With the advent of September comes another fall of professional football in the US.
The 93rd National Football League season starts Wednesday night in the New Jersey Meadowlands as the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants host their National Football Conference East rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sounds eager to begin the new season with a tough test.
"As a competitor and as an athlete, you love that you get to go back and challenge someone like that, especially the world champs. That's going to be a great test for our football team," Romo told NFL.com.
The game will be televised by NBC, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The NFL has a variety of story lines going into this first week of the season, including the Manning brothers.
After leading the Giants to their second Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in the past four seasons last February, Eli Manning now has twice the number of championship rings as his older brother Peyton.
The elder Manning has moved on from Indianapolis to Denver after a neck injury and his contract ran out. The Broncos take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Peyton's first game with his new team Sunday night. Last year, the Broncos, behind Tim Tebow, ended the Steelers' season with an overtime victory in the first round of the AFC playoffs.
Other games of interest this weekend include a potential NFC championship match-up next January, as the Green Bay Packers travel west to California to meet the San Francisco 49ers. It could be an offensive shootout featuring a pair of effective quarterbacks - the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith of the 49ers.
There's a clutch of rookie QBs to watch, too.
The No. 1 draft choice last April, Andrew Luck, makes his Indianapolis Colts debut Sunday against the Bears in Chicago. Luck is likely to be tested by a tough Chicago defense, but it's not certain yet if Chicago All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher will play. He's been out since mid-August, due to knee surgery.
Robert Griffin III, the second pick in the draft by the Redskins, will lead Washington against the Saints in New Orleans Sunday. The Saint offense, led by Drew Brees, looks to produce a lot of points once again in 2012.
And the Seattle Seahawks will be captained by Russell Wilson, who makes will make his NFL debut Sunday in Arizona against the Cardinals. The 5-foot-11 Wilson is about the same height as Drew Brees (that's to say, small by NFL standards) but he's got impressive numbers in the preseason. He completed 63.5 percent of his throws, had five touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 150 yards.
The defending AFC champion Patriots start their new season on the road in Nashville Sunday with a game against the Titans. Patriots' All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady faces off against second-year pro Jake Locker for Tennessee.
Finally, replacement officials are scheduled to work on the opening weekend of the NFL season. Regular officials were locked out by the owners earlier this year as the two sides pursued a new contract. Now, the question is when will a deal be reached.