By Zack Cimini
The football season kicks off with plenty of action, or should we just say the season is starting? We all know that the first couple of weeks of the season showcase some of the worst rust a team can have. Whether it is a receiver dropping a pass, extra penalties, etc they all can be seen as early season mistakes in week one.
Indianapolis at New England
Here is the rematch that the Colts have been waiting for. They?ve lost four straight to the Patriots, which is strange because of the Colts dominance over recent years. It just seems the Patriots know how to shut down Peyton Manning better than any other team. One of the other major reasons is because Ty Law can actually cover Marvin Harrison one on one, which not many cornerbacks can do. Peyton better be careful tonight, as he threw three interceptions in the preseason but still looked solid. Someone needs to end the Patriots string of victories dating back to last season, so why not have it start in week one?
Arizona at St. Louis
Here is a team that can make Marc Bulger look great and add to his confidence. The Cardinals should be able to stay in this game if their defense can contain Torry Holt. Josh McCown will need to protect the ball and just take what?s there. He has little time to practice with Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson because of their injuries. Watch out for wide receiver Kevin Kasper though, because him and McCown have developed a great chemistry.
Baltimore at Cleveland
Can the Browns actually hold Jamal Lewis under 200 yards? It?s pathetic when a player can make a prediction the day before the game and go out and do it. But it?s even worse if he does it again later in the same season. It?ll be interesting to see the Browns new look with Jeff Garcia at the helm. If he can bring his Pro Bowl caliber style to Cleveland, than they could be a dangerous team.
Cincinnati at NY Jets
Here are two teams on the rise that might see each other when the playoffs come along. The Bengals all of the sudden have one of the top five offenses in the league, and are not just considered to make the playoffs. On the Jets side they have a new wide receiver in Justin McCareins to go along with deep threat Santana Moss. This year Chad Pennington will start off the year healthy and try to build on where he left off a couple of years ago. Pennington hardly makes mistakes, and that?ll help the Jets win an extra two to three games that?ll prove pivotal down the stretch.
Detroit at Chicago
One of these teams will be 1-0 after Sunday. The Lions and Bears have both actually improved over the off season, especially the Lions. Matt Millen is finally making some right decisions, and has this team poised for dominance in two to three years. If they can keep the youth of this team together, they?ll be taking over for Brett Favre and the Packers. The Bears are going to try to give Thomas Jones the show and see how it handles it. It?s a shame that the Cardinals let him go so early, and now they?re finding themselves struggling at running back.
Jacksonville at Buffalo
Drew Bledsoe?s years are quietly winding down, and he knows that he needs to do something this year. They have a solid all around team that should pose threat for a wild card. One thing that could get in a way is another position battle. Willis McGahee and Travis Henry don?t get a long too well, and the same thing use to happen with Doug Flutie and Doug Johnson. You have to wonder why the Bills drafted McGahee in the first place. Sure he?ll be a great running back, but they already have one in Henry. It?s only going to lead to team chemistry problems that could knock them out of the playoffs in crunch time. With Jacksonville it all will fall on Byron Leftwich?s shoulders. If he learned enough his rookie year than he could shock the league, especially with the most underrated running back in the league in Fred Taylor.
Oakland at Pittsburgh
Here are two teams that are trying to get back to the dominance they had a few years ago. Both teams still have plenty of talent to do it, but is the motivation factor there? The Raiders parted ways with Tim Brown and will try out youngsters Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry. The good thing for them is they still have Jerry Rice to guide them. On the defensive side it?ll be interesting to see how Warren Sapp plays in silver and black. Pittsburgh?s whole downfall could end up being at quarterback where Tommy Maddox just hasn?t done it, and it?s going to take awhile to bring along their first rounder.
San Diego at Houston
David Carr and the Texans are a mini version of the Indianapolis Colts. They have explosive fire power and a solid young defense. This could actually be a rout considering the way the Chargers have looked in the preseason. You have to feel bad for Tomlinson, because as long as he stays in San Diego his efforts will be for nothing.
Seattle at New Orleans
New Orleans could possibly be the most underachieving team in the league. This year could be different though if they can play productive for the whole year, instead of in spurts. Seattle seems to be a popular favorite to come out of the NFC, and who can blame anyone with the talent they have on both sides of the ball. This should be one of the most exciting games of week one.
Tampa Bay at Washington
Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis will get their new debuts and will try to take advantage of the new look Buccaneers defense. If Brunell can get this offense clicking the Redskins could emerge as a sleeper in the NFC. Tampa Bay just has too many question marks at running back and wide receiver to pose any serious threat this year. Any team that can score more than 16 points should be able to win against them.
Tennessee at Miami
It seems like these two teams are playing each other every year in the regular season. Miami could be on the verge of losing their second straight regular season opener, after having a streak of 13 years snapped against the Houston Texans last year. This should be a sloppy game but in the end, it?ll come down to Jay Fiedler. Will he actually try to make plays or will Miami?s offense be stagnant and punting all game.
Atlanta at San Francisco
Tim Rattay gets his shot at controlling the 49ers for the whole season. It will more than likely be a rough one because of his young group of receivers. Kevan Barlow should be able to help out a lot, and Brandon Lloyd has looked exceptional in preseason play. The fact is first year starters always struggle and Rattay will be no different.
Dallas at Minnesota
The Vikings are once again without Michael Bennett for a good period of time. Culpepper needs to learn to protect the ball better even though he may have to run more without Bennett. He still has the best player in the league in Randy Moss who may have a career year statistically with the way he has played in the preseason. Dallas will more than likely not follow up on last year?s success, but they should finish around .500.
NY Giants at Philadelphia
Donovan McNabb will finally get his revenge against Kurt Warner in this game. This could be the biggest blowout of the weekend. The Giants just aren?t ready for the regular season, and that?ll show on Sunday. Hopefully Terrell Owens doesn?t break out too many new dances, because he?ll have plenty of more times this year to show them.
Kansas City at Denver
When these two teams play you know you?re going to get one thing? no defense. It should be another high scoring affair, and we?ll have to see which running back can out duel the other. Both of these teams know that even though it?s week one this game could have a huge outcome on a tie breaker at the end of the season.
Green Bay at Carolina
The Packers are coming in thinking that they are the best team in the NFC, and Carolina is trying to reclaim their title. Both of these teams know they?ll be in the playoffs and it isn?t a question of if. They both want to get bye week?s and playing tough from week one to week seventeen is the only way to do that.