Finally, after months of speculation, the NFL has officially released the week-by-week schedules of the 2017 season. This list of games between the NFC and AFC spans 17 weeks and leads up to the all-important playoffs. There are more than a few interesting matchups taking place next season, including four games in London and one in Mexico City. Of course, what truly matters to readers of The Beaver Blitz is when and where can former Oregon State players be watched?
Well, you are in luck because I have gone through the schedules and picked out the five best games that pit the OSU offensive and defensive stars against each other. These games are the ones where you could potentially see a Beavers cornerback tackle one of his former teammates or an offensive lineman hold off a big defensive tackle. Sure, It would have been easy enough to point out games like Kansas City vs. Denver, but those teams only have Oregon State players on defense, so they won’t be on the field at the same time. With the following list, we can view some actual competition between former teammates.
With that in mind, let’s kick off the list with two games from the Buffalo Bills:
Week 7 Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The first game on our list is an interconference matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. An unlikely pairing, these teams don’t meet that often but still manage to entertain viewers with big plays from Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Mike Evans, and LeSean McCoy. The list of star players goes on and on, but we are focusing on Jordan Poyer and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Teammates for two seasons, Poyer and Rodgers were studs in college and had some hype coming into the league. Both found homes through the draft and joined teams with newer head coaches. Interestingly enough, their pro careers have been similar as both Rodgers and Poyer have each been on three different teams, dealt with multiple coach firings, but have still been productive in their time. Now they will meet as foes.
Watching Poyer and Quizz face off will be very interesting for one main reason: highlights. Poyer plays on the back end of Buffalo’s defense and is usually one of the last players to the pile when stopping a running back. If he does indeed attempt to tackle Quizz, it will be during a play where the diminutive but powerful back has broken off a long run or catch and is looking for the end zone. This means that he will be running downhill at full speed, which is honestly pretty scary from a defender’s viewpoint. Poyer’s best chance at tackling Quizz will be to get low and take him out near the midsection. Will it be successful? I have no idea, but at least the tackle attempt will be a blast to watch.
Weeks 13 and 16 Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
The late season battles between the Patriots restocked offense and the Buffalo Bills changing secondary could end up being the most entertaining games to watch for Oregon State fans. The reason? Jordan Poyer vs. Brandin Cooks. Poyer is the newest safety in Buffalo, and he joins a secondary that lost Stephon Gilmore in Free Agency. This leaves Ronald Darby as the only truly reliable corner on the roster. Not the best of news when Tom Brady is throwing passes to Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Christ Hogan, and now Cooks. Poyer should be extremely busy as the Bills try to rebuilt that secondary.
Given that Poyer is the deep man and that he is used to cleaning up plays after his teammates miss tackles--lessons learned from Cleveland--he will be seeing a lot of Cooks running at full speed. Poyer will be tasked with taking down the archer before he reaches the end zone on those go routes, which he means a lot of plays where he and Cooks run straight at each other in football’s version of chicken. In addition, he will most likely be asked to cover Cooks’ side of the field as a deep bracket defender.
To be honest, the majority of these plays will favor Cooks and his blazing speed, but at least the duo will show some fierce competition.
Week 10 Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons
The week 10 battle between the Cowboys phenomenal triplets and Atlanta’s high-flying offense will already make this game a “must watch”, but this will also be one of the more entertaining matchups if you enjoy watching offensive and defensive linemen battle in the trenches. The Falcons have one of the better interior offensive lines in the NFL with Alex Mack sitting at center and Andy Levitre at guard, capable of keeping pass rushers at bay and opening up lanes for Atlanta’s great running backs. The duo is quite entertaining to watch, but they will have their hands full with Dallas’ newly-signed defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
A veteran of seven seasons, the former Bears, Redskins, and Browns defender is a big man capable of fighting through double teams and opening up pass rushing lanes for his teammates. He did this quite often last season, opening up opportunities for Jamie Collins to get to opposing quarterbacks. Sadly, the Browns didn’t use Paea as much with their deep roster of defensive tackles, but he should get more opportunities as a Cowboy.
Watching Paea take on Levitre will be a very entertaining battle. Beavers fans will finally get an answer about which former star has the upper hand in one of the most important battles. On paper, both players are evenly matched with roughly the same body size and weight, but the fight could ultimately come down to leverage. My guess is that Paea will fare better with his upper body strength and bench press record, but we will just have to watch in week 10.
This game gets bonus points if the Cowboys do indeed draft Treston Decoud.
Weeks 11 and 17 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Like the game against Atlanta, the NFC East matchups between the Cowboys and Eagles will pit Stephen Paea against a standout Oregon State guard. Isaac Seumalo, the second-year player in question, became a starter partway through his rookie season as Lane Johnson dealt with a suspension and Brandon Brooks missed time with injury. Unlike Levitre, however, Seumalo was actually used more as a swing guard, playing both the left and right side depending on the situation. He also looped around and blocked edge defenders on certain running plays instead of taking on the defender right in front of him. This style of play will most likely reduce the battles between Paea and Seumalo, but they should still lock horns throughout the combined 120 minutes of action.
Weeks 9 and 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
The NFC South always has entertaining games as talented offenses run up the score against lesser defenses. Tampa Bay and New Orleans generally lead these fights with very good quarterback/receiver combos and really bad defenses. Interestingly enough, Beaver fans will have a fun side story to watch as Obum Gwacham and Jacquizz Rodgers take each other on in weeks 9 and 17.
Granted, these matchups are entirely dependent on Obum Gwacham’s health. After all, he did miss all of last season after being placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed ailment. Although the third-year defensive end is looking healthy once again heading into the summer months. He is posting photos from a training session in Indy to his Twitter account as a form of proof for hopeful fans.
If Gwacham is indeed healthy, this game against Quizz and the Buccaneers could be pretty entertaining. For example, there is a good chance that the two former Oregon State standouts could meet on the first play of the game given that they both participate on special teams. The battle would definitely continue on passing downs seeing how Quizz is a better pass blocker than Doug Martin or Charles Sims and generally serves as the third-down back throughout the game. Watching Gwacham try to beat Quizz’s block to get to Jameis Winston would be downright entertaining.
Ironically, the duo probably wouldn’t meet during running plays considering that Gwacham is a defensive end and Quizz tends to run between the guard and center. There will be a few outlier plays where the pair meet in the backfield, but those should be few and far between.
So there you have it, a list of the five best NFL games for Oregon State fans to watch this season. Keep in mind, changes could happen depending on where Treston Decoud, Devin Chappell, and Victor Bolden go in the NFL Draft and after. But for now, let’s stick with this list and start preparing for the season.