NFL Power Rankings: Most Watchable Games Left in Week 1

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst ISeptember 7, 2012

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass during the first quarter of a pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on August 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL season kicked off Wednesday night with the Dallas Cowboys beating the New York Giants, but this weekend and Monday gives us 15 more games to sink our teeth into. To help aid your viewing pleasure, we ranked the top games on the remaining Week 1 schedule. 

We start with the worst:


15. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Jaguars and Vikings have encouraging building blocks in second-year quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, respectively. But this game gets awfully bland after the two quarterbacks.

Limited appearances from running backs Maurice Jones-Drew (holdout) and Adrian Peterson (knee) makes this one a stinker. 


14. Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans

A rookie quarterback traveling to Houston to take on arguably the NFL's best defense is a recipe for disaster. On top of that, Ryan Tannehill has little for weapons in the passing game.

The Texans could win this by three touchdowns or more. 


13. St. Louis Rams vs. Detroit Lions

Love Jeff Fisher as the head coach in St. Louis, and Sam Bradford will be much better in 2012. But I don't love the Lions passing game against the Rams secondary for St. Louis on the road.

There probably aren't enough weapons around Bradford for the Rams to keep up either. The Lions should win by at least 10. 


12. Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Russell Wilson factor gives this opener some flavor, but the Seahawks should win this game handily if they play well. The rosters stack up favorably for Seattle. 

The Cardinals have that look of a team that could nose dive to three or four wins in 2012. That offensive line is horrendous. 


11. San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders

There's a divisional aspect to this game, and the AFC West looks completely wide open in 2012. A win in the opener would be a huge pick-me-up for either team.

Still, there isn't a lot of draw here. There are better passing matchups than Philips Rivers vs. Carson Palmer. 


10. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns

Two things that are worth watching in this one. First, are these Eagles over what ever happened last season? The talent is there for a Super Bowl run in 2012.

In Cleveland, two rookies hope to lead an offensive revolution for the Browns. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson begin their NFL careers Sunday.


9. Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

The Panthers are on the rise with Cam Newton entering Year 2, and the Bucs made a number of big free-agent signings this spring. One of these two teams will challenge for the NFC South crown in 2012. 

A win in the opener would be huge for both teams. It's probably more important for Tampa Bay to win at home. 


8. New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans

This game could probably be higher because there's a lot to chew on here.

Jake Locker will be making his first ever NFL start, while some quarterback named Tom Brady stands on the opposite sidelines. There are easier ways to start an NFL career. 

The Patriots will also be throwing two new rookie studs at Locker in Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. I particularly want to see Jones, who has the look of a game-changing edge rusher. 


7. Washington Redskins vs. New Orleans Saints

What's not to like?

Robert Griffin III makes his professional debut for the Redskins. The Saints open the regular season at home after an offseason filled with bounty talk. The Superdome will be emotional, but Griffin III wants to show his D.C. faithful that he's the savior they all think he is. 


6. Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets

This game has implications that go beyond just wins and losses.

The Bills have postseason aspirations for the first time in years, but the Jets stole away the offseason by bringing in the Tim Tebow-led circus. A loss to the Bills would send the media into a feeding frenzy. 


5. Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears

Andrew Luck's debut comes in a tough place to play in Chicago, and that defensive line could run circles around the Colts' offensive line.

But still, this is the best quarterback prospect we've seen come into the NFL in more than a decade. There's excitement. Don't be surprised if Indianapolis puts a scare into the Bears. 


4. Atlanta Falcons vs. Kansas City Chiefs

It has snuck under the radar, but Falcons-Chiefs is quietly one of the best games of the weekend. Both teams could realistically win their respective divisions, and there's a contrasting offensive dynamic at play.

The high-tempo, passing-heavy Falcons are countered by the run-heavy, plodding Chiefs. It's worth a look Sunday.


3. Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

The best intra-division game of the weekend features two playoff teams from a year ago.

I'm not completely sold on the Bengals being a playoff team again in 2012, but the experience is obviously there. The Ravens will be AFC contenders again.

Expect another hard-fought contest between these AFC North rivals. 


2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

Tuning in for Peyton Manning's Broncos debut is more than enough to make this game a must-watch. But throwing the Steelers on the other sidelines after watching Tim Tebow beat them in sudden death last January, makes this all the more tasty. 

If the cards fell right, this Week 1 matchup could be another playoff preview in the AFC.


1. Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

Speaking of playoff previews, Packers-49ers from Lambeau Field Sunday could very well be an early look at the NFC championship game. The two division winners from 2011 won a combined 28 games last season—the most of any opening week matchup by a wide margin. 

The real reason to watch is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers against the 49ers defense, which makes this the clear favorite for the Game of the Week. Who wins that matchup probably dictates the final score. 


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