The NFL preseason has concluded and everyone is gearing up for meaningful NFL football. With all the developments of the preseason behind us, everyone can now turn their focus to the important games.
Each NFL team has a handful of games they are marking on their calendars as the biggest games of the year. These are rivalry games, statement games, and playoff birth deciding games; that become the biggest hurdles in a teams full season. Some of these games do not live up to the hype but other become instant classics.
Here are the top must watch NFL games of 2017 (trying to stay away from the same teams every week).
Top 10 Must Watch NFL Games of 2017
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots: Week 1 – Thursday September 7th
The very first game of the NFL season never seems like it has a lot of baring because of the remaining time left in the season, but it quickly sets a tone. This years matchup is even more intriguing because of the Pats and Chiefs history. The two teams do not play often but when they get together, there is always an interesting result.
In the 2016 playoffs, the Patriots successfully held off the Chiefs by a single score, to move onto the AFC title game. However, the last game before that was one of the most shocking games of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. On September 29, 2014, the Patriots walked into Arrowhead Stadium with a 2-1 record through their opening three weeks. What would follow, would break the football world. The Chiefs delivered a 41-14 beatdown of the Patriots in prime time; potentially spelling the end to the 10+ year Pats dynasty. Despite the implication, Brady and Belichick would bounce back and go onto win another Super Bowl in 2015.
The opening day matchup does not seem like a big deal, but if the Patriots falter in their first matchup, the football world will once again be talking about the fall of the all mighty Patriots.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: Week 1 – Sunday, September 10th
Of the Cowboys three losses in 2016, two were at the hands of the Giants. Even with those two division losses, the Cowboys were able to mount an impressive 2016 season. But the trend will be hard to keep up. Neither of these teams has a significant advantage as their head-to-head records stand at 6-6 over the past six seasons. With all that said, if the Giants drop their first game of the season to the Cowboys sans Ezekiel Elliott, the panic button will be pushed very early in New York. The Giants may be without Odell Beckham Jr. in this game, but losing to a hobbled division rival is not the way you want to start the season.
As a projected Super Bowl contender, the Giants need to find a way to win this game. If there is such thing as a must-win, week-one, matchup, this is it.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons: Week 2 – Sunday, September 17th
A rematch of last years NFC Championship game, two of the NFL’s best QBs go head-to-head in a matchup that feels too dramatic to be during week two. The Packers are heading back to the Georgia Dome, where they were embarrassed by Matt Ryan and the Falcons on route to the Super Bowl. This matchup holds so much anticipation because it will teach us, just how far both teams have come since their meeting in January. The Packers dropped the last matchup 44-21 and will need an all-around better effort to top the Falcons this time around. Both offences have the potential to drop 40+ points on the other, but look for the Packers to enter with revenge in mind.
If all those reason won’t make you watch, you can at least watch: last seasons MVP versus, Aaron Rodgers: the NFL’s best quarterback.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Week 3 – Sunday, September 24th
New England made an absolute joke out of the Texans in both of their matchups last season. One was a 27-0 smacking, while Jacoby Brissett was at the helm for the Patriots. This year the Texans are supposed to be a Super Bowl contender and can prove it with a victory in Fox Borough. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are leading the way for the projected leagues best defence, and should at least provide a challenge to Belichick’s new look squad.
This could also be the first NFL start for the Texans 12th-overall draft pick: DeShaun Watson. It may be daunting to go into one of the leagues toughest stadiums in your first game but through two games, it does not make a lot of sense to keep Watson on the bench. Tom Savage may still be first on the Texans QB depth chart, but Bill O’Brien knows that Watson would give them the best chance to steal the game from the team that embarrassed them just a season ago.
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots: Week 7 – Sunday, October 22nd
Another rematch from the 2017 playoffs, this one holds significantly more sentimental value. This will be the first matchup since the Falcons blew a 25 point lead to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, with just over a quarter of football left to play. This matchup will probably mean significantly more to Falcons fans considering the Patriots walked away with the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. However, a Pats victory would also silence the doubters who said their last matchup was a fluke victory. The denial would no longer continue and instead, silence everyone who believes the Patriots came away with the luckiest win in NFL history.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins: Week 8 – Sunday, October 8th
The NFC East rivals will take on eachother and no matter what their records are at the time, this game is a much watch for one reason; the return of Ezekiel Elliott. Whether his six-game suspension holds up is still yet to seen.
Regardless, as of now this will be the NFL’s first look at 2017 Elliott. The Cowboys fourth-overall pick in 2016’s draft dominated the league in his rookie year and will be out for blood in his first game back. This will also be the first game of 2017 where we see the Dallas Cowboys offence in full. Offence defines the Cowboys and if they can squeeze out a win in week 8, it may start a scary big roll to the playoffs.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans: Week 13 – Sunday, December 3rd
For the first time in quite a few years, the AFC South might actually be a good division. The Texans have taken the division crown four of the last six seasons but it might be time for the Titans to steal their thunder. The Titans look be the biggest sleeper team of 2017, and could assert themselves as the divisions best team during this week 13 matchup.
This could also potentially be a battle between a top-5 defence and a top-5 offence. Marcus Mariota is poised to assert himself as an elite QB in 2017 and the Texans defence finally has J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney healthy at the same time. This game could be one of the first games in a renewed rivalry of powerhouse teams.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 14 – Sunday, December 10th
If you did not watch the Christmas day game between the Ravens and Steelers, you missed the best game of the 2016 NFL season. The classic rivalry had one of it’s best instalments at the end of last year, when the Steelers squeezed out a 31-27 win over the Ravens at Heinz Field. The loss knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention and handed the Steelers their second division title in three years.
As good as last years game was, this year’s should be just as good. The Ravens have put together one of the leagues scariest defences over the offseason by adding multiple heavy hitters in their secondary and replenishing their crop of pass rushers. On Pittsburgh’s side, they have also added defensive help and will get back big-play wide receiver, Martavis Bryant. Bryant missed all of 2016 due to suspension. Just like every year, the division will most likely be on the line late in the season, and this matchup could very well decide the winner.
Not to mention, the Steelers and Ravens are probably the two teams with the best chance of dethroning the Patriots in the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Week 15 – Monday, December 18th
Every year the NFC South is up for grabs and this year looks to be no different. The Falcons surprised the entire football world in 2016 with their run to Super Bowl LI, just like the Panthers did the year prior. The Buccaneers could be that next team to emerge as a powerhouse from the South. The Bucs have added a lot of fire power to their offence over the offseason, and third-year quarterback Jameis Winston will be the beneficiary. Despite the great hype that came with Atlanta’s run to the Super Bowl, their defence is beatable. The Falcons defence gave up the eighth most yards in 2016 and are going to need to improve if they want to repeat as division champs.
This may not be the game that officially decides the NFC South, but it is a guarantee that both of these teams are going to desperately need this win.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos: Week 17 – Sunday, December 31
One of the very last games of the season, New Years Eve’s matchup between the Chiefs and Broncos is must watch TV. Next to the Ravens and Steelers game on Christmas, these two teams played one of the leagues best games during week 12 of last season. Despite being played on the last day of the season, 2017’s conclusion will practically be a playoff game. Both teams have two of the NFL’s best defences and will most likely be fighting for the last available playoff spot in the AFC.
A lot of the games on the last day of the season end up being throwaways because of how many starters are resting, but this game should feature major stars and has the potential to be a classic game in a long standing rivalry.
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