It’s really one of the most overblown events on the NFL, the day the following season’s schedule is released. We have ESPN & NFL Network offering 3 hour specials breaking down every little factor of how many miles each team has to travel, who has an extra 3 hours preparation for a game against a division rival and which teams got a favour from the league office. Realistically, most sane fans don’t care about such minute details, they just need to know what days they will need off work/school to go and watch their team play and which days they need to tell their partners and family to not make any plans involving them (speaking of which, a note to my family, I’ll be busy Christmas Eve). So without getting into too much detail, here is a brief analysis of the 2012 league schedule with the best game each week and one to avoid unless you are a fan of a team involved.
Best Game: 49ers at Packers – 4:15pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Jaguars at Vikings 1:00pm
Minnesota kicks off what is potentially their final season in the city with a game against one of the worst teams from last year in Jacksonville. If Peterson is back from his ACL injury then there is something to enjoy as he and Jones-Drew will try to outgain each other as they cover for their quarterbacks. Afterwards Fox gets the best matchup of the week with two playoff teams facing off, the 49ers will be looking to prove last year wasn’t a fluke while the Packers will still be annoyed about how their 2011 season finished at the hands of the Giants.
Best Game: Ravens at Eagles – 1:00pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Redskins at Rams – 4:05pm
Andy Reid and Michael Vick against the Ravens defense will be a very nice matchup, if we get DeSean Jackson from 2010 then seeing him against Ed Reed will make this game worth the admission price alone. Washington will have been given some hope after a good showing in week 1 but this could be a game where RG3 struggles in the face of a decent Rams pass rush.
Best Game: Patriots at Ravens – 8:20pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Bills at Browns – 1:00pm
Well the last time the Pats and Ravens faced off it was a pretty interesting game, Brady was outplayed by Flacco but still managed to score what was the winning touchdown. Lee Evans had the winning touchdown knocked out of his hands by former Raiders practice squad player Sterling Moore and Billy Cundiff missed that kick. You think the Ravens will be fired up for this one? As for the shoddy game I hope it turns out to be interesting but it’s still the Browns and Bills, it could be a 6-3 game, it could be a blowout but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Best Game: Saints at Packers – 4:15pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Dolphins at Cardinals – 4:05pm
Remember last year’s season opener where no defense was played? Well this year will be more of the same but with more points as the Saints will still likely be without several key contributors. In the desert, the Dolphins and Cardinals will face off in a late afternoon crap-fest as both teams try to dig themselves out of their respective holes.
Best Game: Broncos at Patriots – 4:15pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Seahawks at Panthers – 4:05pm
Why the Broncos-Pats game is the best one of the week only needs two words: Brady & Manning. Carolina and Seattle meanwhile will have some intrigue to it but I can’t see this one being exciting.
Best Game: Packers at Texans – 8:20pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Colts at Jets – 1:00pm
I can see NBC having to run their broadcast late as both offenses run wild in this one. Whoever matches up with Andre Johnson will be in for a very long night. The Jets will have a good chance to pick up a win here over the building Colts team that will be scrappy but still lacking.
Best Game: Jets at Patriots – 4:15pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Jaguars at Raiders – 4:15pm
This AFC East rivalry is definitely one of the more entertaining ones in the league, the Pats swept the Jets last season but now they have Tim Tebow so all bets are clearly off. Jacksonville travels to Oakland in the other late game and it could be brutal, Mike Mularkey said he liked what he saw in the Jaguars in offseason work so far, I wonder if he will be saying that after a couple of games.
Best Game: Giants at Cowboys – 8:20pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Patriots at Rams – 1:00pm [London]
The Pats go from the highlight of one week to the lowlight of the next as they travel to London to take on Sam Bradford and the Rams, this one will be ugly folks. Meanwhile the Giants and Cowboys close out their season series at the Jerry Jones Dome looking to square things up from that opening night match.
Best Game: Steelers at Giants – 4:15pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Dolphins at Colts – 1:00pm
You know these two teams will be at or near the top of the league and the Giants and Steelers face off. It will be interesting to see which QB gets the ball last out of Manning or Roethlisberger and whether or not they will be able to pull a win out. As for the dodgy game, well at least the Colts will be sure their QB is the right guy.
Best Game: Chiefs at Steelers – Monday Night Football
Toilet Bowl Game: Chargers at Buccaneers – 1:00pm
Ok the best game pick is largely dependent on whether or not both teams manage to stay healthy but the nostalgia between these two old franchises is enough of a reason to watch. San Diego & Tampa could get ugly especially as these teams are likely for a slump at some stage throughout the year.
Best Game: Ravens at Steelers – 8:20pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Browns at Cowboys – 1:00pm
The best rivalry in the NFL here as the Ravens and Steelers face off in prime time and you know it is going to be good to watch. Meanwhile we get two inconsistent teams with plenty of issues to solve in Dallas which to me does not equal an interesting matchup. Best case scenario has the Cowboys in good form and they go on a scoring spree.
Best Game: Thanksgiving Thursday Tripleheader
Toilet Bowl Game: Seahawks at Dolphins – 1:00pm
Ok I know I was only supposed to pick one game each week but this is one of those rare occasions that have plenty of great games so it’s better to take the whole day. Starting in Detroit as always as the Texans get their first Thanksgiving appearance, followed by RG3 returning home to Texas and finally the Pats head to New York where they dominated the Jets last season.
Best Game: Saints at Falcons – Thursday Night Football
Toilet Bowl Game: Vikings at Packers – 1:00pm
Remember 4th and inches last year? Remember Brees breaking Dan Marino’s record on that touchdown pass? That’s why the NFL Network got the best game of the week here. Meanwhile I can sense a blowout happening at Lambeau Field as the gulf between the two teams closes only slightly this year.
Best Game: Texans at Patriots – Monday Night Football
Toilet Bowl Game: Rams at Bills – 1:00pm
Another game with two of the premier offenses going head to head in primetime, if the Pats haven’t got their defense sorted out this will certainly be a 70+ point game as teams compete for playoff seeding. Meanwhile in competition for draft position the Rams and Bills face off in the northeast.
Best Game: Packers at Bears – 1:00pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Jaguars at Dolphins – 1:00pm
There won’t be many points in this NFC North contest but that’s the way those fans like it. They know each other that well look for an under the radar player to step up and make the winning play. It may seem like I’m picking on the Jaguars continually putting their game as the worst one but aside from Maurice Jones-Drew, there is not a whole lot of intrigue with that team.
Best Game: Giants at Ravens – 1:00pm
Toilet Bowl Game: Chargers at Jets – 8:20pm
Baltimore and New York will likely wind up beating the snot out of each other as they like to do, so long as this game has playoff implications of course. Meanwhile the Chargers and the Jets will likely be the two barely middle of the pack teams fighting it out in a crap-fest for their playoff lives.
Best Game: Any game with playoff implications
Toilet Bowl Game: Any game with no playoff implications
Really this one is self-explanatory, if the game involves the playoffs in any way fans should watch it, if it does not and you don’t follow one of those teams then it’s probably one to miss.