Thursday Night Football Schedule 2012: Must-See Matchups Down the Stretch

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14:  Wide receiver A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass in front of defensive back Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Listen, folks—I shouldn't need to tell you what to be watching on a Thursday night. I shouldn't need to remind you of the top matchups that Thursday Night Football has to offer down the stretch because, darn it, you're watching every last NFL game you can in the first place.

But I understand that life, girlfriends, social necessities and perhaps even work engagements happen. I get it—sometimes, you have to—gasp—skip a game. 

It's not pretty and nobody likes it, but what can you do?

So because life can be so annoying sometimes, I've laid out three Thursday night games you absolutely can't miss. Plan ahead for these bad boys. Mark them on the calender. Loudly talk about each matchup in the office so everybody knows how excited you are to watch them. Loudly proclaim, "Hey world, I'll be busy on these nights so why don't you go ahead and leave me alone?"

Disclaimer: Don't actually proclaim it, or people will think you're weird. But do make sure you catch these contests.


Thursday, November 29: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

By this point in the season, this game will likely only have playoff implications of any sort for the Falcons. No matter—with these two offenses squaring off, this should be a fun game anyway.

The Saints may have a worse defense than your average zombie, but with Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston they can still light it up offensively. And we've all seen what Matt Ryan and company have done in Atlanta this season, so you can expect fireworks in this game.

Defensive struggle? No. Crazy-fun shootout that should have an over/under of 70?

You betcha.


Thursday, December 6: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

This game should have serious AFC West implications.

While the Broncos look poised to go on a run with Peyton Manning once again tearing opposing defenses to shreds and the difficult portion of the schedule behind them, the Broncos should be on the front foot in the division by this point.

But don't sleep on Oakland just yet. With games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns before the showdown against Denver, you could be looking at a 6-6 or 7-5 team making a push for the division and playoffs.

If nothing else, two improved offenses should make it fun to watch. And, you know, all of those crazy Raiders fans decked to the hilt in skull and crossbones, spikes and other scary stuff normally reserved for children on Halloween.


Thursday, December 13: Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles

As of now, both of these teams have disappointing 3-4 records and have the potential to turn things around. They also could be totally out of contention by the time this game rolls around.

But I'm an optimist (except when I'm not), and I think this should be an excellent game between two teams that have hit their stride at this point in the season.

Think of the talent on display: The young duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green squaring off against Philly's speedy skill position players like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Vick (or, um, Nick Foles).

Add a raucous Philadelphia crowd and you've got yourself a ballgame, folks. 


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