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Instant Debate

Best game of 2011? Plenty of candidates at season's midpoint

There has been no shortage of high-scoring affairs, a few defensive slugfests and several last-minute stunners. What was the best game of the first half of the 2011 season?

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Stunning comeback in Buffalo

I'm going to go with the Bills-Patriots from Week 3. Who would have thought Buffalo could pull off that comeback, especially at a time when New England's offense was unreal and people were wondering when the Patriots would first lose a game.

Tom Brady shredded the Bills and came damn near throwing for four touchdowns and 300 yards in the first half, then started throwing picks and didn't really stop. Fred Jackson had another coming out party. The game also retriggered contract talks between the Bills and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and could end up being a critical tiebreaker in the AFC.

It was a wild game with plenty of twists and turns. When I read this question, it was the game that leaped out at me. Saints-Texans was a lot of fun to watch, too.

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  • Steve Wyche
  • Start with the best

There have been some great games but the first of the season was the best. An incredible shootout between the Packers and Saints ended with running back Mark Ingram getting stoned just short of the goal line to give Green Bay a 42-34 victory.

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees set the stage for their incredible seasons, as did Darren Sproles, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson and so on. Despite the offensive explosion, though, the most memorable moment came when Green Bay's defense, which was on the ropes, sold out to stop Ingram. That was a gut check -- a somebody-make-a-play moment. Love that.

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  • Charles DavisNFL Network
  • This game had it all

Loved Eagles-Falcons in Week 2. Not for its artful display of football, but because it represented the first playoff-atmosphere game of the season. Atlanta had been hammered at Chicago in the opener, and as a preseason favorite in the NFC, it was imperative that the Falcons beat the "offseason champs," the Eagles.

The intensity, hitting and competitiveness were all high for an early season game. Not to mention … it was Michael Vick's first start back in Atlanta.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Thriller between bitter rivals

The Ravens' win at Pittsburgh from Week 9 was my favorite game so far. Joe Flacco's winning drive against a defense that couldn't sack him was impressive. These teams will meet again in the playoffs, but to complete their first season sweep of the Steelers since 2006 was impressive.

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  • Dave Dameshek
  • Plenty more great games to come

The Browns-Seahawks 6-3 gem is close, but I'll go with the Bills' win over the Pats. Tom Brady and New England look pretty mortal after losses to Pittsburgh and the Giants, but remember: they were undefeated and seemingly unstoppable until that day in Buffalo. Unfortunately for Bills fans, that win may prove to be the high-water mark of the season as their feel-good story fizzles in the second half of 2011.

Looking ahead, Packers at Lions and Niners at Ravens in a couple Thursdays give us a couple holiday games to be thankful for -- and, of course, it'll be fun to watch Green Bay complete their 19-0 season in February. And yes, that's gonna happen.

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