfict snatched defeat from the jaws of victory via fumblitis and enhanced chronic idiocy. Bengals fans are still steaming over the Ryan Shazier hit, and both teams will get up for this matchup in yet another AFC North rivalry game.
Marquee Matchup: Cardinals at Seahawks – The Seahawks finish off their month-long ringer in which they take on the Packers, the Cardinals and the Panthers in a four-week timeframe. With the rapid demise of the 49ers, the Seahawks moved their in-division rivalry down south to Arizona. The two teams split their matchups, each winning on the opposing team’s home field.
Revenge Game: Falcons at Panthers – The Panthers get a chance to show their home field crowd that their one regular season loss last season was a fluke. They inexplicably lost in Atlanta last year, and Cam & Co. will look to exact revenge for their sole loss.
Rivalry Game: Dolphins at Bills – The Bills and Mario Williams had a massive, well-publicized blowout before he was released and took his talents to South Beach. Williams returns to the site of the team that gave him a massive contract and a hard kick out the door. He’ll be motivated to show Rex Ryan he made a huge mistake.
Marquee Matchup: Giants at Redskins – This was originally a different matchup, but who can resist the now twice yearly matchup between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman? Last year they got so into each other’s heads that OBJ did his best SCUD missile impression. The kicker for this one is this time the matchup could be for a playoff berth.
Revenge Game: Bills at Jets – The Rex Ryan Bowl. Rex was unceremoniously dumped by the Jets after leading them to two AFC Championships. Luckily for the Jets, Rex Ryan isn’t one to hold grudges. Oh wait…
Rivalry Game: Packers at Lions – Unfortunately, the longest-running rivalry in the NFL is unlikely to have any playoff implications. While it is the longest-running rivalry, it is horrendously one-sided, with the Packers leading the all-time series 98-68-7, including a 25-7 record in the 2000s. While this is the longest rivalry, it is far from the most impressive. Still, a hat-tip to history is needed.