By Matt Noonan
The NFL regular season is finally here, which means it is time to preview 10 marquee matchups to watch this season, so make sure you mark these dates on your calendar.
Dallas at New York Jets (Week 1) – Rob Ryan vs. Rex Ryan will be the headline for this particular matchup. Both Ryan brothers competed against one another last year; however, Rex’s Jets came out on top. Perhaps that’s some fuel on the fire for Rob Ryan’s defense and the Cowboys?
San Diego at New England (Week 2) – Both teams met against one another in week two of the ’07 season, but this time, Adalius Thomas won’t be on the field. Does that mean Jerod Mayo will attempt a pick-six against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers? Anything’s possible.
Philadelphia at Atlanta (Week 2) – Michael Vick returns to Atlanta, Georgia on “Sunday Night Football.” Yet, one might wonder if Falcons owner Arthur Blank will want to shake Vick’s hand before or after the game? Also, does Blank and Vick still exchange hand written letters too?
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (Week 3) – Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy believes Indianapolis will be doomed this season due to Peyton Manning’s health. If that’s the case, the Colts should lose this game. In fact, if the Colts lose this game, they’d be [0-3] at this point, right?
New York Jets at New England (Week 5) – You know deep down that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has this game circled on his calendar. In fact, I bet he’s talking to his barber, dentist, doctor and owner Bob Kraft about this particular meeting. In fact, he’s definitely talking to Kraft, who criticized his team’s game plan last year in the playoffs against the Jets.
Dallas at New England (Week 6) – The last time the Cowboys invaded Gillette Stadium, Quincy Carter was the quarterback and Bill Parcells was the head coach. Also, Dallas hadn’t won a playoff game either, but this time around, Jason Garrett is the man who walks the sidelines, while Tony Romo calls the plays under center. The Cowboys have indeed won a playoff game, (’09 against the Philadelphia Eagles), but should definitely consider this a must-win contest, especially against an elite team.
New York Giants at New England (Week 9) – Expect Belichick and his team to look for revenge against the squad that ended their prefect season in Glendale, Arizona in ’07. Also, hopefully the Patriots defensive will be able to tackle Giants quarterback Eli Manning too.
Arizona at Philadelphia (Week 10) – Kevin Kolb returns to the “City of Brotherly Love.” Don’t expect Kolb to be the guaranteed starter in this game, but I’m sure there’ll be a decent amount of “boos” and jeers toward Kolb and his Cardinals.
San Francisco at Baltimore (Week 12) – Once again, it’s another brother vs. brother meeting, as John Harbaugh’s Ravens host Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers. The Ravens should have the upper hand in this particular matchup; yet, you just don’t know what quarterback Alex Smith might do for San Francisco.
New York Giants at New York Jets (Week 16/Christmas Eve) – Santa Clause, Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Fireman Ed will be incredibly jolly during this contest, but who knows, maybe Giants head coach Tom Coughlin won’t be so nice and lead his New York team to victory.
Just for Fun – The Chicago Bears will travel to Detroit, Michigan over Columbus Day Weekend to take on the Lions under the “Monday Night” lights, which certainly should be an interesting affair. Hey, when was the last time the Lions appeared on a major stage like “Monday Night Football?” All in all, let’s keep our fingers crossed that quarterback Matthew Stafford remains healthy this season too.