Only 345 Park Avenue can take something as insipid as releasing the schedule and turn it into a weeklong event filled with breadcrumbs of primetime and holiday games while having numerous team schedules leak, culminating with their 32 franchises’ social media teams flexing their creativity muscles. The shield is so powerful in our country and soon, countries.

Before we take a close look at the schedule, some changes are being made to the schedule as a whole. There isn’t a requirement that every team will play on Thursday night. On the surface, that bodes well for Amazon. In reality, we won’t know if the TNF games will be “better” until after game 272 (assuming all 272 games are played). The NFL will play its first Black Friday game which is another Amazon game. The NFL will continue to bully the NBA out of Christmas with another tripleheader on the holiday, however, the NBA might get their holiday back in 2024 since December 25th falls on a Tuesday. About a year from now, we will really see how powerful the shield is and if they decide to schedule Tuesday games.

With that being said, here are some notable NFL games for the upcoming 2023 season.

Week 1: Detroit Lions vs Kansas City Chiefs

This one took me by surprise. The Lions played in game 271 last year and this year they get game one. The Lions are expected to be a playoff team and possibly a division-winning team. Putting them in the first game of the season seems like an optimistic reach. Maybe they do live up to the standard that so many “experts” believe will happen, but if they get blown out and are under .500, that will be a headscratcher that I’m sure the NFL won’t do again.

The Super Bowl LVII Champs will start the season by raising their third Super Bowl banner. Two-time regular season and Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes will look to lead the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the stacked AFC. It’s no surprise they are playing on opening night and as long as Mahomes is in Kansas City, they will more than likely make that a routine to be playing on opening night in some capacity.

Week 2: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

This is more informative than it is notable. Week two will be one of three times the NFL will have simultaneous Monday Night Football games going on. Week three will do the same along with Week 14. The NFL tinkered with this last year doing it just once but for 2023, we get it thrice. This will be convenient if/when one game is a blowout and the other game is competitive. If both games are duds, maybe our fantasy teams and/or wagers will keep fans invested in the games.

Week 4: Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets

For the third time in five seasons, the NFL is trying to set up a Patrick Mahomes vs Aaron Rodgers matchup. Barring injury, we should finally get the matchup, which will take place on Sunday Night Football. This could be the time of the year when New York fans either turn on Rodgers or still believe they will be Super Bowl champs. Regardless, if both stars are on the field that night, it will be must-see TV.

Week 4 & 5: Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills

Jacksonville is coming off of a surprising run that saw them capture the AFC South, pull off one of the more stunning comebacks in NFL history with their win over the Chargers in the Wild Card Round before bowing out to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. This year, the Jags will be the first team to play two straight games in London. The first in week four, where they are the “home” team at Wembley Stadium and in week five they transition to the “away” team at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Possibly for 2025 and 2026, Jacksonville will need a rental home as their current stadium will undergo major renovations that might force them to not play at the stadium for two seasons. Maybe during that stretch, they will be the guinea pigs for the NFL and play their home games in London.

Week’s 9 & 10: Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

After last year’s success in Munich, the NFL heads to Frankfurt, Germany for the first time for two games. Frankfurt does have previous NFL ties, the Frankfurt Galaxy was an NFL Europe team that won four World Bowl titles, the most of any team in the 15 years in the existence of NFL Europe. The Dolphins/Chiefs game should be a good battle between two playoff teams, possibly a harbinger of a playoff game that’ll take place later that season. The Colts/Patriots game will be fascinating in the sense of, the Pats should win the game but in the post-Tom Brady era, success hasn’t been as easy in Foxborough as it was with the (for now) retired playcaller.

Week 12 (Thanksgiving Games): Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions, Washington Commanders @ Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Football and Thanksgiving have become synonymous with each other like turkey and gravy. The Lions and Cowboys are the consistent features for Turkey Day, and this year we are treated to three inter-divisional games. Green Bay at Detroit could have significant meaning for the NFC North title race, as well as Wild Card spots in the NFC. The Commanders could have new ownership by then and Dallas should be able to take care of business at home while Washington finds its identity. Seattle could win the day with a victory over San Francisco. On paper, they are the underdogs but that’s why they play the game.

Week 12 (Black Friday): Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

For the first time, the league is scheduling a Black Friday game as part of the NFL’s dominance. Amazon will carry the game and it should be a good one. The Dolphins are looking for a season after disappointingly going one and done in the postseason without their starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. The young quarterback has faced numerous concussions which has reignited the concussion debate, while his vehement fans continue to back Tagovailoa, suggesting he could lead the Dolphins on a deep playoff run. If he’s healthy, Tua vs Rodgers could be another great game like it was last Christmas, when Rodgers led Green Bay to a 26-20 victory over the Fins. If he’s not healthy, perhaps there’s another quarterback in South Florida that could step in for the Dolphins. Regardless of who is starting, this game will have great significance as it’s an opportunity for each side to bolster their record while recording a major inter-division win.

Week 16 (Christmas): Las Vegas Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens @ San Francisco 49ers

The NFL is loading up for Christmas in hopes to avoid coal in our stockings with these games. The Raiders will have their hands full on the road in Kansas City but with Jimmy Garappolo as the signal caller, maybe the Raiders could pull off the “upset” over the defending champs. This will also be a Nickelodeon game for what that’s worth. The middle game is a rematch of one of the two NFC divisional round matchups last postseason where the Eagles stomped the Giants 38-7. We all are hoping for a more competitive game and with Daniel Jones cashing in this offseason, he will be expected to win some of these big games if he’s hoping to bring the G-Men another Lombardi Trophy. The Eagles will be looking to repeat as NFC champs, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Seattle in 2013 and ’14. The Christmas finale will showcase a rematch of Super Bowl 47 (hopefully the lights stay on for the entirety of this game). With the Lamar Jackson contract saga over (for now), the Ravens will be trying to navigate a stacked AFC North and a win in Santa Clara could spark their postseason run. The 49ers should be in contention again for the number one seed in the NFC and possibly the best record in the league.

Week 18: All

Almost all of the week 18 games will have some sort of significance to them. Whether it is teams tanking for the first overall draft pick, teams attempting to make the postseason, teams knocking out fellow division rivals for a playoff berth, jockeying for playoff seeding, there are always storylines in the final week of the regular season. Some games to keep an eye on are, Chiefs @ Chargers, Rams @ 49ers, Vikings @ Lions, Bills @ Dolphins, Eagles @ Giants, all should have significant postseason meaning to those games. I’m sure there will be at least one or two games in the final week that will suddenly become significant but for right now, those are the games I have my eye on.

What games are you looking forward to the most this season? Are you going to any NFL games? If so, what game(s)? And who is your very early Super Bowl LVIII Champion?

While we are still four months away from meaningful games being played, it’s fun to dream of where our favorite teams will be in January and hopefully, February. Our optimism is collectively high. During the summer we might slip away from football and draw our attention other sports but when August and September roll around, and our fantasy drafts start to take place, the daylight gets shorter and shorter, the leaves on the trees change their colors, we will circle back to the nation’s most popular sports league and enjoy another riveting NFL season.

WordPress Image Lightbox