2024 NFL Schedule Release: The 9 Games I’m Most Excited About

2024 NFL Schedule Release: The 9 Games I’m Most Excited About article feature image

Ryan Kang/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes (left) and Josh Allen.

The full 2024 NFL schedule is set to be released on Wednesday. We’ll learn of all 272 games and begin a summer's worth of anticipation in the lead up to the season’s most enticing matchups.

We don’t need a full schedule release to already know the matchups we’re going to see in the upcoming NFL season, though, and I went ahead and ranked the nine regular season matchups I’m most looking forward to.

As part of this exercise, I’m not going to pick a single team more than twice, or else this list would just be a handful of Chiefs games.

2024 NFL Schedule Release: The 9 Games I'm Most Excited About

1. Mahomes vs. Allen VIII: Chiefs vs. Bills

Whenever this matchup does take place, you can almost guarantee that it will be a 4:25 game on CBS with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. The league’s two best quarterbacks have so much history playing against one another that it's unquestionably the best consistent matchup in the sport.

I won't call this Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady — mainly because the rivalry has been so dominated by one party and it doesn’t quite have the longevity yet — but it’s the closest we have to a modern equivalent of Manning vs. Brady.

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen never share the field, yet they continue to produce absurd performances to one up the other.

I hope the schedule makers have this one set for November. December brings in a huge snow risk in Buffalo, while September and October don’t quite feel important enough.

They met last November in Kansas City, when Kadarius Toney’s offside cost the Chiefs a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Between that and Tyler Bass’ missed field goal in the playoff game in Buffalo, this matchup produced two classics in 2023-24, and is likely to be one again.

Other matchups may have better one-off narrative angles, but Chiefs-Bills is the most premier NFL duel these days. It’s the eighth meeting between the two quarterbacks — the Chiefs are 4-3, 1-3 in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs.

2. Super Bowl Rematch: Chiefs vs. 49ers

Nothing says Sunday Night Football like a Super Bowl rematch. I fully expect this one to be on NBC.

Last season, the Chiefs-Eagles Monday Night game was the most watched non-holiday regular season game of the entire year. It was decided in the final minute as Philadelphia stole a victory in Kansas City.

This matchup doesn’t quite have the same consistent history as Chiefs-Bills, but these two opponents have played twice in the Super Bowl in the last five years. Kansas City rescued both Super Bowls victories on some late heroics and excellent fourth quarter (and overtime) play from Mahomes and the Kansas City offense.

The Chiefs also crushed San Francisco in their 2022 regular season meeting. Unlike Philadelphia, which had to go on the road to get its Super Bowl revenge, San Francisco will welcome the Chiefs to Santa Clara.

The 49ers will probably win this game and then we’ll have to try to avoid the “Are the Chiefs broken?” discourse that will likely follow it from national media.

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3. HarBowl: Ravens vs. Chargers

Jim and John Harbaugh’s last matchup against one another was Super Bowl 47 in 2013. It was one of the most notable Super Bowls in memory, which included the two brothers facing off, the famous power outage and a Ravens goal line stand to secure the title to cap off a historic month of play by Joe Flacco.

John is still head coach of the Ravens, and while Baltimore has been pretty consistently good under his tenure, most NFL fans would probably be surprised to know that John has won just three playoff games in the 11 seasons since that Super Bowl victory.

Jim went to Michigan in 2015, and while he immediately improved the program, it wasn’t until 2021 that he finally elevated Michigan above hated-rival Ohio State. Jim won three straight Big Ten titles and then came back to the NFL to try to fix a floundering Chargers franchise after winning a national title at Michigan.

This is a matchup of the reigning NFL MVP, a borderline top-five QB talent in Justin Herbert and two heavyweight NFL coaches.

Baltimore is dealing with the gutting of its coaching staff, and the Chargers are a prime buy-low team in 2024. Coaches, quarterbacks and storylines; this game has it all and it'll be a must watch.

4. The One That Got Away: Lions vs. 49ers

It’s easy to say that the Lions will be back in contention at the top of the NFC, but staying good in the NFL is far, far harder than the rapid ascent that Detroit has had under Dan Campbell.

The Lions managed to keep hold of top offensive coordinator Ben Johnson for another season, and Jared Goff continues to mature in this offense. But the Lions played a pretty soft schedule last year, they played a ton of games indoors and the defense really struggled for large portions of the season.

I have a feeling Campbell, Lions fans and the NFL will look back at that second half in Santa Clara in January as the one that got away. Campbell acknowledged it postgame when he said that it’s really hard to get another shot. The Lions probably won’t get to host Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round again.

Regardless of the medium term outlook of the Lions under Campbell, one thing is for sure: they’ll be all-in for this game, and this game has the makings of an awesome matchup.

San Francisco couldn’t match the Lions' physicality in the first half last year, and then the Lions forgot how to hold onto and catch footballs. Without a series of drops and fumbles, Detroit is the NFC champion.

The Lions will get a great crack at their regular season Super Bowl whenever they visit San Francisco this season.

5. The Scene of the Injury: Bills vs. Jets

I wouldn’t put it past the NFL for this game to once again be primetime early in the season. The 2023 NFL season changed dramatically in the first quarter of this matchup on Monday Night Football when Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles on his first series as Jets quarterback.

The Bills are expected to take a step back as a team and this could very well end up being a highly competitive three-way race for the AFC East, including the Dolphins.

Given that Rodgers is an aging vet coming off a major leg injury, don’t be surprised to see the Jets with a more front loaded schedule. I do wonder if the NFL will try not to overly backload the schedule like it did last year and risk major injuries taking the juice out of some of its biggest matchups.

Buffalo will also certainly remember what happened after Rodgers went out injured — Allen threw three interceptions and the Jets walked off with a game-winning punt return touchdown in overtime.

6. The Battle for the Lone Star State: Texans vs. Cowboys

The Houston Texans are everyone’s darling team following a list of huge acquisitions and the expected improvement of NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud.

A quick look at the schedule would give you a handful of matchups to choose from because it's absolutely brutal. The Texans play the sneaky deep NFC North, will face the entire AFC East and then will draw Dallas away, Kansas City away and Baltimore home as their three extra games based on last year’s finish.

Instead of giving us Dallas against a usually overmatched division opponent on Thanksgiving, I’m hoping we get the battle for the Lone Star State on our nation’s biggest football holiday.

The Cowboys have played either New York or Washington in five of the last eight Thanksgivings. I can think of no better matchup on Dallas’ schedule than Dak Prescott against Stroud — especially since the NFL almost never uses Dallas vs. Philadelphia on Thanksgiving.

Prescott finished as the MVP runner up last year and the Cowboys' offense was an absolute supernova on the fast track at home last year.

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: C.J. Stroud (Texans)

7. Don't Forget About Us: Eagles vs. Bengals

The late-season collapse of the Philadelphia Eagles and the injury to Joe Burrow meant that these two teams were largely out of NFL conversations once the playoffs began last year.

The Eagles made the playoffs, but Tampa Bay quickly crushed them in the first round. The Bengals had some fun moments with Jake Browning, but it wasn't nearly enough to make the playoffs.

Cincinnati and Philadelphia were two franchises on the rise entering last season — Philly was the co-favorite to win the NFC and Cincinnati had demonstrated success in slowing down the Chiefs' juggernaut.

A few bad months for both teams shouldn’t change that. If Burrow and Jalen Hurts are healthy, both offenses should be easily top-10 and borderline top 3-4 units. That’s enough to make this a really fun matchup.

This game will be the fifth meeting between the Bengals and Eagles since 2008. Two of the previous four have ended in ties, in 2008 and 2020.

8. NFL in Brazil: Eagles vs. Packers

Brazil is the most successful footballing nation in the world, with five World Cup trophies. Now, Brazil will welcome American football and the NFL to Sāo Paulo on Friday night in Week 1.

Not only am I excited to see how American football is received locally in South America — we’ve seen NFL games in Mexico City, London and Frankfurt in recent years — but this is an enticing matchup on the field as well.

Jordan Love played like a top-five QB in the NFL in the second half of the season after a rocky start to his first season as starter. Hurts and the Eagles started 10-1 and then finished by losing six of seven.

Green Bay was one of the youngest rosters in the NFL last year, and it's the buzziest breakout team in the NFC. It was a missed field goal away from potentially making the NFC Championship game.

Philadelphia is a 1.5-point favorite in this neutral site game, and the NFL will return with four primetime games in five nights to open the season.

9. Hats Off to Carolina: Panthers vs. Bears

The Carolina Panthers are trending toward one of the worst trades in NFL history if Bryce Young doesn’t dramatically improve in his sophomore season.

The Panthers essentially gave up DJ Moore, Caleb Williams, Darnell Wright (Bears' first-round pick last year) and a 2025 pick for Young, who had a terrible rookie campaign.

The Panthers have a new head coach in Dave Canales, but oddsmakers aren't confident that Carolina will avoid being a bottom three team yet again.

This has a chance to be a pivotal game for both franchises, even if neither is a real contender in 2024. If Young plays well, maybe Carolina doesn’t draft a QB next season. But getting beat by Chicago here would be yet another embarrassment for David Tepper and company.

It’s a Carolina dignity game and an intriguing matchup between the last two No. 1 picks in the NFL draft.

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