When the NFL schedule is released each year, we typically rank the games from top to bottom. This time around, we’re going to try something different. We’re going to take each nationally televised game and chunk it into a tier from 1 (the best games of the year) to 7 (let’s be diplomatic and say that these games aren’t very good). If you disagree, great – it’s not all that serious. They’re just my opinions. I’m often wrong.

Anyway, here are your tiers, and here’s the full schedule of nationally televised games.

Tier 1 – The must-watch games

These are the games that you cannot miss. They’re the games that you circle with a big red marker on your calendar (back when paper calendars were a thing). They’re the games that everyone talks about around the water cooler the next morning (back when going to the office every day was a thing). Simply put, they’re the best games of the year, with no regionalization in play to block out parts of the country.

  • Week 1 Opening Night: Bills vs Rams
  • Week 4 SNF: Chiefs vs Buccaneers
  • Week 9 SNF: Packers vs Bills
  • Week 15 MNF: Rams vs Packers

Tier 2 – The quite-enticing games

A lot of primetime games fall into this category. They’re good games, and ones you definitely want to watch. But they’re not quite at that elite level, and there’s always a chance they might not deliver.

  • Week 1 SNF: Buccaneers vs Cowboys
  • Week 1 MNF: Titans vs Bills
  • Week 2 TNF: Chargers vs Chiefs
  • Week 8 TNF: Ravens vs Buccaneers
  • Week 9 SNF: Titans vs Chiefs
  • Week 11 TNF: Titans vs Packers
  • Week 13 TNF: Bills vs Patriots
  • Week 16 SNF: Buccaneers vs Cardinals
  • Week 17 TNF: Cowboys vs Titans
  • Week 17 SNF: Rams vs Chargers
  • Week 17 MNF: Bills vs Bengals

Tier 3 – The interesting divisional matchups

There are two tiers of divisional games, and this is the better tier. These are the divisional games where one team seems quite likely to make the playoffs, and one team is firmly hanging out on the fence. They’re the games the favorites win to become the favorites in the first place, and they’re the games the underdogs win to push themselves into the playoffs.

  • Week 4 MNF: Rams vs 49ers
  • Week 5 SNF: Bengals vs Ravens
  • Week 5 MNF: Raiders vs Chiefs
  • Week 6 SNF: Cowboys vs Eagles
  • Week 10 SNF: Chargers vs 49ers
  • Week 11 SNF: Bengals vs Steelers
  • Week 12 MNF: 49ers vs Cardinals

Tier 4 – The “wait and see” games

Depending on how results shake out, these games could be Tier 2…or Tier 6. Maybe both teams get off to hot starts or have long winning streaks. Maybe they’re both thoroughly mediocre. It’s alright – we’ll know more about these games as rosters keep taking shape.

  • Week 3 SNF: 49ers vs Broncos
  • Week 4 TNF: Dolphins vs Bengals
  • Week 5 TNF: Colts vs Broncos
  • Week 7 SNF: Steelers vs Dolphins
  • Week 10 International: Seahawks vs Buccaneers
  • Week 12 SNF: Packers vs Eagles
  • Week 12 MNF: Steelers vs Colts
  • Week 13 SNF: Colts vs Cowboys
  • Week 14 TNF: Raiders vs Rams
  • Week 14 MNF: Patriots vs Cardinals
  • Week 15 SNF: Patriots vs Raiders
  • Week 16 Christmas Eve: Raiders vs Steelers
  • Week 16 Christmas Day: Packers vs Dolphins
  • Week 16 Christmas Day: Broncos vs Rams
  • Week 16 MNF: Chargers vs Colts

Tier 5 – The divisional matchups that could go either way

You know exactly what kind of game I’m talking about here. Both teams are typically within a game or two or .500. They’re both fixtures under the “IN THE HUNT” heading when playoff standings pop up during broadcasts. They’re a three-game winning streak away from the playoffs, and a three-game losing streak away from a top ten draft pick. And maybe those streaks will start with this game.

  • Week 1 MNF: Broncos vs Seahawks
  • Week 3 TNF: Steelers vs Browns
  • Week 3 MNF: Cowboys vs Giants
  • Week 6 MNF: Broncos vs Chargers
  • Week 8 MNF: Bengals vs Browns
  • Week 10 TNF: Falcons vs Panthers
  • Week 10 MNF: Commanders vs Eagles
  • Week 12 Thanksgiving: Giants vs Cowboys
  • Week 13 MNF: Saints vs Buccaneers
  • Week 14 SNF: Chiefs vs Broncos
  • Week 15 TNF: 49ers vs Seahawks

Tier 6 – The games you’ll watch because they’re football games

You don’t have much else going on. You’re not in the mood to catch up on the latest buzzworthy show, and all you want to do is relax with some sports you’re not invested in. Can I interest you in some football?

  • Week 2 SNF: Bears vs Packers
  • Week 2 MNF: Vikings vs Eagles
  • Week 4 International: Vikings vs Saints
  • Week 7 TNF: Saints vs Cardinals
  • Week 7 MNF: Bears vs Patriots
  • Week 9 MNF: Ravens vs Saints
  • Week 12 Thanksgiving: Patriots vs Vikings

Tier 7 – The games that will probably either be uncompetitive or bad

Do you like gambling or fantasy football? Good news! You can watch these games and get some kind of a rush!

  • Week 5 International: Giants vs Packers
  • Week 6 TNF: Commanders vs Bears
  • Week 8 International: Broncos vs Jaguars
  • Week 9 TNF: Eagles vs Texans
  • Week 12 Thanksgiving: Bills vs Lions
  • Week 16 TNF: Jaguars vs Jets

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.