For NFL fans, the summers are usually pretty long.
I don't know about you guys, but I am sort of ready for the action to kick-off right now, not in September. But, nonetheless, we are forced to play the waiting game.
While you are attempting to pass the time, I came up with a list of 10 games to watch this upcoming season. Enjoy!
Week 1: MIN @ NO
This game alone may be one of the main reasons Favre is leaning towards returning for another year. What better way to start off the season than to get a shot at going in to the defending champs' dome and giving them a beating.
You know Rex Ryan has this game circled on his calendar.
Not only does the second year head coach get to face his former employer, but this game will also provide intriguing match ups between last year's top ranked defense (Jets) and last season's fifth ranked rushing offense, led by little man Ray Rice.
To top it all off, the game will be the first game of a Monday Night doubleheader on ESPN.
Week 2: NYG @ IND
The two Manning brothers have gone head-to-head only once in their careers, back in week one of the 2006 regular season. Peyton, the elder of the two, came out on top in the 26-21 thriller.
Just like in '06, Peyton and Eli will most definitely be the center of attention in this week two showdown, so I would expect plenty of passing, and a high-scoring affair in front of the crowd inside Indy's Lucas Oil Stadium. The fact that the game will be in primetime will only add to the hype.
Week 5: MIN @ NYJ
Favre/Sidney Rice vs. Revis, Peterson vs. Ryan's hard-hitting D, Jared Allen vs. second-year QB Mark Sanchez. All three of those match ups should be getting you pumped for this week five showdown between AFC's runner up and the NFC's runner up. Once again, in primetime.
This game marks the beginning of a tough road ahead of Dallas. After this game between 'America's Team' and Childress's Vikings, Dallas plays five division games and match ups with Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona. If Dallas wants to make a run, they will have to play well against Jared Allen and Co. in this week six smack down in the Metrodome.
Week 8: PIT @ NO
It will be interesting to see how Big Ben plays after returning from his suspension. Much like Dallas, the Steelers will have to win this game if they expect to make a run and this will surely be the perfect test for Pittsburgh's defense. Brees vs. Polamalu will make this Sunday Night game a must-see.
Week 9: DAL @ GB
A shootout between Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers, what more could you ask for? Despite figures such as Demarcus Ware and Charles Woodson on the defensive side of the ball, I would expect a high-scoring, back-and-forth game between these two pass-oriented teams. Seems to me we will need to keep our Sunday night's free this fall.
By now many of you are probably noticing a bit of a pattern. Many of these games on my list involve great head-to-head quarterback showdowns, and this one is no different. We always witness a show every time Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger step on to the field against each other. If Wes Welker is back in the lineup by the time week 10 rolls around this game could get just that much more interesting.
Week 11: IND @ NE
Coach Belichick's gaff in last year's New England/Indy game, which costed him a big ol' W, could be one of the biggest headlines heading in to this year's Brady/Manning Bowl. No need to hype this game up too much more really, the Patriots and Colts always play a great game.
Week 12: SD @ IND
This game will test Indy's midseason durability as they will be coming off an intense road game against the Pats, and will play San Diego and Dallas in back-to-back weeks. Meaning, yes, three straight 2009 playoff teams. I expect yet another great game between these two teams.
Week 13: PIT @ BAL
With strong safety Troy Polamalu back in Pittsburgh's lineup, hopefully as healthy as ever, the Steelers defense should be back to their 2008 form. With Joe Flacco's maturity, and another weapon in his arsenal (Anquan Boldin), we could see a little firepower on the offensive side of the ball rather than just the normal defensive struggle we see between these two teams.
Only thing that will make this late-season game between two playoff contenders is if it were being played in Lambeau. But, good news is it will still most likely be played in very cold weather in Foxboro. There's a chance one of these two teams could already have a playoff spot locked up, but if not, we will see a great game between two Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Week 17: DAL @ PHI
Thanks to commissioner Goodell, all week 17 games will be between division rivals. I don't know about everyone else, but I love the idea. Dallas and Philly always play tough against each other. Even without McNabb in the picture, we will be able to witness a great game between two teams who aren't very fond of each other.
Keep your calendars open this fall and you will see some great football being played.