Tuesday, the NFL released their full schedule for the 2012 season—I compiled a list of the best match-up from every week in the upcoming campaign.
As much as you’ll pay attention to your own favorite team’s games during the season, make sure to catch a number of the contests on this list. All promise to be thrillers.
Week 1: 49ers at Packers
I’m shocked that this first week clash between two of the NFC’s best won’t be a prime-time showing. These two teams will square off in what looks to be a potential preview for the NFC Championship Game.
Week 2: Lions at 49ers (Sunday Night Football)
The 49ers open up the season with consecutive thrillers, getting the Packers in Week One and the Lions here in Week Two. The famous handshake between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz could make this contest more than it is, but two excellent teams going at it on NBC is good for the game.
Week 3: Packers at Seahawks (Monday Night Football)
A Monday Night Football game in the rowdy city of Seattle can make for a solid viewing experience. New Seahawk quarterback Matt Flynn will face off against his former team in what should be a true test of the LSU product’s mettle.
Week 4: Saints at Packers
To open up the season in 2011, the Saints and Packers staged an epic contest that went all the way down to the last play. We’ll see what their second act will be.
Week 5: Broncos at Patriots
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. This has always been one of the NFL’s premier player rivalries and, with Peyton on a new team, the heat’s been kicked up a notch. As for the rest of the Broncos, the teams has a bad taste in their mouths from last year’s playoff loss in Foxborough. I’m tabbing this as, quite possibly, the most anticipated game of the year.
Week 6: Giants at 49ers
Last year’s NFC Championship Game was one of the best in the contest’s history. With these two teams coming back to Candlestick Park to play one another, this won’t be an easily-won football game.
Week 7: Ravens at Texans
Another solid rematch from the 2011 postseason, this game could be one of the few in which the Ravens are not the favorites. I like the Texans here.
Week 8: Saints at Broncos (Sunday Night Football)
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees faced off in the Super Bowl just two years ago in one of the best quarterback match-ups in the game’s history. This rematch should be just as awesome on Sunday Night Football.
Week 9: Panthers at Redskins
This may be considered a reach by some standards, but there is no match up I would rather see this week than the electrifying Robert Griffin III against Carolina’s Cam “Superman” Newton. A lot of fans will tune in to see these two quarterbacks duke it out.
Week 10: Texans at Bears (Sunday Night Football)
I see the Texans as the Bears of the AFC and vice versa. These nearly equal opponents bring the promise of an exciting game that will have us all on the edges of our seats.
Week 11: Ravens at Steelers (Sunday Night Football)
What’s not to love about Ravens vs. Steelers? With the bitter Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry in place, the added hype of Sunday Night Football and the thick of a playoff race should make this a battle for the ages at Heinz Field.
Week 12: [Tie] Patriots at Jets (Thursday Night Football) & Packers at Giants (Sunday Night Football)
In terms of match-ups, the NFL’s best week will be Week 12. I was forced to omit two Thanksgiving games (Texans-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys) and I was unable to select the Monday Night contest between the Panthers and Eagles. Even after eliminating those three games, I still could not make a decision on one game of my remaining two. So it is a tie between an old rivalry in which the Patriots and Jets collide on Thanksgiving Night along with the Sunday Nighter, which happens to be the fastest growing rivalry by far in the NFL, between the Packers and Giants. These two MetLife Stadium classics will be the highlights for Week 12′s stacked slate.
Week 13: Eagles at Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)
After the Eagles played spoiler to the Cowboys last year, Dallas and Tony Romo have to come into this game with a chip on their shoulder. With these two teams being in the hunt for the NFC East, this one looks to be a classic.
Week 14: Broncos at Raiders (Thursday Night Football)
Peyton’s first visit to the Black Hole will be awesome to watch on Thursday Night. With the division on the line between, I predict, these two teams, no game this week can even come close to having the makings of a true epic.
Week 15: 49ers at Patriots (Sunday Night Football)
This game was two muffed punts away from being last years’ Super Bowl, but now we’ll get to see what could have been under the bright, Sunday Night lights.
Week 16: Giants at Ravens
Speaking of last year’s potential Super Bowl matchups, this game was a dropped pass away from being last year’s championship game. Now we’ll get to see what could have been on a cold, Week 16 afternoon.
Week 17: Bears at Lions
With Week 17 providing all division match-ups, this is the game that looks the most likely to be a ‘win and in’ situation. These two division rivals should be competing for the sixth seed come Week 17—what better way to end the regular season than with this contest?