91 days remain until the Patriots and the Chiefs kick off the 2017 regular season.
Each and every year there are a handful of games fueled by history, hatred, and revenge. Whether it’s a player returning to face his former team, an ancient rivalry, or a rematch of a playoff game, they’re always among the most entertaining to watch.
After deeply analyzing the 2017 regular season schedule, these are five revenge games worth watching.
Week 3 – Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
The Houston Texans will return to Foxborough for the first time since last season’s divisional round. 2016’s AFC South champs have lost six games versus the New England Patriots since 2012, including two postseason match-ups. New England’s star tight end Rob Gronkowski and Houston’s two-time Defensive Player of The Year J.J. Watt missed January’s game due to season-ending injuries but should return for Week 3.
In their most recent contest, the Patriots beat Houston 34-16, but it was far from a perfect game for New England. Tom Brady threw two interceptions along with two fumbles from Dion Lewis. Houston may have been able to come away with the win if it weren’t for the equally poor play by quarterback Brock Osweiler. Osweiler threw three interceptions and scored a passer rating of 47.6.
Houston’s league-leading defense was a silver lining in the team’s loss. They managed to pressure Brady, landing three sacks as well as creating multiple turnover opportunities. With first-round pick Deshaun Watson in the fold and J.J. Watt returning, the Texans could pose a much greater threat to New England next season.
Week 1 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
For the second time in two years, the Dallas Cowboys will kick off their season versus the New York Giants. The NFC East rivals faced each other twice last season with New York walking away victorious each time. Even with Offensive Rookie of the Year, quarterback Dak Prescott, and league-leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys couldn’t get passed the G-Men.
In Week 1, New York inched past the Cowboys with a 20-19 win. Dak Prescott finished his first NFL game with 227 yards and no touchdowns. Dallas followed their season-opening loss with an 11-game winning streak. In Week 14, they faced the Giants for the second time. The result wasn’t much prettier than the first. Prescott posted two interceptions, three sacks, and the Cowboys were held to just seven points.
The Cowboys finished last season with only three losses, yet the Giants were responsible for two. Dallas is back on the rise with a young, dynamic offense and their 3-3 division record will continue to motivate them. In Week 1, the Cowboys will be eager to beat New York and take the monkey off their back.
Week 6 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Week 6 of the 2017 season will bring a second AFC divisional round rematch. The Steelers topped the Chiefs 18-16 in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs. Between Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, the Steelers had to rely on kicker Chris Boswell to put up the team’s points. Boswell finished the game with five field goals, three from over 40 yards away.
Down 18-10 late in the fourth quarter, Kansas City shortened Pittsburgh’s lead with a one-yard Spencer Ware touchdown run. With the score 18-16, the Chiefs completed a two-point conversion to tie the game at 18. The play, however, was called back due to a holding penalty on Chief’s offensive tackle, Eric Fisher. The Steelers went on to end Kansas City’s season and advance to the AFC conference final.
The controversial call on Eric Fisher will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire between the two teams. The Chiefs believe they should have won that game, and come Week 6, they’ll have a chance to prove it.
Week 2 – Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars are the longest-tenured teams in the AFC South without a playoff appearance. How long? Let’s just say JaMarcus Russell and Ricky Williams were still in the league.
Tennessee entered Week 16 with a 4-1 record over their last five games. At 8-8, two more wins could’ve earned the Titans a trip to the postseason. Instead, with 0:53 remaining in the third quarter, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s season would be cut short thanks to a broken fibula. The second-year quarterback was carted off the field along with Tennessee’s playoff hopes as Jacksonville scored two touchdowns to win the game 38-17.
The Titans were debatably the best team in the AFC South through the ladder half of last season, well deserving of a postseason birth. Unfortunately, their season came to an end in the most frustrating fashion. Mariota and the Titans will return to Jacksonville in Week 2, this time with revenge on their mind.
Week 5 – Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys
Whether it’s the Ice Bowl, the Dez Bryant Non-Catch, or last year’s playoff duel, Packers versus Cowboys is the epitome the NFL. Most recently, the two teams faced each other in the divisional round of 2016.
Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott threw for a combined 657 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, in a riveting postseason shootout. The Packers led for the majority of the game but Dallas evened the score twice in the fourth quarter thanks to their star rookie passer. With under a minute left in the game, Rodgers uncorked a 36-yard pass to his tight end Jared Cook and put the Packers in field goal range. Green Bay ended the Cowboys’ season with a game-winning 51-yard field goal from Mason Crosby.
The Cowboys scored 31 points with an offense featuring a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back. Early playoff exits are a thing of the past in Dallas. The Cowboys may have lost to the Packers in 2016 but they will be back.
Week 7 – Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots
Week 7 will hail the rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time. The Atlanta Falcons will visit the New England Patriots in their first contest since Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons came out early in the Super Bowl, posting 21 points in the first half. With less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Atlanta held a 28-3 lead over New England. The Patriots scored a touchdown before the quarter ran out and mounted a 19 point comeback in the fourth to tie the game at 28. In overtime, New England reigned supreme with a two-yard touchdown run by James White to win the game.
Coming that close to victory and then watching it all go away is something that will both drive and haunt the Falcons. In Week 7, Atlanta will have the opportunity to show everyone they’re legit. You don’t get a ring for a regular season win but beating New England could bring the Falcons to peace with their past.
Week 2 – Packers @ Falcons
Week 11 – Patriots @ Steelers
Week 1 – Seahawks @ Packers