NFL Regular Season Openers: 5 Most Exciting Matchups for Week 1
The NFL regular season is only three days away, and Week 1 offers some very intriguing match ups that could also be postseason match ups.
There's exciting new rookies, as well as new faces in new places.
Let's take a look at five of the most exciting match ups of Week 1.
5. Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears
The Andrew Luck era kicks off against the Chicago Bears at Solider Field. Luck was arguably the most coveted quarterback in the history of college football, and after getting rid of Peyton Manning to make room for him, the Colts are hoping he's as good as everyone thinks he is.
Now, Chicago has a legitimate No. 1 receiver for the first time since Cutler arrived in the Windy City and a solid 1-2 punch in the running game.
Indianapolis has nowhere to go but up from last season, and Chicago is one of the favorites to win the NFC North.
4. Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Both teams are loaded offensively and have playmakers on defense as well.
2012 is the season that Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant must showcase all of his potential without embarrassing himself or his organization in the process.
Tony Romo made the case for being included in the top-five quarterback talks after last year, and putting up a great performance against a divisional rival to open the season will bolster Dallas' momentum early in the season.
Victor Cruz took the NFL by storm last year by catching for over 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns for New York. While healthy, Hakeem Nicks, is a top-10 receiver in the league, and both will help Manning try to duplicate what he did last year.
Put all that together and mix it in with animosity between two historic franchises, and you have the first game of the regular season.
Prediction: New York Giants 28
3. Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
After being "Tebowed" by the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card round last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers look to avenge last season's playoff loss in Week 1 by traveling to Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Peyton Manning hasn't played in a regular season NFL game in over a year and a half and will get an early challenge against one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
The Steelers offense won't have the shine that it had last year with Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace. Mendenhall tore his ACL against the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 last season, and Wallace held out for most of the offseason, which will inhibit his overall performance on the field.
The Broncos defense was overshadowed by Tebow's celebrity last season, and with a healthy Elvis Dumervil back in the lineup to go along with Von Miller, the Broncos are sure to have one of the best defenses in the AFC.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 19
2. Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Both teams made the postseason a year ago, and both teams look to escape the dogfight that is the AFC North by leaving with the divisional crown.
Last season saw the emergence of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in Cincinnati, while the Ravens defense continued to be the Ravens defense.
Baltimore was a 32-yard field goal away from sending the AFC Championship game into overtime last year and are energized to put that loss behind it by taking it out on the Bengals.
This year, with a much-improved Joe Flacco under center and an extremely dangerous Ray Rice in the backfield, the Ravens are a favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Both defenses were stellar last season, and with the AFC North being one of the most competitive divisions in the league, look for the Ravens and the Bengals to begin 2012 with a defensive plan in mind.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 24
Cincinnati Bengals 14
1. San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
How can it not be the most intriguing matchup of Week 1 when two of the best teams in the NFC are playing each other?
San Francisco was a fumble away from reaching the Super Bowl last year, and Green Bay didn't even lose a game until Week 15.
Both teams combined for 28 wins in 2011 and showed that they will both be serious contenders in the NFC for many years to come.
The 49ers were first in rush defense last season, but were average against the pass. Luckily for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers will spread the ball around to cause problems for the San Francisco secondary.
After finally showing some bright spots since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2005, Alex Smith looks to lead the 49ers offense against the Packers defense that was downright abysmal last year.
These two teams could potentially meet in the NFC Championship game, and Week 1 should have that same playoff feeling.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31