Note: all games are before the 2014 NFL Draft, so when Keith McGill, Trevor Reilly, Jake Murphy, Tenny Palepoi, Karl Williams, Vyncent Jones and Anthony Denham find a new home the list of 70 will obviously grow, and this top five may change.
Carolina at Baltimore
I don't know why I'm picking this game. There probably won't be any fireworks or comments made by either team leading up to this one, right? Wrong. When Carolina made it clear they wouldn't be bringing back their veteran WR for cap reasons and as soon as Steve Smith signed with Baltimore we all eagerly waited to see if Baltimore was going to be on Carolina's schedule… and the Scheduling Gods delivered. This matchup isn't as much about Star vs Steve Smith, but Steve Smith vs Carolina. You can bet Steve Smith will have a few words for the Panthers Secondary he is very familiar with. I can't wait to see the TD celebration by Steve Smith if when he gets in the endzone. Get your popcorn ready and Ice Up Son(™)!
New England at Kansas City
The narrative for this game will be Tom Brady vs Alex Smith, as it very well should be, but I'm looking into this one for a few other reasons, too. Number one: Sealver Siliga proved last year he is a starting DT in this league, and I'm curious to see how the first few games of the season unfold for him. Seeing him in the middle of a Chiefs line that has question marks will be fun, especially as he is staring up at Alex Smith. Number two: Reggie Dunn was brought in last year to help the Pats prep for the post-season and many are hopeful he can find a way on to the 53-man roster. If anyone in the league can get creative with a fast weapon like Reggie, it's Bill Belichick. With returns becoming less frequent in the NFL, Reggie is going to need to prove he can add more to the team and become more versatile to make the roster. We'll wait and see on that one. Number three: unrelated to Ute-On-Ute is the narrative above. Alex Smith, the ‘Game Manager' referred to by the talking heads, played as good a playoff game as he could have last year and he still saw his Chiefs on the losing end of the Wild Card to Indy. Me thinks Big Al wanted that showdown in Foxborough last year that Andrew Luck got in the second round. This matchup is in a much friendlier locale for Big Al than the game would've been in New England, but home or not, I can't wait to see how he comes out against the one of the league's best.
Kansas City at San Diego
Any chance I get to see two of the best Utes of all time (and former teammates) go at it I have to put it on this list. Weddle plays mind games with QBs and the matchup of The Beard and Big Al is going to be a fun one to see. There is also an interesting twist of Ute-On-Ute with the WR corps of San Diego (coached by Fred Graves) go up against Sean Smith. This game is fairly early in the year, but will play a big role in what team ends up on top of the AFC West and in playoff contention. This game showcases the most Utes of the Top Five games with five in total: McCoy, Weddle, Graves, Smith and Smith.
San Diego at Baltimore
Everyone will immediately point to Weddle's Beard vs Ice Up Son, and hopefully we get some of that action, but this one runs deeper. Steve Smith was being courted by the Chargers this offseason and apparently also held a contract offer from San Diego, even had a trip scheduled for a visit, but ultimately canceled after visiting Baltimore first and made his decision to be a Raven. That probably won't carry much weight come Week 13, but still an interesting subplot nonetheless. I hope we get to see Eric Weddle take on Steve Smith, but this game has four former Utah Utes: Mike McCoy, Fred Graves, Eric Weddle and Steve Smith.
Carolina at Atlanta
Caroline comes into the season with GIGANTIC question marks at LT and WR, namely because the loss of former greats Jordan Gross and Steve Smith. Atlanta was hobbled all of last year by injuries and is looking to get back on the winning track. This game will feature two of the leagues best, most productive defensive tackles in Star Lotulelei and Paul Soliai. Atlanta needed someone to sure up the defensive front and bring some toughness and they are getting those and more with Solia. Paul will be reuniting with former Miami DC Mike Nolan, who you can be sure pulled hard for Paul to take his talents to ATL. Playoff seedings and hopes should be on the line when these two rivals face off the last week of the season and watching Star and Paul do damage to the opposing offensive linemen will be a treat.
In addition to these top five games a couple other Utes In The NFL tidbits: