The San Francisco 49erst travel to take on the Green Bay Packers in a matchup between two teams that many experts believed should have met in the NFC Championship Game in January.
They went a combined 28-4 last season before falling short of the ultimate goal. Both teams enter 2012 with a "Super Bowl or bust mentality" and both will be jockeying for home-field advantage through the postseason.
Needless to say, this is one of the biggest early season games in the National Football League.
San Francisco returns all 11 starters from a defense that was among the best in the league last season. They have also added a vast array of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, most notably Randy Moss and Mario Manningham at receiver. This team is absolutely stacked.
Meanwhile, the Packers attempted to revamp a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL last season. They did so with an infusion of young talent in the front seven. It will be interesting to see just how much of an impact these young players can make in the season opener.
The key to this game will be pass-protection from a 49ers standpoint. If they are able to give Alex Smith some time, this offense will be able to put up points. If not, it could be a long day for the defending NFC West Champions.
Green Bay also needs to give Aaron Rodgers the necessary protection to pick apart a 49ers secondary that despite having two Pro Bowl performers, looked weak during the preseason.
In the end, I will take the home team in a close game between two of the best squads in the league.
San Francisco 49ers: 24
Green Bay Packers: 28