From where I stand, that hasn't been the case in a long, long time.
Top 100 Players of 2013
Here are the six that do:
6. Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears
This would rank higher, but it's hard to take the Bears seriously until they knock the Packers off their high horse. A general, psychic mistrust of Chicago's franchise stems from its inability to go toe-to-toe with Green Bay. This sneaks in at No. 6 because new coach Marc Trestman brings hope for a Bears offense that, for years, has been a coma-inducing affair.
5. New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons
4. New England Patriots-New York Jets
I'm giving this one more year. As long as Rex Ryan roams Florham Park -- wringing his hands over the mere existence of Bill Belichick -- this remains must-see TV. Granted, Gang Green is a messy disaster, but this showdown remains sexy because of Bill's history with both teams; because of Tom Brady's acknowledged hatred of the Jets; and because even when New York struggles, it knows enough to float "butt fumble" into the public lexicon.
3. Baltimore Ravens-Steelers
2t. Denver Broncos-Patriots/Ravens-Patriots/Ravens-Broncos
I don't relish ties, but this three-way timebomb arguably could chew up half the list. Whoever emerges on top should win the AFC.
1. Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers
In quick order, this has become a classic. There's a collective sense these two will decide the NFC. Last year's meetings were doozies: A rugged 13-6 win by the 49ers in Week 7, answered by the Seahawks' 42-13 hammer-drop in Week 16. I'll never forget that night. Stationed in a Los Angeles sports bar, I watched as a perspiring, cherry-red-sweater-vest-wearing 49ers fan screamed at the top of his lungs at Russell Wilson: "Make it stop! MAKE. IT. STOP."
Honorable mention:*New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys* (despite "Sunday Night Football"'s tireless efforts to make this a Huge Deal, an undeniable level of mediocrity from the Cowboys keeps this off my list); Giants-49ers (in my top three a year ago); St. Louis Rams-49ers (St. Louis had San Fran's number last season); Packers-Minnesota Vikings (plenty of potential here); Houston Texans-Indianapolis Colts (I can live with or without it); Washington Redskins-NFC East (a healthy Robert Griffin III makes the Redskins fun again).