Sneaky good: Three games we can't wait for


After an offseason wandering in the sporting wilderness, Week 1 games are like children. We love them all.

Also like children: There are some we love more than others.

Games like Indianapolis-Denver and San Francisco-Dallas deserve the national spotlight they are getting, but we're more interested in the games slightly below the national radar. Here are three sneaky great matchups we can't wait for:

Washington Redskins at Houston Texans

The mystery factor here is wildly high. There's no telling what we are going to get from these teams on Sunday or throughout the season. They were both in the playoffs as recently as 2012 and have some highly watchable superstars.

Robert Griffin III has hinted that the Redskins haven't showed their offensive cards in the preseason, and will be ready to unleash their weapons when the games start. That's exactly what happened in Griffin's rookie year, and he certainly has better players around him now. There's no player in the league that confuses us more.

Griffin can get frantic under pressure and the Redskins' offensive line will be challenged going against J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Watt is the most fun defensive player to watch every snap in the league. Clowney could wind up rivaling him.

Both teams play in weak divisions, so there's a chance for the winner here to build some real optimism.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is the game to watch if you love defense in an offense-mad league. Carolina's front seven remains the most frightening in football, and they should eat up Tampa's struggling offensive line. New Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was one of the league's biggest X-factors even before he underwent an unnamed medical procedure that could keep him out of the game.

Trying out Josh McCown as a starting quarterback is a wacky experiment, but Lovie Smith's defensive coaching chops can't be questioned. This could be a matchup of two top-five defenses; Tampa is that talented. This is a tasty matchup for them because Cam Newton is going to be hobbled, assuming he even plays. The Panthers don't want him to run, which could hurt their short-yardage running significantly.

The NFC South has two division games this weekend. The winner here gets an early leg up.

San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals

This is the best Monday Night Football nightcap since they started rolling out Week 1 doubleheaders. Both squads are in contention to become the team of our podcast because they are fun to watch and look frisky this season.

The Cardinals have endured a terrible offseason of suspensions, free agent losses and injuries. Running back Andre Ellington is uncertain to play Monday night, which makes them less dangerous. But the wide receiver trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown could inspire a Carson Palmer renaissance. Really.

Philip Rivers was a top-five quarterback last year and will be piloting a sped-up Chargers offense. The Chargers face Seattle on a short week, so they could need this one to avoid an 0-2 record.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" recaps the season opener and previews every Week 1 game.