A battle of the last two Super Bowl Champions is the perfect way to start the 2011 season in the NFL. The Saints with Drew Brees always have a chance to get back to the mantle but need a big effort for the defense, as the Packers get back their injured players and could be even better. Look for some of the returning Packers like Jermichael Finley to have extra motivation as the Champs get off to a good start in Lambeau
No matter who wins, it seems that this game is decided by Field Goal when ever these two rivals meet. Home field is not always important as both teams won on each other’s field last year. The Steelers enter with a chip on their shoulder after losing Super Bowl XLV, while the Ravens are fuming over being knocked out by the Black and Gold again. Look for the Ravens to get a little revenge in another chippy penalty filled defensive war.
The top two teams during the regular season in the NFC meet in a key Week 1 match up. The Falcons have made some improvements to their offense with the drafting of WR Julio Jones to an already loaded bunch of targets for QB Matt Ryan to throw to. The Bears meanwhile will have to find a way to get their offense going without that huge advantage Devin Hester gave them on kickoff returns. Add to the fact the Bears already questionable offensive line losing an All-Pro and this game looks goof for the Falcons, though winning in Solider Field will be tough.
The battle of Ohio sees two teams looking to make a step forward, while the Browns appear to have a plan and look like they are on the right tack, the Bengals appear to be a walking disaster. I see the Browns wanting to show their fans something good as they start the season, and being motivated to bring forth a big effort. Look for the Browns to win easy as QB Colt McCoy has a big game.
Last year with Peyton Manning healthy the Texans beat up the Colts in the season opener, now with Manning on the sideline it’s hard to imagine Kerry Collins who go to Indy late will have enough grasp of the offense to make this game close. The Texans have a lot to prove and as long as Manning is out they have to take advantage if they are to finally make the playoffs in 2011.
At noon on Tuesday, the Jaguars were at a luncheon where QB David Garrard was introduced as the starter for the 2011 season. Before desert was served Garrard was released leaving Luke McNown to tutor Rookie Blaine Gabbert. McNown has not started a NFL game since 2007. It’s hard to imagine a team having the rug pulled out from them can come out five days later and win, the Titans have a solid QB in Matt Hasselbeck and a hungry Chris Johnson ready to show why he held out for a big contract.
This could easily flip if QB Matt Cassel is unable to go for the Chiefs with his tender ribs. However, Cassel has declared himself ready to go and that is good for the home standing Chiefs who will have a tougher schedule this year and need to take advantage of games against the lowly Bills. Though the Bills will be a bit tougher this year, they still are not that good of team, and it’s hard to imagine they can win in Kansas City.
The Eagles begin what they hope is a dream season in St. Louis, where the Rams hope they can prove they are back to being a legitimate playoff contender. Second year QB Sam Bradford has his work cut out for him, as he faces the Eagles stacked secondary. While the game is in St. Louis, it is a tall order to expect the Rams to beat the Eagles in the opener. However, the game should be close until Bradford is picked off by Asante Samuel in the last two minutes to seal it.
Two of the NFL bright young teams on the rise get together in Week 1. As the Lions closed out last season with four straight wins, one came in Tampa injuring the Bucs playoff hopes. Ndamukong Suh is not just another defender; he has a chance to be the Lawrence Taylor of the 21st Century. Look for Suh to get off to a strong start as he makes life miserable for Josh Freeman as the Lions start the season with a win.
Last year was a bad season for the Cardinals who looked high and low but could not find a quarterback to replace Kurt Warner. Enter Kevin Kolb, and the excitement is back in the desert. The Panthers coming off a 2-14 season have their own big debut with Cam Newton starting right away. Newton as you expect with any rookie will struggle at times, while Kolb has a pair of All-Pro targets in Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Heap who will help the Cardinals get off to a flying start.
The Chargers, who are used to stumbling out of the gate, must get off to a strong start in 2011. Facing the Vikings at home at least gives them a chance to open the year with a win. The Vikings have a new QB with Donovan McNabb, but the key is still Adrian Peterson. Meanwhile the Chargers will rely on QB Phillip Rivers who will get off to a strong start, as the Vikings will be without suspended DT Kevin Williams.
The Jim Harbaugh era begins in San Francisco, with Alex Smith getting yet another chance to wow 49ers fans at Quarterback. The pressure may be even greater in Week 1, with the sudden release of David Garrard in Jacksonville. At home the 49ers should have an edge against a poor road team like the Seahawks, who are trying out a new quarterback now that Matt Hasselbeck is in Tennessee.
The Redskins and Giants have become a familiar Week 1 match up, this time things are different as the Giants are riddled with injuries as the season starts, while the Redskins have things to prove to a skeptical fan base. Getting the start for the Redskins at quarterback is Rex Grossman, who expressed confidence in his team at the start of the preseason, now he gets to prove it. Look for the Redskins to earn the win as the Giants have too many injuries on defense to overcome.
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be a somber occasion in New York. Coach Rex Ryan has all but said it is important for the Jets to win the opener that will see remembrances before the game. So it begins. The Jets have the talent to win a Super Bowl and a Coach who sticks his neck out for his players, and usually the team responds. Look for that to be the case here as the Cowboys don’t have the defenders to keep up with the Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, while the Jets defense will make life rough on Cowboys QB Tony Romo.
It’s a tale of two Michigan quarterbacks. One is a MVP, Super Bowl MVP and one of the best of all time. The other is soon to be mercifully forgotten as he watches another season go down in flames in Miami. Alma Matter is the only comparison between Tom Brady and Chad Henne as both teams are miles apart in talent. It’s a primetime game and the Patriots like rolling up the score against weaker opponents in these situations, this one will be over by halftime.
Taken with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft, Von Miller had an impressive preseason and looks like someone who can be a game changer on defense. At home the Broncos hope this to be the case as they start the season on Monday Night against the Raiders. Look for Miller to have a solid debut as Kyle Orton shows Bronco fans why he is the best choice to start at quarterback as the Broncos get a nice solid division win.