The NFL schedule will be released in its entirety on Tuesday, and from the season opener between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl XLVII, the National Football League slate will certainly once again feature tons of exciting action.
That action will include a number of rematches of postseason action from a year ago, and here's a look at three rematches of playoff contests from the 2011 season that should once again be must-see television in 2012.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
The New York Giants completed a magical run through the NFC playoffs last January by downing the San Francisco 49ers in a thrilling conference championship game played at venerable Candlestick Park, a back-and-forth affair that the G-Men won, 20-17.
The two teams will most likely once again be right in the thick of things in the NFC this season, and when they face off in the Bay Area, there will be no shortage of storylines, from the Niners' search for a measure of payback to the presence of former Giants Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs on the opposing team.
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans
The Houston Texans enjoyed their most successful season in franchise history in 2011, not only advancing to the playoffs for the first time but also winning their first postseason game when they downed the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round. However, the Texans' season ended the next week at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, who prevailed, 20-13, in a Divisional Round matchup that featured plenty of hard hitting by two of the NFL's best defenses.
Those defenses may be similarly stout when the two teams meet at Reliant Stadium this year, but the difference in venue won't be the biggest change. The Texans will presumably have starting quarterback Matt Schaub back in the fold this time after the ninth-year pro missed the last meeting, and the Texans will surely be hoping that a home crowd and offensive boost will result in a different outcome.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
The Denver Broncos shocked most of the football world last season when the Tim Tebow-led Broncos not only surprisingly won the AFC West, but then pulled off a stunning upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Wild Card Round game that lived up to its billing and then some, especially in an overtime period that must be seen to believed.
Cinderella turned back into a pumpkin the next week when the Broncos were annihilated by the New England Patriots, 45-10, on the heels of five Tom Brady touchdown passes...in the first half.
However, this year, there's one tiny little thing that will be different when the two teams square off in Gillette Stadium, as Tim Tebow has given way to Peyton Manning under center for the Broncos, setting the stage for approximately the 327th time that Manning and Brady have dueled on the gridiron.