The NFL released each team’s 2018 regular season schedule yesterday, including the Broncos’. But with a total of 256 games on the way, some are bound to be more interesting than others. Let’s take a really early look at the matchups that could provide the best games or the highest stakes. The draft might change things, but for now the intensity and drama appears to be headed this way: (And yes, there’s obviously going to be a bias toward AFC West games.)
The best game of the season’s first week might very well be the first one. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles take on the team that couldn’t seal the deal vs their mutual opponent the year before. Matt Ryan vs Carson Wentz (or quite possibly Nick Foles if Wentz isn’t cleared to play yet).
The 49ers and Vikings should be an interesting show, with Kirk Cousins getting his first shot at proving that it was the Redskins who were holding him back all along. On the other sideline, though, we’ll see Jimmy Garoppolo looking to build on his late 2017 success with a flashy start to 2018. Of the week’s divisional matchups, the Chiefs and Chargers look likely to be the most interesting and competitive game.
The encore performance for the AFC Championship Game looks to be the most interesting game in a packed Week 2 lineup. Will the Jags’ defense keep rolling? Will the Patriots finally show a weakness? Or will last winter’s game repeat itself?
The AFC West is bringing it this week, with a divisional matchup between the Broncos and Raiders understandably high on our watch list. The Chiefs and Steelers will be another good matchup to watch- the first two weeks of Patrick Mahomes’s season are going to be interesting games for sure. And Viking Cousins vs Packer Rodgers I is easily the best divisional game in the league this week.
Best Matchup: Chargers @ Rams
The Rams are going to feature heavily in the best matchups. Those coaches, that QB, and that defense? Look out, because the Rams mean business. It’s also the first shared-town rivalry matchup with the Chargers.
Garoppolo vs Mahomes looks like a fun game. The other two games are, frankly, a bit of a stretch. Week 3 isn’t the most inspiring slate of the season.
Best Matchup: Vikings @ Rams
There’s plenty of the Vikings to be found in these Best Matchups as well. Minnesota pretty much just threw the piggy bank at the draft whole, and they know they have to win now while their core is still intact. That makes a matchup with the equally strong Rams intriguing indeed.
The other two big games are AFC rivalry affairs. Luck vs Watson could be an offensive showcase, provided Luck actually plays again. And every Chiefs vs Broncos game is bound to be intense.
Best Matchup: Vikings @ Eagles
Other big games: Colts @ Patriots, Falcons @ Steelers, Packers @ Lions, Raiders @ Chargers.
The replay of the NFC Championship Game is a can’t miss matchup, especially with one team sporting a new QB. Past that, the possibility of Luck vs Brady is intriguing, and the Steelers are well matched against the Falcons, while the Packers @ the Lions and the Raiders @ the Chargers will compete for most interesting divisional game.
Best Matchup: Rams @ Broncos
Other big games: 49ers @ Packers, Chiefs @ Patriots
This might be the most interesting Broncos matchup of the season. Their former defensive coordinator and a stud former cornerback is a potent combination even before you consider the rest of the Rams’ talented defense.
The Niners and Packers facing off should be another good game, and the Chiefs always seem to find ways to ruin the Patriots’ day in recent years.
Best Matchup: Rams @ 49ers
Other big games: Texans @ Jaguars
Goff vs Garoppolo? I dub it the second G2 Scrum-it and predict that not only shall it be epic as an individual game, but it could well kick off a period of more intense rivalry between the two west coast teams.
The Texans and Jaguars will offer an interesting divisional matchup. Frankly, the rest of the slate isn’t all that interesting. I almost included the Panthers @ the Eagles, but the kitties are due for the down side of their bi-annual cycle of sucking and rocking.
Best Matchup: Eagles @ Jaguars
Other big games: Broncos @ Chiefs, Packers @ Rams, Saints @ Vikings
A couple of tough defenses here in the best matchup- but can Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense keep up?
A rivalry matchup between the Broncos and Chiefs is sure to draw plenty of interest, and two high level matchups between four top units in the absolutely stacked NFC promises a good time.
Best Matchup: Packers @ Patriots
Other big games: Rams @ Saints, Texans @ Broncos
Rodgers vs Brady. What’s not to like about the two best QBs of the day going at it hammer and tongs?
The other QB with a possible claim to a top 2 spot will face a challenge of his own as Drew Brees’ Saints take on Jared Goff’s Rams. And I’m very interested to see what Deshaun Watson can and can’t do against the Broncos’ stalwart defense.
Best Matchup: Jaguars @ Colts
Other big games: Cowboys @ Eagles
For week 10 the best stuff is pretty much just a couple of division rivalry games. If Andrew Luck plays this year, he’ll make the Colts game against the Jags considerably more interesting. And the Cowboys and Eagles should provide a good matchup too (psst... the Eagles will win).
Best Matchup: Eagles @ Saints
Other big games: Broncos @ Chargers, Steelers @ Jaguars, Chiefs @ Rams
Two of the best teams in the NFC clash in Week 11’s top game. Then the Broncos face their division rival Chargers, the Steelers’ high powered offense takes on the Jaguars’ tough defense, and the Chiefs face an uphill battle against the Rams.
Best Matchup: Falcons @ Saints
Other big games: Steelers @ Broncos, Packers @ Vikings
Another pair of high-powered NFC offenses will clash this week- and possibly a second pair if Cousins pans out for the Vikings. Meanwhile, the Broncos face the Steelers’ many offensive weapons.
Best Matchup: Vikings @ Patriots
Other big games: Saints @ Cowboys, Colts @ Jaguars, Chiefs @ Raiders
Cousins vs Brady... or rather, the Vikings’ D vs Brady, should be quite interesting. The Super Bowl that might have been. The other interesting games this week are your standard group of divisional matchups.
Best Matchup: Falcons @ Packers
Other big games: Broncos @ 49ers, Eagles @ Cowboys
The Falcons and Packers should put on a good show, but this is probably a matchup of teams whose best shots at a title were two or three years ago.
Seeing Garoppolo vs the Broncos’ defense will be interesting for sure. And the division rivalry game between the Eagles and Cowboys should be fun.
Best Matchup: Patriots @ Steelers
Other big games: Eagles @ Rams, Saints @ Panthers, Chargers @ Chiefs
The decision between the Patriots/Steelers game vs the Eagles/Rams game comes down to which conference you’re in. Both are awesome matchups, and with the postseason looming the possibility of major playoff implications from these two games abounds.
The Saints and Panthers should put up a good divisional game, complemented by the division matchup of the Chargers and Chiefs in Arrowhead stadium. Major AFC West playoff implications base on the result of that one are entirely possible.
Best Matchup: Steelers @ Saints
Other big games: Broncos @ Raiders, Bills @ Patriots, Vikings @ Lions
The Steelers and the Saints are almost twins in my mind: both headed by great QBs and wielding powerful offenses, and both perennially the bridesmaid rather than the bride. Odds are good that, yet again, neither will taste sweet victory in a conference championship game. So here’s the matchup of professional runners-up.
Best Matchup: 49ers @ Rams
Other big games: Lions @ Packers, Jaguars @ Texans, Raiders @ Chiefs, Chargers @ Broncos
The 3rd G2 Scrum-it headlines the final week of regular season play, with a distinct possibility that it might decide the NFC West division title between the 49ers and the Rams.
All the games this week are divisional matchups, so there’s a surplus of interesting matchups to consider. Aside from teams that have given up or decided to rest of the playoffs, it should be a great week of intense games.
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