The 2013 NFL season is just a few short weeks away and as we get closer to the start of the season fan excitement is starting to surge. Lots of story lines come into play as the long battle to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium kicks off.
The defending champion Baltimore Ravens have a team vastly different from last year's, most notably missing Ray Lewis. The San Francisco 49ers have placed their future in the hands of Colin Kaepernick, who was a revelation in the second half of last year. Alex Smith and coach Andy Reid will bring some new life to the long-suffering Chiefs franchise. The NFC East will once again be a real battle, as it appears Robert Griffin III is ready to challenge the Giants and Cowboys once again. And the NFC North is heating up as well, with all four teams looking quite dangerous.
With so much going on to start the 2013 NFL season, picking the top games of the year was no easy feat. We started our selection of the biggest games of the year based largely on what games were fetching the highest prices on Ticket Liquidator. From there we looked at the implication of the games and took a closer look at the recent history between the teams.
Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sports Authority Field At Mile High, Denver 9/5/2013
The 2013 season kicks off on Thursday, September 5 with a rematch of one of the most exciting games of last year's playoffs. The Ravens earned a 38-35 victory in double overtime of the divisional round thanks to a 47-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. The game also featured one of the all-time biggest playoff touchdowns when Joe Flacco completed a hail Mary 70-plus yard pass to Jacoby Jones on third-and-7 with 31 seconds left in the game. Broncos came in riding an 11-game wining streak and pegged at 3-1 Super Bowl favorites. The longest NFL game since 1987, the loss goes down as one of the most devastating in Bronco history.
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro 11/24/2013
The Patriots beat the Broncos 31-21 in week 5 last season, their first meeting with Manning at QB. Manning and Brady have the longest-running feud in the NFL and fans on both sides live to see their team beat the others. With the Broncos enjoying one of the largest fan-bases in the NFL, expect the stands at Gillette to see some orange. This is the second year in a row the Patriots have hosted the Broncos.
Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys
Soldier Field, Chicago 12/9/2013
With two of the teams with the largest fan-bases, it not surprising to see that the Cowboys visit to Soldier Field is fetching an average ticket price of nearly $300. Both fan-bases have had to endure limited success of late, but both have teams with the potential to make a run at the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
CenturyLink Field Seattle 9/15/2013
Candlestick Park, San Francisco 12/8/2013
The NFC West rivals are arguably two of the best teams in the league and among the pre-season favorites to reach the Super Bowl. Coming in week two, the Sunday Night Football match-up should be an incredible game. And the teams will face each other again in week 14 in San Francisco. By then both teams will likely be trying to edge the other out for the division lead, and the extra week of rest in the playoffs that comes with a division championship.
New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
MetLife Stadium East Rutherford 9/15/2013
The 2013 edition of the Manning Bowl goes down in New Jersey, and when brothers face-off in sports its always an event. With both teams looking like they are going to be contenders, you can bet there is going to be a lot of attention on this game. Peyton's team has beat Eli's both times they have faced each other, most recently in 2010, but this will be the first time as a member of the Broncos.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 10/20/2013
Peyton Manning returns to the city he basically built from the ground up and then was pretty much kicked to the curb after the 2012 season in favor of Andrew Luck. This is going to be an emotional game for both Manning and the Colts fans, most of whom should respect what Manning did for the team and the city. It will be the old veteran versus the new guy, and whoever wins you can expect both teams to put up a real fight.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 11/4/2013
Soldier Field, Chicago 12/29/2013
With the Chicago Bears vastly upgrading their offense during the off-season, it looks like its now or never for Jay Cutler's run as the team's QB. If the Bears can beat the Packers, it would go a long way toward getting them back in the playoffs. The final game of the season pits teams from their divisions against each other, and with the NFC North looking like it has four legit teams, this game could very well decide who enters the playoffs as the division's best.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 10/20/2013
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore 11/28/2013
Arguably the biggest rivalry in the NFL, supporters on both sides of Steelers/Ravens are as diehard as they come. As defending Super Bowl champions, the Ravens currently boast bragging rights, but that can change quickly in the NFL. It wasn't that long ago that the Steelers were in the Super Bowl every other year. With a Baltimore team that is markedly different than last year's team, the result of the Steelers Ravens games should tell us a lot about both franchises going forward.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium, Dallas 9/8/2013
MetLife Stadium East Rutherford 11/24/2013
One of the biggest rivalries in the NFL takes on added pressure as both teams missed out on the playoffs last season. With the added competition from the Washington Redskins, the NFC East battle takes on added significance for both teams. With the teams facing off to kick of their seasons, the first game of the year could have huge playoffs implications down the road.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Reliant Stadium, Houston 12/1/2013
After leading the league in most offensive and defensive stats and entering the divisional weekend riding the franchise's first-ever playoff win, the Houston Texans were eager to move on the the Championship round. But facing the Patriots, it was not to be, as Tom Brady and company defeated the Texans 41-28. With New England traveling to the Lone Star State, the Texans are eager to extract a little payback. Expect Texan players and fans to get extra-excited for this game, which is saying something in Texas.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
HHH Metrodome, Minneapolis 10/27/2013
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 11/24/2013
While the Vikings might have a ways to go to get on the same level as the Packers, they made some big leaps forward in 2011. The Vikings were able to wrest Greg Jennings from the Packers, and the wide receiver wasted little time in taking thinly-veiled jabs at Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The rivalry might not be quite as intense as it was when Brett Favre joined the Purple and Gold, but if the Vikings can improve on last season's 10-6 record, expect these games to be intense indeed.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers
Candlestick Park, San Francisco 9/8/2013
The Green Bay Packers start the season just where they left off, facing the San Francisco 49ers. Colin Kaepernick was able to take down the defending MVP as former Super Bowl champions in his first playoff game, leading the 49ers to a 45-31 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Kaepernick set a playoff record with 181 rushing rounds and two touchdowns. You can expect the Packers are eager to regain their spot as the team to beat in the NFC, just as the Niners are eager to prove they are here to stay.