Yeah it’s week 1, but there are already some games that matter.Â First impressions count, right?
Jacksonville at Tennessee
The AFC South is always going to be a tough division, but the Titans might be going the wrong direction.Â Their defense is stout and their running game should be very good, but the QB is a major liability.Â Vince Young has not just looked below average this preseason (and all of last season), he’s looked completely incapable of being a backup.Â There are bigger expectations for Young this year though.Â Mike Heimerdinger is a detail oriented guy and really cares about fundamentals.Â I’m not sure that will matter though.Â While his mechanics could use a tuneup, Young seems like a guy who cannot make a good decision with the ball.
Last year the Titans opened up with a statement game against the Jags, running all over them.Â I don’t expect the same to happen this year.Â Jacksonville should continue what they built last year and cruise to 1-0.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Classic game of high power offense vs. tough defense.Â None of the teams in the NFC South really stand out as a clear contender, so all of the division games will matter.Â I’m going out on a limb and picking New Orleans to win the division and I think this game will get them on their way.Â There’s just too much offense.Â Plus, on paper, the defense should be okay.Â Nobody is going to run on them, because they’ll be scoring so many points, so the pass defense is all that matters.Â With Grant, Smith and Ellis on the line, they should hopefully be able to open up a lot of gaps for linebackers to rush the passer.Â It’s been beat to death after the what the Giants did last year, but you really can help your secondary out by getting a regular pass rush.Â The Saints will be a team that will have to blitz on 1st, 2nd and 3rd down as teams will be passing on them all the time.Â I doubt the Bucs will be able to keep up.
Dallas at Cleveland
I got on the Cleveland bandwagon way too early when they overhauled their offensive line 2 years ago.Â Then I was confronted by the harsh reality that the team still stunk.Â Well, last year they finally moved forward.Â This year?Â Maybe backwards again.Â They have a really good core of young superstars on both sides of the ball.Â They have a 1st round pick at QB and another diamond in the rough type QB they could’ve used to get some major draft picks to keep building.Â Instead, they picked up a DT in Corey Williams who has never played as a 2 gap DE.Â They got another DT in Shaun Rogers who has also never played a 3-4 nose and was expendible in Detroit because he only tries on 25-30% of plays.Â They pretty much killed their future to get these players.Â So they are basically committing to a “win now” approach (as they have no future and their cap will be destroyed with all these vetern players).Â What are they up against?Â The 8th hardest schedule in the NFL.Â Good luck, Browns.
Dallas on the other hand, built their team properly and looks to be good for a while.Â They still have a few questions.Â Like, can Romo operate an offense without TO (if TO goes down or is effectively covered)?Â Can he read defenses and move his team down the field?Â Do the Cowboys have anyone else at wideout?Â Can they win a playoff game?Â I think the Cowboys will be better this year.Â Their record may not show it, but the team has been improving each season with the way they operate.Â I’m betting on them to start off the year with a statement win against the ultra-hyped Browns.
Chicago at Indianapolis
This game is only interesting for three reasons.Â 1) Peyton Manning’s health.Â 2) Marvin Harrison’s health.Â 3) Dwight Freeney’s health.Â If Manning really is healthy enough to play, the Bears don’t stand a chance.Â If you see a limping Manning or Sorgi, the Bears could sneak in a win and delay their season of disappointment another week.
Minnesota at Green Bay
Basically the only choices to win the NFC North.Â It’s funny, Tavaris Jackson has been a starter in the NFL, but people are projecting Aaron Rodgers way ahead of him.Â I think Jackson is still a negative for the team at this point.Â He hasn’t shown he can manage an offense without turnovers or dumb plays.Â Adrian Peterson is an out of this world back, but he hasn’t shown he can play an entire season (Chester Taylor is good, but he’s not an offensive focal point).Â The defense is going to have to keep them in games, but I don’t know if they have a good enough unit to win games (IE – Ravens/Bears of years past).Â Monday night in Green Bay, starting a new era for the Packers, I say they take this game.