2009 NFL Season Schedule: 17 Games to Watch

Matt King@TheRealMattKingFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 4:   Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Wild Card playoff game on January 4,2009 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

With the NFL offseason starting to heat up, it's time to look ahead to the games you should be marking on your calendars.

Here are the top games each week that you should have circled:

Week 1

Tennessee at Pittsburgh

The first game of the 2009 NFL season. This game should already be on your radar even if it wasn't a matchup between the two top AFC teams from last year.

These defensive giants have a lot to prove this year. The Steelers need to prove that they can successfully defend their title. The Titans need to redeem themselves from a one-and-done playoff appearance last year with the top seed.

Week 2

New York Giants at Dallas

It seems like every year the Cowboys have the pieces for a championship team, but they have yet to find a way to put everything together. Will this be the year? An early test against the best team in the NFC last year also looking to redeem themselves from an early exit.

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New York had better win that game, or this guy is going to be really upset...

Week 3

Atlanta at New England

The heir apparent to Tom Brady's throne, Matt Ryan, comes into New England with a bevy of weapons at his disposal.

Michael Turner has an entire year of starting experience under his belt and will look to be more consistent, Roddy White is turning into on of the most dependable receivers in the game, and Tony Gonzalez joins the team with still plenty of gas in his tank.

Week 4

Green Bay at Minnesota

This already-heated rivalry would amp up approximately 500,000,000 times if a Mr. Brett Favre becomes the Vikings' new quarterback.

That is must-see TV right there.

Week 5

Pittsburgh at Detroit

The newest Lions' savior, Matthew Stafford, gets a crash course in NFL defenses this week, going against the Steeler's new iron curtain. Will he rise to the challenge, or will he spend more time on his back than Kim Kardashian?

Week 6

Denver at San Diego

It seems like every time these teams meet, we get a classic game. We are almost assured of three things: Philip Rivers will be intense, Josh McDaniels will try to trade Brandon Marshall at halftime, and Ed Hochuli will not officiate.

Week 7

Philadelphia at Washington

Can Donovan McNabb's Eagles build off of last year's surprising playoff run? Will Jason Campbell finally shake off the giant insult of the Redskins expressing interest in a better quarterback than him? These questions need answers.

Week 8

Carolina at Arizona

A rematch of the NFC Divisional Playoffs where the Cardinals shocked the red-hot Panthers on their path to the Super Bowl.

If Jake Delhomme can keep it under five interceptions, this might be a good one to watch.

Week 9

Miami at New England

Remember how much the Dolphins' Wildcat offense gave the Patriots fits last year? I'm assuming that Bill Belichick spent an entire month this offseason holed away in a cave somewhere, figuring out how to destroy Miami for making him look so foolish.

Either way, it should be fun to watch.

Week 10

Chicago at San Francisco

Oh, wait, I'm sorry. This is the first game NFL Network took this year. So chances are you won't be able to watch it at all.

Let's try this one instead.

Jacksonville at New York Jets

A matchup that potentially pits the always-underrated quarterback, David Garrard, against one that has more hype coming in than the iPhone.

At Week 10, how will Mark Sanchez handle the New York pressure cooker up to this point?

Week 11

Indianapolis at Baltimore

At one point in time, this was the matchup of the offensive juggernaut against the defensive kings. But both squads are getting a little bit older. The Ravens still have some of the fire and some younger weapons, and the Colts always have the ability to put together a special drive or two.

Last year Peyton Manning dragged a beat-up Colts team to the playoffs. Let's see what happens if they get healthy again.

Week 12

Cleveland at Cincinnati

The Battle For Ohio! These perennial underachievers are both looking to make their way out of the NFL dregs and back into the spotlight somehow. Will Brady Quinn be able to do that for Cleveland? Will Chad Ochocinco become the player he used to be, when he was a distraction and a great player, instead of just a distraction now?

Week 13

New Orleans at Washington

This seems like as good of a time as any to watch Reggie Bush and try to decide if he will ever become anything like we had all hoped, or if we can just call it a day and label him as a bust. It's one of the most intriguing questions I have about this season.

Week 14

Philadelphia at New York Giants

These teams don't like each other. That always makes for great football. Manning vs. McNabb is a great matchup too.

Week 15

New England at Buffalo

Two division rivals going up against each other. Will New England continue to be dominant now that Brady is back? Or will Buffalo figure out a way to keep playing strong instead of fading halfway through the season.

Oh, and T.O. vs. Moss.

Week 16

Houston at Miami

As the season starts to come to a close, the best teams have already secured their spot in the playoffs. It's the fringe teams that will be fighting the hardest to get in. Houston and Miami are two teams that will probably be fighting for their playoff lives at this point.

Week 17

Kansas City at Denver

Josh McDaniels will come up against Matt Cassel, the quarterback he wanted in Denver. Instead he ended up with Kyle Orton. Will that offseason decision cost his team a shot at the playoffs, or will they be right in the thick of things at the end of the year?

Football fans, keep those calendars handy and the hot wings hot. It's going to be an exciting year.