The NFL released it’s schedule earlier today, leading to hundreds of media outlets (including this one) talking about who has the best chance to make it to the playoffs and the strength of schedule of all 32 NFL teams.
This isn’t that sports-hacky of a list, but it’s close. Contrary to popular belief, not every game in the NFL matters. A lot of them become irrelevant after around week 10 when you realize that your team stinks. Down below is a list of the 11 most interesting games of the upcoming season. Yes, saying it’s interesting is subjective, but they’re interesting because of ethical reasons, comedic reasons, or anything in between.
Also, this list is subject to change, depending on what happens with the draft later this month.
We begin with…
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots (September 10th)
On Thursday, September 10th at 8:30 PM (ET) the NFL season officially begins. NBC will go all out to give the NFL fans an entertaining show. This is the first time that NFL fans can get their fix of the NFL. The preseason doesn’t do it and the draft is a tease, at best.
You even get the added bonus of rooting against the Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions.
At this point any number of teams hate the Patriots. Maybe you’re the Rams and hate them because of “Spygate”. Maybe you’re the Indianapolis Colts and hate them because of “Deflategate”. You may even be a Raider fan still mad at the “Tuck Rule”. Whatever your beef is, the Patriots make for great TV and millions of people will be watching.
As long as the NFL can make it through this offseason without a gigantic scandal (Hi Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson) this will be the NFL’s triumphant introduction back to their fans.
Jameis Winston’s first NFL game
Hey, remember what I just said in the last paragraph about the NFL making it through this offseason without a scandal? Yeah, if this were a Las Vegas odds making room, Jameis Winston is the odds on favorite to make the NFL sweat at about 5-1 odds. Roger Goodell is absolutely terrified that his potential #1 overall pick may lose a civil suit for sexual assault, and he should be. Everything had gone away until a week ago when his accuser filed a civil suit against Winston.
I imagine Goodell’s conversation with an NFL executive going something like this:
Goodell: “Hey John, hey did you look into this Winston guy?”
Executive John: “Oh Yeah, he’s good. That sexual assault lawsuit is in the past and everything checks out. He’s good to go. Nice guy.”
Goodell: “Okay, good work! Let’s get lunch.”
(Five seconds later)
TV Station: “We have breaking news today. Jameis Winston is facing a civil suit stemming from his sexual assault incident years ago.”
Goodell: “Son of a B****!!! JOHN!!!”
Jameis Winston may be a great NFL quarterback who goes on to win five Super Bowls and transforms an organization. He also may flame out of the league in a few years because of poor performances and personal transgressions away from the field. Nobody really knows, and that’s what makes his first NFL game so fascinating.
Winston hasn’t even played a game in the NFL yet and he’s already become one of the most polarizing and infamous players in the NFL. Whomever he winds up playing for, the NFL, and all of their fans, want to see what happens.
Wherever Adrian Peterson Plays Week One
We move from one polarizing figure to the next in Adrian Peterson. This has nothing to do with any opinion about how to raise your kids or what is or isn’t acceptable punishment. That conversation has a thousand land mines that I want nothing to do with.
Instead, this has to do with the fact that Adrian Peterson is a great running back who is going to be motivated to prove he isn’t done. This is the same player who returned from a torn ACL and MCL in 2012 and nearly set the single season rushing record. (2097 yards) The man is a physical freak and whatever team he plays for will make big news when he plays in week one.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (September 13th)
Do you remember the Odell Beckham Jr. catch last year? Do you remember the spider man catch that nearly broke the Internet?
Here’s the clip if you don’t remember.
This was the game that introduced the world to Beckham Jr. and in in the first week you get the rematch. You get a division rival in the Dallas Cowboys and it’s on Sunday night. You’re welcome.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (September 20th)
Chip Kelly is polarizing. He’s going to do things the way he wants to do it and to hell with what you think. Either you’re ready to laugh him out of the league or you’re willing to give him a chance to succeed.
Over his tenure he’s gotten rid of DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles (Just to name a few) and brought in DeMarco Murray, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow. (The latter of which set the Internet on fire earlier this week.)
He’s got pressure on him and if he wins in week one, the media will back off. If he loses, he’s a bum. That’s how this game works. Week two’s game against Dallas will be entertaining, if nothing else.
Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns (September 27th)
Some of the games mentioned earlier are games that have implications revolving around legacies and positive momentum. Some of the games deal with future Hall of Famers and people that have changed franchises.
This isn’t the same thing. These two teams are bad. They’re excruciatingly bad over the last five years and this highlight is solely for laughs. If you watch this game, watch it only if you want to feel better about your team. If one of these teams IS your favorite team… well… at least you aren’t the Jaguars.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (October 25th)
Hey! Speak of the devil! I know you think that you know where I’m going with this, but you’re wrong. This isn’t an indictment on these two teams or anything like that. Instead, this game may be the test case that revolutionizes the entirety of sports.
You’re confused, aren’t you? I get it. How can these two teams be the ones that start a revolution? They can barely win five games each year. They can do it because this game isn’t on TV. Instead, these two teams will only be seen only on the Internet.
Why does that matter? Well, the NFL is experimenting with an Internet only game to see how popular it will be. If it’s a success, (who knows what that means, exactly) then don’t be surprised if they then use teams like the Packers or Cowboys later on. If the Internet proves to be a successful avenue then companies like Netflix and Hulu will be next in line negotiating NFL contracts. That’s big.
Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts (November 8th)
Peyton Manning is beloved. I dare you to find one person who doesn’t like Manning. I don’t mean fans of the Titans or Patriots who have rooted against him for years. I mean fans that legitimately don’t like him. Those people don’t exist.
For those of you who love Manning this may be the last season you see him. He ended last year on a down note and turns 40 next March. Odds are this is the last game (playoffs not included) Manning will ever play in Indianapolis.
Manning played 14 years in Indy and this will be the nostalgia game that will make fans reminisce fondly on the old days before they remember they have the prototype for an NFL quarterback in Andrew Luck.
Then they’re nostalgia moves to excitement because they realize they’ve gone from one transcendent quarterback to the next.
In the meantime, watch this last season of Manning closely. You’re going to miss him when he’s gone. Here’s some nostalgia down below.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets (November 12th)
Neither of these teams two teams will be any good. The best quarterback on the Jets is Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills’ best quarterback is Matt Cassel. Yikes.
However, all of that is irrelevant because Rex Ashley Ryan will make his first trip back to New York in Week 10. Rex is media gold and the press conferences leading up to this game will be all you need to care about. Forget about watching the actual game. Subjecting you to watch this game is bordering on cruel.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears (November 26th)
Brett Favre. Do you remember Brett Favre? Brett Favre, for this analogy, was the prefect spouse for the city of Green Bay. They grew up together, (Played for 16 years) they shared great memories, (Dozens of passing records) and even gave the city a ring. (Super Bowl Championship) Then, things got weird and they broke up. Favre saw other people, (Played for the Jets and Vikings) the city was sad and each party said and did some things they didn’t really mean.
This led to the two not talking to each other for years while being very passive aggressive towards one another. Since he’s been gone both have achieved success but there’s still something missing; closure.
That closure comes on Thanksgiving when his jersey will be retired against the Chicago Bears. This will be the final burying of the hatchet for fans to completely move on from the breakup from hell and give fans those memories of the times they loved so much before.
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos (November 29th)
This is, potentially, the last game we’ll ever see between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. For years and years these two have been the greatest quarterbacks of the past two decades. (Outside of Brett Favre)
Brady and Manning are two of the top ten greatest quarterbacks no matter how you want to construct the list. If they aren’t then I don’t know what NFL you’ve been watching. Sunday Night Football will promote it heavily as the week goes along. They’ve played 16 times with Brady going 11-5. They’ll show the playoff classics and the Super Bowls that followed.
One More Thing
More games will matter as the weeks move along. Ray Rice still hasn’t signed with a team and we don’t know where Marcus Mariota will go but, for right now, these are eleven of the most intriguing games of the 2015 NFL season. Well, at least in my opinion.