Is everyone on board with the Thursday night opening game? In some ways I want to be a crusty old traditionalist and say we should wait for Sunday. On the other hand, I’m kind of looking forward to this beast tonight. And, a Phils off day on top of that. It’s the perfect window. I suppose if you have an early wake-up call that all primetime games are an annoyance, but I think I’ve gotten accustomed to this idea of a Thursday opener. They always put a good game on the slate, and there have been some memorable match-ups in the past. The Saints/Vikings contest won’t be quite as good a game as the NFC championship, but I imagine the spectacle of New Orleans celebrating the Super Bowl will be worth watching in itself. Also, almost everyone who plays fantasy football has someone on one of these two teams. Which leads to the old, should I pull the Thursday trigger debate.
My thought on tonight’s game is that the Vikings may be in trouble. The defending champs usually come to play in this game, and the crowd alone should eliminate any chance the Saints come out flat. The Vikings are getting 6 points, which feels like a lot in a “revenge” situation. All I can read into that is the Saints are just as good as they were last year, but the Vikings have some questions. Most notably, is Brett Favre in one piece, and how depleted is their receiving corps? Adrian Peterson is great for any offense to have, but last year the Vikings had great balance. I’m not sure Favre can provide that again, and that just adds even more pressure to the defense. The official NFL Pick ‘Em season doesn’t start until tomorrow, and this game feels like a stay away, anyway. Don’t like Minnesota, but they are too good to lay 6 to and feel cozy. Pick your spots.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
Obviously the first week is for answering questions like the one I posed above. We could know by midnight if the Vikings have lost a step. The schedule has some other big games as well. Some teams with a chance to make early statements, and there will probably be an individual or two that sends everyone rushing to the waiver wire after a breakout performance.
AFC EAST SHAKE OUT:
The AFC East is a division that clearly has a worst team. The Bills are terrible. Fans of the other three teams probably believe they can win the division. Week one could play a big part in figuring out how this division will finish. Miami, New England and the Jets all play games they should win if they are going to reach expectations. If Miami can’t go into Buffalo and beat the Bills, you can forget about them as serious playoff contenders. The Patriots host the Bengals. Brady is all the way back. It’s time to check out this defense, see if there is enough there for a division title or more. The Jets, who fancy themselves as Super Bowl contenders have the toughest task. They face Baltimore at home. Now, certainly they could lose this game and still make the playoffs, and the Ravens could be very good, but I think if the Jets can’t get up and win this one at home, we’re looking at a team that is more like the one that barely made the playoffs than the one that suddenly excelled once they got there.
CHANCES TO STEP UP:
There are some teams out there that probably want to change how they are perceived. A doormat wants to be a contender. A contender wants to be a playoff team. A playoff team wants to win a Super Bowl. Let’s look at Detroit, Houston and Atlanta. Tired of Lions jokes, tired of people STILL bringing up Matt Millen and WRs? Well, go into Chicago and beat the Bears. That’ll zip a lip for a second. Are the Texans tired of being a busted sleeper every year, or just the home to a couple of fantasy studs, tired of almost? The Colts come in week one. There they are. Beat them for once. Falcons feeling a little bit written off, lost in the Saints shadow? Well, go into Pittsburgh and take care of business against a team missing their starting QB. Win that, and people will take away the Saints’ free pass through the division.
A few teams out there have new faces at the helm, and week one could be an encouraging sign or a harsh slap of reality. Unfortunately, I think there might be more reality doled out this week. Kevin Kolb gets the Packers. Huge test. It almost feels like too overwhelming a spot for Kolb. Don’t think this ends well. Donovan McNabb gets Dallas. Three straight games against Dallas. Bad news is that Washington might do a worse job protecting him than the Eagles did. Prediction? No air guitar and a Dallas win. I’m throwing Matt Moore in here. No more time as the endearing back-up. It’s real. If he doesn’t make it happen against the Giants expect a collective groan in Carolina. The guy in the best spot might be Jason Campbell. Solely because the guy he is replacing was so terrible that Raider fans will take anything. The bar is obscenely low. Much like it is in Cleveland where Jake Delhomme debuts against Tampa in what was almost the…
STINKER OF THE WEEK:
But, you get a look at Arizona and St. Louis and you drink it in for a moment and say, This is what god-awful, putrid, NFC West football is all about. First team to 6 turnovers wins.