It’s finally here: the beginning of the 2013 NFL Season. We’ve gotten through Training Camp and the preseason. We’ve had our fantasy football drafts. We’ve read through and watched hours of previews. Now it’s time for real regular season football! Let’s look at some key games this coming weekend.

5 games to watch for in Week 1:

 

Thursday September 5th: Baltimore at Denver

The 2013 Season opener is a rematch of a divisional playoff double overtime classic that the Ravens won on their way to their Super Bowl championship. The Ravens have a chip on their shoulder having to open the season on the road (defending champions have opened up at home for years). Peyton Manning and the Broncos want to make a statement on prime time that they are contending for a Super Bowl.

My pick: Denver

 

Sunday September 8th: Cincinnati at Chicago

A rare inter-conference matchup between these two Midwest teams that both had 10 wins last season. Both teams look to contend for their own division crown.  Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton always have the potential to have big offensive games but both of these teams are sound defensively. The team that turns the ball over more will lose.

My pick: Cincinnati

 

Sunday September 8th: Atlanta at New Orleans

A divisional matchup between two teams that have won the last 4 NFC South titles (Atlanta: 2010, 2012. New Orleans: 2009, 2011). New Orleans may have the edge offensively because of Drew Brees but Atlanta has the edge defensively. I’ll go with the home team in this one.

My pick: New Orleans

 

Sunday September 8th: Green Bay at San Francisco

The opening weekend sees yet another rematch of a 2012 divisional playoff game. This matchup is between two teams that both won 11 games last season. San Francisco won last season’s playoff contest in a high scoring game. Both teams have high powered offenses. Green Bay has the better quarterback but San Francisco may be a more balanced team. I’ll go with the home team yet again.

My pick: San Francisco

 

Sunday September 8th: NY Giants at Dallas

Neither team made the playoffs last season but this is an early NFC East matchup that will certainly be a factor. Both the Giants and the Cowboys have the talent to make the postseason but have found ways to fall short (especially Dallas). Until Tony Romo can prove that he can win big games, I will take the team that has two Super Bowls on their resume.

My pick: NY Giants

 

                Power rankings are not anything to be very concerned with. I have ranked the Ravens and 49ers at the top because of how they finished last season. Once regular season games begin, the power rankings will primarily deal with how teams play THIS season.

My Meaningless Preseason Power Rankings

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. San Francisco 49ers

3. Denver Broncos

4. Houston Texans

5. Seattle Seahawks

6. New England Patriots

7. Atlanta Falcons

8. Green Bay Packers

9. Indianapolis Colts

10. Cincinnati Bengals

 

Get out your popcorn, order those hot wings, and be ready for an exciting fall full of football. If you missed my previews of each division, be sure to check those out. Also, if you missed my season predictions (sure to go wrong), make sure you read that too. Are you ready for some football?

My regular column will also include a look back at the week prior (Obviously we don’t have that this week). Don’t miss that next Wednesday!

And be sure to find me on Twitter: @GabePride.