Just like any other season, the NFL delivered with great and exciting games throughout the season. Of course, there were the usual blowouts and non-competitive games but there were plenty of entertaining games throughout the 17-week regular season. From the thrillers such as the Chiefs and Broncos overtime showdown to the high scoring duels such as the Packers and Falcons matchup from Atlanta, this was another incredible year of regular season football.
Here are the 15 games that made the cut for the top 15 games of the 2016-2017 NFL regular season.
- Saints beat the Panthers 41-38 in a game where both teams combined for 929 total yards.
- Raiders beat the Bucs 30-24 in overtime behind a career game by Derek Carr in which he threw for a Raiders franchise record 513 passing yards.
- Chiefs beat the Falcons 29-28 behind a pick 6 and two-point interception by Eric Berry.
- Lions vs Colts in Week 1: Matthew Stafford’s 1st 4th quarter comeback of the season
Final score: Lions win 39-35
The comeback king Matthew Stafford began the season with the first of his eight 4th quarter comeback wins in a close victory against the Colts.
This game went back-and-forth until Andrew Luck hit Jack Doyle for a 6-yard touchdown to put the Colts up 35-34 with 37 seconds remaining in the game, but when you are facing Matthew Stafford and the Lions, the game is never over until the clock reads double zero in the 4th quarter. Stafford needed just three completions to put the Lions in field goal range, which led to a Matt Prater game-winning field goal.
Luck and Stafford each threw for at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes as this game catapulted them into the Pro Bowl type season that they would have in 2016.
- Giants vs Cowboys in Week 14: The streak is over
Final score: Giants win 10-7
This did not turn out to be your typical Cowboys and Giants matchup. This was not the 2010 41-35 thriller or the 2014 matchup that featured Odell Beckham Jr’s incredible one-handed catch. Instead, it was a 10-7 result on Sunday Night Football that featured a good mixture of sloppy offensive football and great team defensive play.
Both defenses were able to record three sacks and three takeaways but the Giants did just enough to hold off the Cowboys offense in the 2nd half and snap the Cowboys 11-game win streak. This game is also memorable due to the stirred up quarterback controversy that resurfaced after back-to-back subpar performances by Dak Prescott, but he silenced critics with his performances against Tampa Bay and Detroit.
This game featured plenty of top defensive highlights but the only significant offensive highlight came courtesy of the yards after the catch master.
Final score: Falcons win 45-32
This was another highly-anticipated battle between Matt Ryan and Drew Brees on Monday Night Football.
Not only was this another matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL but it was the 10-year anniversary of the famous “Steve Gleason blocked punt game” in an emotional game for the Saints in their return to New Orleans after the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
As expected, this was another offensive shootout as both teams combined for 916 total yards. The difference in this game was the Falcons ability to gain 1st downs via their rushing attack and rookie Deion Jones’ 90-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. When the Saints and Falcons go head-to-head, always expect both quarterbacks to put up season high statistics.
- Patriots vs Ravens in Week 14: New England and Baltimore renew their rivalry on Monday Night Football
Final score: Pats win 30-23
You can always expect the Ravens to get the best out of Tom Brady and the Patriots and their late season Monday Night Football matchup was no different.
This game was on its way to a vintage Patriots blowout victory but the Patriots special teams unit decided to make it a competitive game instead. The Ravens went from being down 23-3 to suddenly down 23-20 but Brady had other plans in store as this played sealed the Patriots 11th win of the season.
Every MVP has that game in which they can look back and claim that it was by far their best game of the season and this was it for Brady. He finished with 406 passing yards and three touchdown passes while completing 65% of passes against a Ravens defensive unit that ranked in the top ten in fewest points allowed per game.
- Giants vs Ravens in Week 6: Odell Beckham Jr has a career game in a game with two late lead changes
Final score: Giants win 27-23
The theme of the Ravens season has been close losses in games that were winnable for them in the 4th quarter. The Ravens lost all of their games by 10 points or less and aside from the loss to the Steelers, their game against the Giants was the most disappointing of the season.
The Ravens offense were able to accumulate five scoring drives for 23 points and the rush defense was superb but they just could not stop one player, Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr’s 75-yard touchdown reception in the 3rd quarter and 66-yard touchdown reception in the 4th quarter to seal the game was the difference in the Giants win. Odell finished with a 10 receptions, two touchdown receptions, and a career high 222 receiving yards.
- Saints vs Cardinals in Week 15: Offensive Player of the Year candidates Drew Brees and David Johnson put on a show
Final score: Saints win 48-41
While the majority of the country was watching the Broncos and Patriots in an AFC Championship rematch, the Saints and Cardinals provided one of the best offensive games of the season. The Saints and Cardinals combined for 913 total yards in the highest scoring game of the season. 12 touchdowns were scored by both teams with five of them going for at least 30 yards, including a pair of touchdowns by Brandin Cooks that went for 65-yards and 45-yards.
Offensive Player of the Year candidates Drew Brees and David Johnson had one of their best games of the season. Brees completed 77% of his passes for 389 passing yards and four touchdowns while David Johnson totaled 108 yards for two touchdowns.
- Seahawks vs Cardinals in Week 7: An old-school defensive clash
Final score: 6-6 tie in overtime
This game was a frustrating one for Seahawks and Cardinals fans but old school fans of defense loved this week 7 matchup between the NFC West rivals. David Johnson and the Cardinals offense were more efficient on offense as they picked up 12 more 1st downs and almost 200 more total yards but they were unable to score in the red zone.
On the other side, Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals secondary were able to shut down the Seahawks passing offense and rush offense to 257 total yards. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka and Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro each had an opportunity to win the game in overtime, but they missed their field goals in a wild, wild finish.
We were all shocked just like Pete Carroll was after the missed kicks.
- Raiders vs Panthers in Week 12: 2016-2017 MVP contender Derek Carr vs the 2015-2016 MVP Cam Newton
Final score: Raiders win 35-32
Even though the Panthers came in with a disappointing 4-6 record, this was not going to be an easy game for the Raiders as they looked to clinch their first winning season in over a decade.
The Raiders were cruising with an early 24-7 lead but Cam led the troops back into the game with four straight offensive touchdowns to take a 32-24 lead. Instead of throwing in the towel and looking ahead to next week’s game, Carr would lead the offense to 75 touchdown scoring drive and a game-winning scoring drive that resulted in a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
It was the way that they responded to a comeback attempt by the Panthers that garnered more followers into the “Raiders are contenders” hype train. From Carr to Khalil Mack, the leaders on both sides stepped up in the 4th quarter and they continued to prove to the doubters that they are the real deal in the AFC.
- Seahawks vs Falcons in Week 6: #1 ranked offense vs #1 ranked defense
Final score: Seahawks win 26-24
It is always must-see football when the #1 ranked offense and #1 ranked defense in the league play each other. The Seahawks defense dominated in the 1st half as they held Matt Ryan and the Falcons to 3 points but the Falcons began to heat up in the 3rd quarter with three unanswered touchdowns.
This game featured one of the most anticipated wide receiver and cornerback battles of the season as Julio Jones faced off against Richard Sherman. Sherman did not cover Jones on every down as Jones went on to record 7 receptions for 139 receiving yards.
Too bad this game had to end on a controversial defensive pass interference no call.
- Seahawks vs Patriots in Week 10: Their first meeting since Super Bowl 49
Final score: Seahawks win 31-24
A year and over eight months later, the Seahawks were finally able to get some sweet revenge against the Patriots.
This game had the expected playoff type atmosphere as it came down to the wire once again but it was Russell Wilson that was the x-factor in this one. He had one of the best games of his career as he completed 67% of his passes for 348 passing yards and three touchdown passes. He was able to “redeem” himself in the red zone as a 15-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin gave the Seahawks the lead for good. The Seahawks defense responded with a goal line defensive stop to close the game. It was like watching two heavyweight boxers go at it as both teams put on a stellar performance in primetime.
- Raiders vs Saints in Week 1: Derek Carr orchestrates a 2nd half comeback
Final score: Raiders win 35-34
Derek Carr began the season with a win over the Saints after being down by 14 in the 2nd half but more importantly, he was able to match every Drew Brees score in the 4th quarter. In a thrilling conclusion, Derek Carr hit Seth Roberts for the touchdown and then Michael Crabtree for the 2-point conversion to give the Raiders the lead for good. Brees had this typical 400+ passing yard game but Carr matched up with a 300+ passing yards game along with a touchdown pass.
This turned out to be a huge statement win for the Raiders. This was the first step in proving to doubters that these are not the same old, losing Raiders but instead, a new era of a respectable and feared Raiders contending team.
- Packers vs Falcons in Week 8: Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers have one of the best quarterback battles of the season
Final score: Falcons win 33-32
This game was advertised as a quarterback duel between a 2016 MVP candidate with Matt Ryan and a former MVP with Aaron Rodgers, and they delivered. Ryan threw three touchdown passes while Rodgers added four and neither offense turned over the football. They exchanged scores back-and-forth until the 4th quarter when Ryan hit Sanu for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining.
Rodgers had an opportunity to respond but the offense failed to pick up a 1st down as the Falcons pass defense stepped up at the end of the game.
- Cowboys vs Steelers in Week 10: Cowboys extend their win streak to eight games after a back-and-forth win over the Steelers.
Final score: Cowboys win 35-30
Remember the days of the defensive battles between the Steelers and Cowboys? Well this game was far from it as they faced off in what turned out to be the 2nd most watched regular season game of the season. This game was one of the highest scoring games of the historic rivalry and the difference turned out to be which team had the possession last.
The Steelers and Cowboys combined for an incredible 890 total yards and 50 1st downs. The star offensive players shined in this game as Big Ben went for over 400 passing yards and three touchdowns while Ezekiel Elliott went for over 200 total yards and three touchdowns.
It turned out to be one of the wildest finishes in years as Ben faked spiked the football and lobbed it up for Antonio Brown for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds remaining to put the Steelers up 30-29 but the Cowboys responded.
This game ended up becoming a huge turning point for the Steelers as they would win out and clinch the AFC North division title. The Cowboys would go on to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC and finish with a 13-3 record.
- Chiefs vs Broncos in Week 12: Alex Smith leads the Chiefs to two game-tying drives and a game-winning drive in an overtime showdown with the Broncos
Final score: Chiefs win 30-27 in OT
This game had everything. If you love tough defensive football, then the 1st half of this game is for you. If you love a high-scoring game, then the 2nd half and overtime is for you.
Justin Houston and the Chiefs defense along with Von Miller and the Broncos defense were the story of the 1st half. They were each able to record sacks along with the world class job of the team’s pass defenses… but that all changed in the 2nd half and overtime. Alex Smith and Trevor Siemian were suddenly slinging the football all over the field as they would find themselves in an offensive shootout.
The Chiefs would be victorious in the one as Alex Smith would provide two game-tying drives and a game-winning drive. Game manager?
- Steelers vs Ravens in Week 16: One of the best rivalries in all of sports delivers a classic thriller
Final score: Steelers win 31-27
This game proved once again why the Steelers and Ravens rivalry is one of the best in all of sports. From the legends of this rivalry with James Harrison and Terrell Suggs to the new the players in the rivalry with Ryan Shazier and C.J Mosley, they delivered another classic for the ages.
Aside from the fact that this was a Steelers-Ravens game, the big storyline coming into this matchup was that it was a Christmas game with the AFC North division on the line. Big Ben threw two interceptions and the Steelers offense was stagnant through three quarters as it began to look like the usual defensive clash between the two teams but it all changed in the 4th quarter. Down 10 points in the 4th, the Steelers responded with two quick, vintage Steelers touchdown scoring drives. The Ravens responded with a late touchdown but the Steelers responded as well with an iconic game-winning touchdown.
It has been another season of fantastic NFL action. While ratings have been down this season, there’s no doubt that the quality of football has remained at the same high level of world class entertainment. Now as we head into the playoffs, what thrilling games will we see and will there be any huge upsets?
Writer’s Note: Stats are credited to ESPN and Pro Football Reference. Videos credited to NFL Media. Images credited to Isaiah Downing and USA Today Sports.