As soon as the 2013 NFL schedule was announced, the buildup started to two big rematches from January’s divisional round: defending champion Baltimore at Denver, and Green Bay at runner-up San Francisco. Here are eight less-trumpeted matchups from the season’s first month that will have lots of intrigue:
Falcons at Saints – Until Atlanta starts winning big games on the road with consistency, the Falcons won’t get the respect they deserve. And the Superdome will be charged with Sean Payton’s return to the sideline.
Buccaneers at Jets – It’ll be interesting to see if the fans harbor a grudge against ex-Jet Darrelle Revis in his return to New York, or if their boos will continue to be directed at Mark Sanchez in the home opener.
Cowboys at Chiefs – Dallas opens against the Giants, so there’s no shame in being 0-1. But should the Cowboys lose at Kansas City for an 0-2 start, coach Jason Garrett will own the hottest seat in the league.
Redskins at Packers – Rehabbing Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will have to be mobile and vigilant to combat the loudness at Lambeau Field and a Packers defense that totaled 47sacks last season.
Bears at Steelers – Two teams that fell apart last year and missed the postseason. It’s actually a rare treat when these throwbacks play: 25 meetings since their first in 1934, and only four in the last 20 years.
Giants at Panthers – Does anyone remember that the Panthers won 5 out of 6 to end last season? Or that the Giants lost 5 out of 8? It could be time for Cam Newton to really emerge as an elite QB in Year 3.
49ers at Rams – The teams engaged for 149 minutes last season and were separated by just 3 points. Can St. Louis, revived under Jeff Fisher, really be that far off from San Francisco in the NFC West?
Seahawks at Texans – This matchup of 2012 breakthrough teams has trendy Super Bowl pick written all over it. And rightfully so. Both teams ranked in both the top 10 in scoring on offense and defense last year.