Monday Night Football Schedule 2012: Must-See Playoff Previews Set for Primetime

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 7:  Defensive tackle Justin Smith #94, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga #90, and defensive tackle Ray McDonald #91 of the San Francisco 49ers approach the line of scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills on October 7, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 45-3.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

All Monday Night Football games are not created equal.

The truth is, some are much better than others. Take that Week 1 matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, for example. If you don't know which game I'm talking about, point proven.

Although Monday Night Football offers us primetime NFL football on a week night, it doesn't offer us an alternative when the game becomes unwatchable.

Here we'll take a closer look at some MNF battles that are sure to be watchable. 


Week 8: San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

The NFC West has been surprising to start the 2012 season, with all four of the division's teams in contention through the first quarter of the year. 

With all four teams so close, Week 8's primetime clash between the Niners and Cards could wind up determining which team wins the division and avoids playing an extra Wild Card Game. Arizona has been strong at home this fall, which should give them the edge, but of course you can never count out Jim Harbaugh.

This may have looked like a must-miss MNF matchup before the season began, but suddenly it has added importance and is not to be missed. 


Week 11: Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Week 11 showdown between the Bears and Niners from Candlestick Park looks like it could be a midseason NFC Championship preview. 

Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, the Bears and 49ers boasted the NFL's top two scoring differentials. Only the Seattle Seahawks allowed as few points as both Chicago and San Francisco through Week 5. 

They say defense wins championships, and both of these teams are flat-out dominant on that side of the ball. Look for a low-scoring game and plenty of post-play skirmishes.


Week 14: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

If Chicago vs. San Francisco is a potential NFC Championship preview, this Week 14 matchup will be an intriguing AFC title game preview. 

The Houston Texans are off to a scorching-hot start in 2012 and look destined for a first-round bye and perhaps home-field advantage throughout the postseason. This could be the game that either guarantees or costs them home field.

New England is always strong at home and will have an added advantage playing a team from Texas in Foxborough in December. 

Expect a playoff atmosphere at Gillette Stadium. 


Monday Night Football Schedule 2012

Week Date Matchup Start Time (ET) Network
6 10/15 Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers 8:30 p.m.  ESPN
7 10/22 Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears 8:30 p.m. ESPN
8 10/29 San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 8:30 p.m. ESPN
9 11/5 Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints 8:30 p.m. ESPN
10 11/12 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30 p.m. ESPN
11 11/19 Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers 8:30 p.m. ESPN
12 11/26 Carolina Panthers vs. Philadelphia Eagles 8:30 p.m. ESPN
13 12/3 New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins 8:30 p.m. ESPN
14 12/10 Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots 8:30 p.m. ESPN
15 12/17 New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans 8:30 p.m. ESPN
16 12/22 Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions* 8:30 p.m. ESPN

*Week 16's MNF matchup is on Saturday, December 22.


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