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As we noted the other day, the 2013 NFL season will kick off at M&T Bank Stadium on September 5, when the Baltimore Ravens open up defense of their Super Bowl title at home, as has become the tradition in recent years.
Could the team lining up across from them on that night be the Minnesota Vikings? There's a better-than-average chance, in my opinion, that it could.
The Ravens have a lot of compelling possibilities for openers this season. In their own division, they have home contests against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, but I don't think the NFL has scheduled very many divisional games as season openers since this format started. But they do have home games scheduled against the Houston Texans (who were a playoff team in 2012), the New England Patriots (a potential re-match of the 2012 AFC Championship Game), and the Green Bay Packers.
(The Ravens also have home games against the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. Color me skeptical, but I'm not sure that the NFL would find either of those match-ups sufficiently "sexy" enough to make them the season opener.)
A match-up between the Vikings and the Ravens, however, would give the league an opportunity to market a game featuring the NFL's best team against the NFL's best player (reigning NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year Adrian Peterson). Roger Goodell and company might find that intriguing enough to send the Vikings to Baltimore to kick off the 2013 NFL season.
It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the season opener end up as Patriots/Ravens. . .but if the league wants to save that game for later on in the season, I think that the Vikings would have the next-best chance of being in the national spotlight on opening night in Baltimore.
Would you want to see the Vikings in the first game of the 2013 NFL season? Or would you rather the league have them wait until that first Sunday?