It’s never too early to talk some football.
The NFL released its schedule on Thursday evening, so fans can finally salivate over specific prime time matchups or late-season showdowns. We’ve combed through the schedule and picked out some good ones for you already. Excluding the Jets and Giants, here are 10 must-see games on the 2017 schedule:
Week 1: Seahawks at Packers
Sure, more words will probably be written about Patriots-Chiefs that week because it will kick off the season, but just about everyone would probably watch these two teams go at it. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Martellus Bennett, Richard Sherman. Wait, maybe not Richard Sherman? Too soon to tell on that one. But with or without him, this one will be a spectacle. Oh, and Eddie Lacy squares off against his old team, too.
Week 2: Cowboys at Broncos
This is a good game but, oh, what it might have been. This could have been Tony Romo against his old team, but unfortunately, we won’t even be lucky enough to have Romo in the booth for this one (the game is on FOX). But still! This is a prolific and exciting offense in the Cowboys squaring off against what has been the best defense in football recently. Should be an incredible mathchup.
Week 6: Packers at Vikings
Green Bay is such a fun team to watch — as evidenced by both their exciting playoff win over Dallas last year and the fact that they make this list three times — but this is a fun one because they are playing a potentially feisty Minnesota team. The Vikings teased their fans last year, showing what they could be early on before injuries derailed them. Maybe they’ll keep it together in 2017. Oh, and that stadium is so fun it amps up every game just a little bit more.
Week 7: Falcons at Patriots
Not sure if you heard but the Falcons blew a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl. There is no vengeance to be had for that. But Atlanta can at least get a jab back at New England in this one. You know the Falcons are going to be up for this one. It will be INTENSE.
Week 9: Falcons at Panthers
Carolina may not have been much of a factor last year, but if they can get Cam Newton back healthy — he admitted he played through the final four games of the season with a partially torn rotator cuff — there’s definitely a good chance Carolina is back in contention this year. At the moment they are only 14 months removed from playing in the Super Bowl, after all.
Week 10: Patriots at Broncos
Without Peyton Manning this game doesn’t have quite the same pizazz, but this still is a serious showdown between two of the toughest teams in the AFC East. Tom Brady is just 3-7 playing in Denver in his career, including the playoffs, so he’ll try and avenge that record then.
Week 11: Titans at Steelers
Don’t sleep on Tennessee as an exciting team this year. They were right in their divisional battle last year, and they have a very fun quarterback to watch in young Marcus Mariota. Plus, they have two first-round picks this year so they should have some good rookie talent. In this game, they go against another very compelling team in the Steelers, who boast Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell on offense.
Week 11: Patriots at Raiders (in Mexico City)
Last year the Raiders played in Mexico City and, at least off TV, the whole thing seemed fun. Now, they get to do it again and it will actually be a good game to watch (they played the Texans there in 2016). This would be a compelling matchup on its own, with the Mexico City aspect adding a little more sizzle.
Week 12: Packers at Steelers
This is a tasty cross-conference battle between the two teams that lost in their respective conference championship games. We know that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t have many games left — he pondered retirement this offseason — so this could be the final matchup between two great quarterbacks in him and Rodgers.
Week 17: Chiefs at Broncos, Cardinals at Seahawks, Cowboys at Eagles, Texans at Colts
OK, I cheated on this one. But to be fair, it’s tough to know which games are going to actually matter in Week 17. But still, as is the case, there is serious potential here. These four games could be division-deciders, so one of them is bound to have major consequences.