The Most Exciting NFL Game for Each Remaining Week of the 2011 Season
There are six weeks left in the NFL season and still much to be decided.
Will the Green Bay Packers go undefeated? Who will come out of the NFC East?
How good are the San Francisco 49ers? Can Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to an AFC West title?
All of these questions will be answered within the next six weeks and should set up an exciting end to an already exciting and surprising NFL season.
But what are the most exciting games? I can't tell you with any certainty which ones will be the most exciting, but based on records, contrasting styles and the fight for postseason spots, I can take a good ballpark guess for each week.
Let's take a look.
Week 12: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
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Week 12 has so many do-or-die games.
The loser of the Bills-Jets game is out of the postseason.
Detroit and Green Bay meet for the first time this season Thanksgiving afternoon. In fact, this is probably the best Thanksgiving Day slate I've seen in a long time. Detroit versus Green Bay kicks it off, followed by a Dallas versus Miami matchup that will be better than anyone would've thought a few weeks ago; the day then is capped off by 49ers versus Ravens.
Sometimes you need a little bit of luck with the schedule, and I'm sure the NFL still wishes the Dolphins had at least two more victories (which they could have), but this season the NFL won't have any real Thanksgiving "Tricks."
Despite how great those three games look, as well as the do-or-die nature of Bills versus Jets, Broncos versus Chargers gets the nod Week 12.
These two teams last met Week 5. During that game San Diego went up 26-10 in the fourth quarter when Tim Tebow made an appearance. Tebow brought the Broncos to within two before the Chargers pulled out a 29-24 win in Denver.
Since that game, Denver has gone 4-1, while San Diego has gone 0-5.
This game will see Tebow, who is 4-1 since appearing in that game and taking the Broncos' starting quarterback job for good, start against the Chargers, who are 4-6 and in dire need of a win to keep up not only with division leader Oakland, but the Broncos as well.
A loss practically keeps San Diego out of the playoffs, while a Denver win might not only help it keep pace with the Raiders, but possibly even tie them (Oakland plays Chicago, which won't have Jay Cutler but will still have Matt Forte and its defense).
Expect a "slobber-knocker" in San Diego this Sunday.
Week 13: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
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Come Week 13, who's interested in seeing a potential NFC Wild Card Round preview?
I know I would be.
We won't have to wait for the Wild Card Round to see these two teams duke it out. We'll be able to see it Week 13 when it's guaranteed.
Imagine the fireworks these two offenses can put up.
Week 14: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
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This is the first Cowboys-Giants game of the season.
I still can't believe it either. By Week 13 the Giants will have already played the Eagles twice, while the Cowboys will have already played the Redskins twice.
Both teams are already tied for the lead in the NFC East and could very well still be by Week 14.
These games are always filled with excitement. In fact, stay tuned; you might see it again.
Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers
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Despite the 9-1 record as well as the nice strength of schedule to begin the season, many are discounting the 49ers as products of a weak division. (I still don't see how, as they've only played two games against their NFC West rivals: Week 1 against Seattle and last Sunday against Arizona. Against the rest of the NFL they're 7-2.)
After their Thanksgiving night game against Baltimore, this will be a great test for the 49ers: a Monday night game against the defending AFC champions.
If the 49ers at least go 1-1 against the Ravens and Steelers, they will prove to anyone doubting them (I'm not one of them; I'm convinced they're a good team) that they are for real.
The 49ers will also likely be fighting for home-field advantage in the NFC. Remember, they're still only one game behind Green Bay and could still be in the same position by the time this game rolls around.
Pittsburgh will be fighting for the AFC North as well as home-field advantage in the AFC.
This potential Super Bowl preview on a Monday night should be a good one.
Week 16: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
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Prior to Jay Cutler's injury, I thought the Packers would go 15-1 with this game being the one the Packers lost.
However, I'm not sure what to make of the Bears with Caleb Hanie other than remembering how he put the Bears in a position to win the NFC championship game.
Who was the NFC championship game against? Oh yeah, that's right—the Packers.
Could we see Hanie replicate that at Lambeau Field on Christmas night?
Week 17: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
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I told you we'd see this matchup one more time on this list.
This will be the best and most exciting game to watch on the last day of the NFL season.
Why? It's the best kind of drama: winner take all.
I expect to see the NFC East still knotted up by the time these two teams meet for the second time on Jan. 1. This will once again be a Sunday night game and will be the one everyone will look forward to on the final night of the season.