The 2012 NFL season is sort of right around the corner, and with the NFL's release of the 2012 regular season schedule, fans everywhere are already gearing up for big Week 1 match ups. Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts and signed with the Denver Broncos, leading to the departure of Tim Tebow who is now a New York Jet.
Week 1 outcomes do not determine the rest of the season, but they're often a good indicator of where team's stand. There are at least four big games in Week 1 that should have fans everywhere excited.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos upset Pittsburgh after beating the heavily favored Steelers in overtime of a Wildcard game last season. Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow orchestrated a first play "Hail Mary" (every play called by Tebow is some rendition of a "Hail Mary") to advance to the Conference Semi-Finals against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Steelers look for a little revenge by beating the now Tebow-less Denver Broncos in a Week 1 match-up to start the 2012 regular season.
However, football fans everywhere plan to tune in to the 8:20 PM Sunday night game to see the return of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The 36-year-old signed with Denver after not appearing in a single game of his 13th season with the Indianapolis Colts due to a neck injury. Talk about unlucky.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
A Week 1 match up between the 49ers and Packers has the potential to be an NFC Conference Championship preview even this early in the season.
Aaron Rodgers powers the high scoring Packers offense and Clay Matthews–rumored to be one of the finalists to land the part of Conan the Barbarian in the recent remake–leads a revamped Packers defense. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith hopes to prove last season's 13-3 finish wasn't a fluke. Fans might also be interested in seeing how the 49ers signing of Randy Moss will play. Moss, who's constantly made headlines throughout his storied career, though not always for the right reasons, is still seeking his first Super Bowl Championship in 14 seasons. What's the old saying, 14th time's the charm?
The Buffalo Bills surprised many by starting the 2011 regular season with a 4-1 record, especially with a bearded Harvard grad who bore a striking resemblance to Alan Garner from the Hangover starting at quarterback and after losing the first eight games of the previous season. Ultimately, however, the Bills finished with a lowly 6-10 record. The Bills won't the reason football fans will be paying attention to this Week 1 match up.
By now, even the biggest anit-sports, Comic-Con nerd has heard of Tim Tebow. It truly is a battle of good versus evil for the starting quarterback position in New York. Reportedly, Mark Sanchez likes 'em young, while Tim Tebow likes 'em pure. A proposed two-quarterback system for the Jets is an interesting concept, and a game against the less-than-stellar Bills in Week 1 gives the Jets a chance to experiment. With the offense, not with cannabis, Santonio.
Like most other .500 and below teams, the Jets hope to prove last season was a fluke and make it to the post-season and beyond this year.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals drafted quarterback Andy Dalton last season partly because he had a fantastic college career at Texas Christian University, and partly because they wanted a players whose hair matched the team uniforms. Dalton and fellow-rookie wide receiver A.J. Greene (drafted fourth overall) finished with Pro Bowl seasons and led Cincinnati to a playoff berth. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals can build on the success of last season and beat a tough, inter-divisional Baltimore team.
The microscope will be on Baltimore this season, particularly quarterback Joe Flacco who recently tagged himself as the best quarterback in the entire league. Neither Tom Brady, Eli Manning nor Ben Roethlisberger could be reached for comment, as they were busy polishing their Super Bowl rings. The Ravens had a very successful 2011 season, finishing 12-4 and 6-0 in a good NFC North Division and should contend for a Super Bowl again this year. The first Monday Night Football game of the year should get plenty of attention.
It's that time of the year again. Football fans can't wait for Week 1 and another season of NFL football.