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Neil Reynolds' 20 Must-See Games in 2023

The NFL schedule for the 2023 season has been unveiled in all its glory and the 32 teams now know who they will be playing and when on what they hope will be a march all the way to Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas in February.

There are so many mouth-watering contests spread across the whole regular season. Too many to list here, that's for sure. You will have your own personal favourites, of course. But here are 20 games that I cannot wait to watch when everything gets going again in September.

Week 1              Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs | Thursday September 7, 2023

Given that the Lions scored at least 30 points in eight games last season, this should be a highly entertaining contest to kick off the 2023 campaign. This will also be an early test to see if Detroit have sufficiently bolstered the league's worst defense from a year ago because here comes Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's number one offense. Arrowhead will be rocking!

Week 1              Buffalo Bills at New York Jets | Monday September 11, 2023

Who won't want to tune in for this one? If only for the weird sight of seeing Aaron Rodgers in a different uniform and wearing the number 8 jersey for the first time since his college days at California. The Jets will feel they can truly contend in 2023 and they will face a stern early challenge in the form of the Josh Allen-led Bills, who will be in the mix once again.

Week 2              Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals | Sunday September 17, 2023

This game has multiple storylines, not least the fact that it will be an early marker laid down in what should be a very competitive AFC North. Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase will light up the skies for the Bengals, but will the Ravens have a more pass-friendly approach? Lamar Jackson certainly hopes so following the additions of receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers.

Week 4              Atlanta Falcons vs Jacksonville Jaguars | Sunday October 1, 2023

The first of three UK games will see the Jaguars play in London for a record 10th time. And while many British fans will be clamouring to see a Jacksonville attack led by Trevor Lawrence and featuring Travis Etienne Jr., Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley, don't overlook the Falcons. Atlanta's exciting young attack will be led by rookie running back Bijan Robinson.

Week 4              Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets | Sunday October 1, 2023

The Jets are back in primetime as they welcome the Chiefs to the Meadowlands, but few can complain about Gang Green taking up the spotlight. Patrick Mahomes against Aaron Rodgers is one of the most notable quarterback matchups of 2023 and both signal-callers will expect nothing less than to be in Super Bowl contention at the end of the year.

Week 5              Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills | Sunday October 8, 2023

The NFL returns to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with this being the first of two games in 2023. The Jaguars will have been in London for a while by the time they take on Josh Allen's Bills. I've already highlighted some of Jacksonville's offensive stars, but this will be a big game for edge rusher Josh Allen. He doesn't like the fact that Buffalo's quarterback gets more Josh Allen-related headlines!

Week 5              Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers | Sunday October 8, 2023

The Cowboys have been knocked out of the playoffs by the 49ers in each of the last two seasons, so revenge will definitely be on their minds. But there is so much more than bragging rights at stake here. San Francisco – who will likely be led by a fit-again Brock Purdy at quarterback – and Dallas, marshalled by signal-caller Dak Prescott are two serious contenders in the NFC.

Week 7              Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles | Sunday October 22, 2023

The Dolphins are going to be fun to watch once again in 2023 with Tua Tagovailoa slinging passes to the likes of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and the newly-signed Chosen Anderson. But keeping Tua upright and healthy will be vital. And that makes this a huge challenge against the pass-rushing Eagles. Philly will score their share of points as well as Jalen Hurts continues to shine.

Week 8              Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers | Sunday October 29, 2023

If Lady Luck had blessed either of these teams a little differently last January, this could very well have been last season's Super Bowl matchup. There is every reason to believe that this pair will be back in contention again come the New Year. Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Christian McCaffrey… there are stars everywhere you look in this one.

Week 9              Miami Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs | Sunday November 5, 2023

The NFL have ensured we have an explosive Fireworks Night, starting in Germany where Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill will take on his old team in the first regular season game to be played in Frankfurt. This has the potential to be a points-fest as both were top 10 offenses in 2022. Chiefs defenders also think Hill does too much talking, so what will they have in store for their former teammate?

Week 9              Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles | Sunday November 5, 2023

There is no love lost between these two teams. Hate is such a strong word so I'm not going to assign it here when it comes to this rivalry. Let's just call it heated! Dallas got one over on Philly in December, winning 40-34 on Christmas Eve. That will give them confidence, but the Eagles are a class act and will be tough to topple in the NFC East this season.

Week 9              Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals | Sunday November 5, 2023

Emotions are sure to be running high when this contest kicks off, especially if – as expected – Buffalo's Damar Hamlin has completed his comeback and is on the field. As you will know, of course, Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest in Cincinnati last January after collapsing following a routine tackle of Tee Higgins. Medics saved Hamlin's life that night and the whole world will celebrate his involvement in this game.

Week 10            Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers | Sunday November 12, 2023

Other games are likely to garner more attention this season, but I'm fascinated to see how the Packers and Steelers look as we get into the meat of the 2023 campaign. Teams will have found much of their identity by this stage of the year and after so many seasons of Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, how will these teams fare with Jordan Love and Kenny Pickett at the helm?

Week 11            Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs | Monday November 20, 2023

This Monday Night Football clash is the one we have all been waiting for and the game of the year! It was, of course, going to get placed in primetime. Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are very likely to pick up where they left off, trading touchdown for touchdown. And don't be surprised if this is just the appetizer for a Super Bowl re-match in Las Vegas in February.

Week 12            Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions | Thursday November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving Day! I have to admit that while I sell them to you on television every year, the Detroit Lions have been a tough watch on America's favourite holiday. Not anymore. Detroit were feisty against Buffalo last year and should be even more than that in 2023. They are genuine NFC North contenders and this will be a big game in that division.

Week 12            Miami Dolphins at New York Jets | Friday November 24, 2023

Once everyone has finished their furious online shopping or stopped wrestling for television sets in department stores, they can all settle down to watch the first-ever Black Friday NFL game. And a good one it is, too! The Dolphins and Jets are both going to be exciting to watch and will be contenders in the AFC East this season. This could be a vital game in the AFC playoff race.

Week 13            San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles | Sunday December 3, 2023

The re-match of last season's NFC Championship Game comes with added spice because the 49ers genuinely felt they were the better team and were going to win had it not been for injuries suffered by Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson. The 49ers won't be left without a quarterback this time around and the winner could have the inside track on homefield advantage in the NFC.

Week 13            Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars | Monday December 4, 2023

There are so many exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL these days that we are able to enjoy matchups like this one quite regularly. Joe Burrow against Trevor Lawrence is enough to have me hooked, but advent calendar doors will be getting opened by the time this game takes place, which means the playoffs will be just around the corner for these two AFC contenders.

Week 14            Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers | Sunday December 10, 2023

This is a huge game that could determine the destination of the NFC West crown. Seattle have further bolstered a team that pushed San Francisco hard in last season's playoffs before coming up short in the second half of the Wild Card game. The 49ers will have their foot hard on the accelerator by this stage of the year and Nick Bosa will be gunning for Geno Smith as per normal.

Week 17            Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs  | Sunday December 31, 2023

I'm at that age where I don't need much of an excuse to stay in on New Year's Eve, but here is the perfect one. This contest kicks off at 9.25pm UK time so by the time we start to see in 2024, Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes should be going hammer and tongs at each other in the fourth quarter! Happy New Year indeed!

Week 18            Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions | Sat Jan 7 or Sun Jan 8, 2024

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed this is game 21 on my list! But I need a division decider in here and I think this might have a good chance of being just that. Not too many are paying attention to the Minnesota Vikings this offseason, but they have improved their defense for sure and Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson are still going to light up the scoreboard in 2023.