The dates and locations of all 256 NFL regular season games were released, and that means it’s time to start planning some trips.
Last season, I wrote about the best weekends combining a good college football game and a good NFL one in close proximity.
I am doing the same thing here, and I’ll also throw in a back-up option if you don’t fancy the first one. While you’re reading this, I would encourage you to clear a space in your bank account!
Here we go.
Georgia @ Notre Dame, Falcons @ Bears
We’re starting off with a bang here. I have no idea what Notre Dame is going to be this season, but a trip to South Bend should be on the bucket list of any football fan. There is also the added bonus of the highly rated Georgia Bulldogs being in town. South Bend is just a short trip down the road from Chicago, where the Atlanta Falcons will try to shake off their Super Bowl hangover at Soldier Field.
Backup: Oklahoma @ Ohio State, Ravens @ Bengals
A big college matchup and an AFC North clash in Cincinnati to start the year should be fun.
Texas @ USC, Dolphins @ Chargers
What was greatest college football game ever played? Some would argue it was USC vs. Texas in the 2006 National Championship Game, won by Texas 41-38. Finally, we have a rematch. After what should be a great game, head to Carson where the Chargers will play their first home game since their relocation. It should be an interesting atmosphere in that 27,000 seater stadium.
Backup: LSU @ Mississippi State, Patriots @ Saints
You can never go wrong with an LSU + New Orleans combination. LSU is the road team in Starkville, and then you can see a shootout between two of the best quarterbacks of all time at the Superdome.
Oregon @ Arizona State, Cowboys @ Cardinals
Last time Oregon made the trip to Tempe, the game was an instant classic. The Ducks escaped with 61-55 triple overtime win. Oregon has a new head coach, and Arizona State could do some big thing this year. For the NFL game, Ezekiel Elliot vs. David Johnson is as good of a running back matchup as you’ll find in the league.
Backup: Penn State @ Iowa, Buccaneers @ Vikings
I had to dig deep for a backup this week. Still, this provides a nice chance to preview were Super Bowl LII will be played.
Clemson @ Virginia Tech, Steelers @ Ravens
Life after Deshaun Watson should be interesting for Clemson, with a host of candidates vying for the quarterback role. Whoever is under center for the Tigers, they’ll have a tough test when the reigning National Champions hit Blacksburg in a rematch of last season’s ACC Championship Game. Steelers vs. Ravens speaks for itself. That game is always a war.
Backup: Bears @ Packers, Northwestern @ Wisconsin
There’s another Green Bay + Wisconsin weekend coming up as a #1 option for a later week, but if you can’t do that weekend this gives you a chance to see Lambeau Field.
Alabama @ Texas A&M, Packers @ Cowboys
Oh baby! Now we’re getting to some good stuff! Ever since Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M played two thrillers against Alabama in 2012 and 2013, this has turned into a little bit of a rivalry. College Station is one of the best atmospheres in college football and it will be extra amped with big bad Alabama in town. Your NFL selection this week is also juicy. The rematch of that epic 34-31 Green Bay win in the divisional round last year should be incredible.
Backup: Michigan State @ Michigan, Panthers @ Lions
I have no idea why you would look elsewhere from those two showdowns in Texas, but this might be fun too.
Auburn @ LSU, Lions @ Saints
I gave you a little teaser earlier with that backup game in week two, but this is one of the premier possible trips. An SEC West game at Death Valley will be raucous, plus a pair of gunslingers are on display in Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees.
Backup: Oregon @ Stanford, Chargers @ Raiders
If you took the Louisiana option back in week two, look at the Bay Area here. It could be a unique atmosphere at the Oakland Coliseum with a recently relocated team facing a soon to be relocated one.
Michigan @ Penn State, Bengals @ Steelers
I’m really hitting the AFC North hard here, but it’s a good division and the college games around it are great, so I don’t feel bad. Over 100,000 Penn State fans packed in is a sight to behold, and it should be a primetime game against Michigan. Heinz Field is nearby, and with it comes another critical division game.
Backup: Georgia Southern @ Umass, Falcons @ Patriots
It’s a shame Boston College is on the road this weekend, or else getting to the Super Bowl LI rematch in Foxboro would be a lot easier. As it is though, you’ll have to grit and bear a below average college game to see what could be one of the NFL games of the year.
UCLA @ Washington, Texans @ Seahawks
There’s a lot to like here. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is already being tipped as one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. His team will face Washington, who went 11-1 last regular season and made the college football playoff. The next day, arguably the two best defenses in the NFL will square off at the loudest stadium in the NFL.
Backup: Georgia vs. Florida, Panthers @ Buccaneers
If you want to get your drink on, the Bulldogs and Gators will renew their rivalry in what is known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Cam Newton vs. Jameis Winston is an exciting quarterback matchup for Sunday.
Virginia Tech @ Miami, Raiders @ Dolphins
This weekend is one that really lacks firepower, so I thought I’d at least save you some travel between games. The stadium the Hurricanes and Dolphins share in south beach will host an ACC Coastal division clash on Saturday, followed by Sunday Night Football between two AFC playoff teams from last season.
Backup: Navy @ Temple, Broncos @ Eagles
Another college game without the star power other weeks had, but Lincoln Financial Field is home to Eagles fans, which automatically makes this trip way more interesting.
USC @ Colorado, Patriots @ Broncos
The New England vs. Denver rivalry takes center stage yet again, as Tom Brady will lead the defending Super Bowl champs to the Mile High city. Saturday’s match-up features two teams who were ranked in the top ten towards the end of last season.
Backup: Washington @ Stanford, Giants @ 49ers
This is Bay Area 2.0 if you don’t get a chance to make it on your first trip.
Michigan @ Wisconsin, Ravens @ Packers
Here is the Wisconsin weekend I teased you with earlier. Michigan will be a College Football Playoff contender this season, so seeing them pop up on this list for a third time isn’t surprising. Lambeau Field is breathtaking, and Wisconsin is also a neat place to see a game.
Backup: Iowa State @ Baylor, Cardinals @ Texans
This doesn’t even come close to the Wisconsin trip, but here’s a chance to see NRG Stadium, and since it’s in November, maybe a high school football playoff game in Texas on Friday night.
Vikings @ Lions, Ohio State @ Michigan
We’re down to the crème of the crop on rivalry week. The NFL game kicks things off this trip though, with the Vikings and Lions locking horns on Thanksgiving. Spend your Friday in Michigan doing whatever, but then on Saturday it’s the “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan.
After Ohio State knocked Michigan out of College Football Playoff contention last year on a controversial call in double overtime, this already feisty rivalry will be even more heated.
Backup: Missouri @ Arkansas, Bills @ Chiefs
We haven’t had a chance to visit Arrowhead Stadium yet. The Chiefs should be in the thick of the playoff fight by this point, so the atmosphere will be strong. Missouri vs. Arkansas is in good proximity to Kansas City and is usually a good Thanksgiving weekend game.
SEC Championship Game, Vikings @ Falcons
This is two games in two days at the same stadium, but it will be worth it. The new home of the Falcons is absolutely breathtaking. There is a reason it is set to host the SEC Championship Game every year, the college football National Championship game this year, the 2019 Super Bowl, and more. It’s a premium stadium built to host premium events. Two games here will be awesome.
Backup: Redskins @ Cowboys, Big-12 Championship Game
Because it’s conference championship weekend in college football, your options are very limited here. If you missed your chance to see magnificent AT&T Stadium in Dallas, you have a lifeline. The Cowboys play their longtime rivals Washington on Thursday Night Football, then Saturday night is the Big-12 title game.
Army vs. Navy, Cowboys @ Giants
There is only one college game this weekend, but it’s the grand spectacle of Army vs. Navy in Philadelphia. Up in New York City, a game that figures to be critical for NFC East positioning will take place at MetLife Stadium.
There are no other college games this weekend, so therefore there is no backup. Actually, this is where our journey ends. If you have any other suggestions or comments, tweet us @ReadAmFootball!