NFL season to open with Cowboys-Giants

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The 2012 NFL regular season will open just as the 2011 regular season ended -- with a game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.

The NFL announced Tuesday that the Super Bowl champion Giants will host the Cowboys in the Wednesday, Sept. 5 season opener. It's the ninth year in a row that the league will open its schedule with a prime-time game hosted by the defending champs.

If you're a regular reader, you know this comes as a surprise to me. Looking at the Giants' 2012 schedule for home opponents, I thought it made the most sense to open with the Packers. That would have been a game between the past two Super Bowl champs that had widespread national appeal. But I guess the Cowboys have as much widespread national appeal as the Packers do, and in spite of this being a divisional game, it does cross geographical lines and span a couple of time zones. The added oomph of the Giants-Cowboys rivalry can't be overlooked, either. The Giants beat the Cowboys on Jan. 1 in the final game of the regular season -- a game that decided the NFC East title and put the Giants into the playoffs while eliminating the Cowboys.

No word on other Week 1 games or any other regular-season scheduling at this point. But Giants and Cowboys fans can circle Sept. 5 on their calendars if they want to. And I'm pretty sure I'll be there.