Not all NFL regular season matchups are created equal. Truth is, some are much better than others, and some feature way better storylines and stars for fans to follow.
This weekend, only a handful of gridiron clashes will capture and then hold our attention. A pair of rookie passers are set to square off at lunch time in the Midwest, while the late afternoon is highlighted by a potential Super Bowl XLVII preview.
The weekend's must-see action wraps up after the sun sets Sunday night in Atlanta, where two NFC playoff hopefuls do battle in the Georgia Dome.
Here we preview Week 9's can't-miss showdowns.
Dolphins vs. Colts
Who would have thought this matchup would be a must-watch before the season began?
No one. But that's why they play the game.
Two of the NFL's most surprising teams this fall will face off in Indy on Sunday afternoon. The winner will be 5-3 and in excellent position to contend for a Wild Card berth in the AFC this coming winter.
If Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill winds up starting Sunday, then this matchup will feature two rookie first-round picks going head to head at the quarterback position. Andrew Luck was taken No. 1 overall last April by the Colts, while Tannehill was taken just at No. 8 by Miami.
Both first-year signal-callers have shined this year, leading their team to winning records and giving their respective fanbases plenty of reason to believe the future will be bright. Unless you're favorite team is playing at 1 p.m. ET this weekend, you absolutely must tune into Fins vs. Colts.
Steelers vs. Giants
Sunday's marquee late-afternoon matchup will be a potential Super Bowl preview when the Pittsburgh Steelers square off against the defending world champion New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Pittsburgh is just 1-3 on the road this season though, and has looked more vulnerable than usual with some key players missing time because of injury. On the other hand, the Giants have been surging, especially at home, where they have won three straight games after dropping their season opener.
Tom Coughlin's bunch has won four straight overall and beginning to look like the class of the NFL. With the Steelers in need of a win to keep pace in the AFC North, Sunday's evening showdown in East Rutherford is must-see television.
No offense to Buccaneers, Raiders, Vikings or Seahawks fans, of course.
Cowboys vs. Falcons
The undefeated Dirty Birds will host the inconsistent Dallas Cowboys on prime-time Sunday night. Dallas' playoff hopes are on the line and so is Atlanta's perfect 7-0 record.
With no other NFL games to choose from on Sunday night, football fans will be glued to the screen to see whether the 'Boys will expose Matt Ryan and the Falcons or instead drop to 3-5 and ensure another underachieving campaign under head coach Jason Garrett.
Fans should be on the lookout for how Tony Romo performs in the midst of nonstop criticism. After all, Atlanta has only beaten one team that is currently above .500 this season, the Denver Broncos at home in Week 2. The Falcons don't run the ball well at all, and are porous in rush defense.
Atlanta is certainly beatable and could suffer their first loss of the season this weekend. That should be reason enough to tune in.
NFL TV Schedule Week 9
|Date||Matchup||Start Time (ET)||Network|
|Thurs, Nov. 1||Kansas City Chiefs 13, San Diego Chargers 31||8:20 p.m.||NFL Network|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Redskins||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun, Nov. 4||Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Mon, Nov. 5||Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Bye: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams
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