Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman (77) pressures New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the first quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2017 NFL schedule officially out, here is a look at the top game from each week of the season.
After Thursday’s release of the 2017 NFL schedule for the upcoming season, football fans have even more reason to hope the next few months fly by so football can officially return when the Kansas City Chiefs face the New England Patriots on September 7. Until then, football fans can help pass the time by seeing which games they have to look forward to the most, as there are certainly plenty to choose from.
As exciting as the opening game between the Chiefs and Patriots should turn out to be, the argument can be made that won’t even be the most exciting matchup from Week 1 since it’s tough to top a Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Based off the history between these two teams, one can only imagine the epic showdown that could possibly take place when Russell Wilson looks to redeem himself at Lambeau after a disastrous performance in 2016.
If this game between the Seahawks and Packers doesn’t seem exciting enough, the good news is Thursday’s release of the schedule shows there are plenty of great games to look forward to throughout the 2017 season. From a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots to an epic battle in the NFC East between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles during the final week of the regular season, take a look at the top game from each week of the 2017 NFL season.
Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WS, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones (95) sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) at Lambeau Field. Mandatory credit: Jim Matthews/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
Week 1: Seahawks vs. Packers
It seems like every time the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers square off against one another, football fans are always treated to an intense football game. While some of these games have come down to the wire over the years, last season’s meeting between these two teams ended up being one of the most embarrassing performances of Russell Wilson‘s career.
Players are going to display poor performances from time to time, but to see Wilson throw five interceptions in this Week 14 matchup against the Packers was completely unexpected for the Seahawks quarterback. Throughout a majority of the game, Green Bay’s defense caused all sorts of problems for Wilson on offense, as Seattle went on to lose the game 38-10.
Over the last couple of years, the Packers and Seahawks always seem to be considered one of the early favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and it’s easy to see why when looking at how successful these two teams have been. As impressive as Green Bay’s defense looked in this meeting last season, expect a closer battle this time around, especially since Wilson won’t be dealing with some of the injuries that bothered him throughout 2016.
Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) at the line of scrimmage against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2: Packers vs. Falcons
The Green Bay Packers most likely cannot wait for another opportunity to take on the Atlanta Falcons when considering how things turned out for Aaron Rodgers and company during last year’s NFC Championship game. Prior to that game, the Packers were arguably the hottest team in the NFL after winning their final six games of the regular season just to make the postseason before eventually advancing to the NFC Championship.
Green Bay had already pulled off an unbelievable upset over the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round, and had every reason in the world to feel confident heading into the NFC Championship against Atlanta. Instead, the Packers allowed the Falcons to jump out to a 24-0 lead at halftime before eventually going on to lose the game 44-21 to crush all hopes of topping off a miraculous run with a Super Bowl.
Rodgers has never been shy expressing himself as one of the most competitive players in the NFL throughout his career, and it’s safe to assume the Packers quarterback will be looking for revenge against the Falcons in this one. With that being said, the only thing that could put Green Bay at a disadvantage is the fact they have a tough battle against the Seattle Seahawks the week before, as mentioned in the previous slide.
Jan 14, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) makes the catch against Houston Texans strong safety Corey Moore (43) in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Week 3: Texans vs. Patriots
Thanks to having one of the league’s top defenses, the argument can be made the Houston Texans could have defeated the New England Patriots in last year’s Divisional Round of the playoffs with any other quarterback than Brock Osweiler. For a quarterback to be making the type of money Osweiler was from the Texans while throwing more interceptions than touchdowns during the regular season was absolutely ridiculous, but at least he’s no longer the team’s problem.
In fact, nobody really knows where Osweiler will end up playing in 2017, but at least Houston feels confident enough in Tom Savage as their starter moving forward. After winning the AFC South title in each of the last two seasons, the Texans should be able to make another run at the division for the third-straight season, no matter who ends up being their quarterback.
Of course, even if Houston does end up winning the AFC South title again, chances are the only way they will reach the Super Bowl is if they figure out a way to defeat the New England Patriots. Keep in mind the Texans not only struggled to defeat the Patriots during the playoffs, but they couldn’t even do so at the beginning of the regular season in 2016, despite Tom Brady not even playing since was in the middle of his “Deflategate” suspension.
Dec 18, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) talks to wide receiver Mike Evans (13) before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Week 4: Giants vs. Buccaneers
After seeing how successful the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in free agency by improving their passing game, there’s a good chance this matchup could end up being one of the highest-scoring games from Week 4. Even if the running game could still be an issue for both squads, Eli Manning and Jameis Winston could find themselves being part of one classic shootout on offense.
While the Giants made a splash by bringing Brandon Marshall on board to provide Manning with another dangerous weapon playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr., the Buccaneers did the same for Mike Evans with the signing of DeSean Jackson. There already was plenty of potential surrounding both offenses before the start of free agency, but these additions by New York and Tampa Bay should make them strong contenders in the NFC during the 2017 season.
Depending on what happens in each of their respected divisions, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Giants and Buccaneers possibly competing for one of the Wild Card spots towards the end of the season. And if the potential surrounding these two offenses wasn’t already exciting enough, let’s not forget how both defenses were on the rise in the second half of last season, which could make this game even more fun to watch.
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Week 5: Buccaneers vs. Patriots
Speaking of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if the team thought Week 4 against the New York Giants was going to be a tough task, just wait until they see what’s in store the following weekend against the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s no need to explain how dominant Tom Brady has been for the New England Patriots while playing in Foxborough throughout his career, but at least this will be a solid early test for the Buccaneers.
Many believe Tampa Bay is one of those teams capable of making the jump to becoming serious contenders in 2017 after falling just shy of the playoffs last year with a 9-7 record. But in order to be taken seriously in the NFL, the Buccaneers will need to prove they have what it takes to compete with the best, especially against teams that are considered strong Super Bowl favorites like the Patriots.
Tampa Bay may have been considered one of the big winners of free agency thanks to the addition of DeSean Jackson, but now it’s up to the team to live up to the hype when it matters the most in the regular season. The Buccaneers’ defense put together some impressive performances during the 2016 season, but nothing like the challenge they’re going to face against the Patriots during this Week 5 game.
Jan 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs free safety Ron Parker (38) in the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. Pittsburgh won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Week 6: Steelers vs. Chiefs
Remember last January when the Pittsburgh Steelers went on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, and ended up advancing to the AFC Championship following a win, despite not scoring a single touchdown? Most teams would never be able to pull off a win without a single trip to the end zone, but the Steelers somehow managed to figure out a way to do so.
For a team like the Chiefs, Andy Reid‘s squad had every reason in the world to feel frustrated for missing out on a golden opportunity to finally advance to the AFC Championship. Not to mention, Kansas City was already anxious to perform better against Pittsburgh in the playoffs after they were humiliated 43-14 when these two teams met during Week 4 of the regular season.
Early signs point to the Chiefs and Steelers being two of the top contenders in the AFC once again, as this could easily turn into a key defensive battle just like it did during last year’s playoffs. Then again, the true difference maker in this one could end up being Kansas City’s offense since everybody knows what Pittsburgh is capable of when Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are clicking on offense.
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches a pass against New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe (25) in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Week 7: Falcons vs. Patriots
Is there even a reason to begin explaining why this Week 7 matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots has so much hype? Unless they end up winning this year’s Super Bowl, there’s a good chance the Falcons are never going to get over what happened last February after allowing the Patriots to overcome a 25-point deficit late in the second half before going on to win in overtime.
Just thinking about how Atlanta allowed this to happen will make some football fans sick to their stomach since blowing that large of a lead basically seemed impossible, which made it even more impressive on New England’s end. To see the Falcons seem to be on the verge of winning their first Super Bowl only to lose the way they did was simply heartbreaking, and even if they do defeat the Patriots in Week 7, it’s still not going to take away all of the pain.
If Atlanta has it their way, not only would they love to have the opportunity to defeat New England during this Week 7 matchup, but in the Super Bowl as well. Then again, if the Falcons’ defense struggled late in the second half of last year’s Super Bowl, just imagine what they could be in for after seeing the additions made by the Patriots this offseason, including a trade with the New Orleans Saints for Brandin Cooks.
Nov 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (71) pass blocks on Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) in the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Week 8: Broncos vs. Chiefs
In the two meetings between these AFC West rivals in 2016, it was the Kansas City Chiefs that came up on the winning end against the Denver Broncos both times, one of which happened to be a 33-10 blowout on Christmas Day. And if losing these two games to the Chiefs wasn’t already frustrating enough for the Broncos, just imagine the level of frustration they were feeling after missing out on the playoffs, despite winning the Super Bowl the year before.
Denver’s defense was the key to the team’s Super Bowl run that season, and the unit seemed to pickup right where they left off after jumping out to a 7-3 record before their first meeting with Kansas City in Week 12. Unfortunately for Denver, this was the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating end to the regular season after they would fall short of making the postseason by losing four of their final six games.
With the way last season played out, there’s a good chance the AFC West will end up being one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either one of these teams end up taking the division title. But also, the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers shouldn’t be ruled out either in the AFC West, as they will most likely give the Broncos and Chiefs a run for their money as well.
Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry (53) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Week 9: Lions vs. Packers
When it comes to feeling the frustration of facing teams within the division, there’s a good chance the Detroit Lions are sick and tired of losing to the Green Bay Packers, especially in Week 17 last year when they allowed them to take the NFC North title. Thanks to struggles of the Packers in the middle of the regular season, the Lions were in the perfect position to win the division before missing out after losing their final three games.
Even though Detroit still found a way to earn one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC, they certainly didn’t look like a playoff team after their disappointing performance against the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round. To make the playoffs after starting the year off with a 1-3 record was quite the accomplishment for the Lions, but only scoring six points in the playoffs against the Seahawks left the team with a bad taste in their mouth during the offseason.
Matthew Stafford has proven to be one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league over the years, and if he’s going to have any chance of taking down arguably the top offensive player the division has to offer in Aaron Rodgers, the Detroit quarterback will need help from his defense. After both meetings were decided by seven points (both wins by the Packers) in 2016, expect this Week 9 matchup to live up to the hype as usual.
Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws as running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) blocks during the game against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Week 10: Cowboys vs. Falcons
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys ended up being one of the biggest surprises of the regular season by winning 13 games to earn the No. 1 spot in the NFC. In fact, there was plenty of excitement over the possibility of the Cowboys facing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game since they were the top two teams in the NFC during the regular season.
While the Falcons managed to do so after an impressive win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round, it was the Cowboys that failed to do their part after falling to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Obviously, it’s unfair to be hard on Dallas since Green Bay was playing out of their minds thanks to Rodgers, but at least football fans will finally get to see the matchup they were hoping to see last January when the Cowboys visit the Falcons in Week 10.
What makes this matchup even more exciting is early signs point to Atlanta and Dallas having two of the top offenses once again in 2017 if they pickup right where they left off last season. And of course, if all goes well, these two teams will hopefully play well enough to be strong contenders in the NFC once again, which means this could even turn into a possible early playoff preview in the NFC.
Jan 14, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball against Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional playoff at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Week 11: Falcons vs. Seahawks
Continuing the trend with the Atlanta Falcons, it will be interesting to see if Matt Ryan‘s squad can dominate the Seattle Seahawks the way they did in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last January. The Seahawks previously won the first meeting between these two teams in the regular season despite a controversial no call on Richard Sherman towards the end of the game, but it was the Falcons who got the last laugh by winning when it mattered the most in the postseason.
This time around, football fans should be in for yet another treat between Atlanta and Seattle, as both of them are expected to be two of the top contenders in the NFC once again. The Seahawks’ defense may seem like they’ve been on the decline over the last year or so, but they tend to show up in big games like this when there’s plenty on the line.
Clearly, it’s still way too early to determine where each team will stand heading into Week 11, but everyone expects them to be in serious contention for a playoff spot in the NFC. And if that does in fact happen to be the case, this Week 11 battle between the Falcons and Seahawks could turn out to be even more intense than originally expected at this point in the offseason.
Jan 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Week 12: Packers vs. Steelers
What football fan doesn’t love a matchup that features two of the top offenses in the NFL? In what could easily turn into an epic offensive battle between two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, fans can’t wait to see what’s in store when the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers go head-to-head in Week 12 of the 2017 season.
Unfortunately for both teams, the one common factor between the Packers and Steelers is both teams fell short of their ultimate goal last January by earning a spot in Super Bowl 51. While Green Bay suffered an embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, Pittsburgh was forced to adjust their game plan against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship after losing Le’Veon Bell early on before eventually falling 36-17.
For two teams considered to be one of the early favorites heading into the 2017 season, it’s difficult not to wonder if this could end up being an early Super Bowl preview for February in Minnesota between the Packers and Steelers. Rodgers and Big Ben have always been the types of quarterback that are capable of putting up monster numbers on a weekly basis, and just imagine the possibilities on offense that could be in store for Week 12.
Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Week 13: Panthers vs. Saints
Before anyone freaks out over two teams that failed to make the playoffs last year being on this list, keep in mind exciting it was to watch the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints last season. After the Saints held on for the 41-38 win in Week 6, it was the Panthers that came up on the winning end in Week 11 for the 23-20 victory.
As disappointing as it was for both of these teams to fall short of reaching the postseason in 2016, that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the running for a playoff spot this upcoming season. Between New Orleans having one of the league’s top offenses led by Drew Brees along with Carolina having one of the league’s toughest quarterbacks in Cam Newton, these two teams are expected to give the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers some competition when it comes to winning the NFC South.
Believe it or not, all four of those teams seem capable of winning the division in 2017, which means this Week 13 matchup between New Orleans and Carolina could be critical for both parties. Depending on what’s going on within the NFC South, a win in the division could end up being extremely important this late in the season if the Panthers and Saints each happen to have winning records.
Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) goes over Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Andrew Gachkar (52) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Week 14: Cowboys vs. Giants
Nothing against the Philadelphia Eagles, but their regular-season finale win against the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t that meaningful since Jason Garrett decided to rest the starters for a majority of the game. With that being said, the Cowboys technically only lost two games during the 2016 regular season, both of which happened to come against the New York Giants.
For whatever reason, New York was the only team Dallas couldn’t seem to overcome during the regular season, even though they deserve some benefit of the doubt for losing on opening weekend when they were adjusting to rookie Dak Prescott under center. At least from the perspective of the Cowboys, both losses against the Giants happened to come by a combined four points, so at least they managed to find a way to make it competitive.
Early signs indicate Dallas and New York being the top two teams in the NFC East, and just like last year, they will meet once again in Week 14 in what could end up being a key factor in the race for the division. With the last five meetings between these NFC East rivals being decided by single digits, don’t be surprised if this turns out to be another close battle between the Cowboys and Giants.
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots line up for the snap at the line of scrimmage during the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Week 15: Patriots vs. Steelers
While the New England Patriots deserve plenty of credit for their epic Super Bowl run last season after overcoming all sorts of obstacles such as Deflategate and a 25-point deficit to the Atlanta Falcons, keep in mind the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t help but think what could have been. With a high-powered offense consisting of weapons like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers seemed to have the best shot at knocking off the Patriots in the playoffs if the two teams were to meet in the AFC Championship.
After impressive wins against the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh received their opportunity to take on New England with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, but they suffered a huge setback after losing Bell early on due to an injury. Bell has wasted no time becoming one of the league’s most dangerous players at running back since he’s arguably just as dangerous in the passing game, but losing him in the AFC Championship put the Steelers in a very difficult situation.
All of a sudden, Pittsburgh was forced to switch their game plan around since they would end up playing most of the game without Bell before going on to lose the game by 19 points. Hopefully when the this AFC Championship rematch takes place in Week 15, Bell and the rest of the Steelers’ offense will be fully healthy to make this another classic showdown against the Patriots.
Nov 27, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) greet and talk prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Week 16: Seahawks vs. Cowboys
Only time will tell when it comes to what the Seattle Seahawks will end up doing with Richard Sherman, but for the sake of excellent football, fans should hope the team doesn’t end up trading him for entertainment purposes. Sherman may not seem like the elite cornerback from a few years ago, but that still hasn’t stopped him from getting under the skin of his opponents.
Last year’s regular season meeting between Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons is the perfect example of how scrappy Sherman can seem at times. And when seeing the NFL decided to roll with the Seahawks visiting the Dallas Cowboys this late in the season, fans are going to want to turn in to see the potential battle between Sherman and Dez Bryant.
Just like Sherman, football fans outside of Dallas seem to have developed a hate towards Bryant, but at the end of the day, his talent as an elite receiver can’t be ignored. Based off their reputations for being hot heads at times, the possibilities for heated exchanges between Sherman and Bryant in Week 16 seem endless, especially if the Seahawks and Cowboys live up to their offseason hype and are battling for playoff positions.
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) meet with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after the game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Week 17: Cowboys vs. Eagles
After finishing with the best record in the NFC during the regular season last year, the Dallas Cowboys may have a difficult time doing so again when taking a closer look at their schedule for 2017. Then again, that’s what teams get for being one of the best, but at least the Cowboys should feel confident enough in being strong contenders once again thanks to having two of the league’s top stars in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Watching Prescott and Elliott perform on the high level they did as rookies should make the rest of the NFL terrified about what the future has in store for making sure Dallas continues to be one of the team’s to beat in the NFC. But doing so is easier said than done as the upcoming season will be the ultimate test for the Cowboys when it comes to proving they are in fact the real deal, and last year’s phenomenal rookie seasons for Prescott and Elliott weren’t just flukes.
As for the future of the NFC East, not only does it appear to be bright for Prescott with the Cowboys, but for Carson Wentz with the Philadelphia Eagles as well. One of the main differences between Prescott and Wentz from their rookie seasons was the Cowboys provided their quarterback with more reliable weapons on offense when compared to the Eagles.
Now that Philadelphia has an improved offense for Wentz to work with after the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, it will be interesting to see how the battle in the NFC East turns out. The Eagles may seem like underdogs at the moment when compared to the rest of them, but Wentz has already proven to be a competitor, and this regular-season finale against the Cowboys could end up having a major impact on the final division standings.