With the regular season closing in, we asked our experts: What game are you most anticipating this fall?
- Jason La Canfora NFL Network
No better way to start 2011
<table align="right" width="315px"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <content:static src="/widgets/custom/packages/latest_debates.html"></content:static></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Give me the best rivalry in football and give it to me in Week 1. I don't want to wait any longer, especially after the lockout. It's time for [Ravens](/teams/baltimoreravens/profile?team=BAL)-[Steelers](/teams/pittsburghsteelers/profile?team=PIT). Let them start cracking heads right from the get go. Why put it off?
These teams have a healthy dislike for each other. They meet at least twice a season, and quite often more than that. And the final matchup of the season is usually the deciding factor between making the Super Bowl or going home. The Ravens and Steelers are built in the same aspect -- power running game, attacking defense, etc -- and that similarity breeds contempt.
Even these Week 1 encounters can end up deciding the division. It's an old-school, bare-knuckle slugfest, and I always feel grateful for being privy to it. This is football the way it was meant to be played
- Steve Wyche NFL.com
A homecoming to remember
More than the actual game itself -- it is only Week 2, so there aren't really playoff implications -- Philadelphia at Atlanta is one I can't wait to see. Michael Vick comes back to the Georgia Dome, again, but it's the first time he returns as the starter. His legion of thousands will be inside and outside of the stadium, stirring up the good and bad emotions that he spawned while starring for the Falcons and that he ignited with his demise -- and his rebound. Meanwhile, the home team is now several seasons removed from the Vick era and won't be as wrapped up in the story within the story as it will with trying to knock the "Dream Team" off its hyped perch.
- Charles Davis NFL Network
Possible playoff preview?
So many games to choose from, so I'm not going to over think it … both games that instantly come to mind involve the Falcons. In Week 2, Michael Vick returns, again, this time with the Prodigal Son as the starting quarterback. Then, the defending Super Bowl champs return to the Georgia Dome where they put an end to Atlanta's spectacular season. Give me the Green Bay game as the one I most want to see. The Week 5 tilt will be a measuring stick for two teams expected to have a major say in who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.
- Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Bitter rivals come out battling
My favorite regular-season game from 2010 was the second Steelers-Ravens matchup. Ben Roethlisberger broke his nose and still won the game. Opening weekend offers a rematch. If you love defense and two teams truly trying to impose their will on each other, this is the game for you. After visiting the Steelers and Ravens on my camp tour, I can tell you both teams were focusing on each other. LaMarr Woodley's prediction that the Ravens won't win a championship as long as he's playing only added fuel to the fire.
- Elliot Harrison NFL.com
So many storylines in this one
That's easy. Cowboys at Jets, Week 1. I have high hopes for the Jets. Call it a gut feeling. And before you accuse me of East Coast bias, understand I was born in North Texas. With that in mind, I wonder how the Cowboys will fare in a suddenly spoiled sports town, what with the Mavericks winning the NBA title and the Rangers in first place after winning the A.L. pennant last season.
Like many people involved with the NFL, I feel the league's opening weekend has always been a bit underappreciated. It's a cool weekend in sports, and this inter-conference rivalry is the icing on the cake as the Sunday nighter. And what's not to like? Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan square off, Plax makes his first regular-season appearance since 2008, Tony Romo returns from a broken clavicle, Jason Garrett gets a chance to prove his mettle, Shonn Greene and Felix Jones both get to prove (or disprove) that they are true lead backs, and this is a heckuva uni-matchup to boot. I can't think of another game I'm looking forward to more.
- Dave Dameshek NFL.com
Sorry, but I can't pick just one
For me, it's a tie between all the games that kickoff at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 11. After an offseason of uncertainty, I'm going to especially appreciate that first Sunday of this country's true national pastime. Saints at Green Bay on the proceeding Thursday night ought to be a good one, but the ritual of a Football Sunday is different. It's the single defining event for the American sports fan.