Super Bowl champs get killer schedule

Super Bowl XLVI MVP New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning (R) and teammate Justin Tuck celebrate...

Super Bowl XLVI MVP New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning (R) and teammate Justin Tuck celebrate during a parade in honour of their Super Bowl win in February. Good look making it back, Eli. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 PM ET

If the New York Giants win the Super Bowl next February, maybe we should just anoint them the best team in pro sports history.

Even if they make the playoffs, it'll be a heck of an achievement.

Why? Because their schedule this year is killer.

KILLER!

If you missed the celebratory fireworks shooting up from the houses of NFL fans everywhere, the league released its 2012 schedule Tuesday night.

Here are the defending Super Bowl champion Giants' final 11 games, played over 12 weeks, in this order: at San Francisco, vs. Washington, at Dallas, vs. Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati, vs. Green Bay, at Washington on Monday night, vs. New Orleans, at Atlanta, at Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia.

Are you kidding me? If the Giants lose only four of those 11 games, it'll be a major accomplishment.

So live it up, Giants fans. And if you find the person responsible for that non-division schedule, we'll look the other way.

The other big news relates to opening week, Sept. 5-10. If the NFL schedule-makers wanted to load it up with blockbuster matchups, they could hardly have done a better job.

The season kicks off on a Wednesday this year, with the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants -- a game moved 24 hours earlier so as not to conflict on TV with U.S. President Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

On the first Sunday, former longtime Colts QB extraordinaire Peyton Manning plays his first regular-season game in a Denver Broncos uniform -- in prime time, no less -- against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be seeking revenge for their playoff loss at Mile High Stadium.

Other marquee games that day include the debuts of the surefire top two picks in next week's entry draft, quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Neither gets a break. Presuming the Colts take Luck, he'll open at Chicago, and presuming the Redskins take RG3, he'll open at New Orleans.

Speaking of the Saints, they might have to throw headsets on a few ushers, and helmets on a few janitors, because that's when interim head coach Joe Vitt and GM Mickey Loomis join already-exiled head coach Sean Payton on the TDL -- the temporarily deposed list.

We still don't know how many Saints players might join them in the NFL's sin bin for the bounty scandal.

You know it's a star-studded opening day when we haven't even mentioned yet the showdown pitting the league's best offence (Green Bay) against the best defence (San Francisco) at Lambeau Field.

Two other good matchups on Sunday, Sept. 9 are Cincinnati at Baltimore, and Buffalo at the New York Jets.

If that week's games can't light your fireworks for the whole season, nothing will.

KRYK'S TOP 10 MATCHUPS

The Top 10 most captivating regular-season matchups in the NFL in 2012:

1. PITTSBURGH @ DENVER, Sept. 9, Sunday night. Peyton Manning's return to the NFL. In a Denver uniform.

2. GREEN BAY @ NY GIANTS, Nov. 25, Sunday night. Revenge. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack will be out for it, big time.

3. DENVER @ NEW ENGLAND, Oct. 7, Sunday 4:15. Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. The ball will be airborne, a lot.

4. BALTIMORE @ PITTSBURGH, Nov. 18, Sunday night. Always a stirring matchup, this is the first of two such AFC North showdowns.

5. SAN FRANCISCO @ GREEN BAY, Sept. 9, Sunday 4:15. League's top O vs league's top D. Something's gotta give.

6. CAROLINA @ PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 25, Monday night. One of those torch-passers. Cam Newton vs. Michael Vick.

7. NY JETS @ NEW ENGLAND, Oct. 21, Sunday 4:15. If Rex, Sanchez, Tebow and Co. have it turned around, we'll find out.

8. DETROIT @ SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, Sunday night. If only for the post-game handshake between Schwartz and Harbaugh.

9. NEW YORK JETS @ BUFFALO, Dec. 30, Sunday 1:00. If one of these teams is going to the playoffs, it'll have to win this season finale.

10. WASHINGTON @ DALLAS, Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. Robert Griffin III returns to his home state, on Thanksgiving no less.

Disagree? Email John at john.kryk@sunmedia.ca, or tweet him @JohnKryk


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