We all love football because of the big moments. At some point for all of us, one game pulled each of us in and touched a certain part of us that unlocked an obsession. Those games are why we watch sports, why we sift through months of offseason nonsense, and why we give away a part of our self to some team. Last year, there was the thriller between the Packers and the Cardinals in the Divisional Round. A year earlier, we had one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. With that said, here are eight games that already have the look of instant classics.
Week 1: Patriots at Cardinals
If the Patriots fans were looking to get an easy ride through Tom Brady’s suspension, this may be the furthest thing from it. If last year is any indication, playing in Arizona may be the hardest game in football. This will give us a first look at whether Jimmy Garoppolo is a viable franchise option for life after Brady. We’ll also get to see if the Cardinals can live up to last years squad.
Week 7: Patriots at Steelers
Three games back from suspension, Tom Brady will face one of his biggest tests of the season. This is a matchup of what looks like the two preseason AFC favorites. Big Ben and Brady lead what could be the two best offenses in the NFL. Even without Martavis Bryant, the Steelers have the best triplets in the last five years. The Patriots have quietly added second tier talent like Chris Long and Martavis Bryant to a team that sprinted off to a 10-0 start before the injury bug bit in November.
Week 8: Cardinals at Panthers
Before Tyrann Mathieu suffered a season ending ACL tear and Carson Palmer broke his finger against the Eagles, the Cardinals were the most complete team in the league. That memory has been fogged up partially due to their disappointing playoff loss against Carolina. Carolina, meanwhile, was robbed of a potentially all-time season after narrowly missing a perfect season and ending up a Von Miller strip sack away from the Lombardi Trophy. We get the two best teams in the NFC from a year ago matched up with something to prove.
Week 9: Colts at Packers
The Packers offense could set records in 2016. Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in football for five years on end, but after producing one of the best months a quarterback has ever played the wheels fell off and led to a disappointing season. Getting Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, and Jared Cook should help. As good as Rodgers is, Luck might be even better when he is playing at his best. If both offenses live up to the billing, this should be a showcase in the art of quarterbacking.
Week 10: Seahawks at Patriots
Two years ago, we were treated to one of the best Super Bowls ever between these two. In this matchup, we get to see the new and the old dynasties of the NFL. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years and then struggled to make it back for a decade before finally getting back against these Seahawks. Even though they took a step back last year, the Seahawks could be the next dynasty of the NFL if they can put things together in the next couple of years.
Week 13: Texans at Packers
The appeal of this matchup is simple: the best offensive player of the generation against the best defensive player of the generation. Watt has won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards in four years. Rodgers is the most statistically efficient quarterback ever. The two weak units on each side, the Packers defense and the Texans offense, should be improved over a year ago. If the Texans can live up to the hype, be prepared for a showdown.
Week 14: Ravens at Patriots
Even if the two are mismatched on paper, the Ravens and Patriots always find a way to produce a thriller. The rivalry has made some of the best playoff games in the past five years, including the 2013 AFC Championship and the 2015 Divisional Round. Stakes should be high. If the season unfolds anything like we expect it to, the Patriots should be fighting for a playoff bye while the Ravens will likely be fighting for a spot in the tournament.
Week 16: Broncos at Chiefs
The Broncos may have lost more than any Super Bowl team in recent memory. Both of their top two quarterbacks are gone, as well as many of the pieces to their historic defense. With all that they’ve lost, expect a tight race for the division title between them, the Chiefs, and the Raiders. This game could decide that race. Kansas City boasts a defense that looks just as good as Denver's entering the season with playmakers at every level. If he can return healthy, Justin Houston rivals Von Miller as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. While the Packers and Colts may be a showcase of great offense, this should be a battle of outstanding defensive play.