Patriots-Steelers rematch among 10 NFL games we can't wait to see on 2018 schedule
The NFL schedule for the 2018 season was set Thursday night, so you can start circling dates on your calendar. Potential playoff and Super Bowl previews, scintillating quarterback matchups, and reunion games are among the highlights. Here are the 10 games we’re most excited to see (in order of date; all time Eastern):
The NFL schedule for the 2018 season was set Thursday night, so you can start circling dates on your calendar. Potential playoff and Super Bowl previews, scintillating quarterback showdowns and reunion games are among the highlights.
Here are the 10 matchups we’re most excited to see (in order of date):
49ers at Vikings
Sept. 9, 1 p.m. Perhaps a surprising inclusion, this game features a few intriguing quarterback subplots. Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota in March, though it was once believed he would reunite with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo is in charge after joining the Niners in a trade last October. He impressed in six games, going 5-0 as a starter, but a challenge against a stout Vikes defense should be captivating.
Raiders’ home opener
Sept. 10, 10:20 p.m., Monday night, vs. the Rams. New (and former) Oakland coach Jon Gruden has said he wants to bring the game back to 1998. Well, with his regular-season return to the Black Hole sideline after a nine-year hiatus, we will get to see how Chucky plans on shaping the Raiders’ identity.
Saints vs. Falcons
Sept. 23, 1 p.m., in Atlanta; Nov. 22, Thanksgiving, 8:20 p.m., in New Orleans. These teams don’t like each other. The NFC South was so competitive last season that an underrated rivalry shouldn’t disappoint in either of its iterations, which could very well carry massive playoff implications. And a Matt Ryan-Drew Brees faceoff — along with all the dynamic skill position players — makes it that much better.
Cowboys at Texans
Oct. 7, 8:20 p.m. Not only is this a battle for bragging rights in the Lone Star State, it involves two of the game’s most exciting, young quarterbacks in Dallas’ Dak Prescott and Houston’s Deshaun Watson, who’s coming back from reconstructive knee surgery. The Cowboys should also enjoy a full season from Ezekiel Elliott, while the Texans will be get J.J. Watt back from another injury-shortened campaign.
Jaguars vs. Eagles
Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. Finally, the fans in London can feast on a savory matchup. The Jags are the UK’s unofficial team, and with their trash-talking swagger and 2017 trip to the AFC Championship Game, there has never been a more exciting time to watch them. Some questions linger about whether Jacksonville’s rise was a fluke, but a test against the defending Super Bowl champs at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 28 should serve as a fine measuring stick.
Saints at Vikings
Oct. 28, 8:20 p.m. A rematch of last season’s thrilling divisional round showdown — the so-called “Minnesota Miracle,” in which Vikes receiver Stefon Diggs won the game on a walk-off 61-yard TD catch after New Orleans safety Marcus Williams failed to tackle him — this figures to be another back-and-forth battle. These are likely playoff teams, so it could have NFC seeding implications once the season wraps up.
Packers at Patriots
Nov. 4, 8:20 p.m. There’s nothing quite like watching the top quarterbacks in the NFL — Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers — battle. Factor in that these are two legitimate Super Bowl contenders who meet only every four years makes it that much more intriguing.
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49ers at Seahawks
Dec. 2, 8:20 p.m. This one is all about cornerback Richard Sherman’s return to Seattle to play his former team. He’s not one to shy away from expressing his opinion and will certainly be out to prove the Seahawks were wrong for their decision to cut him, so look for Sherman to be gunning for a pick of former teammate quarterback Russell Wilson.
Patriots at Steelers
Dec. 16, 4:25 p.m. These might be the two best teams in the AFC, so playoff implications are a virtual given. Throw in last season’s controversial finish in which Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James appeared to snatch a game-winning touchdown only to have it overturned on instant replay — it would count under the newly revised catch rule — could give this rivalry an added shot of drama.
Eagles at Rams
Dec. 16, 8:20 p.m. Last season’s matchup was marred when Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But the Eagles’ 43-35 victory had all the offensive fireworks that should make this year’s installment fascinating — particularly given both squads’ defensive upgrades. Having two of the game’s top young passers in Wentz and Jared Goff doesn’t hurt, either.
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes