Ranking the Most Exciting Games on Monday Night Football in 2012
There were some real stinkers last year on Monday Night Football, but 2012 promises to provide plenty of excitement.
Not all MNF games are created equal, though. Some contests are sure to bore us to death, though the people in charge of scheduling them hope they won't.
With that in mind, I'll rank the top 10 most exciting games on the schedule for the 2012 season.
10. Houston Texans at New York Jets, October 8
Mark Sanchez vs. Matt Schaub.
Darrell Revis vs. Andre Johnson.
This game is going to answer a lot of questions about the Jets early on in the 2012 season. The Texans play defense the way that Rex Ryan wishes his Jets did, and it's going to be interesting to see which young pass-rusher—Whitney Mercilus or Quinton Coples—was worth taking in Round 1.
I expect to see a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate from the Texans, and it will be interesting to see if the Jets can slow them down.
I expect the Texans to win this game, though the Jets could surprise me with a solid offensive performance against the brutally-tough defense of the Texans.
9. Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers, November 19
The last time the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers met in a prime-time game, Jay Cutler had one of the worst outings of his professional career. He threw for five interceptions in that Thursday Night Football matchup, and the 49ers won the game in thrilling fashion.
Both teams are strong on both sides of the ball in 2012, and I'm expecting this game to be a hotly-contested battle of wills.
The key will be whether or not the Bears can slow down the power-running game of the 49ers. If they can, this game will be theirs to win. If not, the 49ers should run away with it in the second half, due to their incredible pass rush.
Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith will be beastly in 2012, and the Bears don't have enough skill on the offensive line to stop them from mauling Cutler.
8. Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions, December 22
Both teams love to air it out, though the Atlanta Falcons are inclined to run a bit more than the Detroit Lions. Both squads are loaded with amazingly-talented wide receivers, and both secondaries will be tested to the max.
Whichever team wins the battle in the trenches will come away victorious. Sacks and pressures will be the key stat of the game, and that gives the Lions a slight edge, especially at home.
7. Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons, September 17
Peyton Manning is going to play.
That in and of itself makes this Monday Night Football game one of the most exciting games of the year. It's early on in the season, and it's going to be fascinating to see how quickly Manning's receivers and offensive line adapt to his style of frenetic play.
The biggest question I have about this contest is whether or not the Broncos have enough talent in the secondary to slow down the aerial attack of the Falcons. If they manage to keep Roddy White, Julio Jones and the gang from running wild, the Broncos have a fantastic chance to win this tough road game.
6. Houston Texans at New England Patriots, December 10
It would be easy to call this contest a classic case of offense vs. defense, except that the Houston Texans and New England Patriots are both pretty good on both sides of the ball.
The way that the Patriots reloaded their depleted defense these past two offseasons is truly impressive, and they will be better than many people realize on that side of the ball in 2012.
The Pats are notoriously difficult to defeat at home, though if any team is suited to the task, it's the Texans, due to their stout defense. The key to this game will be whether or not the Texans can apply enough pressure on Brady to keep him off-kilter.
If they can keep hitting him, he is likely to turn the ball over, and if he does, the Texans could steal an important road win late in the season.
5. Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers, October 15
Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning aren't strangers to one another, though this will be the first time the two of them will have met with Manning as a Denver Bronco.
The Chargers look to have a better defensive squad this year than the one they fielded last year, and I'm expecting this game to be a close game until the end.
Manning and his receivers will have had three months of games to gel by the time these two teams meet, and I'm expecting them to be in synch by then.
Combined with the ever-potent offensive attack of the Chargers, we could see both teams score into the high 20s or low 30s.
4. Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears, October 22
The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears annually beat up on one another, and this year will be no different. Being that this contest is being held in Chicago, I'm expecting touchdowns to be purchased at premium prices.
That said, both offenses will be able to move the ball, and the key to this game will be field position and turnovers.
Jay Cutler has a shiny new toy to play with on offense, and his old compatriot Brandon Marshall will be his primary target in the passing game in 2012. It'll be interesting to see if Marshall can outdo Calvin Johnson in this game.
3. Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
This game is going to be a good, old-fashioned offensive shootout.
Both teams are much stronger on the offensive side of the ball, and I'm expecting to see upwards of 800 total yards combined. I'll be shocked if the two teams score less than 55 points combined.
This game should be really fun to watch, especially if you are a fan of big plays.
2. New York Giants at Washington Redskins, December 3
Super Bowl Champs...check.
Robert Griffin III...check.
NFC East rivalry...check.
This game is going to be one of the most highly-anticipated games on the Monday Night Football schedule, and it'll likely be one of the most watched games all year long.
Eli Manning and the New York Giants will likely be making their annual late-season surge to make the playoffs. It remains to be seen how well the Washington Redskins will do in RGIII's inaugural season in the NFL, though early reports indicate that they'll be a tough team to beat.
It should be a fun game to watch, whether you're a fan of one of the teams or not.
1. Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles, November 26
Michael Vick, meet the next-generation you.
We could see more than 200 yards on the ground...by the quarterbacks.
Both defenses are a work in progress, and this contest is likely to turn into a game that reminds us all of a game we'd see at our local park. I expect to see plenty of big plays and touchdowns, and it won't surprise me in the least to see a combined score of well over 60 points.
That's what I call excitement.
Just Missed the Cut
There are 17 Monday Night Football games on the schedule, and seven of them didn't make it on this list. Here are the ones that didn't make the cut.
It's the first game of the season, and these division rivals are going to beat up on one another in a defensive struggle. Neither offense is one I'd consider a powerhouse, and they'll both be trying to gel at this point in the season.
The Raiders don't look good right now. Carson Palmer doesn't look any better than he did last year, meaning this game could get ugly real quick.
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys, October 1
I could be dead wrong about this, but I'm not expecting this game to be as exciting as it looks on paper. Both offenses are going to struggle to put up points, and it'll be a defensive struggle the entire way.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, October 29
The Cardinals have major issues at the quarterback position, and they can't seem to keep their running backs healthy. They have a terrible offensive line, and the 49ers defense should gobble them up for breakfast.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans, December 17
If Jake Locker and Tim Tebow are the ones behind center, this game could turn into one of the most exciting games of the year. I'm not expecting that to be the case, though, and we could be in for a display of offensive ineptitude from both teams.
Hit me up on Twitter @JesseReed78 if you want to chat about the NFL or anything else sports-related. I'm always up for a hearty debate.