While the NFL schedule won't be released until Thursday night at 8 p.m. on NFL Network and NFL.com, we already know which matchups will take place, just not when. That means it isn't too soon to break down some of the most compelling contests this season.
There will be plenty of interesting storylines to follow this season. Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia when the Eagles host the Kansas City Chiefs. Jeff Fisher facing his old team when the St. Louis Rams host the Tennessee Titans. Greg Jennings facing the Green Bay Packers twice with his new team, the Minnesota Vikings.
But while all of those games are intriguing, none can match the following three matchups when it comes to offering compelling play on the field.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
I would have the AFC Championship rematch with the Baltimore Ravens here instead, but after losing Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and Bernard Pollard, it's hard to imagine the Ravens being as good this season.
But the Broncos are going to be very dangerous once again and, oh yeah, that Wes Welker guy will be making his return to Foxboro after signing with Denver this offseason. That should be interesting, to say the least.
Besides, anytime you get Peyton Manning taking on Tom Brady, it's must-watch football. These two teams should once again reside atop the AFC, so this matchup promises to provide some excellent football.
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are the reigning NFC champions and are one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. But behind Russell Wilson, the Seahawks emerged as one of the league's top teams a year ago.
Seattle added Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, improving an up-and-coming offense and already nasty defense.
If you want the NFC's version of the Pittsburgh Steelers versus Ravens rivalry, this is it. Both teams play top-notch defense, look to run the ball and are led by dynamic quarterbacks. They split two games last season, and this year they will battle for NFC supremacy.
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
I love it when these teams meet, as both feature two of the game's most exciting offenses.
It's hard to beat Aaron Rodgers versus Matt Ryan, with the Packers featuring Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley on offense, while the Falcons counter with Roddy White, Julio Jones, the ageless Tony Gonzalez and the newly signed Steven Jackson.
Both teams are perennial playoff contenders and the Falcons were oh-so-close to reaching the Super Bowl a year ago. Expect a shootout and one of the regular season's most entertaining games when these two meet.
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