New York Jets @ New England Patriots — Monday, Dec. 6, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
As of week 10, both the Jets and the Patriots are 7-2 sitting atop the AFC. The Pats have impressive victories over the Ravens and Steelers, losing to the Browns and the Jets.
The Jets have only one impressive win and that is against these very Patriots, and the Jets’ two losses have been at the hands of the Ravens and the Packers.
The Jets have made a name for close, stressful, last-second victories. Their resiliency is remarkable, despite the fact they exhibit such toughness against less-than-elite teams. The bottom line is that the Jets — and quarterback Mark Sanchez — know how to win.
I think this game is the most intriguing of the rest of the season because it will give us an idea of just how good the Jets are.
If they can go into New England and beat Brady and the Pats — for the second time this season — the questions about the legitimacy of the Jets will fade. But if the Pats win, their claim as best team in the AFC will certainly appear a valid one.
Either way, this game — which is a Monday-nighter I remind you — will be as hyped up as any game this season and will probably play out as one of the best.
Week 15 — Sunday, Dec. 16
Year-in and year-out, week 15 in the NFL is always exciting because playoff spots are savagely being fought for. This year it just so happens that week 15 has a jaw-dropping slate of games all day.
It is hard to determine the best game of the day, and I really don’t think you can. We have the Eagles traveling to New York to take on the Giants in an always-entertaining rivalry matchup.
There is the Saints taking on the Ravens in Baltimore, where we will see one of the best defensive teams — the Ravens — trying to contain one of the best offensive teams.
In a somewhat less exciting, but all the while intriguing, game there is the matchup between Atlanta and Seattle, who both lead their respective divisions in the NFC.
Perhaps the best game of the day will be the matchup between the Jets and the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
These are two of the toughest teams in every facet of the game. The battle of ruthless defenses is obviously the main storyline but if Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan can go into to Heinz Field and take out the Steelers, it will be a signature win for both men in young careers.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Sunday night game is a matchup between Green Bay and New England at Foxboro. It is a possible Super Bowl matchup that will showcase two of the best quarterbacks in the league: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers — Sunday, Dec. 26, 4:15 p.m. on FOX
In my opinion these are the two best teams in the NFC. Sure the Giants lost to the miserable Cowboys, but every team gets a mulligan — see New England losing to Cleveland.
The Packers have an extremely difficult schedule for the rest of the season starting with week 12.
In their final six games they play teams with a combined record of 31-23. That doesn’t seem too overwhelming, but consider that two of the teams that bring down that record are San Francisco and Detroit.
The Packers have to play at Atlanta week 12, have two weeks of should-be-wins against the aforementioned mediocrity of the NFC and then finish off the final three weeks with games at New England, home against the Giants and home against Chicago.
One school of thought is that Green Bay will be the most ready team for the playoffs in the NFL. The other is that Green Bay will be so beat up that the playoffs will be short-lived.
I believe the former is the case and that Green Bay will weather the storm in the final weeks and be able to establish themselves as favorite in the NFC.
The Giants have a much easier schedule in the final weeks of the season — although they play three games against the Redskins and Eagles combined.
That being said, this will be their last chance to beat a top team in the NFC and will be eager to prove they are legit. Either way, this will be one of the best games in the NFC all year.
What is there to say? The NFL playoffs provide us with some of the most entertaining moments of the sporting calendar.
The opening round games are often as exciting as the conference championship games and the fact that there is a week beforehand to analyze each game adds to the anticipation.
Whether we are blessed with the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchup, the hard-hitting matchup of Steelers vs. Ravens, or the upstarts surprising everyone — like the Cardinals did two years ago — the playoffs are unpredictable, brutal and make up the best games of the winter and the year.
Super Bowl Sunday — Sunday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m. on CBS
Super Bowl Sunday speaks for itself. It is a holiday that everyone celebrates.
It is the single most important, entertaining and exciting day in all of sports. Period.
Other Notable Games
— Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Sunday, Dec. 5, 1 p.m. on FOX
— Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens — Sunday, Dec. 5, 8:20 p.m. on NBC
— Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans — Thursday, Dec. 9, 8:20 p.m. on NFL
— New York Jets @ Chicago Bears — Sunday, Dec. 26, 1 p.m. on CBS
— New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons — Monday, Dec. 27, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints — Sunday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. on CBS