• Top 10...Bottom 5 (Offseason Edition): Primetime Matchups


    Fifty two NFL games will be broadcast in primetime (or at least nationally) this season, and fifty one of them have been announced barring alterations due to flex scheduling. The Sunday Night matchup in Week 17, of course, will be determined at the end of Week 16.

    Like most of you, I probably haven’t had enough FP in my life these last few months, and I definitely haven’t had any Top 10/Bottom 5 in it. I will return to Tailgating and someone with more time and energy and knowledge will handle this serial’s weekly duties during the season. We’re two weeks away from the Draft and we finally have a season to look forward to and so I’m trying to forecast the best games we’ll all get to see this season. What better way to handle that than in the 10/5 format? It’s a shot in the dark and I hope you enjoy it.

    Oh, and before anyone says anything…


    …because there is only one Patriots games on this list, I did not forget about Tom Brady. I looked at all of their other games, saw that they are playing the Colts, Chargers, Chiefs, and Jets on national television, and concluded that they are going to stomp all of them, probably by an aggregate score of about 158-16. (That Jets home game in October will probably be played in some sort of freakishly early Nor’easter, will be so ugly it makes you question why you like football, and come in with a final of like 16-13. Consequently, it will really bring the Patriots’ scoring average down in those four games.)

    Let’s begin.


    TOP TEN

    1.) Seahawks at 49ers: Thursday, November 27—Let the rest of the country talk about duels between Manning and Brady, this is a game for the connoisseurs.

    2.) Ravens at Saints: Monday, November 24—Two of the premier franchises of the last half-decade and they only play once every four years due to scheduling rules. Put the game in the Superdome and you’ve really got something.

    3.) 49ers at Broncos: Sunday, October 19—Just when the weather starts to get chilly. This is just perfect.


    4.) Steelers at Panthers: Sunday, September 21—We get to find out a lot about both of these teams early in the season.

    5.) Packers at Seahawks: Thursday, September 4—Did you really expect the NFL to send anyone else there to open the year? I mean, other than Ryan Seacrest.


    6.) Chargers at Cardinals: Monday, September 9—There were probably better matchups, but think about how many unwatchable nightcaps the NFL has served up in these MNF doubleheaders in Week 1. This year, it’s a playoff winner against a ten-win team and I want to register my approval.

    7.) Cowboys at Bears: Thursday, December 10—How much you want to bet both of these two historic franchises are ‘in the hunt’ and playing more or less an elimination game on a random Thursday night in December at Soldier Field? A treat, as long as you’re in your living room and not on Lake Shore Drive for it.


    8.) Seahawks at Redskins: Monday, October 6—I’m not going to lie, I’m not bored by the idea of Russell Wilson and RGIII. A relatively rare meeting and the likely Redskins-in-red factor vaulted this one into the top ten.


    9.) Bengals at Patriots: Sunday, October 5—If the AFC North is tight this season, the strength-of-schedule draw of the Pats in Foxboro could have major repercussions late in the season.

    10.) Ravens at Steelers: Sunday, November 2—Not what it was just a couple years ago, really, but they still match up about right and the experience of spending the whole night rooting for an asteroid to hit the earth is familiar and oddly comforting. Or maybe that’s just me.


    HONORABLE MENTION

    Panthers at Eagles: Monday, November 10—Can’t complain about two returning division champions.


    Broncos at Bengals: Monday, December 22—Last Monday Night game of the season and it could determine who plays whom and where in January.

    Packers at Saints: Sunday, October 26—Like points? Also, you did not have a St. Patrick's Day like Rob Ryan.


    Browns at Bengals: Thursday, November 6—Homer pick, you say? My rating is somewhere between 'yeah, sure' and 'absolutely.' I can’t remember the Battle of Ohio being on in primetime, which probably means that it hasn’t been any time since about 1990 or so. Still, these games are usually close and, uh... you can't beat it for orange.

    Redskins at Cowboys: Monday, October 27 and Bears at Packers: Sunday, November 9—Historic, traditional rivals. Always. I mean, damn it, this is how football is supposed to look.


    BOTTOM FIVE

    48.) Steelers at Ravens: Thursday, September 11—One of these is good, two of them is not, and I am not saying anything nice about these teams.


    49.) Five-and-a-half NFC East division games—I know, it’s about marketshares and fanbases and at least these teams aren’t horrible, but it is not the 1980s any more, guys! I accept that I’ll see a disproportionate number of NFC East games every year—the way I accept the flu once it appears inevitable—and one of these is the experimental Saturday game, broadcast (probably) regionally opposite the 49ers and Cardinals. But 80% of the country will see a full half of the NFC East’s divisional contests. I’m not complaining about any one game, I’m complaining about all of them every year for the rest of my life.

    50.) Bears at Jets: Monday, September 22—Let us all pray fervently that Jay Cutler does not sustain his annual injury prior to Week 4. Otherwise, we’re going to look like this.


    51.) Texans at Steelers: Monday, October 20
    , OR Steelers at Titans: Monday, November 17—Take your pick. I’m not beating up on the Steelers here, I’m legitimately wondering why we have to watch the Steelers play Houston and that-team-that-used-to-be-Houston twice in a month on Monday Night Football.

    52.) Titans at Jaguars: Thursday, December 18
    —Everyone’s got to play in one, but at least you don’t have to watch every one. In all seriousness, the Jags are getting buzz as a team on the rise, but by late December, they’ll probably have risen about as high as they will this year. Which is third place.


    DISHONORABLE MENTION

    Chiefs at Raiders: Thursday, November 20—I respect AFC West rivalries, where everyone hates everyone else in the same way that we do in the AFC North or they do in the NFC East and North. I also respect the NFL for putting it on a night when I can watch college football instead.

    Vikings at Packers: Thursday, October 2—I get that this is a real rivalry, but this is going to suck.

    Dolphins at Jets: Monday, December 1—God, ESPN, if we just humor you and tell you that we believe this is a rivalry, will you stop putting it on Monday Night Football?


    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Nickpoleon Folonites.

    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      There's more:



      And:

    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Also this:

    1. wxwax's Avatar
      It may be that even by September 21, everyone will realize that the Panthers are in trouble. The Steelers may have an easy time of it.

      BTW, that photo of the Bears fans with mustaches is a good example of the group effect on perceived excellence. In music, put a very large group of bad singers together, have them sing a song in unison and it will sound pretty good. In a large group all the bad voices balance out and the net effect is in tune and harmonious. It's the principle that choirs are built on.

      Similarly, if we see a group shot of healthy young men, or healthy young women, they will appear more attractive in the aggregate than any one of them does individually. It's a fascinating effect.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Can't we just book Dallas and whomever they play in week 17 in that final, SNF slot? I mean, we all just know it's gonna come down to that last, final game of the year in that division anyway. Dallas is gonna be 7-8 or 8-7 and in a win and in situation that will result in them finishing at .500 again, so let's just go ahead and pencil that one in now.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      It may be that even by September 21, everyone will realize that the Panthers are in trouble. The Steelers may have an easy time of it.
      Maybe, but it's only Week 3, and nobody is eliminated after two games. Even if the Panthers start 0-2 (unlikely, I think, getting Tampa in Week 1), it will be, 'Oh, the Panthers are playing for their season,' not, 'Oh God, this?' Plus, it's in Carolina. I think that all keeps things level and interesting. The other thing I tried to grade in this how frequently we get to see these games. Barring a Super Bowl matchup, Pittsburgh and Carolina will only play once every four years.

      Also, re:



      I think Barney called this 'the cheerleader effect' on How I Met Your Mother, once upon a time. Is this principle of the group effect on perceived excellence part of the reason why we enjoy looking at rankings, like, say Top 10/Bottom 5?

      For what it's worth, I was going for the 'look at the blond girls doing the Ditka homage' more than the 'chicks with fake mustaches, aviators, and Bears sweatervests are so hot.' You're right, though, that I did think they were at least a little cute, but I think that holds up if you look at each one individually. Anyway, we could all do much worse than any of those women, and we all probably have.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
      Can't we just book Dallas and whomever they play in week 17 in that final, SNF slot? I mean, we all just know it's gonna come down to that last, final game of the year in that division anyway. Dallas is gonna be 7-8 or 8-7 and in a win and in situation that will result in them finishing at .500 again, so let's just go ahead and pencil that one in now.
      I thought the same thing, but that joke got left on the cutting room floor. (No offense. I thought my anti-NFCE rant was getting a little long.) In Week 17, the Cowboys play at the Redskins and the Eagles play at the Giants. The Cowboys, of course, play the Eagles on SNF the previous week.

      As SteelMike alluded to in the open thread (scroll down to #29), the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game might be the most logical win-and-in candidate for Week 17. Chargers/Chiefs, either of the NFC West matchups, and maybe even Lions/Packers look like potential viable options eight months out.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Also, did a little research that may only be of interest to me: the last time the Browns and Bengals played a night game was on October 22, 1990 (so, that makes me about right). The Bengals defeated the Browns 34-13 on Monday Night Football.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Among the things you didn't have room for in your short synopsis of Seahawks at Redskins is the revenge factor, on at least three fronts. One, of course, the playoff loss. Two, that game was the coup de grace for Griffin's knee, and he may feel that he has something to prove. And three, Redskins will feel that Richard Sherman was disrespectfully outspoken after winning, and they'll want a piece of him too.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Among the things you didn't have room for in your short synopsis of Seahawks at Redskins is the revenge factor, on at least three fronts. One, of course, the playoff loss. Two, that game was the coup de grace for Griffin's knee, and he may feel that he has something to prove. And three, Redskins will feel that Richard Sherman was disrespectfully outspoken after winning, and they'll want a piece of him too.
      All very true. I thought about the playoff re-match angle (and the baggage that would come with it) while I was writing, and I would guess that means even more in light of the fact that Seattle and Washington both entered that game as teams-on-the-rise but have gone in totally opposite directions since then. (At least so far.) It's probably impossible to separate that from this game, but I think that even without it I'd be interested in watching this.