We love NFL schedule-release day. It’s a holiday of sorts, giving us a chance to rush our life away as we anticipate all the games.
It can also be fool’s gold.
The teams we expect to be good sometimes aren’t, which can turn potentially big games into duds. The flip side happens when teams we expect to struggle surprise, which can lead to them playing big games late in the season.
That’s why it’s so tough to pick 10 intriguing games in April. But I have done so here, and most of those games include teams I think will be good.
Some won’t be – see Green Bay last year – but I would expect most of those teams listed here would push for playoff time and maybe even more.
So dive in and take a look at my 10 intriguing games.
I’m sure you will hate some of them, but even more certain that some won’t be big games by the time they are actually played.
This is the Nickell Robey-Coleman Bowl. He was the corner for the Rams who should have been called for pass interference late in the NFC Championship Game in January. But there was no flag, which led to the Rams going to the Super Bowl and the Saints leading the charge to make PI and non-PI calls reviewable. Even if the Saints win, it won’t quite be getting revenge, but it would help heal the wound some.
The Browns are the “it” team heading into this season, a trendy pick to be a playoff team, and maybe a lot more. But we know New England will be good and we know they like to slap potential contenders back to reality. Tom Brady vs. Baker Mayfield will be fun.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes. That’s going to be a blast. It’s the best quarterback in the league – yes, it’s still Rodgers – against the guy who is trying to take that title from him. It’s old vs. young. First team to 50 wins. Arrowhead will be rocking on Sunday night.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
The Bears beat up the Rams in the regular season last year, physically dominating them on both sides of the ball. The Rams went on to get to the Super Bowl, but they didn’t quite look the same on offense after the Bears game. Now is their chance to show they can move the ball on an elite defense. It’s the classic offense vs. defense matchup.
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
Anytime you can get two marquee franchises together, it’s a good thing. The Cowboys were a playoff team a year ago, and feel they can push for a lot more this year. The Patriots are, well, the Patriots They will again be a Super Bowl contender and the Cowboys hope to be.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Browns are the Vegas favorites to win the NFC North. They are the hip team, while the perception is the Steelers are falling apart. But the Steelers have a lot of players who have won big games. The Browns have to learn how to do that. This will be big proving game for the Browns in their quest to win the AFC North.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
This is a rematch of the AFC Championship Game won by the Patriots in overtime. The Chiefs pushed to get overtime rules changed because of that game, but now must go back and face the Patriots on the road with the same rules. Even so, they went there last season and pushed the Patriots before losing. Mahomes vs. Brady will be fun.
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints
Andrew Luck against Drew Brees will be entertaining to watch. Luck has played the Saints just one time in his career, that coming in 2015. The Saints won that game in Indianapolis, but Luck threw for 333 yards and three scores, while Brees threw for 255 and one touchdown. We know Brees beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLI. Luck has never played a game in New Orleans, so that’s interesting as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets
This is the Le’Veon Bell bowl. He refused to play for the Steelers last year and then signed as a free agent with the Jets this spring. You know the Steelers defense will be hitting Bell with everything they have and more. It will be fun to see how Jets coach Adam Gase uses Bell in his offense and in this game.
Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears
Getting a chance to watch Mahomes and that Chiefs offense against that Bears defense will be a joy to watch. Can Khalil Mack and gang slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs passing game? The Bears were impressive last season in winning the NFC North, but there are questions whether they can duplicate that. This is the kind of game that can show it’s possible, if they can win it.