2011 NFL Schedule: Five Games To Watch Highlighted By Packers Vs. Saints

With a plethora of games to sort through, it may be difficult to decipher which games truly stand out from the rest in the 2011 NFL schedule. Sure, the hardcore NFL fan will want to watch them all, but which games are simply can't miss. From intriguing sub-plots to high-stakes games, we've sorted through the schedule to give you a few must-watch games this coming season.

Here are the top-five games to watch:

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers, Thurs. Sept. 8 at 8:30 p.m. on NBC
The season gets started right as the previous two Super Bowl Champions square-off on Thursday night. There's nothing quite like the opening of another NFL season, with the pomp and pageantry that goes with the first game of the year and an intriguing matchup to boot. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, two of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL, hit the field in a "super" showdown between teams that have seen plenty of success in recent history. Can the Packers work their way back to the Super Bowl? Can the Saints get back on the right track in 2011? We'll start to find out as the season gets underway.

San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens, Thurs. Nov. 24 at 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than with a good 'ole fashioned brother vs. brother matchup. Jim and John Harbaugh take the field for some football on a day typically filled with family, friends and food. The matchup may not be the greatest on paper, but the subplot is among the best you'll see in the NFL this year. John Harbaugh has seen plenty of success in the NFL, but brother Jim is ready to make a splash after joining the 49ers following a successful tenure at Stanford.

New York Jets at New York Giants, Sat., Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. on FOX
It's another holiday matchup with the added bonus of an age-old rivalry. In the battle of the Meadowlands, the New York Jets and New York Giants take the field in a Christmas appetizer on FOX. Rex Ryan is the off-the-wall, brash coach on one sideline while Tom Coughlin is stoic and disciplined on the other, providing a matchup of polar opposites on Christmas Eve.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, Sun., Dec. 25 at 8:20 p.m. on NBC
Not only does this game cap the holiday schedule, it also has plenty of division implications. The Packers and Bears ruled the NFC North last season, with Green Bay coming out of the wildcard spot to run the table and win the Super Bowl, defeating Chicago in the NFC Championship to get there. In week 16, these two continue the rivalry in a game that could decide the division again. The high stakes and the Christmas date make this one to watch.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots, Sun., Dec. 4 at 8:20 p.m. on NBC
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady go at it again in a week 13 matchup at Gillette Stadium in a matchup of two marquee quarterbacks in the NFL. While the game may not hold as much mystique as years past, the Patriots and Colts are sure to provide plenty of entertainment. Mix-in the late-season date and potential playoff implications for each team and you've got a must-see Decemeber matchup.

What are your must-watch games this season? What did we miss, what should be taken out and which games interest you the most?

For more NFL football, visit SB Nation's NFL hub. For a community devoted to your team, browse our list of 32 NFL team blogs. And for more analysis, check out SB Nation's team-by-team 2011 NFL schedule breakdown.

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