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2024 Schedule Release

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Top 10 games of the 2024 NFL season: Super Bowl LVIII rematch, Harbaugh Bowl among enticing tilts

I've been charged with a ludicrous task: selecting the top 10 matchups of the 2024 NFL season.

Ten games? Just 10? You could add a zero to the end, and I'd still probably agonize about many left off. And yet, like Sisyphus, we press forward with our assignment, even knowing the end product will be woefully incomplete.

My preface is to say that I am fully aware there are many games that you, dear reader, will be juiced to watch, but which were left off this compilation. Buffalo-Kansas City? Jets-49ers? The Saquon Barkley Bowl? K.C.-Baltimore? Basically any Patrick Mahomes game in addition to the one I've included? The Ineligible Receiver Rematch between Dallas and Detroit? Are you kidding me????

The NFL calendar is chock-full of entertaining matchups that offer a breadth of storylines provided by no other sport. It's why we love it. It's why we tune in week after week after week after week.

Everyone will have their own top 10 games of 2024. Here are mine, based on the list of each team's upcoming opponents:

  • Where: Acrisure Stadium | Pittsburgh
  • When: Week 11 | 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 17 
  • How to watch: CBS

Provided he's the starter for Pittsburgh at the time, Russell Wilson's return to Denver will get plenty of press, but as far as pure watchability, his introduction to this AFC North rivalry in the first of the Steelers' and Ravens' annual showdowns offers a much higher rate of return. Both clubs have gone through a bit of a metamorphosis after flaming out last season. The new quarterback duo in Pittsburgh -- Wilson and Justin Fields -- is clearly the top storyline. Whoever winds up as the QB1 gives the Steelers more upside than they had last season. Pittsburgh added beef on the offensive line in the draft after getting pushed around the past few years. With King Henry pounding the rock for Baltimore alongside Lamar Jackson, we could get an old-school Ravens-Steelers matchup with much more physicality than we've seen lately. Given that their division plays teams from the NFC East this season, both these squads will have plenty of prime affairs against the likes of the Cowboys and Eagles. But for me, nothing gets the juices flowing like a hard-hitting Steelers-Ravens slobber knocker. 

  • Where: Levi's Stadium | Santa Clara, Calif.
  • When: Week 7 | 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 20 
  • How to watch: FOX

A Super Bowl LVIII rematch? Yes, please. Frankly, you could make an entire list of "2024's top 10 Patrick Mahomes games," and that would be perfectly cool with me. This is the crème de la crème of the Chiefs' slate. Both clubs are in an excellent spot to sprint to deep postseason runs once again. The reigning-champion Chiefs upgraded the receiver room, inking Marquise Brown and trading up to draft speedster Xavier Worthy in the first round (No. 28 overall). Those blazing additions will make the matchup against the Niners all the more enticing. Second-round pick Kingsley Suamataia could win the left tackle gig and be tasked with slowing 49ers Nick Bosa and Leonard Floyd. Three picks after K.C. nabbed Worthy, San Francisco drafted Ricky Pearsall. Trade rumors aside, the Niners now boast ridiculous weaponry for Brock Purdy. Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Pearsall and George Kittle represent one of the most explosive units in the league. How much will K.C. miss L'Jarius Sneed in this matchup? 

  • Where: Soldier Field | Chicago
  • When: Week 11 | 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 17 
  • How to watch: FOX

The Packers have owned this rivalry for the past several decades. Since 1992, the Bears are 15-50 against the Green Bay Packers, including playoffs. 5-0. FIFTY. In that span, Green Bay enjoyed something Chicago never knew: stable and dynamic quarterback situations, stretching from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love. The Bears believe they finally have the talent under center that could flip that generational losing skid. Caleb Williams couples enough playmaking ability and confidence to eventually be the first Bears QB to surpass the 4,000-yard mark or the 30-TD pass plateau in a single season. Chicago surrounded the passer with skill-position players, and the club is in a better spot to compete than it was during any of its previous swings at the QB piñata. And yet, Green Bay is also on the upswing, with Love providing upside in his second season as the starter for the Packers, who also have a group of young wideouts growing together and a defense with the pieces to make a leap under new coordinator Jeff Hafley. In the first matchup of the new era in Chicago, can the Bears declare the rivalry back on, or will the Packers continue to keep their thumb on Chicago? 

  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium | Miami Gardens, Fla.
  • When: Week 16 | 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 22
  • How to watch: CBS

The last time Kyle Shanahan faced former protégé Mike McDaniel, the game birthed the Brock Purdy era. The former Mr. Irrelevant took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo on Dec. 4, 2022, leading the Niners to a 33-17 victory over Miami. The rest, as they say, is history. Purdy went on to help lead San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game, then reached the Super Bowl last season. Beyond the Purdy-centric storylines, this matchup offers an enticing array of speed and two offensive coaches who are among the best in the NFL at putting players in space to make plays. Hopefully, we get a track meet in Miami. The game could come down to which defense can get a pivotal stop late. 

  • Where: SoFi Stadium | Inglewood, Calif.
  • When: Week 12 | 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 25
  • How to watch: ESPN

Jim Harbaugh's return to the NFL provides a brotherly matchup between the Chargers and Ravens. John Harbaugh brings Lamar Jackson, Derrick Henry and a re-imagined defense across the continent to face off against Justin Herbert and a reworked Chargers receiver corps. Jim is 0-2 in his NFL career versus his older brother, including in Super Bowl XLVII, when John's Ravens defeated Jim's 49ers. Not only will Jim be attempting to avenge those losses, but he'll be doing so with several of John's former assistants and players, including offensive coordinator Greg Roman and DC Jesse Minter. L.A. also swiped former Ravens backs Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins in free agency. The familiar nature of the clubs offers an enticing matchup of power on power. And count me in any time Jackson and Herbert take the same field. 

  • Where: NRG Stadium | Houston
  • When: Week 5 | 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 6 
  • How to watch: CBS

Stefon Diggs facing off against the Bills will be appointment viewing. Like someone running into an ex at a mutual friend's house party, the wideout should be motivated to scorch his former partners. Given the turnover in Buffalo's secondary, Diggs could be in for a good day. Likewise, Buffalo will want to show that it has moved on from the Pro Bowler without missing a beat. The Diggs storyline is the headliner, but this matchup is about more than one player. The Bills are in the middle of a remake. Can they plow through seismic changes without losing a step against a fellow 2023 division winner? Can Josh Allen run through defenses like he did down the stretch with a rag-tag group of receivers, including second-rounder Keon Coleman? Are the on-the-rise Texans able to take the next step against a perennial AFC heavyweight? This matchup will tell us plenty about where each team is at in its respective 2024 journey. 

  • Where: FedExField | Landover, Md.
  • When: Week 12 | 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 24
  • How to watch: FOX

I want to see how Jayden Daniels handles his first big matchup against rival Dallas. Those tests are always intriguing. Will the dynamic rookie signal-caller thrash a Cowboys defense that still has holes? Will Micah Parsons make life exceedingly difficult for the 210-pound quarterback? The Heisman Trophy winner's first outing against Dallas won't make or break him -- remember since-deposed QB Sam Howell beating Dallas in his first shot at the Cowboys? What rates this a top-10 game for me is Daniels, plus all the other factors -- most notably, Dan Quinn facing his former employers in Dallas for the first time. Quinn plucked a heap of talent away from the Cowboys this offseason, bringing players like Tyler Biadasz, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. to D.C. In the NFL, familiarity breeds competitive matchups. The first battle will be a must-see, given how intertwined these rivals are after the offseason. 

  • Where: U.S. Bank Stadium | Minneapolis
  • When: Week 14 | 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 8 
  • How to watch: FOX

This was a borderline matchup for me. Then the draft passed, and both clubs became much more interesting. Rationalize or hate the Falcons' drafting of Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 overall, but it undeniably added an undercurrent to ATL's offseason. Will Kirk Cousins be looking over his shoulder when he heads back to Minnesota? Does the former Vikings QB regret not returning to the Gopher State? How does Cousins look in Zac Robinson's offense compared to the Kevin O'Connell version he was shining in pre-injury? With Cousins gone, the Vikings pushed their chips into the J.J. McCarthy basket. However you feel about the national champion quarterback, there is no question he landed in an ideal spot, with a great play-caller, excellent pass catchers and a solid offensive tackle situation. McCarthy is probably happy the Falcons took Penix, so he doesn't have to face whatever pass rusher they might have drafted instead. 

  • Where: NRG Stadium | Houston
  • When: Week 10 | 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
  • How to watch: NBC

The Texans are the 2024 version of the 2023 Lions: a young, upstart team with an entertaining style, energetic coach and ascending talent. However, the similarity of the opponents is simply at surface level. This battle has much deeper intrigue. There's Aidan Hutchinson and C.J. Stroud reliving their college rivalry. Nico Collins, Stefon Diggs and Tank Dell attempting to torture a revamped Lions secondary. Will Anderson Jr. and Danielle Hunter taking on perhaps the best offensive line in football. Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Derek Stingley Jr. staging a film-watcher's dream. Dan Campbell and DeMeco Ryans conducting a pump-up competition. Add Texans CB Jeff Okudah facing his former team for the revenge factor, and you have the entire cornucopia of criteria that makes this a must-see matchup between two teams continuing to rise. 

  • Where: Paycor Stadium | Cincinnati
  • When: Week 8 | 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 27
  • How to watch: CBS

The former Super Bowl entrants enter pivotal seasons as they strive to ascend the NFL mountain again. The health of both quarterbacks is key. Jalen Hurts played banged up last year, and it showed when the Eagles nosedived down the stretch. Joe Burrow's November wrist injury ended his season and sideswiped any shot the Bengals had at overcoming a slow start. If both remain healthy, the QBs always give their respective teams a shot at winning a conference title. With Tee Higgins playing on the franchise tag, Cincinnati is built for one last run with its No. 2 receiver before potentially parting ways with Higgins in 2025. The Eagles changed gears in 2024 under Howie Roseman, paying big bucks to running back Saquon Barkley and using two top draft picks on defensive backs -- two things the club historically hasn't done much under the GM's watch. As far as interconference matchups go, give me a Burrow-Hurts battle any day of the week.