Broncos at Seahawks (Sept. 21): Last time these teams hooked up was in a little something called the Super Bowl, where the Seahawks’ defense neutered Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 43-8. That game was on a neutral field. This one is in Seattle, which boasts the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL. (Bring earplugs, Peyton. Better yet, feign a groin injury in pregame warmups.) Also today … Raiders at Patriots. Two words, Raiders fans: tuck rule!
Eagles at 49ers (Sept. 28): Chip Kelly’s fast-break Philly offense vs. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ plethora of skill players. If the grass holds up at new Levi’s Stadium, this could be one of those first-team-to-50-wins kind of shootout. Also today … Packers at Bears. Still the best rivalry in the NFC, even without snow.
Oregon at UCLA (Oct. 11): Contrary to what the suits at ESPN headquarters would have you believe, college football really is played west of the Rockies. Good football. Really good football. And you’ll see it when Oregon and UCLA—ranked No. 3 and No. 7, respectively, entering the season—put on a show at the Rose Bowl. Tip: Do not play the take-a-shot-for-every-TD drinking game while watching this one. Also today … Texas vs. Oklahoma. Political correctness be damned: It’s the annual Red River Shootout—not Red River Rivalry.
Ohio State at Michigan State (Nov. 8): Almost certainly, the winner of this Big Ten clash between the Buckeyes (preseason No. 5) and Spartans (preseason No. 8) will have the inside track to the East Division title and remain in the hunt for the first-ever four-team playoff. The loser almost certainly will be out of said playoff hunt. Also today … Alabama at LSU.
Steelers vs. Ravens (Nov. 2): Two bitter rivals. Two extremely physical defenses. And one very close game (10 of the last 11 regular-season Baltimore-Pittsburgh bloodbaths have been decided by three points or fewer). Also today … Broncos at Patriots. Gee, I wonder if there will be any mention of Manning and Tom Brady during this one …
Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 29): The best of a tremendous slate of rivalry games. Also today … Florida-Florida State, Oregon-Oregon State, Michigan-Ohio State, South Carolina-Clemson, Notre Dame-USC … and UNR-UNLV! (Just send the wife out holiday shopping at 9 a.m. and tell her to come home at midnight.)
Patriots at Packers (Nov. 30): Might this be a Super Bowl preview? Might you be in a food coma after a long Thanksgiving weekend? Yes and yes. Also today … Saints at Steelers. Not only a doozy on the field, but stay tuned after the game to see if Drew Brees needs a step-stool to shake Ben Roethlisberger’s hand.