From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
With the NFL regular season now just less than 12 weeks away, it’s time to circle the dates for the most highly anticipated matchups — and this time before packed stadiums in the wake of declining COVID-19 positive cases.
Keep in mind most of the listed games are in prime time or cap off a Sunday doubleheader.
n 10. Bills at Saints (Thanksgiving, Nov. 25) — The last time the Bills played on Turkey Day, they humbled the Cowboys. I wouldn’t be surprise if the Bills will be favored to win this one.
n 9. Rams at 49ers (Monday, Nov. 15) — New QB Matt Stafford takes on a key divisional rival coached by Kyle Shanahan, whose team has controlled the last few meetings.
n 8. Cowboys at Patriots (Sunday, Oct. 17) — It’s a battle of two QBs (Dak Prescott and Cam Newton), who both have something to prove.
n 7. Cowboys at Buccaneers (Thursday, Sept. 9) — The defending Super Bowl champ usually gets to open at home and against a brand name.
n 6. Vikings at Packers (Sunday, Jan. 2) — Big divisional rivals will punctuate a heavy weekend of college and pro football. Should be snow on the ground and plenty of chill in the air.
n 5. Chiefs at Ravens (Sunday, Sept. 19) — Kansas City found a way to slow down the Ravens’ offense, led by QB Lamar Jackson, in the 2020 early-season matchup.
n 4. Browns at Ravens (Sunday, Nov. 28) — The Browns could be the class of the AFC North this season and are definitely a threat to reach the AFC title game. Ravens won a 47-42 thriller last year.
n 3. Bills at Chiefs (Sunday, Oct. 10) — The Chiefs won both meetings last season, including the AFC title game in which they trailed 9-0 before storming back with their high-octane attack.
n 2. Packers at Chiefs (Sunday, Nov. 7) — Assuming disgruntled QB Aaron Rodgers remains in the green and gold, this looks like a premier QB matchup with Patrick Mahomes in the red, white and gold.
n 1. Buccaneers at Patriots (Sunday, Oct. 3) — The ultimate intrigue with QB Tom Brady returning to his old stomping grounds — but this time wearing an enemy uniform. Let’s see how Pats coach Bill Belichick coaches AGAINST his old QB.
n Honorable mention — Seahawks at Packers (Sunday, Nov. 14); Bills at Buccaneers (Sunday, Dec. 12); Bears at Rams (Sunday, Sept. 12); Packers at 49ers (Sunday, Sept. 26); Browns at Steelers (Monday, Jan. 3); Giants at Cowboys (Sunday, Oct. 10); and Jaguars at Bengals (Thursday, Sept. 30).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com