NFL Huge Games: 10 Remaining Games That Are Suddenly Looming Large
While we have already seen some big games early this season, there are many more to come.
I'll point out 10 of these huge matchups and discuss why they are so important to the respective teams.
While it's still early, one loss can send a season in a downward spiral. The Philadelphia Eagles have already started to fall—will they be able to rebound?
Will the Green Bay Packers continue to dominate en route to another Super Bowl victory?
Week 6 : Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
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Surprisingly, the Redskins are atop the NFC East.
Even more shocking is that the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in last.
While I'm not sure Washington is as good as their record, a win here would be astronomical.
A loss for the Eagles would have them scrambling just to grab a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. I don't see both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants falling out of this divisional race.
If the Eagles are going to turn this season around, it has to start with a win in Washington. On the other hand, the Redskins have to win this game at home.
If not, then I will quote Denny Green.
Week 6: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
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This game is a battle of two under-achievers in the AFC.
The Ravens always seem to be a legitimate threat in the regular season, only to fall flat on their collective faces in the playoffs.
Joe Flacco, specifically, falls apart when the games matter most.
The Houston Texans are preseason favorites every year and fail to make the playoffs. This team is too talented on both sides of the ball to miss the playoffs yet again—especially with beat-up divisional opponents.
The loss of Mario Williams is a fatal blow, but there is no reason this team should miss the playoffs.
While a loss wouldn't kill either team, a win would be huge on both sides.
Week 7: San Diego Chargers at New York Jets
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The San Diego Chargers are another team that has come up short all too often in the postseason.
With the Oakland Raiders playing well, a win here would mean a lot.
The New York Jets are in desperate need of a win, as they risk falling even further back in the AFC East.
Both the New England Patriots and the upstart Buffalo Bills look to be firing on all cylinders. The AFC is loaded with good teams, and a Wild Card will be hard to earn.
I see the Ravens or Steelers taking one of the two spots for sure—the other will need at least 10 wins.
If the Jets lose this game, I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are going to watch the playoffs from home.
Week 7: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
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Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons are melting—somebody get a mop!
At 2-3, a loss for the Falcons would all but guarantee the New Orleans Saints the NFC South crown.
They are simply playing too well for the Falcons to catch them should they lose this game. The Saints have the Colts the same week—an almost certain win.
A win for the Detroit Lions is much-needed with Green Bay also undefeated thus far. This is a game the Lions should win if they are ready to take the next step toward the playoffs.
Both teams have a lot to prove.
Week 8: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots are two of the best franchises in the NFL.
With each team in a close divisional battle, each loss could be the difference in a playoff spot.
New England needs a win to keep pace with the Bills, and Pittsburgh can't afford to fall any farther behind the Baltimore Ravens.
Both The Steelers and the Patriots lost to these teams early, so the tie-breakers are already in play in both divisions.
These answers will determine the outcome of this game.
Week 8: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
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Another game that could decide the NFC East.
Neither of these teams can afford to lose this game—or any game for that matter.
Nine games could end up being enough to win the division, depending upon how well the Washington Redskins continue to play.
I'm not sold on any of the teams in the NFC East being good enough to win the NFC, but somebody has to win the division.
Will it be one of these two struggling teams that steps up, or will The Redskins hang on?
Week 9: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
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Who thought the New York Jets would be in a must-win situation with the Buffalo Bills?
That's right folks—the Bills are leading the AFC East!
This very game will go a long way toward determining who wins this tough division.
The young Bills are playing with a swagger the Jets lack. If the Jets expect to win this game, they are going to have to earn it.
The Bills don't quit anymore, as evidenced by their stunning come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots.
The Jets must win this game.
Week 9: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Baltimore Ravens won the battle, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown they can win the war.
The Steelers know how to win when it matters, especially against this Ravens team.
A loss here would leave the Steelers fighting for a Wild Card berth. The AFC North would be out of reach, and possibly the playoffs altogether.
Can the Ravens finally overtake the Steelers, or will experience win out yet again?
If the Steelers offensive line can come together, there is no reason why Pittsburgh can't win this game.
The return of Max Starks looked to be huge against the Tennessee Titans this past weekend.
Week 10: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
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Al Davis was watching over the Oakland Raiders last weekend. Will he be in San Diego?
The Raiders swept the AFC West last season and have shown some promise so far in 2011. If they can continue this success, they may finally return to the postseason.
San Diego is the better team overall, but they have to prove it on the field. The Raiders have a big opportunity in front of them.
Whether or not they take advantage of it is another question.
Week 10: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
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This is a game Atlanta must win to be mentioned with elite teams in the NFL.
As much as we hear about the Falcons' potential on TV each week, you would think they led the division. They have all the talent in the world, especially on offense.
Two legitimate No. 1 wide receivers, a franchise QB, a Hall of Fame tight end and a stud running back.
And then we have a Saints team that refuses to go away.
As long as Drew Brees is under center, the sky is the limit for this team.
I put him in the same category as Peyton Manning, in that the Saints would go nowhere without him.