2023 NFL Schedule Release Reaction: The Best Game of Each Week, More
pictured: Patrick Mahomes. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
It’s Christmas in May because the 2023-24 NFL regular season schedule is finally here.
We’re still officially 17 weeks away from actual regular season action, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start to get excited about the delicious buffet of football that awaits!
I’ve chosen my favorite game of the slate from all 18 weeks of the new schedule and also provided a quick preview to get us excited. Be sure to check Sean Koerner’s projected spreads and totals for every game too. Let’s play some football!
The NFL season officially starts 17 weeks from today, but darn it if we won’t be waiting four extra days for the marquee game of opening weekend. Aaron Rodgers makes his debut with the Jets, and it comes against the division rival Bills and MVP favorite Josh Allen.
It’s a huge test out of the gates for Rodgers against a tough Bills secondary, though it’s not exactly an easy outing for Allen against a nasty Jets defense either. Emotions will be running high for a September 11 Monday night game and they could be even higher if Damar Hamlin makes his return.
Other notable Week 1 games:
Lions at Chiefs (TNF)
Dolphins at Chargers
Cowboys at Giants (SNF)
The NFC looks wide open and the Seahawks and Lions are two of this year’s darlings. Few teams ended last season as hot as the Lions, who won the final game of the regular season to knock the Packers out and send the Seahawks to the playoffs, despite Seattle knocking them out of contention earlier in the day.
That could lead to an extra bit of rivalry. Geno Smith against Jared Goff isn’t the sexiest quarterback battle you’ll ever see, but the winner here takes the early title belt for Favorite NFC Sleeper. The NFL is giving us the Lions in the season opener, but that also means Detroit could likely be fighting to not go down 0–2 to start its year as the NFC North favorite.
Other notable Week 2 games:
Chiefs at Jaguars
Jets at Cowboys
Ravens at Bengals
Saints at Panthers (MNF)
It’s a Monday night Super Bowl LVI rematch!! Uhh … sort of. The key players on each side are there, but we’re over a year removed from the Rams beating the Bengals to win the Lombardi and Los Angeles hasn’t looked the same since.
The Rams weren’t healthy last season, though. With Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp back healthy, along with Aaron Donald, the core of the title team is still there. But the Bengals are eyeing the big prize this year. Can Cincinnati get revenge and send an early season message?
Other notable Week 3 games:
Giants at 49ers (TNF)
Broncos at Dolphins
Steelers at Raiders
Chargers at Vikings
Like it or not, we’re getting a heap of Jets games early and often now that it’s Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood — and it’s a doozy right out of the gates. New York faces the Bills, Cowboys and Patriots before hosting the Chiefs Week 4 on Sunday night. If the Jets don’t acquiesce quickly, they could quickly find themselves in a big early hole.
Besides, how many more times will we get to watch Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes go head to head? These are two of the most talented guys to ever play quarterback, and this could be the last meeting. Rodgers and Mahomes alone make this worth the price of admission.
Other notable Week 4 games:
Lions at Packers (TNF)
Dolphins at Bills
Ravens at Browns
Seahawks at Giants (MNF)
This one will be played in London, so mark down Week 5 for an early Sunday morning because this is our best international game of the season. It’s an interesting spot for the Jaguars, who will have played in London against the Falcons one week earlier and may have a sizable travel advantage.
I wrote about Jacksonville as one of the big winner’s of this year’s draft for futures bettors. The rest of the division invested high draft picks in quarterbacks, but the Jaguars already have their quarterback of the future in Trevor Lawrence. If Jacksonville wants to put itself on the map as a serious AFC contender, Lawrence beating Allen head to head could do that. It could also vault Lawrence into the MVP race.
Other notable Week 5 games:
Cowboys at 49ers (SNF)
Giants at Dolphins
Ravens at Steelers
Both the Cowboys and Chargers fancy themselves playoff teams in 2023, but neither is quite considered at the top of the list just yet. Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert look capable of a Super Bowl run, but both have fallen short in the biggest moments so far.
This Monday night spotlight gives both teams a chance to change that story, and with an added Kellen Moore twist. Moore was let go after leading the Cowboys offense to great success for four seasons, and now he gets a turn with Herbert and all those dazzling Chargers weapons. Will he have something up his sleeve for his old team?
Other notable Week 6 games:
Giants at Bills (SNF)
Seahawks at Bengals
49ers at Browns
It’s back-to-back marquee moments for the Chargers as these division games against the Chiefs always seem to come down to the wire. Brandon Staley has done about as well as anyone scheming against Mahomes, but keeping it close isn’t going to be enough.
If the Chargers can go to Arrowhead and steal a win on the road, that could change the entire tenor of their season. It’s the sort of win that could set the Chargers up for a potential division crown and Herbert up for a run at MVP. It could also push the Chiefs from defending champion to outside the race for the 1-seed.
Other notable Week 7 games:
Dolphins at Eagles (SNF)
49ers at Vikings (MNF)
Lions at Ravens
Jaguars at Saints (TNF)
Not every game needs to have the biggest stakes in the present. This one is all about the future as it featurs the top two picks from this year’s draft going head-to-head.
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud should start for the Panthers and Texans from day one, and this is the first matchup in what could become a long rivalry between two names that will be forever linked. I rated Stroud ahead of Young on my final board, but Young steps into the more favorable situation and Carolina could even be a division sleeper.
Other notable Week 8 games:
Bengals at Chiefs
Jets at Giants
Jaguars at Steelers
Browns at Seahawks
Chiefs at Broncos
Raiders at Lions (MNF)
This is a stacked Sunday in the AFC, with a huge Germany game earlier in the day (Chiefs vs Dolphins) and a Sunday night showdown between two teams starting to get very familiar with one another. The regular season Bills-Bengals game was cut short last season for Damar Hamlin’s injury, and Buffalo never kicked into gear in the playoff rematch.
These teams will play like they’re expecting to meet a second time this season, and Josh Allen and Joe Burrow will also likely be vying for a spot near the top of the MVP leaderboard. This will have major implications for AFC seeding and likely the 1-seed. Tt’s a monster day that will set the tone for the AFC as we enter the back half of the schedule.
Other notable Week 9 games:
Dolphins vs Chiefs (Germany)
Cowboys at Eagles
Seahawks at Ravens
Chargers at Jets (MNF)
The Jaguars probably won’t get much of a test inside their own division, but marquee games against the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Ravens and 49ers should do the trick. If Trevor Lawrence is ready to make the leap into the top tier of quarterbacks, he’ll have his chances against some of the league’s best teams.
We still have no idea who will be playing quarterback for the 49ers, though Brock Purdy should be healthy by this game. Though as loaded as this 49ers roster is, it may not even matter. San Francisco has the weapons to give any team fits.
Other notable Week 10 games:
Panthers at Bears (TNF)
Giants at Cowboys
Packers at Steelers
Browns at Ravens
Lions at Chargers
Raiders at Jets (SNF)
The Super Bowl LVII rematch is the biggest Monday night game of the year and the NFL is ensuring us both teams are rested and healthy by giving each a bye week heading in.
There’s a real chance either or both teams could enter undefeated too. Both teams play the Dolphins and Jets in the first half of the season with Kansas City adding the Jaguars and Chargers tests while the Eagles play the Cowboys the game before the bye.
A 10-0 head-to-head Super Bowl rematch would be epic, but this will be one of the games of the season either way. Lest you forget, these teams combined for 73 points and nearly 800 yards in an incredible back-and-forth affair before the Chiefs kicked the winning field goal in the final seconds to win the Lombardi.
Other notable Week 11 games:
Jets at Bills
Bengals at Ravens (TNF)
Raiders at Dolphins
Steelers at Browns
Week 12 is the early pick for slate of the year with three delectable Thanksgiving matchups, our first ever Black Friday game and tasty Sunday and Monday night battles. But the main course of that overstuffed weekend football feast is a traditional Sunday afternoon game — and it might be a Super Bowl preview.
Jalen Hurts has a chance to prove he belongs in the upper echelon of QBs and MVP contenders with back-to-back games against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. This will have major implications for both the 1-seed and bye in both conferences.
Other notable Week 12 games:
Commanders at Cowboys (Thanksgiving)
Packers at Lions (Thanksgiving)
49ers at Seahawks (Thanksgiving)
Dolphins at Jets (Black Friday)
Ravens at Chargers (SNF)
Bears at Vikings (MNF)
If you’re counting at home, that’s three straight Eagles games, and it’s an absolute doozy of a month coming out of the Week 10 bye. Philadelphia will face the top two AFC contenders in Kansas City and Buffalo before facing what might be its top competition in the NFC in San Francisco, and that’s all before a Sunday night division game in Dallas the following week.
It’s a brutal stretch that will make or break the defending NFC champs’ season, and this one comes against the team it beat to win it last year. We never got a real game in that one with the 49ers literally down to nothing at quarterback by the second half, so the 49ers will be eager to get a second chance here.
Other notable Week 13 games:
Bengals at Jaguars (MNF)
Seahawks at Cowboys (TNF)
Lions at Saints
Chiefs at Packers (SNF)
Sorry not sorry for all the Bills and Chiefs games. Go ahead and substitute your favorite team into the mix here if you need a break, but I’m tuning in for Mahomes and Allen.
These two have given us classic battles that often come down to whoever has the ball last, and there’s little reason to expect anything otherwise here. You can argue no two players are more important to their teams’ success than Mahomes and Allen. This game may also help decide the MVP as we hit the final month of the NFL season.
Other notable Week 14 games:
Eagles at Cowboys (SNF)
Jaguars at Browns
Seahawks at 49ers
Panthers at Saints
Patriots at Steelers (TNF)
Packers at Giants (MNF)
I’m not sure how we got to Week 15 without a Dolphins game, but here we are in what should be an electric divisional matchup. Few teams were more entertaining offensively than last year’s Dolphins, though Miami managed just 28 points combined in two games against the feisty Jets defense.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have the speed to light up any defense, but Sauce Gardner and the Jets are not just any defense. New York’s offense didn’t measure up last season, but that’s why the team went out and got Aaron Rodgers. Both teams will hope this has not just playoff, but AFC East and seeding implications too.
Other notable Week 15 games:
Cowboys at Bills
Ravens at Jaguars (SNF)
Eagles at Seahawks
Giants at Saints
There may not be two more unique teams offensively in the NFL, and that makes this a special Christmas Day treat. We already know what the 49ers offense should look like with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, though it remains to be seen what happens at quarterback.
We think we know what the Ravens look like, but new offensive coordinator Todd Monken lit up the scoreboards at Georgia and could give us an entirely new look this season. Lamar Jackson has his best weapons ever in rookie Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., and the returning Rashod Bateman, and this Ravens defense might be as nasty as the 49ers. Don’t sleep on either one of these teams playing for a possible 1-seed here.
Other notable Week 16 games:
Giants at Eagles (Christmas)
Bills at Chargers (Saturday)
Bengals at Steelers (Saturday)
Cowboys at Dolphins
Lions at Vikings
Browns at Texans
The Bengals and Chiefs might be the best rivalry in football right now. These teams genuinely don’t like each other, but Kansas City won the most recent — and biggest — meeting against a cocky Cincinnati squad that came into “Burrowhead” expecting a win in the AFC Championship Game.
The NFL made a big change in its scheduling this season, pivoting away from its traditional division game format in the final two or three weeks. The league wanted marquee games on the schedule with playoff implications on the line and you know this qualifies. It might be the final battle for the AFC 1-seed and MVP races. This should make for one heck of a New Year’s Eve.
Other notable Week 17 games:
Lions at Cowboys (Saturday)
Dolphins at Ravens
Steelers at Seahawks
Chargers at Broncos
Week 18 remains all division battles, and it’s always hard to know which teams will still be in the mix at that point of the season.
This looks to be as good a bet as any with Mike Tomlin still yet to finish any season under .500 and the Ravens a perennial playoff contender. Pittsburgh and Baltimore is one of the league’s best modern rivalries, and a playoff berth, or even a division crown, could be on the line in what will surely be a black-and-blue affair to end the season. With the Steelers and Ravens, it always matters.
Other notable Week 18 games:
Eagles at Giants
Bills at Dolphins
Chiefs at Chargers
Vikings at Lions
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