Yesterday, the NFL officially announced the complete schedule for the 2012 NFL season. There are plenty of key match ups that will take place, including several intriguing games on the opening weekend of the season.
It’s hard to rank which games will be better than others, especially since the draft hasn’t taken place yet. But, I took a stab at ranking what will be the top five games of the 2012 season.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (Sunday, September 9th)
Could the NFL have picked a better game for the first Sunday night game of the season? After a heartbreaking 29-23 overtime loss to the Broncos in the playoffs, the Steelers will be looking for revenge in Denver. Add on top of that the fact that Peyton Manning will make his regular season debut with the Broncos and you have a marquee matchup.
2. New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, September 23rd)
I mentioned that the Steelers will be looking for revenge on opening night in Denver, but a team with more revenge on its mind is the Baltimore Ravens. This Sunday night game is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, which ended in the worst way possible for the Ravens. Lee Evans dropped the potential game-winning touchdown in the end zone in the final minute of the game and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a short field goal that would have sent the game to overtime. With this game being in Baltimore, the home crowd will certainly be fired up to get payback for possibly the toughest loss in franchise history.
3. Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (Sunday, November 4th)
Call me crazy, but I think that this game could turn out to be the game of the year. If everything goes as planned in the NFL draft, the Redskins will select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. That sets up for the highly anticipated quarterback matchup of Cam Newton vs RG3. This game surely won’t disappoint, as plenty of points will be scored.
4. Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, November 18th)
The 2011 NFL season provided several exciting and close games. But perhaps no game was more exciting than the Sunday Night Football game between the Ravens and Steelers on November 6th, 2011 in Pittsburgh. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco led a 92-yard game-winning drive that ended with a touchdown catch by Torrey Smith with just eight seconds remaining in the game. The 23-20 win gave the Ravens control of the division and they never looked back. This rematch will be an exciting one, as the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is without a doubt the best rivalry in the NFL right now.
5. Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Sunday, October 7th)
For several years, the best quarterback rivalry in the NFL was Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady. That rivalry dwindled last year as Manning missed the whole 2011 season due to a neck injury. But now Manning is healthy and has a new team, the Denver Broncos. All eyes will be on this game to not only see the highly anticipated quarterback battle, but to also see if the Broncos can avenge a 45-10 loss to the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year.