The first NFL weekend of the year is in the books, and it did not disappoint, as 10 of Sunday’s 13 games were one-score contests, with several games coming right down to the wire. The Week 2 schedule is jam-packed with more matchups sure to deliver the same excitement, including the following especially noteworthy games.
Patriots vs Jets | Gillette Stadium, Sept. 12
Both teams will have a short week to prepare for this Thursday divisional showdown after each finished off improbable come-from-behind victories with last-second, game-winning field goals in Week 1. While the Patriots’ have enjoyed one of the most dominant regular-season runs in the league in recent years, they have not fared quite as well against the Jets, dropping four of the last 10 against Rex Ryan and Co., including a stunning upset in the playoffs in 2011. There is no love lost in the rivalry, and fans can expect a heated contest in what will surely be a hostile environment at Gillette Stadium.
Bears vs Vikings | Soldier Field, Sept. 15
This NFC North contest pits the best running back in the game, Adrian Peterson, against what has been one of the league’s top rushing defenses for the past several years. Last season, Peterson topped 100 yards in both games, including gashing the Bears’ defense for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the final meeting, a Vikings victory that significantly hurt Chicago’s playoff chances. The Bears will look to exact a measure of revenge this year under new head coach Marc Trestman, whose debut included an impressive win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Packers vs Redskins | Lambeau Field, Sept. 15
Lambeau Field will be the site of the week’s premier quarterback duel, as Robert Griffin III and Aaron Rodgers will square off in a battle between two of the NFC’s top teams. This will be the first meeting between the two QBs, and the first time that the teams have played since the 2010 season, when the Redskins prevailed, 16-13, in a thrilling overtime game. After letting up over 400 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers, the pressure is on the Packers’ defense to put the clamps down on RGIII and the Redskins to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.
Seahawks vs 49ers | CenturyLink Field, Sept. 15
The rivalry between the 49ers and Seahawks has quickly become one of the league’s best, as both teams have enjoyed rapid climbs to the top of the standings in the past two seasons. Although they won a tight 13-6 contest in 2012’s first showdown, San Francisco will be looking to avenge last year’s late-season loss in Seattle, when they were dismantled by the Seahawks, 42-13. The 49ers—who notched an impressive season-opening win over the Packers—will need to be at their best to grab an early-season division lead over the Seahawks, who haven’t lost a home game at CenturyLink Field since the 2011 season.
Bengals vs Steelers | Paul Brown Stadium, Sept. 16
As if any more fuel needed to be added to the fire of this emotionally charged rivalry, the first matchup of the 2013 season will have an even greater intensity than usual, as the Monday night game will mark the first time that former Steelers star James Harrison will go toe-to-toe with his old team. The 6-0, 275-pound outside linebacker spent the first nine years of his career in Pittsburgh, where he became one of the most dominant defenders in the league, earning five Pro Bowl nods and an AP Defensive Player of the Year award en route to helping the team win two Super Bowls.