Deriving the Top 10 Matchups of the 2024 NFL Season 

by Tej Seth|May 16, 2024

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It’s a Sunday afternoon and you are still sweating from your favorite team’s narrow win over their divisional rival. As you continue to become a part of your couch, you look at the list of games filling up the afternoon slate and see that there are multiple good games on. However, you don’t know which game specifically to focus on in between checking your fantasy matchup and texting in your league’s group chat.  

There is a plethora of factors that can determine how “watchable” a game is. Some common factors include: 

  • How close the game could be: This can be determined using the betting market spread or converting Elo ratings to the spread. 
  • How high scoring the game could be: This can be determined by the betting market total or modeling the game based on market information.
  • The quarterback play: This can be calculated by taking a rolling average of the starting quarterbacks’ total expected points added (EPA). 
  • The team strengths: Using SumerSports’ Elo ratings, a team strength combination between the two opponents can be derived. 

These factors should capture a decent amount of how watchable a game is but these factors aren’t weighted evenly by everyone. To get a small look into how much impact the four factors have on the likelihood of watching a game, we asked you:  

The over 1,200 people that voted showed that how close the game could be and the team strengths were the two most important factors, while the quarterbacks were a secondary factor and how high scoring the game could be was tertiary. These weights helped inform the early makings of our watchability score. 

Top 10 Games 

With the exciting release of the NFL schedule, we now have a list of the top 10 matchups of the season. These watchability scores can certainly shift as rosters change, team strengths falter, and other storylines unfold, but we are already set for some great matchups. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills, Week 11 

Watch Score: 9.96 (out of 10)

In what could be the best matchup of both the regular season and the postseason, the Chiefs travel to Buffalo to continue to add to this rivalry’s history. There is an argument to be made that the two best quarterbacks in the league will be facing off in this game. While both of these teams will likely play postseason football, this game could be crucial for seeding as we get to the colder months of the year. 

2. San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills, Week 13

Watch Score: 9.86 

It is not every year that two top-five Elo teams in separate conferences face off in the regular season. What makes this game intriguing is the difference in how both offenses are built. The Bills go through Josh Allen and have spent this offseason revamping their wide receiver corps because of their trust in him. The 49ers use their dynamic weapons to beat defenses at every level of the field while having a quarterback who can press the right buttons. There should be a lot of points scored in this cross-conference matchup. 

3. Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers, Week 7 

Watch Score: 9.74 

Every Super Bowl rematch that happens in the regular season is exciting, but this one will feel extra special because of how last year’s game ended. That overtime finish will fill the headlines leading up to this game as the 49ers look to avenge their loss on their home field.  

4. Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs, Week 1 

Watch Score: 9.62 

The NFL picked a fantastic game to kick off the season. When these two teams played in the AFC Championship game, the Ravens closed as 5.5-point favorites in Baltimore. With the game in Kansas City this year and the Ravens without Mike MacDonald, this is expected to be one of the more evenly matched games of the season. Even though it’s week 1, it could also have major seeing implications down the road and tell us a lot about the reloaded Ravens. 

5. Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins, Week 2

Watch Score: 9.59 

We are fortunate enough to watch the Bills and Dolphins play twice this season. As the top two AFC East favorites, both games will be crucial for winning the division. Their Week 18 game last year was for the division and took a Deonte Harty punt return touchdown for the Bills to come out ahead. We should expect a lot of scoring in this game with the Miami weather likely to be conducive for an air show. 

6. Buffalo Bills @ Detroit Lions, Week 15 

Watch Score: 9.57 

The last time the Bills and Lions played was on Thanksgiving in 2022. That ended up as one of the best games of the season after Josh Allen got the ball tied at 25 with 23 seconds leading to a go-ahead winning kick. With Buffalo coming to Detroit again, we might see a similar type of matchup with a lot of points and a game that comes down to the wire. 

7. San Francisco 49ers @ Miami Dolphins, Week 16 

Watch Score: 9.56 

This game will be a fun one as Kyle Shanahan faces off against his protégé in Mike McDaniel in Miami. Both play callers have seen a lot of ink spilled on how innovative and influential the schemes they have used have been these past couple seasons. The matchups in this game will be fascinating as we might see these two craftsmen design something masterful. 

8. Baltimore Ravens @ Dallas Cowboys, Week 3 

Watch Score: 9.53 

In another exciting cross conference matchup, we will see teams that are projected to have top 10 offenses and top 10 defenses face off in this game. Lamar Jackson’s elusiveness vs. Micah Parsons and the Cowboys defensive line should be a great matchup. Ceedee Lamb vs. Kyle Hamilton and the Ravens secondary should be memorable as well. 

9. Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys, Week 6 

Watch Score: 9.47 

Two of the best teams in the NFC make a great matchup on their own, but this one will also have the angle of how last year’s game ended with the Lions having a successful two-point conversion overturned. On top of that, both of these teams expect to be fighting for a top seed in the playoffs and this game could help decide it. 

10. Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs, Week 2 

Watch Score: 9.42 

The Bengals-Chiefs recent rivalry is perhaps the best rivalry in the NFL. Last year, the Bengals played the Chiefs tight without Joe Burrow and look to go into Kansas City this year and win with him healthy. Every time these teams have played, tensions have been high, and the game has come down to the 4th quarter. While we might see this matchup again in the playoffs, the regular season one should be highly entertaining. 

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