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CNNSI's 17 games you want to watch


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Must-See TV

For couch potatoes, here are 17 games you gotta watch

Posted: Thursday August 15, 2002 11:51 AM

By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

So the stock market has wiped out your vacation funds? Wondering what to do with all that suddenly available free time during the next six months, since obviously the annual sojourn to Barbados is out of the question?

Well, hug the kids (you remember them, right?) and fork over the cash for the NFL's pay-per-view package. A 17-week trip chock full of fumbles, ill-timed interceptions, one-handed catches and game-winning TD tosses awaits. Best of all, you never have to stand in line for a urinal.

Here are the must-see games for the 2002 season, coming at you in high definition with surround sound on that man's man 54-inch, picture-in-picture big screen your wife despises (except when screening Kate & Leopold). Now, pass the Fritos.

Week 1

at Monday, Sept. 9

This game is worthy on a couple fronts. First, there's the whole AFC Championship Game rematch angle, which you'll hear enough about leading up to kickoff. But it's also -- BOOM! -- Monday Night Football. Let's hope the chemistry between Al Michaels and John Madden has found its balance before Hank Jr. asks if we're ready for some football.

Week 2

at Sunday, Sept. 15

This will be an early season measuring stick for both first-year Raiders head coach Bill Callahan and Steelers QB Kordell Stewart. Defensively, Pittsburgh will be a stern test for Oakland's geriatric go-to guys, while the Raiders ... well, let's just see how Kordell shoulders the pressure now that he's seemingly settled into Mike Mularkey's offensive scheme.

Week 3

at Sunday, Sept. 22

The new breed East Coast offense against the established West Coast version. If all goes according to plan, flight paths across the Bay Area will have to be diverted to make way for all the flying pigskin. ... And there is that little matter of the 49ers' hurt feelings after the Redskins ran up the score in the preseason opener.

Week 4

at Sunday, Sept. 29

OK, Quincy Carter. After opening against the Texans and Titans, Week 3 promises to be a bruiser at Philly. Sore and most likely licking a few wounds, the Cowboys get a good feel for their fortitude by facing the hard-hitting, high-flying Greatest Show on Turf. Roy Williams, welcome to the NFL.

Week 5

at Sunday, Oct. 6

Is this a glimpse at a changing of the guard in the AFC West? The Chargers may have Drew Brees under center, while Brian Griese could either be a) entrenched as the Broncos' future, or B) watching Steve Beuerlein run the show. If it's the latter, San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer may begin exorcising some of those 1980s demons.

Week 6

at Monday, Oct. 14

The 49ers pay a visit to former assistant Mike Holmgren's new digs in the Great Northwest. Back in the NFC West, the Seahawks will be coming off a bye week and potentially sitting at 3-1. These are the must-win games if either team hopes to keep pace with the Rams.

Week 7

at Sunday, Oct. 20

Former Packers GM Ron Wolf says he tried on three occasions to hire Steve Spurrier in Titletown. Now, Coach Superior gets a first-hand look at what could have been. ... Maybe Brett Favre will take Spurrier out for a round of golf, proving that the grass is greener on the other fairway.

Week 8

at Sunday, Oct. 27

By now the kinks have been worked out (at least the Ravens hope so). Chris Redman is showing signs of getting comfortable, and Baltimore's new defensive scheme is beginning to gel. With Jamal Lewis and Jerome Bettis running the ball, this game could be a pound-it-inside throwback.

Week 9

at Sunday, Nov. 3

Ah, as our thoughts turn to the fast-approaching holidays, the mood turns ugly. Obviously no love lost here, but seeing the prim and proper Niners trek into the heart of Raider Nation just brings out the thug in all of us. Hide the women and children, folks, the Black Hole is about to devour another victim.

Week 10

at Sunday, Nov. 10

While both are prototype QBs, Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb are the standard bearers for the next decade. Manning's pocket-passer style is some folks' chicken noodle soup, while McNabb's fleet-feet technique suits others' Chucky tastes. For us, it's all dessert.

Week 11

at Monday, Nov. 18

Da Bears could make this game interesting for one reason: Chris Chandler -- if he's given enough time to set up in the pocket -- can sling the ball with the best of 'em, including Kurt Warner. And trust us, by mid-November, Chandler will be Chicago's starting QB for the stretch drive.

Week 12

at Monday, Nov. 25

McNabb will face off against no fewer than four of the league's top QBs: Jeff Garcia, Steve McNair, Manning and Warner. That's not to mention possible shootouts with David Carr, Brad Johnson and Jake Plummer. This will be the second of only two road games among all those potential big-stat matchups.

Week 13

at Sunday, Dec. 1

Don't think the Packers have forgotten about fumbling away the NFC Central title to the Bears last season. With Christmas right around the corner, Green Bay looks to wrap up the new NFC North championship at Chicago's expense. After all, it's not like the Bears have a home to take it back to.

Week 14

at Sunday, Dec. 8

And down the stretch they come. Only four weeks remaining and the NFC East could be a crapshoot, with the Giants and Redskins in the thick of the playoff chase. Maybe. After 12 games, Danny Wuerffel may or may not be the Skins' QB. And who knows what will set Michael Strahan off and cause Giants teammate Tiki Barber to respond. Any guarantees, Mr. Fassell?

Week 15

at Sunday, Dec. 15

The playoff atmosphere is kicked up a notch as the Raiders bring their smash-mouth attitude to Pro Player, facing Ricky Williams and the Fish. The big questions: Are these bona fide AFC-contending Dolphins? Or the lovable postseason flops? Or is this merely the beginning of the end of Miami's season?

Week 16

at Monday, Dec. 23

NFL rules stipulate one football is in play each snap. Let's count how many could be needed on any given play. For the Buccaneers: Brad Johnson, Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell, Michael Pittman, Mike Alstott. For the Steelers: Kordell, Bettis, Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward ... Antwaan Randle El. Oh, this will be worth watching just to see who can juggle best.

Week 17

at Sunday, Dec. 29

It's been a long time since Bud Adams took his team and went volunteering his franchise for a new home. Now, it's payback. Consider the frustrations of 15 previous games -- including a Week 10 loss to the Titans -- and factor in the emotions of five seasons without the NFL ... and we have the makings of a 3-13 team that feels like it's won the Super Bowl a month before the game is even played.

If you make it through the end of the year without having to sell your soul in a deal with the devil -- "I'll let you watch the game if we'll watch The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood after." -- consider it a push. After all, the playoffs begin Jan. 4.

Now where's that remote ... ?

Find this article at:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/2002/preview/news/2002/08/14/must_see

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Cool. As long as none of the "other" 14 games interfere with my weekly Skins mainline, I'll look to catch all of these. And then some. :)

Now ... a question: is anybody else as irritated as I am hearing Jeff Garcia routinely referred to as one of the "best QB's in the league"? I'll give you that the kid's a gamer and all, he's even pretty heady ... but as of August 2002, I just honestly don't see this guy being fitted for a HOF jacket when it's all said and done. Am I missing something?

Seems like a whole lot of PR and San Fran "mystique" at work here.

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is anybody else as irritated as I am hearing Jeff Garcia routinely referred to as one of the "best QB's in the league"?

Over the last couple of years Garcia HAS been one of the best QBs in the league. Hard to argue with his numbers ... they're pretty impressive.

Season before last ... his first full season as starter ... he breaks 49er single season passing record. Last year not as many yards but 32 TDs with only 12 INTs. Been quite awhile since we've seen those kind of numbers around these parts.

Wouldn't look for him in the HOF, but to be fair he came on the scene in the NFL pretty late. I've admired his ability to take over the 49ers with such success considering he followed Montana and Young.

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