The 2012 NFL schedule was released on Tuesday night and you can already see the storylines developing in Week 1 -- and we haven't even hit the NFL draft yet. Here are a few of the top storylines that popped to my mind as I skimmed through the first week on the NFL schedule.
First game of the year comes on a Wednesday. The defending champion Giants will host the Cowboys on Wednesday before the rest of the games on Sunday. Usually that's on a Thursday, but President Obama has a speech to make on Thursday.
Andrew Luck opens up against Brian Urlacher. Not exactly the easiest assignment, is it? The Colts, who are widely expected to select Luck in the upcoming NFL draft, open the season against the Bears in Chicago. Luck could've asked for an easier assignment in Week 1 (assuming, of course, that the Colts draft him).
Saints' first game post-bounty probe. The Redskins may be lucky they're playing the Saints early in the season, because several Saints players could be suspended as a result of the bounty investigation. What's going to happen if multiple players are suspended for Week 1?
Tony Gonzalez returns to Kansas City. As a Chiefs fan, I know this is an important game in Kansas City -- TG returns to the Chiefs, the team for which he starred for over a decade. This also features a matchup of two executives from the Belichick tree -- Kansas City's Scott Pioli and the Atlanta Falcons' Thomas Dimitroff.
Blaine Gabbert vs. Christian Ponder. Gabbert, drafted 10th last year, will meet Ponder, who was drafted 12th. Neither quarterback has shined in their brief careers; this will put the spotlight on both of them.
NFC's elite meet in Green Bay. 49ers vs. Packers in Week 1 is a nice gift from the NFL. That's your 2005 No. 1 pick Alex Smith, who was supposed to be great, taking on the 2005 draft's other first-round quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who ended up being pretty OK himself.
Peyton Manning's debut. You knew it would come in prime time and it will. Manning and the Broncos will host the Steelers on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 1. This will be Manning's first official game in Denver.
Monday night divisional rivalry doubleheader. The Bengals and Ravens, both 2011 playoff teams, will meet in the first "Monday Night Football" game, while the Raiders and Chargers will meet in the second MNF contest.