View Full Version : Best, worst weekly matchups of ’10

04-20-2010, 11:47 PM
Best, worst weekly matchups of ’10

By Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports
28 minutes ago

From Minnesota getting a chance for slight redemption against New Orleans to Chicago’s Jay Cutler(notes) facing former mentor and now-Washington coach Mike Shanahan, the NFL schedule is loaded with its usual set of delicious games.

At least when you project them in April.

Conversely, the schedule features some games where paying the price of admission seems just a tad questionable.

Here’s the annual look at the best and worst games of the upcoming season.

Week 1

Best: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints – Great way to open the season on a Thursday night. A rematch of the classic playoff game that left the Vikings shaking their heads at what could have been if not for the turnovers. The atmosphere won’t be quite as cool as the NFC championship game from last season, but it’s not going to be too far off. Another game that could test the alcohol reserves of the Big Easy.

Worst: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – It’s Eric Mangini vs. Raheem Morris in a battle of head coaches who went from wunderkinds to just wondering in their first seasons with their respective clubs. It’s a pretty decent bet that both of these guys don’t survive their second seasons.


Week 2

Best: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins – The intriguing part of this game will be to examine just how important Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was to Houston QB Matt Schaub(notes) the past two years. Many people have credited Shanahan with Schaub’s growth. If Schaub shows signs of regression, that could help justify talk of the young Shanahan eventually taking over for his father.

Worst: St. Louis Rams at Oakland Raiders &ndash This should be a quarterback battle featuring two No. 1 overall draft picks with Sam Bradford vs. JaMarcus Russell(notes). Sadly, it’s probably going to be A.J. Feeley(notes) against Bruce Gradkowski(notes) because the Rams will protect Bradford and Russell doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yuck.


Week 3

Best: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears – The oldest rivalry in the league takes center stage again on a Monday night game. Cool stuff. Even better is that this will be a serious test of the Bears revamped defense featuring DE Julius Peppers(notes) against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers(notes), who had a tendency to hold the ball a little too long sometimes last season.

Worst: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins: Jets LB/DE Jason Taylor(notes) … wait a second, is that right? Jason Taylor a Jet? Wait a second, the sky must be falling. Yes, the man who lived to hate the Jets while playing for Miami has now joined Gang Green and will return to his real home. This is just wrong. Really wrong.


Week 4

Best: Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles: Yeah, yeah, former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb(notes) is going to downplay this rematch. Don’t believe it for a second. McNabb is one of the most prideful men in a league full of huge egos. He’s also the greatest quarterback in Eagles history and he’s returning to the town that never embraced him and the team that traded him away. This is going to be wild.

Worst: Jets at Buffalo Bills: We hate to highlight the Jets’ contest for a second straight week, but Rob Ryan’s defense vs. the anemic Bills? Yes, this is a divisional battle where Buffalo could step up. Still, it screams trouble for the squad from upstate New York. Major trouble.


Week 5

Best: Vikings at Jets – Slingin’ Brett Favre(notes) against the Jets pass rush and CBs Darrelle Revis(notes) and Antonio Cromartie(notes)? This is a dream right? No, it’s reality and it’s going to be fun … as long as Favre, two years removed from his pit stop in New York, decides to play again. Don’t worry, that’s not a problem.

Worst: Rams at Detroit Lions – Yep, the teams that pick Nos. 1 and 2 in the NFL draft starting Thursday get to match up in a battle of who can escape suckitude faster. That’s a great selling point, huh? At least the Lions should be more interesting because they have more offensive weapons. But really, how many people are really going to pay to see this?


Week 6

Best: Jets at Broncos – OK, I have a slightly sadistic side to my personality and this game definitely brings it out. Look, this isn’t going to be a terribly competitive game if form holds. However, it will be really interesting to see Denver coach Josh McDaniels fume as his team struggles to move the ball against the Jets defense. Perhaps it would have been good to keep some of those guys like Brandon Marshall(notes)?

Worst: San Diego Chargers at Rams: This game has a 20-0 halftime score followed by a 27-10 final written all over it. The game will never been close, but it also won’t be any type of offensive showcase. It’s just going to be boring, even if the Rams will be quarterbacked by former Chargers backup A.J. Feeley.


Week 7

Best: Redskins at Bears – The professor gets matched with the pupil in this one as Washington’s Mike Shanahan meets Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. The two seemed to be on the way to an interesting career together in Denver before the whole thing got derailed in 2009. Look for Shanahan to spend a lot of time in the defensive meeting room this week giving tips on Cutler. In a sidelight, this could also be QB McNabb’s last trip to his hometown as a player.

Worst: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers – Alex Smith vs. Matt Moore(notes)? Not exactly one of the great quarterback matchups of all time and expect these teams to play like it. Both 49ers coach Mike Singletary and Carolina lameduck coach John Fox like to run whenever possible. The good side of this game is that it could be done in 2½ hours.


Week 8

Best: Pittsburgh Steelers at Saints – It’s pretty easy to figure that the Steelers are going to struggle a bit, particularly early in the season if QB Ben Roethlisberger(notes) is suspended and they’re figuring out how to replace WR Santonio Holmes(notes). But around midseason, look for the Steelers to get it together. Throw in their great pass rush against the Saints offense and you have a really cool game.

Worst: Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals – This game is going to be like watching paint. Both Miami head coach Tony Sparano and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis like a tight, low-scoring, chess match-type of game. With both teams still a couple of parts short of being great, this game figures to be played in the teens.


Week 9

Best: Indianapolis Colts at Eagles: Depending on the pace of this game, it’s easy to imagine that these teams could combine for 100 pass attempts. That would make for great entertainment and a game that could easily be played in the 40s.

Worst: Kansas City Chiefs at Raiders – Last year, these teams combined for two of the ugliest games of the 2009 season. Given that neither team has signed the ghost of Johnny Unitas to play quarterback, look for more of the same. It’s very likely that either the Colts or the Eagles (see the above game) could each score more than the Chiefs and Raiders combine to get in this one.

04-20-2010, 11:47 PM
Week 10

Best: New England Patriots at Steelers – If the Patriots defense can make some progress this season after last year’s downturn, this could be an interesting matchup, particularly now that the Steelers are without Holmes. Roethlisberger has had some success (nine TD passes vs. four interceptions) against the Patriots, but New England has generally kept him under control in terms of yardage.

Worst: Lions at Bills – Given that Hall of Fame Bills owner Ralph Wilson lives in Detroit, these teams should play for something interesting, like a pair of Wilson’s glasses as the “trophy.” Really, that’s the only thing that could make this game the least bit interesting. Yeah, the Lions are on the right track and the Bills have a new coach, but that doesn’t make for a great game.


Week 11

Best: Indianapolis at New England – You can queue the stories right now revisiting coach Bill Belichick’s decision to go on fourth-and-2 last year at Indy and how that game sent the Patriots into a tailspin. Never mind that the story will ignore some other facts, such as how bad the Pats defense was at that point. The fact is that this is the latest version of the best rivalry over the past 10 years and it has a fresh storyline to examine.

Worst: Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars – OK, we almost got technical and broke down the fact that Green Bay’s offensive line doesn’t match up well against Minnesota pass rusher Jared Allen(notes). Since that game has the potential to be really good, we’ll turn our focus to a contest less entertaining. Maybe Jags QB David Garrard(notes) will have a bounce-back season and Cleveland will find even more creative ways to use Joshua Cribbs(notes). Otherwise, Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) might be the only appeal to this contest.


Week 12

Best: San Diego at Indianapolis – Peyton Manning(notes) vs. Philip Rivers(notes)? The Chargers receiving corps, featuring Vincent Jackson(notes) and Antonio Gates(notes), vs. the Indy receiving corps, featuring Reggie Wayne(notes) and Dallas Clark(notes)? This is fabulous stuff and has all the makings of a 45-42 game. It could easily be an AFC championship game preview.

Worst: Carolina at Cleveland – Much like McNabb in Washington, Jake Delhomme(notes) was tossed aside by Carolina after putting in a great career … wait, stop, hold on, I can’t even begin to sell this idea. Delhomme played so poorly last season in Carolina that his only hope was getting to Cleveland, where he’s serving as caddy for whoever the next quarterback will be. As for the Panthers, their biggest issue is likely who will be the next coach.


Week 13

Best: Washington at New York Giants – This game may not be terribly artistic, but it’s going to be fascinating to see the battle of bulging veins between Washington’s Shanahan and Giants counterpart Tom Coughlin. In a profession filled with uptight, control-freak men, Shanahan and Coughlin are the extreme.

Worst: Jaguars at Tennessee Titans – By about this time of the season, one of these teams figures to be in a lot of trouble. That means that one of the two head coaches will have people wondering about his immediate future. The other problem with this game is that neither team has a truly great wide receiver, at least not yet. The Titans are further along, but well short of dangerous.


Week 14

Best: Eagles at Dallas Cowboys – Last year, the key in this matchup was the inability of the Eagles to stop the Cowboys pass rush, led by DeMarcus Ware(notes) and Jay Ratliff(notes). The Philly offensive line was simply overwhelmed and former QB Donovan McNabb was completely out of sorts. This year, the Eagles will have a rebuilt offensive line and, more importantly, a new quarterback Kevin Kolb(notes), who needs to show he can handle a game like this if he’s really going to replace McNabb.

Worst: Seattle Seahawks at 49ers – By this time of the season, the Seahawks will be playing out the string on the season and the 49ers will be muddling their way through playoff contention at probably 7-5. This game has the smell of a 17-10 bore-a-thon. Almost unwatchable.


Week 15

Best: Jaguars at Colts – For some reason, Jacksonville seems to play the Colts very close around this time of the year before the Colts pull it out at the end. Perhaps it’s because the Colts are usually around 12-1 and cruising to home-field advantage, making them a little bored. Or maybe it’s because the Jaguars have a way of playing up against the Colts. Whatever the reason, it’s usually pretty interesting.

Worst: Chiefs at Rams – The Battle for Missouri isn’t exactly a Give ‘Em Hell celebration of Harry Truman these days. About the only thing to hope for is that the Rams actually draft Sam Bradford this week and play him in this game to see which team has the more promising quarterback prospect (the Chiefs putting Matt Cassell out there, presumably.)


Week 16

Best: Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals – Merry Christmas, QB Matt Leinart(notes). This is one of three really important games the Cardinals have in the test of whether Leinart is their future. It will also be a late-season test of two teams that could be in playoff contention. The Cowboys, San Diego and Minnesota all have terrific pass-rush schemes and Leinart will have to show that he can handle them. For the Cowboys, this is the time of the year when they normally start choking.

Worst: Colts at Raiders – This is not to say that this game won’t be competitive. The Raiders actually have enough good defensive players with enough pride that they could frustrate the Colts and Peyton Manning a bit. What makes this game so unappealing is the stark difference in how the teams have been built. The Harvard Business Review could do a case study in good vs. bad management in this game alone.


Week 17

Best: Cardinals at 49ers – Just a hunch here, but this game has the look of something actually being on the line, like a division title and the lone playoff spot from the NFC West. That could easily be the case, even if both teams scream of mediocrity.

Worst: Titans at Colts – The last time these teams faced off in the season finale, it created a controversy about whether the Colts were playing hard or whether they were allowing the Titans to sneak into the playoffs. That situation is likely again with the Colts possibly having a playoff bid locked up and playing for nothing. The Titans could easily be among a bunch of teams competing for a final spot.

04-20-2010, 11:52 PM
There are going to be some boring games this season. :chuckle: