Well kids it's time, the 2010 NFL season is finally here. After a summer of "Hard Knocks," predictions and proclamations, I nor Rex Ryan can tell you if we'll be saying the same thing in 2011.
But alas we'll start week one where we ended last season, and since there's no game in Miami, we'll just lead off with the team that won the Super Bowl there last year and the re-match of the NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.
Not that the Saints came out of nowhere last year, they certainly were the class of the NFC all season. Yet if I'm a Vikings fan I have to shake my head about their last three NFC Championship Game apperances. The Vikings lose to two historically irrelevant franchises in the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints and a New York Giants team that even their owner the late Wellington Mara proclaimed was one of the worst teams to ever reach the Super Bowl.
Alas I digress and with week one kicking off in New Orleans, there are still a lot of folks who believe the Vikings out-played the Saints in last year's title game. But as the Vikings and Indianapolis Colts later would learn, if you make mistakes, the Saints will kill you for them.
I believe the Saints will come out fired up with the home crowd ready to go and they'll come out all gang-busters right off the rip. If it's a shoot out as most are projecting, I expect the Saints to take this one running away. If the Vikings play with more ball control and run the ball fumble free, they can take it to the one weak spot of the Saints defense and make it a close game.
However I just believe there's too much momentum in the Saints corner as silly as that sounds in week one. As solid as the Vikings defesne is, there's still a feeling out process on offense and they were only 4-4 on the road last season. Pick: I like the Saints.
Looking around the rest of the action for week one, your 1pm starts:
Miami @ Buffalo: Hard to believe these two were only separated by a game in the standings last season. It wouldn't shock me if Buffalo came out pumped up for their new coach and playing in front of the home crowd against a divisional rival, but I can also see them kicking themselves just like last year's opener as well. Miami will run the ball all day long and that should really allow them to stretch the passing game open to eventually blow it open. Pick: Miami.
Oakland @ Tennessee: A couple of teams that got prime time nods in week one last year will square off in a 1pm tilt in 2010. Chris Johnson vs. Darren McFadden should be fun. This season the Titans will not start out 0-6 and they'll take this one too. Pick: Tennessee.
Cincinnati @ New England: The T.O. in orange show begins where his short lived Bills career began a year ago. Tom Brady is 7-1 in week one, winning the last seven. Pick: New England.
Carolina @ New York Giants: The Panthers and John Fox put the Giants to shame in the last Giants home game at the old stadium. But this is a new stadium and the Giants are fresh and traditionally fast starters under Tom Coughlin. Pick: New York Giants
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh: I'm going to go a bit against the grain on this one only because Pittsburgh is very tough at home despite missing you know who. The Steelers defense is solid enough to pull them through, unless of course Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are ready to make a statement proclaiming they're back in 2010. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Cleveland @ Tampa Bay: I used to have a saying for these types of games and that saying was "fat porn game of the week." I guess it still applies. Kellen Winslow Jr. against his former mates, if you're looking for a sub-plot, I'm not. Possible countdown to who could be on the clock if you want another sub-plot. Oddly enough if one looks at the week one match-ups, the winner of this game could actually wind up not just in first but sole possession of first place heading into week two. I like how Cleveland finished last year so I'll take them. Pick: Cleveland.
Denver @ Jacksonville: Call this the revenge of the Tebow? Remember when Denver started out 6-0 and Tennessee went 0-6 and both ended up 8-8? Well if Maurice Jones-Drew isn't healthy it could be an even longer season for the Jags. I don't love it but I'll relent and pick Denver. Pick: Denver.
Indianapolis @ Houston: Very seldom are there statement games in week one. Houston needs to make one here if they want anyone to believe they're more than an annual tease. Indy has only lost to Houston once and I don't count on them losing again. Pick: Indianapolis.
Detroit @ Chicago: All you need to know about this game is that I'm not picking Detroit on the road until they finally win on the road and that hasn't happened in over two years! Pick: Chicago.
San Francisco @ Seattle: The 49ers after a nice start last year, get to show us why they're the class of the NFC West and if we should buy into anything beyond that. On this flipside, while it's the beginning of the Pete Carroll era, it could be the last salvo of Matt Hasselbeck's in Seattle. Pick: San Francisco.
Green Bay @ Philadelphia: My pick to win the whole thing, the Green Bay Packers take to the road in week one. Kelvin Kolb will be watching Aaron Rodgers and wonder if he can follow Donovan McNabb just as Rodgers has followed Brett Favre, and my sense is on Sunday he'll be watching him an awful lot. Pick: Green Bay.
Arizona @ St. Louis: If you believe bad things come in three's I have some bad news for you. 1.) Both of these franchises have played in St. Louis at one time or another. 2.) Kurt Warner has played for each of these teams. 3.) They're both playing in St. Louis this weekend and Kurt Warner is no longer playing for either of them. Yikes! Pick: Arizona.
Dallas @ Washington: Last year the Cowboys defeated Donovan McNabb's Eagles three times. Washington didn't win a game within the division last year so this will be a good early test. I fully expect Dallas to come out firing big time in this contest. Pick: Dallas.
Baltimore @ New York Jets: Wouldn't you just love to watch/hear this game broadcast on HBO? Heck I wish all NFL games were. Baltimore and New York have shared the big stage in pro sports numerous times, so why not opening the new digs in Jersey on Monday Night Football? With all things being even on defense, I like the Ravens offense much better. Pick: Baltimore.
San Diego @ Kansas City: Sure the Chargers are usually slow starters, but the Chiefs still can't seem to stop anything on defense. Pick: San Diego.
Eliminator Pick: Patriots.