Best NFL games of 2013: Latest clash involving Peyton Manning and Tom Brady a no-brainer

Jason Cole

Ten worst games of 2013: Find out why Texans-49ers makes the cut

Maybe it says a lot about the quality of the NFL that it's much easier to come up with a list of 10 must-see games than 10 most-unattractive contests. As always, the top quarterbacks in the game are the star attractions of most of those contests, starting with Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis.

Here's a look at the 10 best games of the 2013 season:

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Nov. 24

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots Not the most original choice for top game, but the seemingly annual Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady fest gets juiced up this year as observers get to replay the whole Wes Welker angle. Did coach Bill Belichick make the right decision to let Welker go? Did the Patriots kill the chemistry of the passing game by taking away Brady's favorite target? Will Manning throw Welker 25 passes just to rub it in Brady and Belichick's face? What inventive jeers will Patriots fans have for Welker? And, by the way, who will win a game that figures to have playoff implications once again?

Nov. 25

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins There are some other games that have better obvious storylines, but this one figures to have the best action. Of course, this assumes that Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III is healthy, but all signs look good at the moment. If so, Griffin vs. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is an absolute dream matchup of guys with great arms and legs to match. Yeah, the read-option stuff is really just a fad based on the ability of the quarterback to run it, but these guys are so much fun to watch, particularly assuming they can both run. This game could end up 45-42 with one huge play after another.

Sept. 8

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Sean Payton returns to the sideline at the Superdome for his first regular-season game since he was suspended for the entire 2012 campaign. If you don't think Payton is going to have something special planned to get his team and the home fans revved up, you have no clue how Payton's mind works. Payton and quarterback Drew Brees are going to do everything in their power to make this a statement game. If that means rolling up 50 points with flea-flicker runs even if the Saints are up 20, Payton will do it. Ultimately, this man is going to spend the season exacting a pound of flesh from the NFL.

Oct. 20

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts In terms of pure theatre, this game probably should be No. 2. This is Manning's return to the place he called home for 14 years, the place he left in tears in March 2012. You can only imagine how geeked up the ultra-competitive Manning is going to be for this game. On the other side, the usually unflappable Andrew Luck will face the guy who is still a hero in Indy. As an aside, when Luck played Madden in his youth, he always picked being Manning. So Luck will be facing his boyhood hero on what was once the hero's home turf and is now Luck's spot to defend. This is a gem.

Dec. 8

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Last season, these teams played in one of the most boring games of the season when they matched up on a Thursday night at Candlestick Park. It was a completely unfair situation for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who was playing in the first half of his first season in a game with only three days to prepare. Likewise, the 49ers played incredibly conservatively in that game because of the limitations of then starting quarterback Alex Smith. This year, expect Wilson to be much better prepared for the second meeting between the teams. Moreover, expect the 49ers to be amped after getting embarrassed by the Seahawks in the teams' second meeting last season.

Sept. 8

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions No one will ever argue that Reggie Bush, who is a very good player, is in Adrian Peterson's class as a running back. Not even close. However, this game is interesting because it's a rare one in the NFL these days that's likely to come down to a battle of which running back can do more damage and control the game. The Vikings swept the Lions last year as Peterson helped them control the tempo of both games. Bush comes to Detroit as a perfect complement to the wide-open offense coach Jim Schwartz has been trying to build around quarterback Matt Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. With both defenses having significant holes, the season opener for the division rivals is another potential scorefest.

Nov. 17

Green Bay Packers at the New York Giants On Dec. 4, 2011, Aaron Rodgers put on an absolute show against the Giants, completing 28 of 46 passes for 369 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The Packers seemed like they were rolling toward another Super Bowl at the time. However, New York stopped Green Bay in the playoffs that season on the way to a Super Bowl title and limited Rodgers again last season back in New York. Overall, Rodgers is 40-of-71 for 483 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the past two games against the Giants. That's the kind of stuff that gnaws at Rodgers. A lot.

Sept. 19

Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles This game probably won't mean much in terms of the playoffs, although look for both teams to be much improved over their combined 6-26 record from a year ago. The obvious interest in this game is the return of Andy Reid to Philly, where he coached admirably (if not excellently) for 14 seasons. It will be interesting to see how Eagles fans, who are notoriously bitter, treat Reid in his return. Moreover, it will be interesting to see how those fans react to watching Chip Kelly run his offense, one which has a pretty strong resemblance to what Reid liked to do in terms of tempo.

Sept. 29

New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons This game probably won't get the respect it deserves, but few coaches in the NFL know how to play the odds and the situations as well as Belichick. Mike Smith, however, is one of those few. Now that he has the receivers to challenge the Patriots' defense, it will be interesting if Atlanta can dominate the tempo of this game rather than watching the Patriots do it consistently. This has a chance to be a 38-35 game because neither team is expected to be particularly potent defensively.

Dec. 8

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Wide receiver Mike Wallace's four years in Pittsburgh weren't exactly the stuff of Steelers lore, but they were pretty darn good. Beyond that, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is probably going to look longingly at Wallace every once in awhile in this game, wishing Wallace was still there to run under one of his deep throws. Instead, Wallace is hoping to do that same thing with second-year Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill, who has plenty of arm to deliver the ball there.

Check out all the team's schedules for 2013
NFC East | NFC West | NFC South | NFC North
AFC East | AFC West | AFC South | AFC North

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