NFL Preview: 5 Biggest Matchups in Week 1
Can you feel it yet?
We are days away from the first game of the 2011 NFL season. For a while, there were doubts that we would be having a season at all.
With the NFL lockout drama this summer football fans across the country had a little sweat on their brow wondering if they would have the chance to see their favorite team take the field in 2011.
Fortunately the owners and players came through, and there will be football.
Now we can focus on all of the matchups.
Week 1 is a fresh start for everyone. Everything that happened last year is now behind us, and the sky is the limit for every team. We never know what to expect which is one of the many reasons we love the game of football.
Of course, Week 1 has its fair share of spotlight matchups. Those highly anticipated matchups to kick off the season.
Here are my five games that you should be following come Week 1.
Saints vs. Packers
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One of the best offenses in the NFL heads to historic Lambeau Field to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Packers?
Both teams are early favorites to be the NFC representative in this year's Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers will lead a still young Packers team looking to be just the eighth team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Meanwhile Drew Brees will be looking to make a statement by taking out the defending champions in Week 1.
The Packers are coming in to the 2011 season even scarier than last year. They get a healthy Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley back. I would expect them to be even more dangerous offensively this year.
The Saints added Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles to their backfield this offseason. There is no doubt that New Orleans is going to put up points, but questions remain with their defense.
Either way, with this being the only game on on Thursday Sept. 8th, I expect all NFL fans to be tuning in.
Steelers vs. Ravens
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One of the best rivalries in the game today will surely draw plenty of attention.
Two of the league's hard-nosed defenses will square off in Baltimore. The Ravens will be looking to get revenge early on Pittsburgh for sending them packing in last year's playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be looking for a repeat performance of the postseason.
You can guarantee that these two teams will be coming full speed at one another when the whistle blows. These AFC North rivals don't like each other, and they have no problem letting one another know it.
The Steelers are looking to bounce back from losing to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. It will be interesting to see how they are effected by the "Super Bowl Hangover." We've seen before that the losing team has gone on to struggle the next year.
The Ravens shook up their backfield a bit this offseason losing Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain. However, they added Lee Evans to their passing game. They shouldn't have too many problems with Ray Rice still highlighting their backfield.
Regardless of who is wearing the jerseys you know that these two teams are going to be bringing a little something extra for this one.
Expect hard hits and plenty of trash talk from both sides.
Colts vs. Texans
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The big question mark in this one is whether or not Peyton Manning will be starting for the Colts.
Manning is making his way back from neck surgery this offseason. There have been reports saying that Colts officials are "doubting" that he will be ready for Week 1 while Manning himself has said that he plans to play.
While we will most likely have to wait a few days before the game to find out whether or not he will be taking the field, the Houston Texans will be ready.
They come in to the 2011 season with one of the best offensive trios in the game. Matt Schaub has proven that he can play at a very high level when healthy. Of course Arian Foster's breakout year was a highlight for them and Andre Johnson is still a freak of nature at wide receiver.
Wade Phillips has been brought in at defensive coordinator to convert the defense to a 3-4. This will be a tough adjustment for the Texans, but if they can catch on early I'd expect them to have a lot of early success this year.
This is a matchup of a team on the rise and a team coming down the other side of the hill.
If Manning doesn't start, then this could be the start of the Texans' reign of the NFC South.
Cowboys vs. Jets
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Two Ryan brothers in one place at the same time?
This should be must-watch TV.
The New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys will be highlighting the Sunday night game. Two of the biggest markets going head to head will always make for a highly anticipated matchup.
Rex Ryan has made it no secret that he feels the Jets are the best team in the NFL. Even after missing out on Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets defense is sure to be one of the best in the league.
Dallas looks to get a healthy Tony Romo back leading the offense. Their defense is now being led by Rex's brother Rob Ryan. I'm sure there will be plenty of sound clips leading up to this match up.
The Jets have been knocking on the doorstep of a Super Bowl appearance the past two years but will need to see more out of quarterback Mark Sanchez if they plan on actually getting there.
The Cowboys are going to have their fair share of competition in the NFC. Especially in their own division after the Eagles loaded up during the offseason.
Both teams will be looking to make a statement early and give one of the two brothers bragging rights for the time being.
Eagles vs. Rams
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With all of the hype surrounding their offseason, you know people will be tuning in to see whether or not the Philadelphia are as good as they look on paper.
With the NFC West still looking incredibly weak the Rams have as good of a chance as anyone to take the crown.
They brought in Josh McDaniels to be their offensive coordinator and help move Bradford in to a more pass-oriented offense. This should only lead to more success for the former Oklahoma quarterback and their veteran running back Steven Jackson.
We all know about the Eagles. Maybe the best offense in the NFL, and of course with the additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha to their defense, we expect improvement there.
Philadelphia has been hyped as a "dream team" this offseason.
It will be a good test for them against the Rams. Just don't be too shocked if the young St. Louis squad gives the Eagles more than they can handle.
Regardless of what game you choose to watch come next weekend, let's just be happy that the NFL is back.