Fantasy Football News

Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 Schedule Released: 25 Games to Watch this Season

As far as the offseason goes, last night marked the first time that football fans could actually get a feel for how the 2013 regular season will unfold. Sure, the bulk of off-season moves have been made and we have started to get an early look out how the depth charts will look. But after the release of the complete 2013 schedule last night on NFL Network, coaches, players and fans alike can actually see who they will be facing from week to week.

With the draft still nearly a week away, this is as close as we've gotten to football excitement in the last month or so. And trust us, there are plenty of games lined up to get your adrenaline pumping. We've outlined the best 25 games to look for this coming season, so that you wouldn't have to.

Week 1

Defending Champions Return to Mile-High

Due to a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles, the defending champion Ravens will be forced to start the season on the road. But that just makes this even more exciting, because the two teams faced off at Mile High in the AFC Divisional game in January. What more could you ask for than a primetime rematch to start the season?

The Pack Get Another Shot at Kaepernick

Remember when second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick lit up the Packers defense for a record-breaking 181 rushing yards in a 45-31 NFC Divisional round upset? Well, Green Bay will get a shot at redemption when they travel to San Francisco for a rematch on opening day. Fresh off his record contract extension, four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews III will be as ready as ever to show Kaepernick what the Packers are about.

Vick/RGIII, Watt/Rivers in MNF Double-header

What's better than a double-header on Monday Night Football? How about a classic Eagles/Skins showdown, capped with a match-up between Phillip Rivers' Chargers and the defending AFC South champions. Chip Kelly's debut as Philly's head coach and whether or not Robert Griffin III will be recovered and ready for action will be the top headlines of this night. But don't underestimate the second match-up, led by the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. And don't forget the Texans will have linebacker Brian Cushing back in action as well.

Week 2

Manning Brothers Face-off for Third Time Ever

In his nine-year career, little brother Eli Manning has yet to beat older brother Peyton Manning in his two tries. Indianapolis knocked off New York 26-21 to open up the 2006 regular season, and then again four years later, 38-14. Peyton combined for 531 yards, 4 TDs and one interception while completing 45 of his 67 pass attempts (67%). Eli may have more rings than his older brother, but when it comes to one-on-one match-ups, Peyton owns his little brother. This will be the first time the two play each other with Peyton as a Bronco.
Week 3

Andy Reid Returns to Philadelphia

After spending 14 seasons as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Andy Reid will make his return to Philly as the Kansas City Chiefs' coach. Reid isn't the only headline of this game, however. Newly-acquired quarterback Alex Smith will get his chance to prove to everyone that he deserves to be a starting quarterback in the league, and that he can be the Chiefs' franchise QB at the age of 28. The Smith vs. Michael Vick match-up will surely add a little spice to this already exciting match-up, despite Kansas City's porous 2012 effort. Did I mention that the game is a primetime Thursday night showdown?

Defending Champions Host Ed Reed and Texans

Baltimore was forced to part ways with future Hall of Fame free safety Ed Reed shortly after capturing the franchise's second Super Bowl championship this past winter. Reed signed a three-year deal with the AFC South champion Houston Texans, an immediate upgrade to an already stingy defense. He's lost a step or two, but Reed's presence on the field alone is enough to make an impact on Houston's defensive unit. Now he'll get to return to Baltimore and face his old teammates in a Week 3 match-up.

Week 4

Brady, Ryan in a Primetime Shootout

New England and Atlanta went a combined 25-7 last season, and were both ranked in the top seven in terms of scoring offenses. The addition of veteran running back Steven Jackson for the Falcons will likely add a dimension to Atlanta's high-powered offense, and this Sunday night match-up could easily wind up coming down to the final two minutes. I'd expect a 35-40+ point performance from each team, especially when you consider both defenses were ranked in the bottom half in passing defense last season.

Week 5

J.J. Watt vs. Aldon Smith: Niners Host Texans on Sunday Night

Most of the games that will be talked about on this list revolves around top offenses. And, while both the Niners and Texans have great offenses, they will not be the ones capturing headlines in this game. At least we don't think so. Third-year pass-rushing phenoms J.J. Watt––defending Defensive Player of the Year––and Aldon Smith will take that crown in this primetime showdown. The two freakishly athletic defensive ends/outside linebackers have been wreaking havoc for their respective teams ever since entering the league in 2011. Smith, outside linebacker for the 49ers, put up 14.0 and 19.5 sack seasons, combining for 33.5 in his 32 games while Watt has accounted for 26.0 (league-leading 20.5 in 2012) at defensive end for the Texans. Talk about production on the defensive side of things.
Week 6

RGIII, Romo Part III

Hopefully Robert Griffin III will be in good condition by Week 6 of this season, and we'll get the chance to see the Skins and Cowboys renew its storied rivalry in great fashion. With Tony Romo celebrating his brand-new contract, I think we'll see his best season yet in 2013. Dallas/Washington games are normally great match-ups, but I have a feeling these two games this year may exceed 2012's. Griffin is looking to add on to his 2-0 career record against Dallas.

Brees, Saints Travel to Foxboro

Clearly the top-tier quarterbacks make the best and most exciting match-ups when they face off with each other. With Sean Payton returning to the sidelines, look for the Saints to get right back into the NFC playoff hunt and for them to give the Patriots a run for their money when they travel to Foxboro in the beginning of October.

Week 7

Peyton Manning Returns to Indy for First Time since Leaving for the Broncos

So far I don't think the NFL could have done a better job at scheduling games this season. Between the AFC Divisional round rematch, Manning brother showdown, Reid's return to Philly, Reed's return to Baltimore and now Peyton's return to Indianapolis, there are certainly more than just a handful of memorable match-ups. Manning will always be a Colt in the eyes of football fanatics, but the fact that the Super Bowl champ took the Broncos to a 13-3 record at the age of 36 further adds to this Week 7 showdown in Indy. The Colts past (Manning) vs. the Colts future (Luck).

Week 8

New Viking Greg Jennings Makes his Return to Lambeau

What's better than a late-October Sunday night game at Lambeau Field? How about a Minnesota/Green Bay showdown with Pro Bowl wide receiver facing his former teammates? It'll be interesting to see how Packer Nation reacts to the betrayal Jennings displayed this offseason by signing with their arch-nemesis. It'll also be interesting to see how Minnesota's offense fares with either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel under center. Adrian Peterson will, of course, continue to be the cornerstone of the Vikings offense though, obviously. Maybe he'll drop another 200 rushing yards on Green Bay's defense?
Week 9

Luck vs. Schaub in AFC South Showdown

We're starting to see a theme here aren't we? The primetime slates are always saved for the best games, and Week 9's Sunday night match-up between the two AFC South playoff teams from last year is no different. Second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is looking to improve on his consistent rookie campaign in which he took the Colts on an 11-win season, while Matt Schaub is coming off his second 4,000 yard passing season.

Week 10

Seattle Takes on Atlanta in NFC Divisional Round Rematch

Here's Russell Wilson's time for redemption against the Falcons, who knocked him and his Seahawks out after a failed comeback attempt. Given he doesn't suffer a sophomore slump (not likely), I think he'll give the Falcons a run for his money in this mid-season showdown. The addition of wideout Percy Harvin is sure to do wonders for this offense and possibly even put them over the top this coming season.

Week 11

Harvin Faces Vikings in a New Uni

Former Minnesota Viking Percy Harvin finally got his wish, getting traded to the Seattle Seahawks this off-season. Harvin and his new team will face Minnesota at home in mid-November in what will hopefully be a match-up between two NFC playoff contenders at that point in time. Harvin, like stated earlier, will be a great addition to Seattle's offense if he can play up to his potential. I'd expect a breakout season from him as long as he can stay healthy and, who knows, maybe we'll witness his first 1,000 yard season this year.

Rodgers Gets Another Shot at Eli Manning

Eli is 1-3 against the Packers in his career during the regular season, but in postseason games he's 2-0 against them. And, frankly, I believe that this Week 11 meeting will have a postseason feel to it, especially if the Giants are floating around .500 at the time of the game. In a must-win situation, the Giants will show up ready to play and we could see another shocking Giants upset, as we did in the 2007 and 2011 postseason.
Week 12

Manning/Welker Take on Brady, Gronk in New England

We could be nearing the end of the classic Manning/Brady showdowns, so lets enjoy them while we can. The addition of Wes Welker to the Broncos just makes this game that much better. I'm hoping to see Welker stick it to his former team and breakout out for 12+ catches for 100 yards and a couple of TDs against Brady, who is now without his favorite target. Denver at New England in Foxboro on a Sunday night in November. What a game.

Week 13

Heavy-duty Turkey Day: Steelers/Ravens Cap Thanksgiving Slate of Games

No matter what these two teams are doing with their respective seasons, they always put on a great show when they take the field to go head-to-head. Lately they've been getting more and more primetime games, but this year they will be the featured game on Thanksgiving day. Wow. Turkey, family and a Steelers/Ravens primetime match-up in Baltimore. What a great way to end one of America's best holidays.

Week 14

Seahawks, Niners Throw down in a Late Postseason Push

Both the Seahawks and the 49ers (NFC's defending champs) are favorites in the conference this year. Both sharing the NFC West, a Week 14 match-up is likely to be legendary this season. Just a couple of years ago the West was an embarrassment to the league, but now they are two of the conference's strongest teams. Both with young, strong-running quarterbacks at the helm and strong defenses on the opposite side of the ball, these two teams are so much alike in so many different ways. Both 2013 meetings between the 'Hawks and Niners will be great to watch, but this one in San Fran in particular.

Two MVP Candidates Attempt to Make their Cases

We obviously have no idea if Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers will, in fact, be MVP candidates at the time of their Week 14 meeting as the headline above suggests. But based on their skill set, accomplishments and recent past, it's a pretty solid prediction. Both of these offenses are great, but improved defensive play from each side could make this game just that much more special this year. The game could go either way.

Week 15

Rodgers, Pack Travel to Dallas to Play Cowboys

For as late in the season as this is, you'd think there'd by a couple of better match-ups to watch this week. But I'd say that Aaron Rodgers traveling to Cowboys Stadium to play Tony Romo's Cowboys is the best Week 15 match-up available. Hopefully this December will be a bit different from recent Decembers and Romo will make a late-season push to make the NFC postseason. If not, then this one could end up being one-sided in favor of the Packers.

New York Takes on Seattle, Looking to Re-Capture Control of NFC East

I've noticed we've included quite a few Seahawks games in this article, but I guess I just can't help myself. Seattle is a fun squad to watch, and second-year quarterback Russell Wilson is only going to get better as he progresses each year. Add in Pro Bowl skittle monster Marshawn Lynch and you've got quite the tandem coming out of Seattle. Don't expect the Giants to just sit back and let the Redskins take over the NFC East, either. I'm fully expecting the Giants to have a bounce-back season and be in the postseason running by the time this Week 15 match-up comes around. Which could be the reason this game makes the list of 25.
Week 16

AFC Championship Rematch: Defending Champion Ravens Host Patriots

These two teams have faced off in the last two AFC Championship games, both in Foxboro. The score in those two match-ups is currently Patriots: 1, Ravens: 1. The Ravens will now have the chance to host the Patriots for the first time since last September (Baltimore won 31-30 thanks to a last-second 27-yard Justin Tucker field goal). It's almost always an instant classic any time these two teams step onto the field. At least in the last couple of seasons anyway.

NFC Championship Rematch: Niners Host Falcons

Ah I see what you did here, Commish. Considering Week 17 games are reserved for division match-ups only, you used Week 16 to allow teams for redemption and scheduled rematches for both of the Conference Championships from the 2012-13 postseason. Smart move, very smart move. Especially since both games will take place in primetime (Sunday and Monday night). Matt Ryan and returning future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez will get the opportunity to stick it to the Niners after they came away with a slick 28-24 victory and a Super Bowl appearance last January.

Week 17

Griffin Looks for Redemption over Eli Manning's Giants

Remember the last time RGIII and his Redskins visited the New Meadowlands? Griffin's 30-yard touchdown pass to veteran WR Santana Moss gave the Skins a 23-20 lead and appeared to seal a Week 7 victory over Eli Manning and the Giants. Well, that is, until Eli connected on a 77-yard touchdown pass to the salsa-dancing Pro Bowl WR Victor Cruz for a shocking 27-23 victory, stealing the game right out of the hands of the rookie tandem of Griffin (258 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Alfred Morris (120 rushing yards). Well the Skins will likely keep that in the back of their minds when they step out onto the field in this Week 17 finale.

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Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of other exciting match-ups set to come our way this coming season. I just didn't have the time to include every single little one, so I did my best to pick out the very best from each week.

If you feel there are better games to circle in our weekly calendars, don't hesitate to inform us in the comment section below.

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