The NFL season is on its way, and it brings with it overreaction Mondays, waiver wire Wednesdays, and most importantly, Sundays. The Holy Grail.
The sad news is, with busy lives and an abundance of good football, it can be difficult to catch every game. So I've gone to the liberty of giving you the best primetime game from every week of the season. Starting in week five, the NFL can decide to "flex" a game normally starting in the later time slot into Sunday Night Football, so while this is the current schedule, it is subject to change.
A Super Bowl rematch and the opening game of the season. Not a whole lot needs to be said. Plus, there will be storylines galore, from "Who will be quarterback for the Broncos?" to "How will Cam Newton perform against the Broncos' defense?"
While most consider the Packers the elite of the NFC North, the Vikings won the division last year and would've won a playoff game if it wasn't for Blair Walsh's shank heard around the world. Both teams should actually be improved from last season and this will be an early preview of a tough divisional title fight.
While neither the Falcons nor Saints were above .500 last year, they both should be better this season. The Falcons seriously addressed their defense, spending high picks on linebackers and safeties, while the Saints added another solid weapon for Brees in Michael Thomas. These matchups tend to be shootouts, and this could end up being a really fun game, especially if you have players invested for fantasy football.
In an age of dying running backs, these two teams might have the two most complete backs in the NFL. Jamaal Charles and Le'Veon Bell are the gold standard of dual-threat running backs in today's NFL, with explosive rushing ability and receiving ability. While both the Chiefs and Steelers finished second in their respective divisions last season, they hope their high-flying offenses will lead them back into first.
Week 5: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
The Giants were ... a disappointment last season. They did attempt to beef up their defense in the draft, with three of their first four picks being on that side of the ball, but their season will largely fall on the efficiency of Eli Manning. Drafting Sterling Shepard will help take some pressure off Odell Beckham Jr., so the Giants will attempt to beat their opponents with offense, not defense. Manning will do his best effort to go toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in week 5.
The Chargers didn't do much to bolster their offensive line, so this game could end up being Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware putting Philip Rivers on his back all game. But if the Chargers can keep Rivers upright, he is still as good as any quarterback in the league and has a growing chemistry with Keenan Allen. The Chargers have a chance to really bounce back from last season and a win against the defending champions would sure help.
The two heavyweights of the NFC West squaring off on national TV. These are two of the best four teams in the NFC, and they will be battling it out for the division title all season. This is their first matchup, with the second coming in week 16, so whoever wins this one will have a head start in the quest for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Two teams picking in the top-4 of the NFL Draft the previous year doesn't always make for good football, but this could end up being a great matchup. While both teams had the ability to pick foundational players in the draft, they aren't as far away as it might seem. With a new coaching regime in Philadelphia and a hopefully healthy Tony Romo, this could be a fun game.
Week 9: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
The Raiders are an extremely trendy pick for a 7-9 team, but with a young quarterback/receiver duo in Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, the offense could take a real step forward. Plus, Khalil Mack could be the closest thing to Von Miller. While the Raiders don't have enough to actually contend for the division, they do have a chance to make a run for the playoffs.
Week 10: Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
Not quite a Super Bowl rematch, but something close. In a game featuring who many believe to be the best two teams in the league, there's sure to be fireworks. All of the matchups between these two teams in the Russell Wilson era have been extremely close, and this one should be no different.
Week 11: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
Kirk Cousins had a breakout year, leading the Redskins to a division title. While some believe Cousins to be a fluke, the Redskins sure don't, as they paid him and invested in Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft. Cousins certainly likes that and he will also like a chance to go against the game's best in Aaron Rodgers. Both teams will rely heavily on their offenses to win games, so this game could have a combined score in the 70's.
Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts - Thursday, 8:30 ET, NBC
Two teams that finished second in their divisions, have dynamic quarterbacks and great wide receivers. While the Thursday night games are often sloppy, this one will feature two offenses that should be well-oiled machines by the time they clash in week 12. Yet another national television game that will be an absolute shootout.
Week 13: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
Over the last four seasons, these teams have played once a year, and every game has been within one touchdown. For whatever reason, the Seahawks and Panthers always play close games, and they are built in very similar fashions: mobile quarterbacks and great defenses led by young linebackers. The NFC representatives of the past three Super Bowls have a huge week 13 matchup on Sunday Night Football.
Week 14: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
While these two teams only combined for 10 wins last season, they always seem to have important divisional matchups late in the season. As part of the weakest division in football, it's anyone's game and this matchup could certainly help decide the outcome.
Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
The Steelers and Bengals combine for seven of the last nine AFC North champions and will square off in primetime week 15. Both teams lost important receivers in the offseason, with Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones departing in free agency for the Bengals and Martavis Bryant being suspended for the Steelers, but this game should be a shootout nonetheless.
Week 16: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday, 8:30 ET, NBC
There's a very real possibility that the winner of this game will win the AFC West. While neither team follows the conventional "elite quarterback" path to a division title, they both have tons of talent on both sides of the ball and will be very competitive in 2016.
Week 17: No primetime games