NFL Schedule 2011: 5 Games That Become Must-Watch Showdowns with Short Offseason

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IJuly 18, 2011

NFL Schedule 2011: 5 Games That Become Must-Watch Showdowns with Short Offseason

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    Had their been no lockout, NFL rosters would be essentially set by this point in mid-July. But as you know all too well, the lockout is still on....but seemingly coming to a close.

    Once that happens there will be a flurry of free agent signings and trades, partly because of the rules implemented by the new CBA but also because teams have to get their rosters in order for the fast-approaching season.

    And while some teams are going to be more active than others, everyone will be in the mix so every game on next year's schedule should be affected. 

    Here are five games that will become a whole lot more intriguing.....based on potential moves.

No. 5: New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams

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    When:  Week 8, October 30

    Where: Edward Jones Dome

    Key Acquisitions: Reggie Bush (STL), Randy Moss (STL)

    Maybe three years ago it would have been more earth-shattering for the Rams to acquire both Bush and Moss, but--provided they roll the dice on these two big names--it should give Sam Bradford the tools he needs to take the Rams to the postseason.

    After a pretty poor effort last season, Gregg Williams and the Saints defense will look much different in 2011--how they defend Moss--who is reportedly in awesome shape--would be an interesting issue.

    And since it would pit Bush against his former team, there's that off-the-field "they didn't respect me" angle. Whichever former Heisman Trophy winner, Bush or Mark Ingram Jr., racks up more yards will be viewed as the "right fit" in New Orleans' backfield.

No. 4: Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    When: Week 17, January 1, 2012

    Where: Metrodome

    Key Acquisitions: Donovan McNabb (MIN), Sidney Rice (CHI)

    Although the first showdown would be interesting since McNabb is a Chicago native, this showdown has more potential, and not just because it could determine a wildcard, the NFC North champion, a playoff bye, or even homefield advantage in the playoffs.

    The Bears really need a wide receiver and if they can't get or aren't interested in Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes, Rice is next in line. A return to the Twin Cities would certainly inspire some nice boos and hatred.

    And because the Vikings need another quarterback to either back up or hold down the fort for Christian Ponder McNabb is a good fit. If Ponder struggles, don't be surprised to see them turn to McNabb to keep playoff hopes alive.

No. 3: Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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    When: Week 10, November 13

    Where: Arrowhead Stadium

    Key Acquisitions: DeAngelo Williams (DEN)

    I don't think any of us can be certain where DeAngelo Williams is going to land, but Denver does seem like an ideal fit: John Fox is there and Knowshon Moreno hasn't proven that he deserves feature back status.

    If Tim Tebow earns the starter's job October, a backfield with him, Moreno and Williams makes for a pretty awesome backfield, one that could challenge the Chiefs for that title as number-one ranked rushing offense.

    And given the Broncos additions of Fox, Von Miller, Rahim Moore, and Jeremy Beal that defense should be able to slow down Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

No. 2: Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks

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    When: Week 12, November 27

    Where: Qwest Field

    Key Acquisitions: Matt Hasselbeck (WAS), Santonio Holmes (WAS)

    If the Redskins manage to pull Hasselbeck out of his longtime residence in Seattle, that will be a great addition--he'll provide leadership, reliability, and experience. But he can't throw the ball to himself.

    Washington is reportedly looking to "make a splash" in the free agent market and adding Holmes would certainly do that--every other NFC East team has at least one, if not two, explosive wide receivers but the Redskins really have none.

    Without Holmes, I'd expect Hasselbeck and the Redskins to get beaten pretty handily on the road in Seattle. With him that would be a very interesting matchup.

No. 1: Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    When: Week 10, November 13

    Where: Lincoln Financial Field
    Key Acquisitions: Kevin Kolb (ARI), Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI)

    This one's kinda a no-brainer, isn't it?

    Asomugha is probably the most highly coveted free agent in this year's crop, and Kolb is probably the most highly coveted trade bait this offseason. Not only that, but should Kolb go to Arizona and Asomugha go to the Eagles, there will be a head-to-head showdown of sorts with quarterback vs. cornerback.

    The "undercard" in that main event, Patrick Peterson trying to defend Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, isn't bad either.