2017 NFL Schedule Release: 5 Games You Absolutely Can’t Miss
Published on April 21, 2017
The 2017 NFL season is officially in the back of our minds. Not only is the 2017 NFL Draft just around the corner, but we now have a taste of the actual games to come with the recent .
That’s right, the league knows precisely how to get their fans salivating in preparation for a new season, even when they’re die hard backers of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns aren’t part of the intense 2017 NFL schedule when it comes to games we can’t afford to miss, of course, but the point is pro football is going to be back before we know it and judging by a sweet schedule this year, we might not truly be ready for it.
There are a ton of interesting showdowns we’ll be hyping up for weeks, but there are five that without a doubt stand alone, head and shoulders above the rest. Here’s our favorite 5 NFL showdowns you can’t miss for 2017:
Coming in as our 5th best game to watch for in 2017 is a battle of young guns when Dak Prescott leads his ‘Boys into Oakland to face Derek Carr and the Silver & Black. Odds are both of these teams will be putting the finishing touches on a divisional title or first round bye, while we get two of the youngest, most stacked teams going up against each other.
Both of these teams were title threats a year ago, yet Dallas came up short at home against the Packers in the playoffs and the Raiders crumbled under a Derek Carr injury. Both teams should bounce back and heck, this might even end up being a Super Bowl 52 preview. The addition of stud running back Marshawn Lynch in Oakland makes this game even more interesting and provided these teams don’t disappoint in 2017, this will be one of the top games to wait for all year long.
This is certainly a matchup that could go either way, but as things stand the Raiders have a more aggressive defense, can hang with Dallas offensively and will be at home. Dak Prescott will need to be careful not to suffer through a sophomore slump, while it will be interesting to see how a Dallas defense that lost several key players holds up. For now, this is a game that figures to lean Oakland’s way.
Pick: Raiders 27, Cowboys 20
The next best game could be a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. Much like the showdown between the Cowboys and Raiders, this comes late in the year and could potentially have serious playoff ramifications.
Steelers star running back Le’Veon Bell wasn’t healthy enough to provide a big impact in Pittsburgh’s AFC title game loss, but this rematch has some bad blood and figures to be a solid game, and potentially a preview of yet another showdown in the conference championship game.
We all know Tom Brady and the Pats enter the 2017 season favored to again win it all (+400 odds at Bovada), but not far behind them are these talented and experienced Steelers (+1600). Ben Roethlisberger and co. are at their best at Heinz Field and will want to dish out some payback, while an intense game like this late in the year will surely play a hand in divisional titles and/or playoff seeding.
Siding with the Steelers to exact some revenge isn’t foolish, but the Pats were 14-2 a year ago and seemed to have only gotten better. If that’s true, we can’t start doubting them now, as they’d be a well-oiled machine by week 15.
Pick: Patriots 30, Steelers 17
You could rank this NFC blood bath a little higher, as everyone knows there is no love lost between hateful rivals, Seattle and Green Bay. The Packers housed the ‘Hawks at home during the regular season last year and no Green Bay fan will ever forget their awful NFC title game loss at Seattle just a few seasons ago.
The Packers will get a shot to go 2-0 at home in their last two dates with the Seahawks, and judging by the way Aaron Rodgers and this offense looked in 2016, it’s hard to deny them the edge. Green Bay still has moves to make, of course, as their defense was a total disaster in 2016 and their top running back – Eddie Lacy – is now a member of the Seahawks.
Green Bay has the better offense and will be at home, though, and they still haven’t washed the taste of that NFC title game loss out of their mouths. In addition, they enhanced their offense by adding tight end Martellus Bennett and really had Russell Wilson’s number the last time these two sides clashed. With all of the Richard Sherman rumors and Seattle’s once vaunted Legion of Boom regressing last year, it’s easy to hop aboard the green and gold train as the Packers seek a 1-0 start.
The draw is in this matchup, of course, as one of these top NFC contenders is guaranteed to begin their 2017 run with a loss. We doubt it’s the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Pick: Packers 24, Seahawks 16
One huge reason the Packers can’t drop game one is because they have possibly an even bigger test coming right away in week two, where they’ll head to ATL to take on a Falcons team that absolutely smoked them in the NFC title game.
Aaron Rodgers and co. looked fine out of the gates in that game, but they made too many mistakes on offense to keep up with what head coach Mike McCarthy called a “buzz saw”. Atlanta did as they pleased offensively in that game, unleashing Julio Jones and firmly exposing Green Bay’s terrible defense.
The Packers aren’t going to be a great bet on the road in this matchup, simply because we can’t know if their defense will be even remotely passable. Perhaps a strong showing at home against Seattle in week one will give them a boost in the betting world, but it makes sense for the Falcons to enter as the favorites.
Matt Ryan is usually pretty cool and collected at home, plus Dan Quinn’s aggressive defense seemed to turn into a nasty and confident unit as last year wore on. Unless the Super Bowl hangover is alive and well, a Falcons win in a likely shootout makes good sense.
Pick: Falcons 34, Packers 31
The top NFL game to watch for is without a doubt this week seven tilt in New England, which pits Tom Brady and the Pats against the Falcons in a classic Super Bowl 52 rematch.
It will be very interesting to see if the hype gets worn down by a slow start from the Falcons, as they did lose offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and teams that lose the Super Bowl do historically struggle the following year. Regardless of where the Pats and Falcons stand in the middle of the 2017 regular season, however, Atlanta will surely get up for this game and want to dish out some sweet revenge.
The problem here is the Falcons have always been a little more vulnerable out on the road and the Pats tend to play their best ball at Foxborough. Tom Brady and co. should be in top form at this point, too, so at best we can hope for a high-scoring, tight shootout. Atlanta’s speed won’t be quite as prevalent on a grass field and New England has taken measures to improve their defense, which was already pretty strong a year ago.
The Falcons could easily get the upset, but we tend to favor the defending Super Bowl champs on their home field in this one.
Pick: Patriots 30, Falcons 27
That does it for our early look at the 2017 NFL schedule. With any top 5 list, we’re bound to leave out some stellar games and rivalries, but to us, these five games are without a doubt the most interesting showdowns going into the new NFL season.
Have a different matchup you’re excited for? Hate our list entirely? Feel free to offer your thoughts on the 2017 NFL schedule release in the comments below!