The NFL released its preseason schedule on Thursday. Here's a first look at the top-10 games that don't matter for the 2013 season, in no order.
Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers (Week 1)
The Broncos were given new life by the acquisition of Peyton Manning. They finished the 2012 season with a 13-3 record, earning the top seed in the AFC. They were defeated in the divisional round by the Baltimore Ravens, who went on to win the Super Bowl, thanks to some last minute heroics. The Niners made it to Super Bowl XLVII where they lost to the Ravens. Both teams boast powerful offenses and stout defenses.
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles (Week 1)
The New England Patriots will get the league's first look at Chip Kelly's new offense for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots have one of the league's most high-powered offenses and it will prove to be a good measuring stick for Kelly's Eagles. Philadelphia won't have all the pieces put together yet, but it will be interested to see the progress made through the offseason.
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens (Week 2)
The Atlanta Falcons were so close to heading to the Super Bowl in 2012. They defeated the surging Seattle Seahawks at home in the divisional round but then lost to the Niners at home. The Ravens went on to win Super Bowl XLVII, defeating the 49ers. Both teams will be looking to head back to the playoffs in 2013.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins (Aug. 19, 8 p.m. ESPN)
The Steelers missed the playoffs in 2012 but they finished the year with the top defense in the league. The Redskins won the NFC East by adopting the read-option offense to suit rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III's abilities. The read-option has taken the league by storm and will likely give defensive coordinators headaches for a long time. What better defense to test the league's new offense against the that of the Steelers?
The Steelers defeated the Redskins 27-12 in 2012.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (Aug. 23, 8 p.m. CBS)
The Seahawks were one of the most fun teams to watch in 2012 as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson led them to an 11-5 record and seven wins through their last eight games. They defeated the Washington Redskins in the Wildcard round of the playoffs and lost to the Falcons in Atlanta by a mere two points. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers also went 11-5 and were also knocked out of the playoffs in the second round. The two teams faced each other in 2012 in Week 3 when the Packers came away with a 14-12 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans (Aug. 25, 4 p.m. FOX)
The Texans have emerged as one of the elite teams in the AFC while the Saints are looking to bounce back now that Sean Payton is back with the team. The Texans won the AFC South in 2012 and defeated the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs before they were defeated by the Patriots in Foxborough. The Saints finished with a 7-9 record and missed out on the playoffs. They had one of the best offenses in the league but their last-ranked defense was a hard hurdle to overcome. With Payton back at the helm, they should be much better in 2013.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (Week 3)
The Vikings were led by an amazing performance from running back Adrian Peterson, who was just nine yards short of setting the league's single-season rushing record. Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and helped the Vikings reach a 10-6 record, which sent them to the playoffs as a wild card team. They were knocked out in the first round by the Packers. The 49ers went on to defeat the Packers on their way to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Ravens.
The Niners defeated the Vikings by a score of 24-13 in 2012.
New York Jets at New York Giants (Week 3)
Neither team made the playoffs in 2012, but the Giants are just two years removed from a Super Bowl win and the Jets are quite literally a dumpster fire. It may not be the most competitive of games, but watching two teams from the Big Apple go at it in a game that doesn't matter is entertaining enough to make the list.
New York Giants at New England Patriots (Week 4)
The Giants and the Patriots are tied together by Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, both of which were won by the Giants despite the fact that the Patriots were heavily favored. Any time the two teams take the field now, we are reminded of two great Super Bowls that shocked millions of football fans around the country.
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 4)
Andy Reid had great success in his time in Philadelphia and it will be interesting to see if he can bring that success to the Chiefs, who finished with the worst record in the NFL in 2012. By this time in the preseason, Alex Smith will only be taking a few snaps at quarterback for the Chiefs, but we'll get our best look at who the Chiefs are going to be in 2013 in the first few series of the final preseason game. The Packers won't be easy to best, even after the starters are pulled.