To my amusement park enthusiasts, remember the days when roller coasters started with that lingering creep uphill before it plunges you into those three to ten minutes of screaming, loss of breath and racing of the heart? It’s safe to say we’re far removed from those days given roller coasters shoot out the gates with fury.
The same can be said for the inaugural week of the 2010 National Football League season. It highlights an opening rematch of the 2009 NFC championship game the night of September 9th. Sunday features six divisional matches and one of Monday night’s main events consist of a second year head coach hosting a team whose defense he once masterminded. Somebody call Leatherface…you’re gonna need his chainsaw to cut through the tension week one entails.
Without further ado, here we go:
Saints over Vikings– You lose Sidney Rice for a minimum of eight weeks due to hip surgery; Percy Harvin, although starting, has migraine issues and TJ Houshmandzadeh was on the market but he slipped through your fingers? With these questions hovering over Minnesota’s receiving corps, I can’t help but wonder what Brett Favre will do if Adrian Peterson hasn’t overcome his fumbling issues. I know…he goes back to the daredevil we’ve known him to be and New Orleans’ defense will feast well on opening night.
Browns over Buccaneers– Call me naïve, but I think ol’ Jake Delhomme has something left in the tank. I love his grit! The offensive line has to keep him upright to assure a healthy 2010 campaign. I don’t know too much about Josh Freeman, so I’ll stick with what, or who I know.
Dolphins over Bills– Ladies and gentlemen, please remember the following name…C.J. SPILLER! Watch what he does for Buffalo this season. I can’t say he’ll be enough to overcome a more well rounded outfit in Miami (my pick to win the AFC East), but he will introduce himself to you in an impressive manner.
Bengals over Patriots– New England had one of the better drafts in 2010. It met every need, but with that comes inexperience. Statistically, barring any injuries or foolishness, look for Terrell Owens to be the Comeback Player of the Year. What you saw in Buffalo last season was nothing more than a mirage.
Giants over Panthers– For me, the loss of Julius Peppers and the appointment of Matt Moore as starting quarterback puts Carolina in a place of uncertainty. Big Blue on the other hand has a nice insurance policy in Sage Rosenfels, just in case Eli Manning feels any lingering effects from that head-splitting collision he had early in the preseason.
Lions over Bears– The acquisition of Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor did nothing to fix Chicago’s greatest needs, the offensive line and a playmaking receiver. Although the recruitment of offensive coordinator Mike Martz should broaden Chi-Town’s offensive attack, I can see the young fella Ndamukong Su having a nice debut at defensive tackle for Detroit.
Falcons over Steelers– The addition of University of Florida rookie Maurkice Pouncey proves Pittsburgh is looking to strengthen its offensive line. Atlanta has more stability on the opposite side of the ball with the likes of Jonathan Babineaux and John Abraham. Look for Dennis Dixon to use his feet a great deal, hoping to avoid heavy pressure from the Dirty Birds.
Titans over Raiders– While Oakland also had an excellent 2010 draft, it still has uncertainties. How will Jason Campbell fair in a new environment? Can the offensive line protect him, or did he move out of the frying pan, into the fire? With Tennessee, you are left scratching your head when figuring out this team’s big play receiver. I guess I’ll have to look to coaching…advantage Jeff Fisher.
Jaguars over Broncos– One team is led by a coach who got rid of his three best playmakers in a one year span, while the other resides in a scorching seat to match Florida’s weather. Unfortunately, Denver lost Elvis Dumervill for the season, which should give Jacksonville’s lone Pro Bowler, Maurice Jones-Drew, the opportunities needed to put in typical work.
Texans over Colts– Write it down and mark the tape! I’m calling for a changing of the guard in the AFC South. Houston will dethrone Indianapolis as kings of this division. It already has the offense that can last in a shootout with Nap-Town, but now there’s something brewing on the defensive side of the ball with an assembly of players accompanying Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye and Brian Cushing, which could make this unit formidable.
Rams over Cardinals– Looking at the departures of guys like Kurt Warner, Anquain Boldin and Karlos Dansby, Arizona’s rule over the NFC West will be short-lived. I’m not calling St. Louis the surprise team of the season, but they have a legitimate chance of moving up from the basement of its division.
Packers over Eagles– Aaron Rodgers as of 2009, is officially a top-tier quarterback in this league. I wonder how many analysts will line up to admit they were wrong about him. Philadelphia is going in a more youthful direction. In time, that offense will be one to watch, but for now, it will likely see some growing pains, moving ahead in 2010.
49ers over Seahawks– Barring the questionable contributions of Alex Smith, San Francisco is prime to win the NFC West. Mike Singletary seems to have righted the ship in the Bay area. When you think of San Francisco football, you’ll no longer envision finesse. The operative description for this brand of San Fran is smash-mouth.
Redskins over Cowboys– Aside from my obvious bias, Washington has two individuals with something to prove. Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan want to show their merger is not without cause. Yes, Washington has concerns with its wide receiver and running back units, but this team is looking to rebound from an abysmal 4-12 season. Dallas has a questionable offensive line and secondary, unless it was all a mirage. I’m looking for Washington to actually show up in primetime and prove that’s where they belong.
Ravens over Jets– These teams are so much alike, its unreal. The running game and defense fuel them both. There’s an element that will be major with one team that no one ever saw coming. Baltimore now has a potentially legit passing game. It’s one thing for Joe Flacco to have Anquain Boldin, a healthy Todd Heap and Ray Rice, who can catch passes out of the backfield. Now they bring in TJ Houshmandzadeh, the guy Minnesota let get away. Of course, there can only be one Darrelle Revis, but has medical technology become so advance in the last few days that he can be cloned?
Chiefs over Chargers– You read it correctly! Looking at San Diego’s recent history, they have come out the gates slowly in the first quarter of the season. Kansas City, on the other hand, made two acquisitions that could help them restore their playoff ways. The Band has reunited in K.C. in the form of offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. We know what they did in Beantown! Call me crazy, but these two make the Boys of Arrowhead my surprise team of the season.
I must say, it’s good to be back in the saddle again. The mission for me remains the same, to post a season winning mark well above .500. Please stay tuned throughout the season to see how I fare. Thanks TNP Nation and as always, enjoy the games.
By Antoine Hoffman