2012 NFL Schedule has plenty for fans to look forward to

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NFL Football

With all the things that have already happened in this offseason in the NFL, it feels like the season never really ended. Between free agency, all the mock drafts, Peyton Manning going to the Broncos and the Saints scandal, football has never left the headlines.

Now the league has made more headlines after releasing the 2012 schedule of games and NFL fans have begun to drool at some of the match-ups. Here are some of the highlights of the 2012 NFL Schedule:

Defending Champs

One of the hardest things to do in sports is win a championship in consecutive years, but that is the task of the New York Giants this season. The Super Bowl champions will not have an easy road back to the big game because, based on the records of the 2012 opponents from last season, the G-Men will have the toughest schedule in the league. They get right down to it, too, when they host division rival Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, September 5, in the NFL season opener. Tough games against teams like the 49ers, Steelers, Saints and Ravens all await the Giants in 2012.

Turkey Day

For many people in the U.S., Thanksgiving is about three things: family, turkey, and football. Every year the NFL schedules a slate of games for Turkey Day and this year will feature some great games. The Detroit Lions will continue their tradition of playing on Thanksgiving and face the Houston Texans, who many believe could be a favorite to go to the Super Bowl. Following that, there will be a late afternoon game between the Dallas Cowboys and their NFC East rival, the Washington Redskins. But perhaps the most talked about game this Thanksgiving will be the prime-time match-up between bitter rivals New England Patriots and New York Jets.

Patriots vs. Broncos

Over the past decade Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have unarguably been the top two quarterbacks in the NFL. Patriots-Colts games were the biggest events of every season, and the two teams seem to always find each other in the playoffs. With Manning's injury last season fans did not get to see the Brady-Manning match-up they wanted, but with Peyton moving to Denver they will get it this year. On October 7 the Broncos will visit the Patriots in Foxboro and it will be without question the most-hyped game of the season. Hopefully it will live up to the billing.

Thursday Night Football

Over the years the NFL has always periodically scheduled Thursday football games, and since 2006 the NFL Network has aired Thursday night games for the second half of the season. But for 2012 the NFL has expanded their Thursday night schedule so fans can see games on Thursdays for the first 15 weeks of the year. The league has scheduled lots of great games including Bears-Packers (Sept. 13), Steelers-Titans (Oct. 11), and Saints-Falcons (Nov. 29).

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