NFL Schedule: 7 Biggest Matchups of the Season

James ToljCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2011

NFL Schedule: 7 Biggest Matchups of the Season

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    Even if your team isn't playing, everyone can enjoy a good matchup.

    Whether it's a divisional race, a high-scoring or defensive game, no one wants to miss the game of the week.

    And if you won't watch any other team but your own, you are seriously out of luck on the bye week. I mean, there isn't a whole lot to watch on Sunday afternoon.

    Here are a few games that should be worth watching regardless of your team allegiance.

New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers

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    Starting off the NFL regular season this Thursday night is a game between the Saints and Packers at Lambeau Field.

    The matchup features two of the best quarterbacks in the game, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, but the game gives NFL fans much more to watch than a simple quarterback competition.

    The Saints' rookie running back and former Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, will set out to prove just how good he really is. And tight end Jimmy Graham will get a chance to impress without Jeremy Shockey stealing away receptions from the second-year player.

    Graham won't be the only tight end looking to show off his talent as the Packers' Jermichael Finley sets out to have the spectacular season that most thought he would have before a injury ended last season for him.

    With both teams having a good chance of heading to the NFC Championship game and beyond, the NFL season opener couldn't be any more exciting.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

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    Another great Week 1 matchup, the first time the Steelers go to M&T Bank stadium to see the Ravens. These two are the obvious favorites in the AFC North, and both have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

    Joe Flacco will have to get used to two of his favorite targets leaving town though, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. With two young tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pita, as well as a new wide receiver in Lee Evans, Flacco and the Ravens shouldn't have a problem finding their way on offense.

    Ben Roethlisberger will have the opportunity to play a complete season, but even after sitting out a few games last year, Roethlisberger still managed to lead his team to the Super Bowl. The offense is intact and the team will look just as good as they did in their playoff run.

    Both defenses are poised for a great year as well, so even though the Ravens and Steelers should have solid offensives this year, the matchup will be a low-scoring affair.

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

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    Who doesn't enjoy seeing the personality differences at work when the Jets play the Patriots? Well, in Week 5, we will all get the chance to do so when the Jets go into Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots.

    A hard-nosed defensive squad in the Jets are facing the offensive juggernaut in the Patriots. A loud and boisterous Rex Ryan versus a calm and quiet Bill Belichick.

    So what team will prevail? Will this game look like the regular season beatdown by the Patriots, or will the Jets grind a victory out like they did in the playoffs?

    Add a little Chad Ochocinco and mix in some Plaxico Burress, and this is going to be one heck of a game.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Can Cowboys defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, back up what he said about beating the Eagles? 

    Fans will find out in Week 8 as the Eagles take on the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

    With all the offseason acquisitions of the Eagles, and the near silent offseason of the Cowboys, It will be interesting to see if these teams are a lot closer in talent than most people think.

    With Tony Romo back to lead the Cowboys charge and Michael Vick under center for the Eagles, this game is by far the best NFC East matchup. While New York Giants and Washington Redskins fans may disagree, there is a good possibility that the two games between the Eagles and Cowboys could decide who comes out of the NFC East on top.

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    I had to add when the Patriots head to Lincoln Financial to face the Eagles in Week 12  to the list.

    Another great quarterback bout, the NFC vs. AFC matchup will be fun to watch, and you never know, it could be a Super Bowl preview.

    Tom Brady heads in to an extremely tough road atmosphere, and to add to that, he is facing a team that is stacked. Will Brady be able to pick apart the Eagles trio of star cornerbacks? Or will Michael Vick and the Eagles just have too much firepower for the Patriots to stop?

New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts

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    First, let me say that I'm not a Patriots fan, but Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, need I say more?

    The two best quarterbacks in the game face each other as the Colts head into Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots in Week 13.

    What is even better is that this game could have serious playoff implications, but we will just have to wait and see about that.

    I certainly can't tell the future, but If I had to bet, I would put my money on a shootout.

Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints

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    In Week 16, the Atlanta Falcons travel to the Superdome to take on the Saints on Monday night. This is the second time the teams see each other this season.

    Most people know just how good the Falcons were at home last year, but can they head to New Orleans and take out Drew Brees and the Saints? They will probably need to if they want to win the NFC South.

    While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the NFL's great up and coming teams, the NFC South is still a two-team race.

Just Missed

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    Week 2: San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots

    Week 3: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

    Week 8: San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City

    Week 11: Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams

    Week 12: San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens (Brother v. Brother)

    Week 14: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

    Week 16: New York Jets @ New York Giants

    Week 17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons