Can't Miss Early Games from NFL Schedule
by Trevor Whenham - 04/15/2008
Have you noticed how the NFL manages to find a way to stay in the news the whole year? The latest way to grab the headlines was the release of the full 2008 NFL schedule this afternoon. Most of the schedule is pretty predictable and standard, yet for some reason this is a day I look forward to every year. Maybe it is a reminder that football season isn't too far away. Whatever the reason, it's great fun to look over the schedule and circle the games that could be great viewing or betting opportunities. Here are 10 that jumped out at first glance from the first few weeks of the season:
Thursday, Sept. 4, 7:00 p.m. - Washington at New York - The champs always get to open up the season, and the game signifies the end of a painfully long offseason. It always feels good to watch this game, and it's especially good when they are playing a major divisional rival in a game that could really matter by the end of the year. I can tell you right now that I will be cheering against Eli - a championship hasn't made me like him any more than I used to, and neither did those lame Oreo commercials.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 1:00 p.m. - Jacksonville at Tennessee - This is a big year for both teams. Jacksonville invested heavily in their quarterback, so we will now see how that pays off. For Tennessee this is a pivotal year for their offense - they finally need to find one given the talent they have. This is Vince Young's last chance, and it starts with a bang against a very good Jacksonville team.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 1:00 p.m. - New York Jets at Miami - These two conference mates were train wrecks last year, and neither has management that will tolerate that for long. Both will be trying to improve quickly, so this game should be intense.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 1:00 p.m. - Detroit at Atlanta - There is obviously not a single thing about last season that Atlanta players and fans would like to remember. This is a chance for a new start, and the team will be looking to get off to a fast start in front of a home crowd that needs something to believe in.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 4:15 p.m. - Dallas at Cleveland - Here we have two teams coming off of big years, and both of them have a lot to prove this year - Dallas needs to finally win in the playoffs, and Cleveland needs to show that they can sustain their improvement. As an added bonus, this one may be our first chance in a long time to watch Pacman Jones in action somewhere other than a strip club.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 8:15 p.m. - Chicago at Indianapolis - The opening of a new building is always a big event, and especially in a case like this when a new building was so badly needed. Unlike the old barn, this one looks like it may actually have character. The crowd will be out of control, so Indy should have an extra edge. Like they need it.
Monday, Sept. 8, 8:00 p.m. - Minnesota at Green Bay - All eyes will be on the Packers this week out of curiosity. It has been so long since Brett Favre hasn't started a game for the team that it's very likely that there are hardcore football fans who have never seen another pivot taking snaps for a full game. The speed with which Aaron Rodgers finds his stride (if at all) will determine the fate of this team, and the Vikings are not patsies to start things rolling.
Sunday, Sept. 14, 1:00 p.m. - Oakland at Kansas City - I love watching teams that truly hate each other play. This one will be especially interesting because both teams have made some changes after a lousy year, and both will have shiny new draft picks to show off. It will also probably be a chance to see two young quarterbacks of the future try to figure things out on the fly.
Sunday, Sept. 14, 4:05 p.m. - San Francisco at Seattle - These two conference rivals both need to have a better season than they have in recent years. For the Niners this is their last shot at finding a future with Alex Smith. Seattle needs to prove that they can be much better than they have been - they have consistently been good but not good enough.
Sunday, Oct. 12. 8:15 p.m. - New England at San Diego - This is the first game that the Pats play against an elite team (at least based on last year). We will have a pretty good idea of how the Pats are going to bounce back from their playoff disappointment by this point, but this will be a great test for them, and it should be a heck of a shootout.