The 2010 NFL schedule was officially released Tuesday with a number of key matchups for fans to look forward to. While the season kicks off Sept. 9 with a re-match of last year's NFC Championship between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, there are a number of other prime-time matchups on Monday night that fans should look forward to this season.
Here's a power ranking of the top Monday Night Football games for the upcoming 2010 season.
A battle between two divisional rivals always makes an interesting matchup for Monday Night Football. All eyes will be on the Chargers who will be without running back LaDainian Tominson for the first time in 10 seasons.
Over the last two seasons, the Broncos have started off hot only to let the division slip out of their hands to the Chargers.
However, the matchup between these two teams will be a little different in 2010 after a busy offseason. No LaDainian Tomlinson, no Brandon Marshall, and a possible quarterback battle for the Broncos makes this matchup difficult to predict at this point.
Regardless, it should still be an intense game between these two AFC West rivals.
After finishing 8-8 last season with a stellar defense, many analysts are picking the 49ers to win the NFC West in 2010 since the Cardinals may experience "rebuilding" mode.
If this happens to be the case, what better way to prove yourself as a contender than a win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints on national television?
The AFC South will arguably be one of the most competitive divisions in 2010--with both the Titans and Jaguars looking to take down Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts.
Both teams were considered playoff contenders at the beginning of last season, but finished behind both Indianapolis and Houston in the standings. Tennessee and Jacksonville each have the talent to make a playoff run in 2010--which means this matchup could be critical in the middle of the season.
Remember when these two teams squared off during the finale of Monday Night Football last season?
The Vikings nearly lost control of a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in the NFC after a late fumble by Adrian Peterson and a four-touchdown performance by Jay Cutler led the Bears to a shocking 36-30 overtime win over the Vikings.
Cutler hooked up with Devin Aromashodu on a 39-yard touchdown pass in overtime after blowing a 16-point lead. After signing numerous players at the start of free agency, the Bears look to bounce back in 2010 and win their first division title since 2006.
After two-straight division titles, the Cardinals may be in trouble next season after some key departures.
2010 will be an adjustment without Kurt Warner, Karlos Dansby, and Anquan Boldin next season and the pressure will be on Matt Leinart as he takes over the starting job at quarterback.
The 49ers won both matchups against the Cardinals last season and are looking to make a strong run at their first division title since 2002. This Monday night matchup provides another key game between two division rivals from the NFC West.
After three-straight seasons of over 100 receptions, Brandon Marshall finally got his wish after he received a hefty contract following a trade to the Miami Dolphins.
Now, he joins an AFC East division that already contained one of the top wide receivers in Randy Moss. What more could fans ask for than two of the top wide receivers squaring off on Monday Night Football?
Remember opening week last season when Aaron Rodgers threw the game-winning 50-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with just over a minute left to give the Packers a 21-15 win over the Bears?
These NFC North rivals always provide a good game when squaring off against one another. After the Packers won both games last year by a combined 13 points, a number of key offseason additions--including the signing of Julius Peppers--will make the Bears looking for revenge this year.
As of now, we're going to assume Brett Favre will return for his 20th season with the Vikings--which would make this matchup even more interesting.
Yes, these two teams both reached their Conference Championships last season and contain one of the top overall defenses in the NFL. However, all of the talk will be surrounding Favre playing against the team he spent the 2008 season with after 16 years with the Packers.
Matt Schaub finally has the Texans where they want to be--earning them two critical appearance on Monday Night Football this season. The Ravens have earned a Wild Card birth the past two seasons and are hungry for their first division title since 2006.
This Week 14 matchup may turn out to be critical for both teams not only looking to make a strong run at the playoffs, but for their division as well. Expect an intense matchup between two playoff contenders with both high-powered offenses and stellar defenses.
After spending 11 seasons with the Eagles, Donovan McNabb returns to the City of Brotherly Love on October 3 in what may be the most highly anticipated game since the return of Terrell Owens in 2006.
Still, both matchups between Philadelphia and Washington should be intense this season. McNabb may say he's going to treat both games against the Eagles like any other divisional matchup--but we all know how much he would love to beat his former team in the national spotlight.
After many analysts--except for Bill Cowher--picked the Steelers or Ravens to win the AFC North last season, the Bengals surprised the NFL by sweeping through the division, claiming their first title since 2005.
The Bengals won two close games against the Steelers last season. They even gave Ben Roethlisberger his first career loss in the state of Ohio.
These two fan bases can't stand each other--which makes this matchup on Monday night even more exciting.
The Cowboys may be defending NFC East Champions, but they lost both games against the Giants last season--including the opener at Cowboys Stadium.
Every game throughout the 2010 season will be important for both Dallas and New York since each team is capable of winning the division. After the Giants won both matchups last year by a combined nine points, expect two more great games between these two teams this season.
There's a good chance the Saints and Falcons may not only be fighting for a playoff spot at this point in the season, but for the NFC South title.
This key matchup in Week 16 at the Georgia Dome between the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints and a Falcons team coming off their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history may determine who gets a home game in the 2011 playoffs. The matchup between New Orleans and Atlanta is a perfect example of why Roger Goodell wanted to save the division games for the end of the season.
To say the Colts owned the AFC South last decade would be an understatement. Peyton Manning has won the division title six of the last seven years, but the Texans showed signs last season they're ready to make a run.
Houston fell just short of the playoffs last season after finishing 9-7 thanks to an improved defense and a valuable leader in quarterback Matt Schaub. After losing both games by a combined 11 points, the Texans look to finally take the division from the Colts in 2010.
The Jets will not only get to open the new Meadowlands Stadium on Monday Night Football, but head coach Rex Ryan will get to do so against a Ravens team he started his career off with.
Both the Ravens and Jets made headlines this offseason after key acquisitions through trades and free agency. This should be an interesting showdown not only between both AFC Wild Card teams from a year ago, but two of the top overall defenses entering 2010.
The Jets arguably had the best offseason in free agency after bringing in a number of Pro Bowlers to a team that raeched the AFC Championship last season.
Now, some are even calling them Super Bowl contenders and the top team to beat in the AFC East.
Unfortunately for them, the road to a division title still runs through Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the rest of the New England Patriots.