NFL: The 5 Most Intriguing Week 1 Games of the Regular Season
With the NFL preseason underway, it's time for experts and fans alike to make their bold predictions for the year.
With a lockout not stopping the season, there will have a ton of interesting story lines throughout.
We will start with Week 1.
The NFL is known for stacking the first week of the season with crucial games and interesting match-ups. This year proves no different as we have a ton of appealing games.
Some will be high scoring battles with a ton of highlight reel plays, while some will be hard-nosed defensive efforts.
Many teams will put their young rookies and prospects to work in hopes of budding stars, and many teams will put out a group of veteran leaders looking to contend now.
Anyway you put it, the NFL season is back, and I for one am looking forward to an exciting year.
5) Detroit at Tampa Bay
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Who would have thought this game would be relevant two years ago? Both teams come into this season as dark horses for a spot in the NFL Playoffs.
These two teams have young cores that could be around for a while. Both are in divisions that had two respective NFL Playoff teams in 2010, so securing a spot will involve a lot of dominos falling in the right way.
A win to start off the season could be huge.
Josh Freeman and Matthew Stafford have shown ability to be good pro quarterbacks and have promising pieces around them.
Detroit brings young duo of defensive tackles who have the potential to be multiple-time Pro Bowlers in Ndamukong Su and Nick Fairly. Tampa Bay bring a list of young prospects to the table, most notably LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 1,000 yards in his rookie season.
Both teams are far away from Super Bowl Contention, but with a few upsets could steal a wildcard spot this year.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 20, Detroit 17
4) Carolina at Arizona
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A game involving the first pick in the NFL draft always has a little bit a stock in watching. Of course this heavily depends on if Cam Newton starts the season under the gun.
If so it's the beginning of the boom or bust debate for the Heisman winner. Newton hopes to lead the league's worst team in 2010 to an improved season, but will have a lot of work to do.
Even if Newton doesn't start, we will see a new quarterback for Arizona.
The Cardinals had the NFL's worst rushing game in 2010 and still have a shaky defense. They allow too many points and let opposing running backs to march all over them.
Both of these teams look for bright futures, and both could watch their franchise QB's take off.
Prediction: Arizona 31, Carolina 14
3) Atlanta at Chicago
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While both fell victim to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, both teams were tough and come back this year without losing too much.
This game doesn't have any special story lines involved, just two tough teams that could look to make an early statement.
The Falcons bring the much better offense with young Matt Ryan at quarterback. The offensive line only allowed 23 sacks in 2010 but will be highly tested by the stingy defense of the Chicago Bears.
Prediction: Chicago Bears 17, Atlanta Falcons 14
2) Pittsburgh at Baltimore
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Quite possibly the best current rivalry in the NFL, you can always expect a physical game with these teams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens battle it out for early superiority in the AFC North, and you can expect some explosions. Either team would represent the Conference well in the Super Bowl, but you can at least expect both teams to make another playoff appearance.
Baltimore put up a great fight in the playoffs against Pittsburgh last year, but the Steelers eventually prevailed in a comeback home victory.
Defense is always the story when the Ravens and Steelers meet. They held the one and two spots when it came to points allowed last year, and are likely to create a large number of turnovers.
Both teams play with a lot of heart, but you can guarantee a lot of tension and hard hits in Week 1.
Prediction: Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 7
1) New Orleans at Green Bay
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The last two Super Bowl winners meet to start off the 2011 season, and is likely to be one of the most exciting games of the year.
If Green Bay looks to defend their title, they must start with a New Orleans Saints team looking for redemption.
Aaron Rodgers is a sure-fire MVP candidate and will lead a deep receiving core to Super Bowl hopes. Clay Matthews was robbed of the Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, but he made up for it by being crucial in helping the Packers win a Super Bowl in 2010.
The Packers have a ton of players just now reaching their prime, and also have some crafty veterans looking to contribute.
The Saints were upset by the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. While New Orleans was the heavy favorite, they looked off their game and were just outplayed by the Seahawks.
This year they must start their quest by going through the current champion Green Bay Packers.
Drew Brees is capable of putting up Madden-like numbers any season, and will likely be in a showdown with Rodgers in Week 1.
Both quarterbacks are threats to put up multi-touchdown games, but Green Bay will prove to have the more well rounded club to secure the victory.
Prediction: Green Bay 28, New Orleans 17