Schedules: Weekly | Team-by-team | Judge: What to miss
NFL schedule day is one of my favorite holidays of the year.
Each year I get the task of picking out the 10 can't-miss games. I can tell you that gets tougher each year.
|The Titans and Steelers will bruise each other in Week 1. (US Presswire)|
How do we narrow it to just 10?
No other release of a league's schedule is met with as much anticipation as the release of the NFL's each spring, which we had Tuesday.
When I scan the schedule, I look for intriguing games. Not just good teams against good teams, but games that I can't wait to see. Maybe it's a player against his former team. Too bad Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears don't play the Denver Broncos. That would be fun.
As it is, I found 10 games that I consider can't-miss games. Here's a hint: There aren't any bad teams included. I lied. It is good team vs. good team.
Temperatures haven't even warmed up in most places, but you can feel the football on schedule-release day in the NFL, a day that is filled with so much anticipation.
Here are my 10 can't-miss games. But let's face it. I could have replaced half of these with five other games and nobody would have complained.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers went into Nashville and lost last year, and the Titans players waved those "Terrible Towels" as the final minutes ticked away. The Steelers didn't like that much. They thought they'd see the Titans again in the playoffs, but the Titans lost to Baltimore in the divisional round. Now the Steelers get to open the season on Thursday against the Titans. You don't think the fans will be waving those "Terrible Towels," do you?
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: Bears and Packers always make for interesting games, but this one gives each team's quarterback a chance to stake a claim as the divisional hotshot. It's Cutler's first game with the Bears, which makes it even more intriguing. Opening at Lambeau will make it a tough one. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to show his success last season is sustainable.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: Any Cowboys-Giants game is usually a good one to list, but this will be the opening of the Cowboys new stadium, Jerry Jones' shrine to excess. Plus, if the Cowboys can't beat the Giants at home, we'll know by Week 3 that Wade Phillips isn't going to be head coach for long.
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots: Matt Ryan gets to play back in the area he where he starred at Boston College for the first time and gets to go head-to-head with Tom Brady. That will be a treat. Both of these teams are considered playoff threats and Super Bowl contenders again.
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Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals: This will likely be the last chance to see Kurt Warner go against Peyton Manning. Ever. Warner has two years left and he's done. So enjoy this one while you can. They met once in their careers, that coming in 2001 when Warner was with the Rams. Warner threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns that day, while Manning threw for 195 yards and no touchdowns. First one to score 50 wins this one.
Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings: Getting to see Adrian Peterson run against that Baltimore defense will be interesting. Ray Lewis against Peterson is as good as it gets when seeing a middle linebacker against a great runner. I can't wait for those collisions.
Carolina Panthers at Cardinals: Arizona went into Charlotte and upset the Panthers in the playoffs last January on its way to the Super Bowl. Carolina has to carry a bitter taste from that one. They get a chance to exact some revenge here, even though it's not quite the same. But this should be an important game for both teams.
Patriots at Colts: These two don't like each other and should be two of the best teams in the league. Their games have been classics over the years, and this one will be fun as well. Any time you get two great quarterbacks together, like we have here in Manning and Brady, it's a can't-miss game. It's that way for me. Lets the footballs fly.
Philadelphia Eagles at Giants: The last time the Eagles came to Giants Stadium they upset the Giants in the playoffs in January. This one should have playoff implications as well. Whenever these two teams get together, it's always fun to watch. At night, late in the year, will make it even better.
Ravens at Steelers: The Ravens reportedly begged the league not to have them play at Pittsburgh to open the season. The Steelers were said to be laughing at that. These two have had classic battles over the years, including last year's AFC Championship Game. That was a violent game. This one should be as well. Get the body bags ready.