The 2017 NFL schedule has been released, revealing the exact dates and locations each of the 32 teams will play this fall. There are obviously way too many games at 256 total to dissect here right now. Instead, we have broken down the best matchups on the schedule.
Some feature the nitty-gritty divisional tilts that we enjoy each season. Others covered will see some players and head coaches pitted against their former teams.
Beginning with what can be considered a Super Bowl revenge matchup, here are 10 exciting NFL games to look forward to come September.
1. Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots, Week 7, Sunday Night Football
Falcons players and their fans will never forget the team’s loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, a loss that consisted of the Falcons allowing New England to rally and gain 31 unanswered points starting mid-way through the third quarter.
The devastating loss of momentum for quarterback Matt Ryan and his Falcons ended their dream of becoming Super Bowl champions. Meanwhile quarterback Tom Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl ring.
This time around, Falcons fans will be eager to see their team make amends. In the ultimate of revenge matches, the Patriots will play host to the Falcons. Last year the Falcons averaged a league-high 33.8 points per game while New England averaged 27.6.
This tilt has high-scoring affair written all over it.
2. New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Week 1, Sunday Night Football
This NFC East battle is always a fan favorite. The Giants were one of only two teams to beat the Cowboys during the 2016 regular season. And they did it twice. Dallas first lost to the Giants at home 20-19. Then, the Cowboys lost on the road, 10-7, later in the season in Week 14.
So, can a young quarterback in Dak Prescott crack the code when the two teams meet for the first time in 2017? Or will veteran quarterback Eli Manning once again school his younger counterpart?
Last season saw Dallas clinch the division with a 13-3 record. The Giants were not far behind with a second place finish at 11-5. It will be exciting to see which team gains the upper hand first with a big-time win.
3. Oakland Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers, Week 17, 4:25 p.m. ET
Over the last couple of seasons, the Chargers had the knack for looking like the visitors on their home stadium turf. This was particularly the case when the team hosted the Oakland Raiders. Boisterous crowds consisting of Raiders fans made spotting Chargers fans nearly impossible.
"The chargers have no fans"
*Raiders home games* pic.twitter.com/Iwyhc30mhG
— Jamal Adams 1st RD (@mack_tevor) February 3, 2017
So, it should be intriguing to see if the Chargers can actually look like they own their home territory while hosting the Raiders at Stub Hub Stadium in Los Angeles. Either way, this AFC West rival matchup should be a juicy one when both California teams take the Los Angeles area by storm.
For what it is worth, the Chargers have not beaten the Raiders since November of 2014.
4. San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins, Week 6, 1:00 p.m. ET
This West Coast meets East Coast matchup pairs 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan up with the team he coached from 2010-2013. It also sees quarterback Kirk Cousins play against the team it was rumored he wished to be traded to.
Shanahan will get to see firsthand if his 49ers made the right decision signing Brian Hoyer rather than acquiring Cousins this offseason in a blockbuster trade.
These two teams have played one another only four times since 2008. San Francisco won the last four contests. But considering the 49ers have won a mere seven games the last two seasons, they are no sure bet to notch this victory, especially three time zones away from the comfort of home.
5. New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints, Week 2, 1:00 p.m. ET
It’s always a great game when two legendary, future Hall of Fame quarterbacks square off. This game features Brady and Drew Brees, the two oldest quarterback in the league. They are also the top two active leaders in passing yards.
Win or lose, either quarterback will surely be tacking on a substantial amount of passing yardage and touchdowns to their active tallies.
On the younger side of the field, wide receiver Brandin Cooks will be heading to his former home stadium wearing blue and white and likely a big chip on his shoulder.
Believe it or not, these two teams have played only 13 regular season games against each other, and Brees has faced Brady just twice wearing a Saints uniform during the regular season.
6. Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers, Week 1, 1:25 p.m. ET
The Seahawks haven’t won on the road in Green Bay during a regular season game since 1999. We can be sure that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Co. will work hard to ensure they do not break this streak.
Recently, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks lost at Lambeau in both September of 2015 and December of 2016. Last December’s loss was an ugly 38-10 effort by the Seahawks. We can’t wait to see what happens when Green Bay’s No. 4 scoring offense from 2016 meets Seattle’s top-five defense.
Fans from both teams will also hopefully get to see former Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy breaking tackles and showing off his spin moves as a Seahawk. What will Packers linebacker Clay Matthews do about that?
7. Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 2, 1:00 p.m. ET
The Bears booted quarterback Jay Cutler to the curb and took a gamble with former Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon. This game will take Glennon back to Tampa Bay where he took a major backseat to starter Jameis Winston, who was selected No. 1 overall in 2015.
Glennon might be just a bit more motivated than usual to show off his skills and prove he can win on his former field. Glennon will hopefully have his crew of receivers in top health when he does head back to Florida.
If so, Glennon’s chances to succeed should be good considering the Bucs allowed a 63.3 percent pass-completion rate last year. It’s also worth pointing out that the Buccaneers have managed only two wins in their last seven games against Chicago.
8. Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 7, 1:00 p.m. ET
Things typically heat up to the boiling point whenever these two AFC North teams take the field. Just check in with the Steelers’ top receiver.
“The Bengals had created some animosity toward us. That’s the fun part of this game. … Anytime someone’s getting used to getting beat a lot, they have to find something to get them going,” said Antonio Brown, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
That sounds like game-on right there. The Bengals have not had much success in beating the Steelers at Heinz Field, having only done so three times since 2009.
Perhaps things might go differently this time around. But however the game shakes out, tempers are sure to flare. Hopefully nobody resorts to dirty plays this time around.
9. New England Patriots @ Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, Week 11, 4:25 p.m. ET
Raiders fans can be quite the handful, so seeing them in action south of the border should be quite the field day once again. The Raiders were featured in Mexico last year when they squared off against in a 27-20 victory against the Houston Texans.
— Roberto Abramowitz (@RobAbramowitz) April 18, 2017
Now they will attempt to keep their luck alive going up against the Super Bowl LI champs. Coincidentally, Mexico is the country in which Brady’s championship jersey was discovered. Go figure.
Nonetheless, this game should be one of the most thrilling of the season pitting two of this season’s scariest offenses, featuring Brady and the young Derek Carr, face to face.
10. Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Week 12, 4:30 p.m. ET
Watching the Cowboys play in the annual Thanksgiving NFL matchup is as natural as a turkey and pumpkin pie overdose for football fans every November. This time around, the Cowboys will play host to the newly relocated Chargers. The west coast franchise has not played on this holiday since 1969, back in the old AFL days.
Making this game even more spectacular is the likelihood that former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo should be commentating alongside Jim Nantz from the CBS broadcaster’s booth.
— Chris Sadeghi (@chrissadeghi) April 4, 2017
This annual game is one of the most heavily viewed of the season. All eyes will be on the young Prescott while all ears are listening to Romo carefully critique his former teammates.
Last Thanksgiving saw Prescott and the ‘Boys claim victory over the Washington Redskins, 31-26.
TEAMS: New England Patriots, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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