2011 NFL Schedules: Every Team's Most Dreaded Matchup
The NFL season is finally here!
While teams work hard in training camp and practice to make the season hopefully better than the previous one, we the fans sit and wait.
Every team in the league has a hated rival in the division, and every team has a game they just do not want to see on their schedules.
I tried my best to avoid repeating the same occurring teams, but some of them are just flat-out scary to play against!
Here are the most dreaded matchups for all 32 teams.
Week 10: @ Philadelphia Eagles
This game is highly anticipated for both teams, and the Cardinals should be worried.
For anyone who doesn't know, the Cardinals traded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Eagles for backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, a win-win for the Eagles.
Now this is unfair for the Cardinals because A: The Eagles know how Kolb plays and can exploit his weaknesses, and B: DRC knows the Cardinals offense like the back of his hand and is familiar with their system.
Not only that, but the Eagles now have one of the best defenses in the NFL. This is a scary game for the Cardinals because if they lose horribly, it'll make their front office look silly due to their "investments" in free agency.
Prediction: Eagles win 43-17
Week 5: Green Bay Packers
Last year, the Atlanta Falcons shocked the league and proved to be the most dominant team in the NFC 13-3.
That is, until the NFC Divisional Playoff game when a team who barely made the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers, stumped the Falcons 48-21. The Packers would then go on to win the Super Bowl.
The Atlanta Falcons just couldn't get their heads straight and got crushed. Even though they beat them already in the Week 12 matchup 20-17, the Falcons couldn't repeat the task.
Both teams are very well respected in the NFC, and this year's matchup will be exciting. The Falcons currently have the edge, because they had a better offseason than the Packers.
Landing Ray Edwards and drafting Julio Jones will be great additions to the Falcons roster in hopes to topple the Pack once again.
Prediction: Falcons win 24-20
Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers
This is a huge game for more than one reason.
These two teams are divisional rivals and always meet up in the playoffs. To top that off, it's the first game of the season and will pave the way for the rest of the year.
Both the Ravens and the Steelers are known for having top defenses, so this battle will be brutal. They split the regular season 1-1 last year, but are 0-2 in the playoffs since 2008.
Even though this matchup occurs again in Week 9, this one is surely more important.
Prediction: Ravens win 20-17
Week 3: New England Patriots
The Buffalo Bills aren't a contending team by any means, and everyone knows that. Aside from their big two-game win streaks every now and then, the Bills really aren't a team to worry about on the schedule.
However, the Bills do have a big problem: They play the New England Patriots.
The Patriots are a powerful team that can crush the Bills very early in the season.
Prediction: Patriots win 38-13
Week 2: Green Bay Packers
Promising to shock the league and show big improvement from last season, the Carolina Panthers face the world champions in Week 2.
Playing a team as good as the Packers can really slam your season down to the ground, especially in the second game of the year.
If Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith are looking to surprise the world, beating the Packers would be a good start.
But, that's not going to happen.
Prediction: Packers win 27-14
Week 9: @ Philadelphia Eagles
Fresh off their Week 8 bye, the Chicago Bears will play the Philadelphia Eagles in another NFC showdown.
The Bears beat the Eagles the last two years, but we all know these aren't the same Eagles we've seen. Midway through the season, the Bears will be looking to get on the playoff track, and now games like this become crucial.
Seeing the Eagles on their schedule after a bye is scary, because they won't even feel like they had the extra week to relax when the game is over.
Prediction: Eagles win 31-27
Week 6: Indianapolis Colts
The Bengals were pretty poor last year, and even though the Colts didn't play like they usually do, the Bengals do not want this matchup.
Luckily for the Bengals, they have a bye the next week for much-needed rest and recovery.
Prediction: Colts win 38-24
Week 13: Baltimore Ravens
Once Week 13 comes, it's nothing but bad news for the Browns.
They play the Ravens and the Steelers twice each in the remaining five games to end the season, and that is just horrible.
The Ravens will shut the struggling Browns offense down without hesitation.
Prediction: Ravens win 24-6
Week 6: New England Patriots
How 'bout dem Cowboys?
Straight off their bye in Week 5, they come back to play none other than the New England Patriots. The Cowboys have every right to be scared, because if they want to bounce back this season, it won't be easy.
Prediction: Patriots win 41-31
Week 5: Green Bay Packers
Once again, a team playing the world champs.
Whether it be Orton or Tebow taking snaps, he'll have to be prepared for this one. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if both played in this one.
The Packers simply have too strong of an offense and defense for the Broncos to even compete.
Prediction: Packers win 27-13
Week 13: New Orleans Saints
Despite how the Lions may be the team on the rise, they have a pretty rough schedule in 2011.
Not only is playing in a division with the Bears, Vikings and Packers hard enough, they have to test their limits against the Chargers, Falcons and the Saints as well.
This late in the season is when the Saints catch fire. Watch out Detroit, Eminem won't be the only one making noise.
Prediction: Saints win 37-19
Green Bay Packers
Week 1: New Orleans Saints
The only team on the Packers' schedule that really stands out to me is in Week 1 against the Saints.
Opening up a season with a matchup like this can be tough for the Packers, because they have a lot expected of them if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
The Saints will give them a run for their money, and it'll be close.
Prediction: Packers win 21-20
Week 4: Pittsburgh Steelers
If opening the season against the hated Indianapolis Colts doesn't suck enough, then playing the Saints and the Steelers consecutively will.
The Texans are a team headed in the right direction, but their schedule is preventing them from that next step.
The Steelers are one of the best teams in the league and will trample the Texans.
Prediction: Steelers win 37-17
Week 1: Houston Texans
Is this a surprise?
The Colts and the Texans always play an exciting game against each other and this Week 1 thriller won't disappoint.
The Colts haven't been so strong against the Texans lately, as they lost their season opener to them last year. This game has a lot of meaning. If Manning does open up the season under center, it'll be important to watch to see how his neck effects his gameplay. In reality, this game will tell the rest of the Colts' 2011 campaign.
Prediction: Colts win 17-14
Update: Manning will not start in Week 1
Week 2: New York Jets
Nothing like the Jets showing you up right off the bat.
The Jaguars are another team with a very difficult schedule, and this game is only the start. The Jags will have a poor season, and this is where is all starts.
Prediction: Jets win 21-3
Kansas City Chiefs
Week 3: San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs better be practicing hard, because they have arguably the worst schedule in the NFL.
Starting it all off is the Chargers game in Week 3. This isn't necessarily scary because of the Chargers' skill level, but because it's a sign of what's yet to come.
Prediction: Chargers win 20-14
Week 1: New England Patriots
Big rival game heating up the start of the season.
The Dolphins take the field in hopes the Patriots don't beat them too bad, but it'll happen. Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush are the only two legitimate threats the team has, and that won't be nearly enough to take New England.
Prediction: Patriots win 45-7
Week 12: @ Atlanta Falcons
The newly rostered Minnesota Vikings won't be looking forward to this matchup.
The Vikings struggled a lot in 2010, but with McNabb now under center, they have a better chance at making things happen.
However, I'm not sure it'll be in Week 12, because the Vikings travel way south for this one. The Falcons are a good team, especially at home.
Prediction: Falcons win 28-24
New England Patriots
Week 10: @ New York Jets
Ahhh, one of the best rivalries in the NFL.
These two teams hate each other with a passion, and it's always great watch them duke it out. Rex Ryan already thinks he can crack the Pats' code, but we'll see in Week 10.
The two face first in Week 5, but when the Patriots are away, they're never the same.
Prediction: Jets win 17-13
New Orleans Saints
Week 16: Atlanta Falcons
The NFC South rivals play a good one to end the season.
They split the season matchup last year 1-1, and will look this year to be winners of the NFC. But with the Falcons, Eagles and Packers in the way, it might be a little harder than expected.
The Saints didn't really do much this offseason in free agency, and that may come back to haunt them.
Prediction: Falcons win 24-21
New York Giants
Week 16: @ New York Jets
This one should be interesting—a true New York matchup.
The Giants are a team that always have to depend on the end of the season if they want to make the playoffs again, and this is not a good thing for them.
The Giants rarely ever are so dominant that they don't need to start their starters in Week 16, but against the Jets with the playoffs on the line—good luck.
Prediction: Jets win 31-18
New York Jets
Week 15: @ Philadelphia Eagles
Usually the Jets don't have much competition when it comes to another solid defense, but they may have met their match for the season.
The Jets play the Ravens in Week 4, but that game is way too early for it to have an effect on them. If the Eagles can take down the Jets, you can bet their jets will be on and these Jets will surely stutter. To make matters worse, the Jets are away in Philadelphia where the most cruel and loud fans come to watch.
Prediction: Eagles win 27-17
Week 4: New England Patriots
Yet again, another team poised for destruction against the Patriots. Over the past couple of years, the Raiders have been a joke, but have improved greatly last year.
With Jason Campbell leading the team, they are seemingly turning in a positive direction. However, the Patriots are simply too good for the Raiders to defeat.
Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, if not the best, and a team that just lost their best defender in Nnamdi Asomugha will feel the wrath of Brady's arm.
Prediction: Patriots win 34-17
Week 15: New York Jets
This slide is repetitive and goes along with the Jets slide just two clicks ago, but it's true. While I was quick to say the Patriots were the most dreaded matchup for the Eagles, I'd have to sink in with the Jets as my final decision.
The Jets have a better defense than the Patriots, and the Eagles will be playing for a spot in the playoffs as the season ends. This late matchup will tell a lot about the two teams, and it'll be important.
Prediction: Eagles win 27-17
Week 8: New England Patriots
Nothing like a good ole AFC matchup. These two teams are always at the top of their game and never seem to disappoint.
With Peyton Manning out for possibly the entire year, the Colts are looking to be out of the AFC race, making the competition between theses two teams even more competitive.
The Steelers are defined by their stellar defense while the Patriots are known for their powerful offense. However, defense wins championships.
Prediction: Steelers win 21-17
San Diego Chargers
Week 7: @New York Jets
The Chargers are a really strong team and have the greatest offense in the league. Philip Rivers at quarterback always puts up huge numbers every season, and he will face a tough defense in the New York Jets.
The Jets defense is always lights-out and known for shutting down the best of the best, and the Chargers are in for a hell of a game if they don't crack the code to the Jets defense.
Once again, defense wins championships and the Chargers probably aren't thrilled to see this game approaching.
Prediction: Jets win 27-17
San Francisco 49ers
Week 4: @ Philadelphia Eagles
The 49ers haven't been a team included in the discussion about "top teams" in the NFL is quite some time. They have multiple holes and gaps on the team that leave them disappointed year after year.
When Week 4 comes, the 49ers will dread waking up that Sunday. They face the Philadelphia Eagles, a deadly team on both sides of the ball. The Eagles defense will shut out the limited options the 49ers do have on offense, and all the big names on the Eagles offense will be too much for the 49ers to handle.
Two words: too much.
Prediction: Eagles win 38-16
Week 4: Atlanta Falcons
Two completely different teams, two completely different scores for the outcome.
The Seahawks no longer have Matt Hasselbeck under center, and even though people think that's best, I think they will miss him greatly. Everyone has seen that big upset in last year's Wild Card Round of the Seahawks vs. the Saints. I don't think an upset like that will happen here.
The Falcons and Matt Ryan want to start off the year strong, and they won't let the Seahawks stop them. Be scared Tarvaris Jackson, be very scared.
Prediction: Falcons win 30-13
St. Louis Rams
Week 6: @ Green Bay Packers
No team likes to play the Super Bowl champs, especially a team looking to make the playoffs.
The case for the Rams is a tough one; they face the Packers after their bye week, at Lambeau Field. This mid-October game will be a scary thing for the Rams and their young players.
Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk will be all over the Rams as they give them an old-fashioned whipping.
Prediction: Packers win 20-3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 17: Atlanta Falcons
Surprisingly, the Buccaneers opened a lot of eyes around the league last year and went 10-6 in the NFC. Unfortunately for them, they did not make the playoffs and will need to top last season's performance if they don't want to be considered a fluke.
In last year's matchup, the Bucs lost to the Falcons both times in their two meetings. I expect a similar situation in 2011.
Prediction: Falcons win 24-20
Week 2: Baltimore Ravens
Nothing like getting manhandled early in the year to crush your hopes of having a good year.
The Titans are far from being a perfect team. They faced many issues last year, and haven't appeared to solve them. The big addition to the team is QB Matt Hasselbeck, but they also lost Randy Moss and Jason Babin.
Face it: The Titans are doomed. If Kenny Britt can stay on the field, they may have a decent season. The Ravens defense will have a field day.
Prediction: Ravens win 27-9
Week 14: New England Patriots
Ending this list is, yet again, a team dreading the New England Patriots.
The Redskins are a team in a very tough division—the NFC East. They lost quarterback Donovan McNabb, and have Rex Grossman and John Beck...yeah.
This will not be a good year in Washington, and the Patriots are a team ready to destroy any weakness in their path.
Prediction: Patriots win 30-10