Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Eagles-Redskins tops MNF lineup
By John Clayton
"Monday Night Football" on ESPN features 13 divisional clashes in a strong 17-game lineup, highlighted by the Nov. 15 meeting between the Donovan McNabb-led Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.
MNF also features interesting twists in the four nondivisional games.
The MNF season opens Sept. 13 at the Jets' new stadium with Rex Ryan going against the defense he ran for so many years, the Ray Lewis-led Baltimore Ravens. The Jets and Ryan have two other Monday night games: Oct. 11 against the Minnesota Vikings and Dec. 6 against the New England Patriots.
The second game on opening night features the San Diego Chargers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Vikings expect Brett Favre to come back this season, so the MNF game against the Jets is interesting. Favre played one season for the Jets, starting 2008 with an 8-3 mark before he suffered a torn biceps muscle and lost zip on his throws down the stretch.
The Monday night schedule also includes Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears against NFC North rivals Green Bay (Sept. 27) and Minnesota (Dec. 20). The Patriots play on Monday night twice, at the Dolphins (Oct. 4) and against the Jets (Dec. 6).
Here are the top five Monday night games:
1. Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (Nov. 15): By mid-November, the Redskins should have a decent idea how the trade for McNabb worked out. Interestingly, the Redskins will have a bye week to prepare for the Eagles, giving McNabb extra time to coach up his defense in how to stop Kevin Kolb and Andy Reid's offense.
2. Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (Nov. 1): The Texans are coming off their first winning season since entering the league as an expansion team in 2002. Matt Schaub moved into the elite class of quarterbacks with a 4,770-yard season for the Texans in '09. But Houston hasn't been able to win enough games in the AFC South. Will Peyton Manning still hold the advantage over the Texans?
3. New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 25): The Giants, trying to rebound from a disappointing '09, beat the Cowboys twice last season. But Dallas, which last season earned its first playoff victory since 1996, is clearly on the upswing.
4. New York Jets at New England Patriots (Dec. 6): The Patriots are still considered the team to beat in the AFC East because of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and their well-run organization. The Jets, who added LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor and Santonio Holmes in the offseason, are upstarts and aren't afraid to say it.
5. New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Dec. 27): Commissioner Roger Goodell moved more divisional games to the final three weeks of the season, and this is the game that could determine the NFC South. The Falcons continue to evolve around Matt Ryan, one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks. It's not out of the question for both teams to be in the playoffs -- one as a division winner, the other as a wild card.
Sept. 13: Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
Sept. 13: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Sept. 20: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers
Sept. 27: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Oct. 4: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Oct. 11: Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets
Oct. 18: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Oct. 25: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Nov. 1: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Nov. 8: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Nov. 15: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Nov. 22: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Nov. 29: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Dec. 6: New York Jets at New England Patriots
Dec. 13: Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans
Dec. 20: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 27: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.