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Plenty of interconference intrigue ahead

One of those other sports starts interleague play this weekend. That got us thinking, naturally, about the football season. (Which can't get here fast enough).

Without further adieu, here are the non-conference matchups we are most looking forward to in 2012.

8. 49ers at Jets: Sept. 30

A nice early season test of top-notch defenses. Our predicted outcome: A quarterback controversy for the team that loses.

7. Packers at Texans: Oct. 14

Oh, how we love to watch well-executed offense. The most precise passing game against the best running attack. Expect plenty of points.

6. Bengals at Eagles: Dec. 13

I'm contractually obligated to include a Thursday Night Football game on the list. Plus, these Bengals are here to stay.

5. Saints at Raiders: Nov. 18

The league's old renegade team against the new one.

4. 49ers at Patriots: Dec. 16

The two most inventive coaches in the league went about winning in drastically different ways last season. This should be a fascinating game if you love Xs and Os

3. Giants at Ravens: Dec. 23

It's hard to imagine this Week 16 game not playing a huge factor in the playoff race. It's also hard to imagine the game being worse than the Ravens-GiantsSuper Bowl.

2. Eagles at Steelers: Oct. 7

The battle of Pennsylvania is great for its contrasts. Mike Tomlin and Andy Reid. Mike Vick and Ben Roethlisberger. There are great edge pass rushers on both teams, but in different systems. We guarantee overreaction from the city that loses.

1. Steelers at Cowboys: Dec. 16

Yep, we're suckers for those 1970s NFL Films clips. Plus, Tony Romo could be running out of time to get the Cowboys into the playoffs by Week 15. We'd expect big changes in Dallas in 2013 if that doesn't happen.

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