The 15 Most Interesting Games of the 2010 NFL Season
Each year has those games. Those games that are full of intrigue. The ones that you mark on the schedule much before the season even starts. The ones that everyone will be talking about.
As another NFL season is upon us, it shall be filled with games that should be no different. From marquee players returning home to high profile rookies looking to make a name for themselves to those two quarterbacks that seem to meet every year, this season should be full of interesting match-ups.
So get your chinstrap on and get ready for what should be one interesting season.
Honorable Mention: Dallas @ Philadelphia (Jan. 2, 1 FOX)
For the third straight year, the Cowboys and Eagles will meet to end the season. Last year these teams met three times, with the Cowboys winning all three contests with the last two coming in back-to-back weeks as Jerry’s boys won by a combined score of 58-14 over Week 17 and the Wild Card Weekend.
This year's matchup is unlikely to do much in terms of playoff seeding, but it is still a colorful rivalry. One thing to pay close attention to will be the absence of McNabb and how it shifts the play of the game.
No 15. Minnesota @ Chicago (Nov. 14, 1 FOX)
When he first came into the league three years ago, we suspected that Adrian “All Day” Peterson would be something special. However, it was not until a break out game in which Peterson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns on 20 attempts that we realized that Peterson could be one of the greats.
The opponent on that fateful day? The Chicago Bears. Since that day, All Day has amassed 509 yards and eight touchdowns in only 119 carries.
This year, however, it’ll be harder for Peterson to replicate his first outing against Chicago as the Bears’ frontline will be revamped with the arrival of Julius Peppers during free agency.
With the addition of Julius Peppers and running back Chester Taylor, this game should be better than ever.
No 14. Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (Dec. 5, 8:20 NBC)
This season will spell a reversal of fates in the AFC North as the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves on a quick decline, and the Baltimore Ravens see their stock soaring.
With a four- to six-game suspension hanging over his head, Ben Roethlisberger could find himself sidelined until mid-October meaning that when he returns his tune up games will include New Orleans, Cincinnati, and New England over three straight weeks before taking on Buffalo and Oakland.
The Ravens, meanwhile, will be looking to showcase their new revamped offense, with the likes of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Dante’ Stallworth added during the offseason, on national TV. With a shaky Roethlisberger and a stout Raven’s D, look for the Ravens to shine against their divisional foe.
No 13. Miami @ Baltimore (Nov. 7, 1 CBS)
If you ask me, this game has the potential to be the best game of the 2010 NFL season. This game will feature marquee receivers in Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall, rising star quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Chad Henne and will be topped off with elite linebackers the likes of Ray Lewis and Karlos Dansby.
While the Ravens have Super Bowl expectations, the Dolphins are looking to return the playoffs after a year absence. Coincidentally, the Dolphins’ last playoff run was ended by the Baltimore Ravens during Wild Card Weekend in January 2009.
Now, the Dolphins have a shot at revenge while the Ravens have a chance to show that they’re ready for a Super Bowl run.
No 12. Baltimore @ New York Jets (Sept. 13, 7 ESPN)
Obviously, this will be a big year for the Ravens as they look to make that final step to return to football’s grandest stage. Meanwhile, what better way for the Jets to kick off their season than to showcase their brand new stadium on national television?
In an offseason that has included the additions of wide receiver Santonio Holmes, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and linebacker Jason Taylor, the Jets will be looking to show that they can complete with the NFL’s best on both sides of the ball.
In what could potentially be a preview of the AFC Championship Game, the Ravens and Jets will look to start off the Monday Night Football Season in style.
No 11. Chicago @ Carolina (Oct. 10, 1 FOX)
In an offseason full of big free agent signings, the biggest might just have been the signing of defensive end Julius Peppers by the Chicago Bears. However, the biggest challenge facing Peppers has yet come as he must return to the place that gave him his start when the Bears travel to Carolina to take on Panthers on October 10th.
Aside from Peppers’ homecoming, this game will also feature the two-headed monster rushing attack in Carolina’s running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, the every entertaining Steve Smith (WR) and maybe the quarterback of the future in Jimmy Clausen.
Look for drama and emotions to run high as the stars of today and tomorrow collide.
No 10. New York Giants @ Indianapolis (Sept. 19, 8:20 NBC)
The first time the Manning Brothers met, Eli was just getting started. This time around, both Eli and Peyton have a Super Bowl ring and big expectations to fulfill. For Peyton, he must prove to the NFL why he is still the best quarterback in the game, while Eli must prove that he is still the best quarterback in New York.
The defenses for both teams will be looking to bounce back from injuries, while the offensives will look to be explosive with the Colts pass-heavy offensive looking to improve its running game and the Giants run-oriented offensive looking to once again dominate through the air.
Though big brother Peyton may have won the first matchup, round two should feature a fight to the finish.
No 9. Dallas @ Houston (Sept. 26, 1 FOX)
Last year, the Texans experienced their first winning season going 9-7. This season, the Texans will look to make that final push to get over the playoff hump.
One the other side of the ball, the Cowboys won their first playoff game in thirteen years and will look to try and be the first team in NFL history to complete in the Super Bowl in their own stadium.
With big play receivers (Andre Johnson, Miles Austin, and rookie Dez Bryant) and light’em up QBs (Tony Romo and Matt Schub) the battle for Texas in on.
The absence of defensive rookie of the year in linebacker Brian Cushing will be something to watch.
No 8. Dallas @ Arizona (Dec. 25, 7:30 NFLN)
This year Santa Claus left us with a gift under our tree.
For the last two years the Cardinals have been making believers out of everyone by making two playoff appearances and a Super Bowl run two seasons ago. This year however the mode is desert is one that is all too familiar. That feeling? Uncertainty.
While for the last two years Cardinals fans have been able to count on the sure fire arm of future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, this year they must put their faith in the unproven first round bust Matt Leinart. And though I do expect the Cardinals to still contend for the NFC West crown their defense will have to step up while the offense tries to get on track.
Look for Arizona to place more of the offensive load on the shoulders of second year back Bennie Wells. The Cowboys meanwhile will just be looking to once again showcase their talents on national television.
No 7. Minnesota @ Green Bay (Oct. 24, 8:20 NBC)
Here we go again.
In his first trip back to Green Bay since leaving the Packers following the 2007 season, Favre got the best of his former team in a 38-26 victory for the Vikings. This year the Packer faithful will be looking for their new leader Aaron Rodgers to restore some honor the cheese head name.
Clearly I expect Favre to be wearing the purple and gold again come the start of the season.
Aside from the QB storyline there will be a battle of deep receiving corps, a match-up of two top 10 defenses, and a heated rival game. Oh, and did I mention that a guy by the name of Adrian Peterson will be in attendance?
Yeah, this should be good.
No 6. Dallas @ Washington (Sept. 12, 8:20 NBC)
While the Dallas Cowboys should be the crown jewel of the NFC East and perhaps the entire NFC, all eyes this night will be on the home team as Donovan McNabb makes his Redskins debut.
For the first time in twelve seasons McNabb will be wearing colors other than green and black and is hoping to prove that he still has some gas left in the tank. Meanwhile the rest of the Washington Redskins will try and show that they are not the same team from past seasons and are ready to break away from the bottom of the division.
The Cowboys on the other hand may have to make do without rookie receiver Dez Bryant who may miss his rookie debut with a high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out 4-6 weeks. This would force Miles Austin and Roy Williams to step up and pick up the slack.
None the less this is a rivalry game and while debuts are all well and good, the only thing that matters in this game is winning.
No 5. Arizona @ San Francisco (Jan. 2, 4:15 FOX)
Even though the Cardinals may be the two-time defending NFC West champs, this year the division is wide open thanks to the retirement of Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.
For the last two seasons the 49ers have been the only team to really challenge the Cardinals for the top spot and this year look to finally overcome their NFC West foe. With the ever-improving Michael Crabtree, the dominate Vernon Davis, and the freak of nature Patrick Willis, this may finally be the year the Niners start to return to their glory days.
However, the biggest thing to watch in this matchup will be the quarterbacks as both Matt Leinart and Alex Smith will look to show why they were drafted so hard.
So while this game is sure to be good for a magnitude of reasons, ultimately this is a game to watch as it may just determine the winner of the NFC West.
No 4. Washington @ Philadelphia (Oct. 3, 4:15 FOX)
He was booed on draft day. He was booed during training camp. He was booed when they lost. Basically Donovan McNabb was booed every day that he was in Philadelphia.
Expect his first trip back to be no different.
Though McNabb did not leave under his own terms—he was traded to the Redskins—don’t look for Eagles fans to welcome him back with open arms and thank yous for all he accomplished. It didn’t happen while he was in Philly and it won’t happen now that he’s back.
Though McNabb will be under pressure to show the Eagles just what they gave away, no one will be under more pressure than the heir to McNabb’s thrown in former Houston QB Kevin Kolb.
With the realigning of quarterbacks and the departure of a fan favorite (running back Brain Westbrook) a rivalry shall be renewed and entire football world will be watching.
No 3. New Orleans @ Dallas (Nov. 25, 4:15 FOX)
For far too long we’ve been used to watching mediocre games on Thanksgiving Day. An American tradition has been turned into an American embarrassment full of blowouts and no name players. And while I’m all for giving every team a chance to play on Turkey Day, I know I want to see a real game will chowing down on my turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy on the side.
This year it seems as though the NFL agrees with me as the NFL has slated a match-up of last year’s Week 13 thriller during which the Dallas Cowboys gave the then undefeated New Orleans Saints. This year the game will feature two teams vying for a Super Bowl berth.
So, while you enjoy your time with family and friends and everyone’s favorite bird, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. And though T.O. is now playing in the great north, you may still want to getcha popcorn ready.
No 2. Minnesota @ New Orleans (Sept. 9, 8:30 NBC)
Five years ago Hurricane Katrina ripped the city of New Orleans apart destroying people’s homes, their families, and their way of life. Six months ago the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl in franchise history and in turn repaired the city in a way that no construction company ever could.
This year the Saints will look to do it again but must first take on the very team they defeated in last season’s NFC Championship Game in the Minnesota Vikings. When their season ending last year the Vikings were left with a dissatisfied feeling while Brett Favre faced uncertainty once again.
As the season gets started down in the Big Easy both parties will have a chance to shake their empty feelings while also trying to get off to a good start by handing the defending Super Bowl champs their first loss of the 2010 season.
No 1. Indianapolis @ New England (Nov. 21, 4:15 CBS)
Are you really that surprised? For nearly all of the last decade this was the game to see. That should not change any time soon this decade.
The rivalry took an off year of shorts two years ago when Brady missed the game due to injury but was given new life in 2009 when the Patriots lost the game after going for it on fourth and two late in the game even though they were already up. Now the Patriots will look to redeem themselves and beat the team that for most of the 2000s was their biggest road block in persuit of the Super Bowl.
The Colts meanwhile will look to try and get themselves back to the big game while Peyton Manning will look to get the best of Tom Brady once again. This time however he’ll have to do it with the elements as the rivalry will return to Foxboro for the first time since 2006.
It’s Brady. It’s Manning. It’s the Patriots. It’s the Colts. It’s the most interesting game of the year.