Ah yes, the 2007 NFL schedule has finally come out, and with it fairy tale dreams of 32 teams thinking that this year will indeed be their year. In taking a quick glance at the schedule, there is plenty of great games to speak of, the first of which is the opener between the Saints and Colts at the RCA Dome. Week one is full of what should be good games, and from there you have week after week of what promises to be full of great games that will make up the 2007 season. Below are some of my personal favorite games to keep an eye on:
PITTSBURGH AT CLEVELAND 9/9 – Opening day at Browns Stadium for yours truly, and it should be an interesting matchup. New coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are in town. The last time Pittsburgh opened the season in Cleveland, they beat the Browns 43-0 in 1999. The Browns blew this game at home last year, and if they want to make an early statement, there is no better way to do it than by beating the Steelers.
DETROIT AT OAKLAND 9/9 – This game won’t be on many radar screens in week one, but unless we have a rare tie, one of these two bottom dweller teams will be 1-0 after week one. It will also be a matchup of the top two picks in the draft provided one of the two teams don’t make a trade.
INDIANAPOLIS AT TENNESSEE 9/16 – This was one of the Colts road losses last season, and it came as the Titans were starting to make a run for the playoffs with Vince Young, which fell short. The Colts have gotten off to fast starts the last two seasons, making runs to the Super Bowl in both and then winning the title last season, and this game should be an interesting early test for the horseshoes.
DALLAS AT CHICAGO 9/23 – T.O. and compnay with new coach Wade Phillips take on the Bears in this key week three matchup in Chicago. Dallas was a botched snap away from playing the Bears in the playoffs last season, and could get an early boost with a win here in the Windy City.
SEATTLE AT SAN FRANCISCO 9/30 – The 49’ers upset the eventual NFC West champs in Frisco a season ago, and would like to make a run at the title, but must beat the champs at home to prove they are worthy of making a big run in the NFC West. This could be a breakout year for 49’ers QB Alex Smith.
NEW ENGLAND AT CINCINNATI 10/01 – This is a huge year for the Bengals, who many think have to win the AFC North and make a run into the playoffs to quiet the critics. The Pats have made plenty of offseason moves that make them already one of the top three teams in the AFC.
ATLANTA AT TENNESSEE 10/7 – Michael Vick vs Vince Young makes for what should be a great offensive matchup at LP Field in Tennessee. The Falcons have a lot to prove after folding worse than a deck of cards last season, and this October matchup has the makings of a fun game to watch.
SAN DIEGO AT DENVER 10/7 – L.T. and Phillip Rivers ran all over the Broncos in two games a year ago, now the Broncos want some revenge. The Chargers have a new coach, but their gameplan should be the same – give the ball to L.T. and let him run wild.
CAROLINA AT ARIZONA 10/14 – The Cards with a new coach and new attitude have the makings of being an upstart team in 2007. John Fox and the Panthers are another team that was expected to shine in 2006, but laid a huge egg and now have the pressure on them to bounce back in 2007.
NEW ENGLAND AT MIAMI 10/21 – Last season before the year started many thought that the Dolphins would challenge the Pats for the AFC East, and instead they were medicore at best. If Miami is ever going to overtake the Pats, they need to beat them, and others in their division, on a consistant basis.
NEW ENGLAND AT INDIANAPOLIS 11/04 – Not much needs to be said about this one, as these two teams played in one of the greatest AFC Championship games just a few months ago. The Pats have struggled the last two seasons against the Colts, and winning this one in the Dome won’t be easy.
DALLAS AT PHILADELPHIA 11/04 – This NFC East showdown is one you don’t want to miss. The verbal warfare between these two teams should be intense once again, and if T.O. has his way, he’ll have about 15 balls thrown to him as he once again tries to show up his former team.
CINCINNATI AT BALTIMORE 11/11 – The Ravens wrestled the AFC North title last year from the Bengals, and it was this game a year ago that the Bengals showed their lack of poise. They need to show the Ravens they can match them in toughness. This is the place to do it.
CHICAGO AT SEATTLE 11/18 – The Hawks took the eventual NFC Champs to overtime last year in the playoffs, and after two losses in Chicago last year get the Bears on their home field on a Sunday night. The Hawks need to turn Shaun Alexander up against a Bears D that couldn’t slow down the Colts running game in the Super Bowl.
INDIANAPOLIS AT ATLANTA 11/22 – Thanksgiving at the Georgia Dome looks like a stellar matchup of Peyton Manning vs Michael Vick. This will be a chance for the Falcons to prove they belong in the class of one of the top teams in the league, while for the Colts its just another big game.
CINCINNATI AT PITTSBURGH 12/2 – These two AFC North rivals just plain don’t like each other, and emotions will be running high for this Sunday night affair in early December. The Steelers have lost the last two seasons at home to the Bengals, while both times beating them at Paul Brown Stadium.
MIAMI AT BUFFALO 12/09 – Always a good AFC East matchup in Buffalo, where the Dolphins always seem to end up in December. If Miami is making a run by this point, they will need to win this game. If the Bills can improve on their run from last season, they should be in the race for at least a wild card at this point in the season.
ARIZONA AT NEW ORLEANS 12/16 – The Falcons and Saints always seem to have important games, and this one could be just that when they meet in this NFC Soouth showdown in week 15. The Falcons will look at this as one of their toughest challenges of the season, as last year they were beaten soundly in week three at the Superdome.