Thursday, September 8, 2011

NFL 2011: Week One -- Starting Off with a Big Bang and Some Classic Match-Ups!

The 2011 NFL Season starts tonight as the last two Super Bowl champs, The Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints, two teams to watch for the NFC Championship. While tonight’s match up is significant, much hype is directed at the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFL’s “dream team,” so says back up QB Vince Young.

With a firm salary cap in place and the fallout from the lock out, many teams will look very different from last year moving expensive veterans prioritizing which players are essential for the team’s success. A quick look at the divisions gives the first indication of who the winners and losers will be.

The AFC doesn’t appear to have any up and coming teams, not yet any way, so the biggest surprise will be the fate of Indianapolis where Peyton Manning’s recovery from neck surgery leaves question marks about his return. Can old-timer Kerry Collins keep things in order in the meantime?  Houston might be the team o watch for the North champ. The south will be between the Steelers and the Ravens. The AFC champ Steelers return all their starters. The Ravens have changes on both sides of the ball but are they an improvement, a draw or a step back is too early to tell, but the two face each other in Baltimore to start the season. The East will be New England with the Jets nipping at their heels while the west, who knows?  Denver is rebuilding. KC could be a team on the rise. San Diego underachieves.

The NFC starts with the south and how much Atlanta will have to contend with New Orleans as Tampa works its way up. The north belongs to Green Bay. Might Detroit finally break .500. Donovan McNabb with the Vikings – they like their quarterbacks old in the Twin Cities don’t they?  The Eagles command the east while Dallas will make its usual noise that will jump way up with Rob Ryan their new master of defense. He’ll shake things up and make their defense unpredictable, still does Tony Romo look like fellow who can lead a championship drive? The west was so pathetically weak last year last a losing team could make the playoffs. Which teams can finish around .500? Perhaps Jim Harbaugh will give an edge to the 49’ers. Seattle could at least do as well as last year which says little. Arizona is ready to rebuild as St. Louis is early in the rebuild phase and results till have a ways to go.

The games:
New Orleans at Green Bay (-4)
The pack is back and its cheese over jambalaya on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-2.5)
Paybacks are hell and the Ravens with the home faithful fired up will be ready to steal one from the Steelers.

Cincinnati at Ohio (-3)
Cincinnati is weaker. Cleveland is slightly improved, enough so that they will win the first battle for the Buckeye State.

Indianapolis at Houston (-8.5)
Indy without Manning won’t have enough to overcome the surging Texans.

Tennessee at Jacksonville (-2)
What’s going on in Jacksonville?  These are two flimsy teams but the pressure’s on Jacksonville.

Buffalo at Kansas City (-6)
The new improved KC will attempt to improve on their playoff berth from last year. Buffalo will be the first step to proving that.

Atlanta (-3) at Chicago
Chicago is a hap-hazard team while Atlanta is a team on the move that will return south with an important win.

Detroit at Tampa Bay (-2)
Playing at home gives Tampa the edge over a team desperate to show it’s finally a serious team once again.

Philadelphia (-5) at St. Louis
This one is one big Philadelphia Cheesesteak that will cause St. Louis blues.

New York Giants (-3) at Washington
Does anyone expect a less chaotic team in DC this year. Mike Shanahan lost his detractors but Grossman or Beck expected to work wonders?  The Giants have lots of holes but they’ll conquer the Landover Lackeys.

Carolina at Arizona (-7)
Neither of these teams are very good but the Panthers are all but starting at scratch and will not be a factor in the desert.

Seattle at San Francisco (-5.5)
This is a must win early on for Jim Harbaugh to show he can command the NFC west.

Dallas at New York Jets (-4.5)
It didn’t take long for the schedule makers to bring the brash and boastful Ryan brothers together. It will be Rex over Rod in the Meadowlands.

New England (-7) at Miami
Can Haynesworth and Ochocinco detract from the precision discipline of New England?? Who knows, but New England will still beat Miami. It takes head cases a couple weeks or so before they start showing their hands. Their BS won’t be tolerated in Belichick/Brady land.

Oakland at Denver (-3)
A chronically unpredictable team against a team trying to move forward – but we’ll go with Denver.

Thankfully the NFL Network, for those lucky enough to have it, fans can now get in depth coverage without having to put up with media’s biggest blowhard, Chris Berman on ESPN. We hereby authorize all Americans who work with sports fans who do their Berman impressions, to slap them or douse them with water when those obnoxious clich├ęs start to fly.

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