The release of the 2013 regular season schedule has taken over the sports world this morning. Most will over-analyze team’s strength-of-schedule, map out a “path to the playoffs,” or attempt to predict wins and losses for the regular season, despite the fact that teams have yet to make their first selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, instead of focusing on wins and losses, lets look at the best “storylines” and “must watch” games of the 2013 season…
Week 2: Denver Broncos @ New York Giants
It can’t get much more high profile for the Broncos in the first two weeks of the season. They go from a matchup against the defending champions to the latest incarnation of the Manning Bowl. Peyton is 2-0 against his younger brother so far. Eli might need a win here to avoid going 0-2 after a tough opener in Dallas. -via NFL.com
There nothing else that need to be said about this matchup. Two “elite” quarterbacks, with powerful, dynamic offenses squaring off at the beginning of the season. Oh yea.. and the starting quarterbacks are brothers!
Week 4: New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons
If I was a betting man, and I am, my early money would be on this game being a preview of Super Bowl XLVIII. Assuming New England can get Gronk back, their offense should be nothing short of unstoppable in a weak AFC, where only the Broncos appear to be a legitimate threat for the conference title. Atlanta appears to have one of the best rosters in the NFL, making several key re-signings, convincing Tony Gonzalez to come back for another year, and picking up Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner, who appeared to be running on “E” during the final stretch of the 2012 season and into the playoffs.
Week 7: Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts
No team has a more delicious schedule than the Broncos. Denver plays in perhaps the worst division in the league, so they can fatten up on wins there. But so many of the team’s out-of-division matchups include capital lettered subplots. This one is obvious: Peyton’s Return. Manning vs. Luck. Can’t wait. -via NFL.com
After last season, most expected that the NFL would attempt to milk Peyton Manning for all he is worth this season… and they are doing just that. After starting off the season against the Ravens, who knocked them out of the playoffs in 2012, and heading for a brotherly matchup in the “Big Apple” in Week 4, Manning will finally return home for the first time to face the Indianapolis crowd and go head-to-head with his replacement.
Week 9: Tennessee Titans @ St. Louis Rams
The Jeff Fisher Bowl! The rematch of one of the weirdest Super Bowls with the best endings! St. Louis is getting overlooked in the NFC West, but their defense absolutely can compete with Seattle and San Francisco for a playoff spot. As Titans fans know, Fisher’s team almost always contend. -via NFL.com
This game is intriguing for a number of reasons: rematch of “the Tackle,” the return of Fisher to his long-time city and organization, and the presence of the “discarded” Jared Cook within the St. Louis Rams offense. While the Fisher subplot will garner the most attention, how Jared Cook is playing within the offense should be a major point of interest. If there is any game were Rams’ fans could see Cook “go off,” Week 9 might be it…
Week 11: Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
Assuming that Percy Harvin has not gone off the deep-end with “migraines” or some other injury concern, this should be a good matchup between “Harvin and the ‘Hawks” and his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. On top of that subplot, the two actual teams should be an interesting matchup. The Seattle Seahawks have trouble with teams that play a similar “style” of game; ground and pound on the offensive side of the ball, stout against the run on defense. Last season, the Seahawks handed the Vikings a 30-20 loss. However, Peterson trampled Seattle’s defense for 182 yards on the ground, including a 74 yard touchdown. Lynch vs. Peterson… Harvin vs. Vikings… Should be a good game!
Week 17: Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
According to NFL.com, the “biggest” game of the final week of the regular season is the Green Bay Packers versus the Chicago Bears. However, after a bit of fish-tailing by the New York Giants in 2012, the national media appears to be ignoring them (like usual), outside of the Manning-on-Manning matchup. If there is any division in the league that has shown to be a “question mark” season after season it is the NFC East, not the NFC North. It is hard to image that the Philadelphia Eagles are going to make a complete turn around, so naturally that points to the Giants and the Redskins being the last marque game in the NFC. Last season, the ‘Skins stole the division in the last couple of weeks, this game could very well be the determining factor again.