The NFL regular season is winding down, leaving us with only four more weeks of brutal competition before the playoffs begin. Before we reach the postseason, there is plenty to settle in the AFC and NFC with the races being airtight for both divisions and wild-cards.
It hasn’t been a great year for primetime football with a number of blowouts on Thursday and Sunday Night Football this season. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for a strong finish.
Looking forward, here are the 10 best nationally televised games remaining on the docket. This list does not including the Week 17 games that will be announced before the final week of the season, although Detroit at Green Bay, Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, and Arizona at San Francisco would be contenders for this list:
10. Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers, Week 14, 8:30, ESPN
This is entertaining for obvious reasons. The Packers have an unbelievable offense behind Aaron Rodgers, who seems a no-doubt MVP winner this year. Rodgers put up 42 points against the Bears a few weeks ago on Sunday Night Football … in the first half. He could definitely do the same against Atlanta’s “defense.”
9. Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears, Week 14, 8:25, NFL Network
The Bears are out of the race at 5-7 heading into the Thursday night game, but still have ample playmakers and a great venue for December in cold, bitter Soldier Field. Dallas is 8-4 and right in the mix. It is always fun to see if Tony Romo throws that back-breaking interception he is usually good for when the weather turns.
8. Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, Week 16, 8:30 PM, NBC
No question, this game has a ton of importance. The problem is, few are going to be enthralled by Drew Stanton on one side and a run-heavy offense on the other. Seattle is the defending champion and deserves respect, but watching the Seahawks on the road just isn’t the same. Still, high drama with major NFC West implications.
7. San Diego Chargers at San Francisco 49ers, Week 16, 8:25 PM, CBS
This rare Saturday night game could be a psuedo-playoff game for these California contenders. The Chargers could be coming in with two straight losses after playing the Broncos and Patriots, while the 49ers might need the win to keep any hopes alive of earning a wild-card berth in the crowded NFC. Colin Kaepernick and Philip Rivers? Juicy matchup.
6. Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals, Week 16, 8:30 PM, ESPN
Andy Dalton is one of the worst primetime players of his generation, if not ever. Last time we saw Dalton under the lights, he was busy earning a quarterback rating of 2.0 against the Cleveland Browns. Can Dalton somehow turn his fortunes and beat Peyton Manning and the high-powered Broncos?
5. Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys, Week 16, 4:25 PM, CBS
Any time you can have Andrew Luck and Tony Romo on the same field, it’s a fun day. Luck is leading he league in passing yards while Romo has Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray at his disposal. Look for a lot of points and Skip Bayless’ head to explode come Monday.
4. Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles, Week 14, 4:25 PM, FOX
Philadelphia is coming off a 33-10 win over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, while the Seahawks took center-stage later that night and beat the 49ers 19-3. If Seattle wins, it could find itself back in the NFC West penthouse, provided the Cardinals lose to the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Eagles win, they take another step toward an NFC East crown.
3. New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers, Week 14, 8:30 PM NBC
With Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, you are guaranteed a truckload of points. On top of that, you get Rob Gronkowski and every pulverizing move that he brings to the table. Add in the Bill Belichick scowl and Darrelle Revis shutting fools down, and you have fantastic television. San Diego needs this game for playoff hopes as well, so it will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at New England.
2. Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, Week 15, 8:30 PM NBC
The Cowboys will need this game to have any hope of catching the Eagles in the NFC East. These games are always interesting, especially in Philadelphia where the hate runs deep for the Cowboys, Santa, and just about everything else. Plus, you can’t underestimate the power of Romo in these games. The man is a magnet.
1. San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, Week 15, 4:25 PM Fox
This game goes without saying. So many times, a rivalry is based out of the fans loathing one another. In this case, the teams want to take the fight into the tunnel afterwards. No two teams hit harder and have more malice in their hearts. It makes for a great game and will be all the better with so much riding on the outcome.