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So obviously with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, much to the chagrin of most Patriots fans, they will be hosting the NFL's season opener. Such has been the tradition for the last nine years anyway, when the Patriots kicked off the 2004 season against the Indianapolis Colts.

Since that time, the defending champion has lost that game only once, this past season when the Cowboys upset the Giants.

Obviously, the NFL looks to put a marquee game in that spot. Their best options?

Steelers
Patriots
Packers
Texans

Of those four, the Patriots have to probably be the most appealing to the NFL. They will be wanting star power in that game. Since the Ravens have Ray Lewis retiring, they'll have lost that. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski give you that.

The last time a championship game rematch was put in that season opener was after the New Orleans Saints won, and the opener was Saints vs Vikings. Brett Favre obviously being seen as a big draw.

There might be a problem, however, as September 5th (the season opener) falls on the same day as Rosh Hashanah. As an ESPNBoston reader in their weekly mailbag points out, Kraft might request that the league not have the Patriots play on that day, as teams are allowed to do. Obviously that's a big "if" though. Barring that, I'm betting that the Patriots are put in that game.

The Packers and Steelers are probably the other top choices, but as I mentioned above, the league is probably looking for stars. The Packers and Steelers have less of those. If it were up to me, I'd put the Steelers in that spot if it's not the Patriots because the Ravens and Steelers almost always play entertaining games. Even when Charlie Batch is the quarterback!

From a Patriots perspective, playing at the Ravens is just one of many scary games the team will have to play next year. They'll be facing both the NFC South and AFC North, thought to be two of the toughest divisions. Their extra games are against the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. Obviously though, we can never really tell much about a schedule this far in advance. Remember when everyone thought the NFC West would be a cakewalk for New England and they went 1-3 against it?

Mike Saver 2/05/2013 04:29:00 PM Edit
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