2013 Ultimate NFL Road Trip: How to Visit Every NFL Stadium in One Year

Scott CarasikContributor IIAugust 1, 2013

2013 Ultimate NFL Road Trip: How to Visit Every NFL Stadium in One Year

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    What would you do if you magically had $1 million? 

    I'm saying after taxes, from the lottery and in your bank account. 

    For me?

    I'd take a road trip to every NFL Stadium in the country and even check out the two games that are played out of this country. 

    It's the ultimate fan dream. And some side treks would be awesome too (see: the Army-Navy game, if possible). But let's take a journey to every stadium and have some fun along the way.

The Budget

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    OK, the sign in the picture? That's the goal to not have. 

    As it sits right now, I want to do this with a budget of just under $100,000. 

    "Be realistic," you say. 

    No. This is the ultimate NFL road trip. In the beginning I talk about winning the lottery and what I would do with the funds. Well, this is what I would do if I won the lottery. 

    Mainly because it would be ridiculously fun to do. And seriously, who doesn't love football enough to say that they wouldn't do this if they had unlimited funds?

The Jersey Rule

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    If I'm going to do this, I'm going to buy a jersey and hat from every team. And if I'm going to do that, I'm going to make sure that they adhere to the jersey rule that I have for jerseys that I buy for my own personal collection.

    The idea is to get a jersey that actually represents the franchise (or city) while I visit each city. The jersey rule is pretty simple. The player's jersey must adhere to three simple rules:

    1. The player has to have been part of the franchise for at least five seasons.
    2. The player has to be either a former Pro Bowl player or All-Pro
    3. The player is not allowed to have any arrests or suspensions off the field. 

    Few players per team will fit these rules. In the case where no single player fits these rules, the jersey bought will be of an iconic player on that team. For example, if the Chicago Bears didn't have anyone that explicitly fits, I would go with Mike Singletary.

Itinerary of the Dream

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    Since this is the ultimate NFL road trip for 2013, I've decided to show you just how it would work by using an itinerary. It will help me collect my thoughts and show you just how easy it really is to fit in all of this fun into one year.

    I will also include some proposed side-treks on days without games that could be a ton of fun as well as things to do in the city for those off days. So we'll follow a plan and have some fun. Let's go on this journey together starting with the first flights.

Travel from Atlanta to Denver to Make the First Game on Time

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    Frontier Flight No. 427 to Denver

    When: Sept. 4, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Where: Denver, CO

    We start it off in Atlanta but we can fly out from anywhere. I chose Atlanta because it's where I grew up, and it also has one of the busiest airports in the country.

    Let's get into Denver on the fourth for the game on the fifth. After sleeping in, I'd hit up the tailgates before the game and experience as much of the Denver fandom that I could. 

    On the sixth I would go and explore the downtown Denver areas to see all that they have to offer.

The NFL Opener. Starting the Trip off Right. Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

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    Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

    StadiumSports Authority Field at Mile High

    Date: Sept. 5, 2013

    Time: 8:30 PM

    Jersey to buy: Champ Bailey

    Champ has been with the Denver Broncos since the Redskins traded him and a second round pick for Clinton Portis back in 2004. He's also been arguably the best cornerback in the NFL over that 10 year span.

    Overview

    Let's start the trip off right, and there's only one way to do it. Go to the NFL season opener in Denver. Living out the opener with the Broncos and Ravens should be fun because of how well matched these two teams are.

    The Ravens could repeat as the AFC conference champions—and Super Bowl winner—this year while the Broncos have one of the best offenses in the league. This game will be close and worth the trip out to Denver for the game. 

Travel from Denver to San Diego

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    Frontier Flight No. 561 to San Diego

    When: Sept. 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Where: San Diego, CA

    A mid-afternoon flight from the rocky mountains to the coast is a good way to spend a Friday. Then the Colorado Rockies play against the San Diego Padres on the night of the 7th.

    It wouldn't be a bad idea to hit up the game to help kill some time before the Chargers-Texans game on the 9th. On the 8th, kick back at the beach and watch football all day at an oceanfront bar. 

Bash at the Beach. Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers

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    Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers

    StadiumQualcomm Stadium

    Date: Sept. 9, 2013

    Time: 10:20 PM (7:20 PM Pacific)

    Jersey to buy: Antonio Gates

    I could have gone with Phillip Rivers here, but Antonio Gates is awesome and has been part of the Chargers for much longer. Also, Gates started from the bottom as an undrafted free agent and then became a Pro Bowl player for years. 

    Overview

    September 9th is my birthday. A prime time football game on my birthday? 

    Can't beat it. Especially one in San Diego which is one of the most beautiful cities in this country.

    The Chargers get a tough test early against a division champion from last year. Houston is a great team with the ability to compete for the conference title this year. However, they will have to dominate in this game to set the pace for a great year and kick it off right.

Travel from San Diego to Boston

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    JetBlue Flight No. 620 to Boston

    When: Sept. 10, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Where: Boston, MA

    Boston. One of the places that led to the birth of the nation. It's a fun place to explore, and I'd definitely have to head up to the North End to get some great Italian food. There's no other sporting events so this would be a nice relaxing two days in Boston.

Classic Rivalry in a Classic City. New York Jets at New England Patriots

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    New York Jets at New England Patriots

    Stadium: Gillette Stadium

    Date: Sept. 12, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Vince Wilfork

    The standard answer here for a jersey would normally be Tom Brady. But come on, I'd rather support the down and dirty Vince Wilfork. Nose tackles like Wilfork don't come along but once every decade. Wilfork's been with the Patriots for a decade and is arguably the best nose tackle in the NFL.

    Overview

    The Jets have an early matchup to show how good the team can actually be. They always play the Patriots tough, but if Mark Sanchez is why they lose this game, a true quarterback controversy could start. Tom Brady should also be feeling out his new receivers at this point so this game should be fun to watch.

Travel from Boston to New York

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    United Flight No. 270 to Newark

    When: Sept. 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Where: New York, NY

    This is one of two trips to New York this year. On this trip, it will make sense to compare the food from the North End of Boston to Little Italy in New York. Sue me, I love Pizza. I should also check out the Statue of Liberty.

Battle of the Brothers. Manning Bowl III. Denver Broncos at New York Giants

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    Denver Broncos at New York Giants

    Stadium: MetLife Stadium

    Date: Sept 15, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Eli Manning

    The best fit for the jersey rule on the entire Giants roster is Eli Manning. He's also the only fit. But a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and multiple Pro Bowl player is easily a really good jersey to have.

    Overview

    Manning Bowl III is a perfect game for the schedule and it'd be a tough one to actually get tickets to. This game could even be a precursor to the Super Bowl. The Giants have a great defensive scheme to stop the Broncos offense, but the real question is how the Giants attack a weak Broncos secondary.

Travel from New York to Cincinnati

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    United Flight No. 4536 to Cincinnati

    When: Sept. 15, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Where: Cincinnati, OH

    Cincinnati is a city that seems boring on the surface. Mainly because it's in Ohio. However, it's right on the Ohio river and the Ohio-Kentucky border and has a ton of unique architecture.

    Also, I would plan on leaving on the 18th so that I could catch the WWE event on the 17th. This is the ultimate NFL road trip, but side treks are always fun.

AFC North Showdown. Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

    Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium

    Date: Sept. 16, 2013

    Time: 8:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: Andrew Whitworth

    Offensive linemen need love too. Andrew Whitworth is one of my favorite players in the NFL and is a top five offensive tackle in the league. He has also been with the Bengals for eight years and went to his first Pro Bowl last year.

    Overview

    This would be a tough matchup for me to pick a side because I have rooting interests on both sides. The Bengals—especially on their defense—have some of the most talent in the league. The Steelers have one of the better teams in the league as well, and this could be a game that determines the eventual AFC North champ.

Travel from Cincinnati to Philadelphia

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    US Airways Flight No. 4024 to Philadelphia

    When: Sept. 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Where: Philadelphia, PA

    If I could tolerate either the Phillies or Marlins, I'd want to check out a baseball game. However, it is not worth the time. So I would just explore the history and sight see around the city for a few days.

Old School vs. New School. Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles

    Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field

    Date: Sept. 19, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: DeSean Jackson

    DeSean Jackson's one of the most explosive players in the NFL and has been to a pair of Pro Bowls in his six years as an Eagle.

    Overview

    Andy Reid's first game versus his old team. The Chiefs and Eagles were both mediocre last season despite talent that showed that both teams should have been better. The change of scenery should help both teams, and seeing Chip Kelly's first year offense will be a fun experience.

Travel from Philadelphia to New York

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    U.S. Airways Flight No. 4222 to Newark

    When: Sept 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Where: New York, NY

    Back in NYC?! 

    Why not!

    I would have already gone to a Giants game, now it would be time for a Jets game. Also, I would try to get as many of the northern teams out of the way before it got to be super cold. I'd also try to catch a Yankees game on the 24th before flying out on the 25th.

Master vs. the Student. Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

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    Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

    Stadium: MetLife Stadium

    Date: Sept. 22, 2013

    Time: 4:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Nick Mangold

    Nick Mangold has been with the Jets for almost a decade and has been to multiple Pro Bowls as part of his tenure. He's arguably the best center in the league, and I always show the offensive line some love.

    Overview

    Another unique coaching battle. Mike Pettine will coordinate his defense against his teacher, Rex Ryan. The Jets should have an advantage in terms of coaching pedigree, but don't be shocked if Doug Marrone's Bills play well enough to make the playoffs in 2013. This would be a step to show they are headed in the right direction.

Travel from New York to St. Louis

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    United Flight No. 4596 to St. Louis

    When: Sept. 25, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Where: St. Louis, MO

    Home to the gateway arch, St. Louis is one of the more interesting cities in this country. Again, not a city with the notable attractions like New York or Boston, but still a place that will be fun to explore and walk around.

Battle Under the Gateway Arch. San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams

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    San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams

    Stadium: Edward Jones Dome

    Date: Sept. 26, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Chris Long

    He's finally turned it on as a pass-rusher, and Howie Long's son has been an excellent model for the new kind of Ram that Jeff Fisher wants. Despite not being in the Pro Bowl, he has been an alternate three of the last four seasons.

    Overview

    Last season, this matchup led to the only tie of the year. However, the Rams have improved quite a bit this offseason with the additions of Stedman Bailey, Alec Ogletree and Tavon Austin. The 49ers haven't gotten worse than last year's Super Bowl team, and this could be a game of the year candidate.

Travel from St. Louis to Kansas City

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    Southwest Flight No. 507 to Kansas City

    When: Sept. 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Where: Kansas City, MO

    Kansas City is a city with very little sporting interests outside of the Chiefs and Royals. The Royals would be lucky to be in the playoffs, and the Chiefs have to show their mettle early in the season.

    Kansas City is another place that will be interesting to go around and explore for a day. Worst case, I'd find a bar to watch a ton of college football on the 28th.

Andy Reid vs. His Old Rivals. New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs

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    New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs

    Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium

    Date: Sept. 29, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Dwayne Bowe

    Dwayne Bowe has been with the Chiefs for eight years and has a Pro Bowl appearance in 2010. He's also just re-signed long term this past offseason.

    Overview

    There's no real rivalry here. However, I do have to hit every stadium in the NFL. So, this was just the convenient game. I'll be more interested in the barbeque and tailgating for this one than the football implications. However, the Chiefs will go in as underdogs and with a win, could signify a true turnaround.

Travel from Kansas City to New Orleans

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    American Airlines Flight No. 1471 to Dallas, then American Airlines Flight No. 2014 to New Orleans

    When: Sept. 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM (to Dallas) and 9:50 PM (to New Orleans)

    Where: New Orleans, LA

    The biggest thing I would have to do is hit up Emeril Lagasse's restaurant in New Orleans. As a bit of a foodie, it would be great to try some of the food I've seen on TV all of these years. That and it'd be great to just walk down Bourbon street. It's just a shame it's not Mardi Gras in September.

The Drew Brees Bowl. Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints

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    Miami Dolphins at New Orleans

    Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome

    Date: Sept. 30, 2013

    Time: 10:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: Drew Brees

    Drew Brees has been the savior of the Saints franchise. He's been a multiple-time Pro Bowl player and represents the team more than any other player in recent history since his signing with them before the 2006 season.

    Overview

    Oh, Miami. You gave Drew Brees the chip on his shoulder to truly become something. And become something he has. And so have the Saints. The Saints will continue the Sean Payton redemption tour while the Dolphins will just continue their attempted improvement from last year.

Travel from New Orleans to Cleveland

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    United Flight No. 4990 to Cleveland

    When: Oct. 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Where: Cleveland, OH

    The "Mistake by the Lake" may not be the ideal spot to spend a vacation. However, spending a couple of days there while waiting for the next game wouldn't be the worst thing. 

Battle of the Rookie Head Coaches. Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

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    Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

    Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium

    Date: Oct. 3, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Joe Thomas 

    Since being drafted by the Browns in 2007, Thomas has been a staple on the offensive line and arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. And again, you have to show some love to the offensive linemen.

    Overview

    In what is a legitimate talent matchup, the Bills and Browns are also pitting rookie head coaches against each other. Doug Marrone and Rob Chudzinski should be a great matchup schematically, and it will be fun to see these two teams go after each other this year.

Travel from Cleveland to Indianapolis

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    United Flight No. 4830 to Indianapolis

    When: Oct 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Where: Indianapolis, IN

    Indianapolis is known for its racing more than its football. The Colts game on the sixth will be fun to watch, but exploring a new city is always fun. Though, one of the landmarks that I would purposely go visit is the Kurt Vonnegut library, as he was a tremendous author.

Sophomore Quarterback Showdown. Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

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    Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

    Stadium: Lucas Oil Stadium

    Date: Oct. 6, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Reggie Wayne

    Reggie Wayne has been with the Colts for over a decade and has been to six Pro Bowls in that time. He's arguably the best receiver in Colts history and deserves to have his jersey added to the collection.

    Overview

    Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck were the best rookie quarterbacks last year not named Robert Griffin III. Both players give their teams playoff hopes and the leader to get there. The team with the better defense should win this one, and the edge looks to be with the Seahawks.

Travel from Indianapolis to Chicago

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    United Flight No. 3470 to Chicago

    When: Oct. 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Where: Chicago, IL

    Chicago is one of the most interesting architectural cities in the country. I would have to go visit the Sears tower and also test just how windy it really is. Oh, and I'd have to try the famous Chicago-style pizza. That stuff looks delicious.

Crystal Ball to the Playoffs. New York Giants at Chicago Bears

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    New York Giants at Chicago Bears

    Stadium: Soldier Field

    Date: Oct. 10, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Charles "Peanut" Tillman

    As a two-time pro bowler and three-time Brian Piccolo award winner, Charles Tillman is exactly the kind of player I want to represent when I wear someone else's jersey. His decade with the Bears doesn't hurt either.

    Overview

    The Bears and Giants are both great teams year in and year out. Last year, the Bears got nudged out of the playoffs the last week of the season. This year, they will try to make it to where they don't have to worry about a loss late in the season.

Travel from Chicago to Minneapolis

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    Spirit Flight No. 773 to Minneapolis

    When: Oct. 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Where: Minneapolis, MN

    So while I would fly into Minneapolis, I'd definitely have to explore both of the twin cities. With a day both before and after the game on that Sunday, it will be fun to see just how different the two cities really are.

The Quest for the Rushing Record. Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings

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    Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings

    Stadium: Mall of America Field

    Date: Oct. 13, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Adrian Peterson

    There's three great choices I could go with here. Kevin Williams and Jared Allen are more than worthy. However, the bionic man Adrian Peterson is the easy jersey to buy here. He's a seven-year pro and the best running back in the NFL year in and year out.

    Overview

    This is one of the many games on this tour that will have a ton of wild card game implications. Adrian Peterson still leads the offense and wants to go on a quest for the NFL rushing record again this year. Cam Newton is trying to shake off the losing seasons he led Carolina to. 

Travel from Minneapolis to Phoenix

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    US Airways Flight No. 522 to Phoenix

    When: Oct. 15, 2013 at 2:35 APM

    Where: Phoenix, AZ

    Phoenix is a unique city in the middle of the desert. On the 16th, I'd take the trek up to the Grand Canyon—one of the world's most natural wonders. I'd also want to explore some of the Native American landmarks while I was waiting for the next game.

Carson Palmer vs. Pete Carroll. Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

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    Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

    Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium

    Date: Oct. 17, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Larry Fitzgerald

    This is another team where I want to go with a couple of different guys, but they don't exactly fit the jersey rule. Andre Roberts, my Citadel classmate, and Darnell Dockett, who has been arrested multiple times, were the other ones I would want to get.

    Overview

    Carson Palmer takes on his old college coach—albeit almost a decade later—in this matchup between division rivals. How well Palmer takes to his new team will show just how good the Cardinals really are this year versus playoff level competition.

Travel from Phoenix to Green Bay

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    American Airlines Flight No. 1444 to Chicago then American Airlines Flight No. 5298 to Green Bay

    When: Oct. 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM (to Chicago) and 8:00 PM (to Green Bay)

    Where: Green Bay, WI

    Green Bay isn't known for much outside of the packing plants and being right on the sub-basin of Lake Michigan. So instead of trying to force something where there is nothing like the national train museum, I'll just kick back and relax near Lake Michigan.

Tune Up Game or True Test? Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers

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    Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers

    Stadium: Lambeau Field

    Date: Oct. 20, 2013

    Time: 4:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Aaron Rodgers

    Aaron Rodgers has led the Packers to a Super Bowl championship and has been the face of the team since Brett Favre's retirement. He's also one of the top four quarterbacks in the NFL today.

    Overview

    This is a great matchup for the Browns to show their abilities against a playoff caliber team. However, it will be tough to sell me that Brandon Weeden can lead the Browns to an upset victory at the Packers if Rodgers is healthy all year.

Travel from Green Bay to London

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    American Airlines Flight No. 3286 to Chicago then American Airlines Flight No. 86 to London

    When: Oct 22, 2013 at 2:25 PM (to Chicago) and 6:05 PM (to London)

    Where: London, England

    So let's go from boring to a place I've always wanted to go. London is full of activities to do from the double-decker buses and sight seeing to the other sporting events in England. That's why I planned to do a full week in London, which is more time than any other city.

NFL in London? Count Me In. San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars

    Stadium: Wembley Stadium

    Date: Oct. 27, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Wayne Rooney

    He's the starting forward on the English national team and also plays for the world-famous Manchester United F.C. His national team jersey would be the best representation for the trip to England.

    Overview

    The Ultimate NFL Road Trip has to include a trip to Jacksonville. This is also one of many 49ers games that wind up being on the trip. The Jaguars will have to give one heck of an effort to compete because of the talent desparity there.

Travel from London to Miami

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    Virgin Atlantic Flight No. 5 to Miami

    When: Oct. 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Where: Miami, Florida

    Luckily, I have a sister who lives in the area. So instead of paying for a hotel, I would just buy her a ticket and hang out with her until the game. It would also be the last real chance to hit up a beach with some warm water before winter rolls in.

Re-Acclimating to America. Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins

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    Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins

    Stadium: Sun Life Stadium

    Date: Oct. 31, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Randy Starks

    He's been with the Dolphins for half of a decade and has been to a pair of Pro Bowls. Starks is the franchise player this year, but if he doesn't want to be with the team, this jersey purchase still won't be wasted.

    Overview

    After flying from London to Miami, I should be able to enjoy one final warm weather game before needing a jacket every week. With the additions that the Dolphins made this offseason, this could easily be a playoff preview.

Travel from Miami to Buffalo

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    Delta Flight No. 1671 to New York (JFK Airport) then Delta Flight No. 3320 to Buffalo

    When: Nov. 2, 2013 at 12:20 PM (to New York) and at 7:00 PM (to Buffalo)

    Where: Buffalo, NY

    Buffalo is about 30 minutes from Niagra Falls. If we've already hit up the beach a couple of times and the Grand Canyon, what's a drive to Niagra Falls? 

    Also, I would have to try out the true world famous Buffalo wings while watching football all weekend.

Football Near Lake Erie. Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

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    Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

    Stadium: Ralph Wilson Stadium

    Date: Nov. 3, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Kyle Williams

    He's the only one on the Bills who fits the jersey rule. And rightfully so. He's been the only true holdover from a pair of coaching staffs and is easily one of the best players in the league at defensive tackle.

    Overview

    This could either be a precursor to a toilet bowl for draft position or for an AFC wild card game. Either way, these teams are very evenly matched, and it will be fun to watch how Andy Reid matches up schematically against Doug Marrone.

Travel from Buffalo to Baltimore

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    Delta Flight No. 3867 to Detroit then Delta Flight No. 1637 to Baltimore

    When: Nov. 5, 2013 at 1:25 PM (to Detroit) and at 3:30 PM (to Baltimore)

    Where: Baltimore, MD

    So another town with famous food is Baltimore. And this time, it's crabcakes. Delicious!

    On top of that, Baltimore is a historical city with a ton of sight seeing and war landmarks throughout the years due to its strategic location near the capitol and Chesapeake bay.

Another AFC North Battle? Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

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    Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

    Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium

    Date: Nov. 10, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Terrell Suggs

    A decade with the Ravens including last season's Super Bowl title has been just one reason why Suggs would be the jersey. I also have an affinity for pass-rushers and he's just 15.5 sacks short of 100 for his career.

    Overview

    The Bengals and Ravens are going to be in the middle of a division title race, and this is going to be a great game. This is also the third AFC North matchup on the schedule. It's always a highly competitive division and making sure I got a trio of rivalries was a priority on this trip.

Travel from Baltimore to Tampa

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    Southwest Flight No. 983 to Tampa

    When: Nov. 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Where: Tampa, FL

    After rushing to the airport to make sure that I get on the right plane, Tampa is the right city to head to. This is a fly in, go to a game and then fly out kind of city. R relaxing, eating and tailgating with some Buccaneers fans is about the most that would happen in the just under 48 hours I would spend there.

Who's the Best Team in South Florida? Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Stadium: Raymond James Stadium

    Date: Nov. 11, 2013

    Time: 8:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: Davin Joseph

    A seven-year veteran with the Buccaneers, Joseph has been to a pair of Pro Bowls. He's one of the best guards in the NFL and working with Carl Nicks. He should help Doug Martin have an even better season than he did the year before.

    Overview

    This is normally a preseason game where the pair of south Florida teams go after each other for roster spots. Now, they will be playing for actual playoff standings. The Buccaneers are a more put together team, but the Dolphins have more talent. This one should be fun.

Travel from Tampa to Nashville

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    Southwest Flight No. 275 to Nashville

    When: Nov. 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Where: Nashville, TN

    Nashville is known for its deep roots in country music. For kicks and giggles I would definitely have to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Let's just hope that I wouldn't have to see the snobby side of the city.

Luck in Nashville. Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

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    Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

    Stadium: LP Field

    Date: Nov. 14, 2013

    Time: 8:25 PM

    Jersey to buy: Michael Roos

    He's a top three offensive tackle in the NFL. But he's very underrated. He's been with the Titans for almost an entire decade and has been the rock on their offensive line. Again, offensive linemen deserve some love too.

    Overview

    An AFC South contest between the Colts and Titans should be fun to watch. They match up well and divisional games are always close. With the pair of talented young quarterbacks in this game, there should be some fireworks in this high octane contest.

Travel from Nashville to Jacksonville

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    Southwest Flight No. to Jacksonville

    When: Nov. 15, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Where: Jacksonville, FL

    I'd be spending just 48 hours in Jacksonville because I live just four hours away. The time in Jacksonville will be spent relaxing and enjoying some fresh fish and good football.

Building Future Winners. Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars

    Stadium: EverBank Field

    Date: Nov. 17, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Maurice Jones-Drew

    Pocket Hercules has been an asset for the Jaguars and the face of their franchise for the better part of the last decade. He's a multiple-time Pro Bowl player who is easily worthy of the Jersey Rule.

    Overview

    This is a matchup of two teams who are going to be better in future years than this year. Gus Bradley and Bruce Arians are the right guys to build teams up with, but they both need a franchise quarterback for long-term success.

Travel from Jacksonville to Charlotte

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    US Airways Flight No. 1948 to Charlotte

    When: Nov. 17, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Where: Charlotte, NC

    Living in Charleston, SC means that I can go to Charlotte whenever I would want to without much hassle. So spending a ton of time there would be a waste. However, I would at least spend some time at Carowinds if I could fit it in.

Super Bowl 38 Rematch. New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers

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    New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers

    Stadium: Bank of America Stadium

    Date: Nov. 18, 2013

    Time: 8:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: Steve Smith

    If there was one guy out there that could be considered "Mr. Panther," it's Steve Smith. He's the best wide receiver in team history, and he's the man to represent the franchise for the long term.

    Overview

    Carolina is going to try and take the next step this season and turn into a playoff team. However, this will be a huge game for them to prove that they are even close to playoff caliber. Cam Newton will have to step up for the Panthers to win this one.

Travel from Charlotte to Detroit

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    US Airways Flight No. 2678 to Detroit

    When: Nov. 19, 2013 at 2:40 APM

    Where: Detroit, MI

    Sure the city itself has filed for bankruptcy, but with Windsor, Canada right across the Detroit River it will be fun exploring the paired cities and enjoying the architecture.

Battle of the 2009 1st Round Quarterbacks. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

    Stadium: Ford Field

    Date: Nov. 24, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Calvin Johnson

    After spending their No. 2 overall pick on Calvin Johnson in 2007, people panned Matt Millen for his third wide receiver in three years. However, Calvin has been a complete can't-miss prospect and is the best wide receiver in the NFL today.

    Overview

    Tampa Bay and Detroit are both led by 2009 draft picks—Matt Stafford for the Lions and Josh Freeman for the Buccaneers. This game could have a ton of playoff implications if the teams both are having a decent season. However, it's unlikely that both the Buccaneers and the Lions will be playoff caliber this year.

Travel from Detroit to Washington, DC

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    United Flight No. 5734 to Washington, DC

    When: Nov. 24, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    Where: Washington, DC

    The US Capitol is one of the best tourist cities. However, I'd just want to visit the easy monuments due to only having just under 48 hours in the city. So the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial would be the primary spot I'd want to get to when I'd be in town.

The Run and Gun Show. San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins

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    San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins

    Stadium: FedEx Field

    Date: Nov. 25, 2013

    Time: 8:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: London Fletcher

    He's been with the Redskins for six years already and going into his seventh. He's the starting middle linebacker and heart of the defense. He's the Redskins' own Ray Lewis—only he's not as good as Lewis was.

    Overview

    Robert Griffin III vs. Colin Kaepernick?

    Count me in!

    This matchup will have a ton of fireworks both on the ground and through the air. Both defenses are fast, aggressive 3-4 styles, and both offenses are run-and-gun styled with high scoring potential.

Travel from Washington, DC to Dallas

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    American Airlines Flight No. 1783 to Dallas

    When: Nov. 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Where: Dallas, TX

    Deep in the heart of Texas, Dallas is a bit of a historical and business hub. It's also a food hub. Getting some good barbeque and Tex-Mex will be absolute priorities while in Dallas. 

Turkey Day Traditions Done Right. Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

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    Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

    Stadium: AT&T Stadium

    Date: Nov. 28, 2013

    Time: 4:05 PM

    Jersey to buy: DeMarcus Ware

    He's arguably the best edge-rusher in the NFL and has been for years. He's also spent his entire nine-year career in Dallas with the Cowboys.

    Overview

    On Thanksgiving there's no better way to spend it than with family watching football. Unfortunately, that's not feasible for this trip because of the timing of the games. So instead, I'd go and watch a classic matchup between a pair of old school franchises in Dallas.

Travel from Dallas to Toronto

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    Air Canada Flight No. 7996 to Toronto

    When: Nov. 29, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Toronto will be a fun city to visit. Of course, I will have to visit the CN Tower. Unfortunately, there's no hockey to catch when I would be in town but it will still be fun to explore the city as an American.

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills

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    Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills

    Stadium: Rogers Centre

    Date: Dec. 1, 2013

    Time: 4:05 PM

    Jersey to buy: Phil Kessel

    I could pick an Argonaut but I'd much rather represent the country's national sport of Hockey. And in Toronto, I have to take their current two-time All Star and a player who has been with the Maple Leafs for the past four years and is signed for this season.

    Overview

    The Falcons and the Bills both can win their division, and this matchup should be one that doesn't disappoint any Canadian fans. The big question is how the Bills take to Marrone's teachings. This will be the first Falcons game I would go to all year and I'm excited to see the offense perform.

Travel from Toronto to Seattle

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    United Flight No. 8301 to Chicago then United Flight No. 331 to Seattle

    When: Dec. 2, 2013 at 7:25 AM (to Chicago) and 10:20 AM (to Seattle)

    Where: Seattle, WA

    Because of how early this flight is, I'd have to hurry up once I got off the plane to make sure I could get to the hotel, check in and then get to the stadium for some tailgating.

    However, after the game, there's a couple of days to explore the architecture of the city and make sure that I visit the Space Needle.

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

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    New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

    Stadium: CenturyLink Field

    Date: Dec. 2, 2013

    Time: 8:30 PM

    Jersey to buy: Max Unger

    The 2009 first round pick is the leader of the offensive line and a 2012 Pro Bowl player. While it was just his first, he should end up in many after his excellent performance the past two seasons. 

    Overview

    Normally the Saints and Seahawks matchup is just another game. However, this time, it's a 2011 playoff rematch with tremendous playoff implications for this year. The Saints defense is much worse than it was in 2011 though. Let's just hope "Beast Mode" Marshawn Lynch doesn't crush them on the ground again.

Travel from Seattle to Pittsburgh

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    American Airlines Flight No. 1598 to Dallas then American Airlines Flight No. 2045 to Pittsburgh

    When: Dec. 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM (to Dallas) and 6:50 PM (to Pittsburgh)

    Where: Pittsburgh, PA

    Spending five days in Pittsburgh will be unique in that it's a city with a very individual geography with its three rivers and colder climate. There also might even be some time to go to a hockey game on the Monday night after the football game.

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

    Stadium: Heinz Field

    Date: Dec. 8, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buyTroy Polamalu

    For this one, I want to just skip the jersey rule and buy a Cortez Allen one. But instead, I went with the more logical choice of Troy Polamalu. The Samoan safety has been the face of the Steelers defense for years and is arguably the best safety in the AFC when healthy.

    Overview

    The Dolphins and Steelers are trying to make the playoffs again this year. Both teams have a good mix of veteran talent and youthful cores. But the Steelers have more experience as a winning team and in Heinz Field, they should have the edge in this game.

Travel from Pittsburgh to Oakland

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    US Airways Flight No. 587 to Phoenix then US Airways Flight No. 627 to Oakland

    When: Dec. 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM (to Phoenix) and 9:05 PM (to Oakland)

    Where: Oakland, CA 

    Oakland is the first stop in the Bay Area. And spending a week in Oakland could be extremely relaxing, but spending some time in San Jose would also be a good idea. The Bay Area of California is expansive and would take a while to explore.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

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    Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

    Stadium: O.co Coliseum

    Date: Dec. 15, 2013

    Time: 4:05 PM

    Jersey to buy: Charles Woodson

    While he hasn't been with the Raiders for the past eight years, Charles Woodson is definitely a great representative of the Raiders. He's one of Al Davis's greatest draft picks in years, and the former Heisman winner has had a potential Hall of Fame career.

    Overview

    This game isn't one that is going to excite anyone on the surface. However, any time you get a rivalry between two AFC West teams, there is bad blood and a ton of heart from both sides. The Chiefs and Raiders do match up well and sitting in the black hole for this one will be fun.

Travel from Oakland to Houston

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    Southwest Flight No. 3683 to Houston

    When: Dec. 18, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Where: Houston, TX

    Houston would lead to one big, exploratory journey. This is where I would have to go to space from!

    Just kidding. 

    But I would still visit the Space Program initiatives here in between more moments of sampling barbeque and Tex-Mex food. 

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

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    Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

    Stadium: Reliant Stadium

    Date: Dec. 22, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Andre Johnson

    If there was a "Mr. Texans," it'd have to be Andre Johnson. He's their second first round pick in the teams' short history. He's also their best player in the team's short history with six Pro Bowls and five times as an All-Pro for the Texans at receiver.

    Overview

    This could be a preview for the AFC Championship game or at least a high-powered playoff game. The Texans are still the cream of the crop in the AFC South while the Broncos could be the best team in the NFL this season. 

Travel from Houston to San Francisco

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    United Flight No. 1178 to San Francisco

    When: Dec. 22, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Where: San Francisco, CA

    Yet another city where I wouldn't have to pay for a hotel due to family living there. So I'd have to bring family to the game (insert highly sarcastic "oh no" here). The last time I went to San Francisco I was unable to visit Alcatraz so this time I would love to go visit it.

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

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    Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

    Stadium: Candlestick Park

    Date: Dec. 23, 2013

    Time: 8:40 PM

    Jersey to buy: Patrick Willis

    Patrick Willis is the best middle linebacker in the NFL. He's also been a great leader for the 49ers. Willis' career has taken the same kind of path as Ray Lewis' early on and should it continue in that path, he could end up with multiple Super Bowl rings to combine with his Pro Bowl each year and potential Hall of Fame career.

    Overview

    The rematch of the 2012 NFC Championship game is also the final Monday Night Football game at Candlestick Park. It could also be a preview of the 2013 NFC Championship game or a playoff match up. Both Atlanta and San Francisco have improved this offseason, and this matchup could be an even better game than the NFC Championship was.

Travel from San Francisco to Atlanta

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    Delta Flight No. 1680 to Atlanta

    When: Dec. 27, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Where: Atlanta, GA

    Home, sweet, home. 

    Where I grew up and the final stop on the tour. Atlanta is home to quite a few attractions that would be fun to visit like the World of Coca-Cola or the Georgia Aquarium. However, the biggest thing that I would recommend to go to while waiting for the final game in Atlanta is the Zoo.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

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    Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

    Stadium: Georgia Dome

    Date: Dec. 29, 2013

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Jersey to buy: Thomas DeCoud

    While most would say to go for a Matt Ryan, Roddy White or a Tony Gonzalez jersey, I always like to represent a player who is a bit different than the norm. Thomas DeCoud has been with the Falcons just as long as Ryan has, and his Pro Bowl last season cemented that he is a worthy talent for the Jersey Rule.

    Overview

    Last year's game was a barn burner that is best remembered for this throw and a last second field goal by Matt Bryant. This year's matchup could have all sorts of implications for the playoffs, and if it's anything close to last year's game, it's going to be a must-see.

Travel from Atlanta Back Home

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    Normally the adage of "you ain't gotta go home, but you cain't stay here," would apply. However, you do have to go home at this point. Get rest. 

    This trip is going to be exhausting for those who aren't used to a lot of travel. And for me, I'd enjoy a nice month off after it to watch some playoff football.

The Final Budget

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    After this trip, let's go into what the final budget was:

    • $13,600 spent on tickets (Projected from a $400 budget for a ticket to get as close to the 50-yard line lowest level ticket as possible)
    • $8,500 spent on jerseys (Projected from $250 a jersey for an authentic one)
    • $1,165 spent on hats (I like hats. Sue me. This was derived from the actual cost of 59fifty brand hats)
    • $12,660 spent on travel (Projected from the ticket prices for the flights)
    • $31,000 spent on hotels (Projected from around $250/night for 115 nights with extra for the London trip)
    • $13,100 spent on food and cab-fare. (Projected from around $100/night for 115 nights with extra for the London trip.)

    Overall, we spent $80,025 on this trip. Was it worth it? 

    As the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage would say:

    OOOOOOHHHH, YEAAAAHHHHH!!!!

Conclusion

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    So there you have it: my plan to blow $80,000 of the fictional million that I won. 

    And I bet every true NFL fan would do the same. The only regret here is that I wouldn't have seen as much college football as I wanted to during the trip.

    But overall?

    A ton of fun to be had, and the best fictional trip of a lifetime.

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.