At about 8:00 p.m. EST yesterday the NFL released the league’s schedule for the 2013 season. Like children, who after waiting weeks for the chance to open their wrapped presents under the Christmas tree, we jumped on our respective clubs matchups mercilessly.
The senseless - yet oddly entertaining - game of picking out wins in games that won’t be played out for months ensued in chat rooms and forums nationwide. Division champs were crowned, and playoff brackets were made. If only it were that simple.
As pointless as trying to predict your team’s schedule months before training camps even started is, there is still some substance to be found in dissecting the schedule. Not in the form of who will win what game, or which division, conference, etc. but rather which games are worth leaving the office a little early for on monday night’s or delaying sunday night’s family dinner. Assuming you don’t watch dinner at the T.V.
Below you will find such games. I’ve listed five that will surely be worth the price of admission; no matter which team you cheer for. Enjoy.
Baltimore at Denver 8:30 PM EST Thursday September 5th
If not solely because this game opens the season, do it because it’s going to be a great game. You could argue that in the 2012 playoffs it was in Denver where Flacco established himself among the league’s elite. Debatably. By that same token you could mark that game as one of the many that place any doubt on Peyton Manning’s legacy as a playoff performer. Whatever the case, this has all the makings of a great rematch of the last season’s divisional round matchup.
San Francisco at Seattle 8:30 PM EST Sunday September 15th
A recurring theme in the 2013 schedule is the NFL’s willingness to not only rekindle the flames of old rivalries, but stoke the flames of budding ones. I see no better example than pitting two divisional foes, who are quickly starting to grow less than fond of each other, against one another in the spotlight of week 2’s Sunday Night Football. The 49ers will surely have a chip on their shoulder seeing as the last time they came to Century Link Field they were absolutely embarrassed. The final score in that game was 42-13 Seahawks.
Denver at Indianapolis 8:30 PM EST Sunday October 20th
If any game’s going to move you to tears this season, this is it. If not you, at the very least, Peyton Manning. The future hall of famer will be making his much anticipated return to Indianapolis, where he spent the first 14 years of his career. I can’t say I like the two teams on paper as an overly exciting matchup to watch, but Manning returning to Indianapolis is just too good to not watch.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore 8:30 PM EST Thursday November 28th
Best. Rivalry. In. Football. It’s not even up for debate. So when these two teams meet up for a Thanksgiving night showdown, in front of nearly the entire country, expect a good game. The best part of this rivalry matchup will be how Pittsburgh responds to what’s been nothing short of a 360 on the role of alpha dog in this divisional showdown. How will the Steelers respond to being the underdogs? Only time will tell, but I’m sure they’ll do so with a conviction that was sorely lacking from their 2012 season.
Atlanta at Green Bay 8:30 PM EST Sunday December 8th
If you’re a fan of rough, blue collar kind of football and defensive matchups this one might not be right for you. If you just so happen to be like most football fans and love the excitement of a vertical offense going to work on a bad defense, this is about as good as it gets. Matt Ryan vs. Aaron Rodgers. The Packers receiving corps vs. the Falcons. Whatever the over/under is, take the over.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV