There are 256 games in the NFL’s regular-season schedule, and despite what the league might want you to think, not all of them are great.
In fact, it feels like there have been more “bad” games than “good” games in recent seasons, but that trend might be reversed this fall, as we’ve got quite a doozy of a schedule.
So good, in fact, that we went through the schedule and tried to find the 18 most appetizing games on the NFL calendar. (18 for 2018; get it?) For the record, we didn’t include divisional games because those happen twice per year and seem a bit monotonous.
We still were able to put together a pretty impressive list, though. Here’s said list:
18. Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 2 — We’re going to look pretty dumb if both teams lose in Week 1, but we’ll go with it anyway. Patrick Mahomes is getting a crash course on life as a starter with visits to Los Angeles and Pittsburgh to begin the season, while the Steelers have to hope this will mark Le’Veon Bell’s season debut.
17. Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 10 — We’re kind of going out on a limb here, as there’s a chance both teams are “meh” at this point — especially the Panthers. But there are some enticing matchups here, especially with Bell trying to find running room against a stout Carolina run defense.
16. Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Rams, Week 8 — Speaking of tough spots in the schedule, the Packers have the Rams in L.A. before going cross-country to take on the Patriots. One matchup we love in this one, though: Aaron Rodgers vs. Wade Phillips’ defense. Sounds like a good time.
15. Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots, Week 6 — Few teams have had the Patriots’ number in recent years like Andy Reid and the Chiefs. This game could be huge when it comes to playoff seeding, or it could be the Kansas City’s attempt to save its season after a tough opening stretch.
14, Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints, Week 16 — We don’t know the point total yet, but go ahead and blindly hammer the over. Assuming full health, Ben Roethlisberger and his complement of weapons battling against Drew Brees and that dynamic offense has shootout written all over it.
13. Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots, Week 13 — We were one game from this being the Super Bowl matchup in Minnesota last season. We’ll get this tantalizing late-season matchup instead, as Tom Brady tries to solve Mike Zimmer’s defense, which should be among the NFL’s best.
12. Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 8 — This is a potential Super Bowl preview, right? Jalen Ramsey will get his chance to slow down Carson Wentz, who is one of only a few quarterbacks who doesn’t suck, according to Ramsey.
11. New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans, Week 10 — Not only is this a playoff rematch and potential 2018 playoff preview, this one also has plenty of drama, with Malcolm Butler (and Dion Lewis) getting their first crack at Bill Belichick and their former team.
10. Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams, Week 3 — A lot of people are high on the Chargers this season, potentially making this a dark horse Super Bowl preview. The bigger question: Will any fans of either team actually show up?
9. Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints, Week 8 — Yes, we know there’s a lot of the Rams on this list …
8. Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams, Week 4 — The Rams have a hellacious schedule, but at least they’re home for games against the Packers, Eagles and Vikings. This is a big early-season test for two teams both looking to take the next step.
7. New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 2 — The Jaguars can’t undo their AFC Championship Game meltdown, but they’ll get a chance to at least set the tone for a new season in this early rematch with the Patriots.
6. Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints, Week 11 — The Superdome will be jumping when the Eagles invade The Big Easy. This is one of many potential playoff previews on this list, and it’s the perfect spot for the Saints to potentially legitimize their standing as contenders.
5. Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles, Week 5 — No one should be surprised if these two teams meet in the NFC Championship Game, especially considering it happened last season. Things got away from the Vikes in that one, and they’ll get a chance for revenge here, presumably with Wentz under center for Philly.
4. New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, Week 8 — The Saints return to the scene of the crime: the site of the Minnesota Miracle. These teams played arguably the best game of the year last season, so why not try to make it two in a row this year?
3. New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15 — When these two teams meet, weird things usually happen. We’ll expect more of the same in mid-December when they clash in Pittsburgh. We’ll go ahead and assume playoff seeding will be a major focal point.
2. Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams, Week 15 — These two had an epic shootout in L.A. last season, with the Rams winning. Philly, of course, got the last laugh by way of a Super Bowl win with Nick Foles at QB. He replaced Wentz, who suffered his season-ending knee injury against the Rams. Full circle.
1. Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots, Week 9 — It’s a quarterback league, and you won’t find two better signal-callers than Tom Brady and Rodgers. It’s hard to imagine, but this is just their second meeting, and it would be Rodgers’ first start in New England; he missed the Packers’ trip to Gillette Stadium in 2010.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images