The NFL announced on Tuesday that the Super Bowl champion New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium to open the 2012 NFL season. This is the only announced game on the NFL schedule at this point, but we do know every team's opponents.
The announcement of the Cowboys-Giants game got me already thinking about Week 1 of the upcoming season. So, I took a look at a few of the other games and story lines I'm looking forward to the most this season, starting with my favorite annual game...
Steelers vs. Ravens: Probably my favorite game every year because it's two of the best defenses in the league and they're almost always close games. Yes, I'm one of the few people left that prefer a 10-7 game over a 38-35 game. They met in Week 1 last year with the Ravens winning in a blowout but that's the only game since 2007 that hasn't been within one score. They're close games with big hits (sorry, Roger Goodell) and a lot of trash talking. If you like the intensity an NFL game brings, this is the game for you.
Broncos vs. Patriots: Rematch of the 2012 divisional round playoff game, which the Patriots won. This is really be about Peyton Manning re-visiting the Patriots, though. Manning and the Colts had a decade-long rivalry with the Patriots and this would revive that, replacing the Stampede Blue with Mile High orange. The Broncos have a "strong chance" of playing in the opener on Sunday night. Early predictions have them playing the Steelers, a rematch of the Wild Card game.
49ers vs. Saints: That divisional round playoff game last season was awesome, right? The Saints scored late and Vernon Davis and the 49ers responded late to win the game. This is a classic game of an all-world offense against an all-world defense. The defense won out last time but the Saints offense was almost good enough to win it. This will be a terrific matchup.
Packers vs. Giants: The 2011 regular season game between these two was a classic as the Giants nearly became the first to beat Green Bay in 2011 but fell short, 38-35. The playoff game wasn't as close -- the Giants took care of business with a 37-20 victory. The rematch between these two teams will be highly anticipated, especially as the Giants defend their title.
Jets vs. Patriots: Always an entertaining game, even if the Pats killed them last year by a combined 30 points in two games. The Jets are rolling with Tim Tebow this year so the hype factor will be increased. The Jets are expected to have some packages for Tebow so he should play regardless of whether he's the starting quarterback or not.
Related: Tim Tebow Meets New York
Panthers vs. Redskins: RG3, meet Cam Newton. The first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft against who we assume will be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The two share similar traits in that they're athletic enough to make a play with their feet but possess a strong enough arm to keep defenses honest. Newton took the league by storm last year as a rookie and many feel Robert Griffin III can do the same.
Colts vs. Patriots: OK, I have the Patriots listed three times here so I deserve some grief for that but this game will get a lot of hype in the regular season. On one side, you have Andrew Luck, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft. On the other hand, you have Tom Brady, who has done it all at the NFL level. This used to be a rivalry when Manning was in town and it'll be up to Luck to continue the tradition of making these games meaningful.
Saints vs. Panthers/Packers: We'll call these games the Bounty Bowl. According to the NFL's investigation of the Saints bounty scandal, New Orleans had bounties out on both Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers at one point in time. Will the opponents be looking for revenge on the Saints? I'm really just looking forward to the Saints first game, post-bounty scandal.