The NFL season may have technically started on Wednesday, but for the other 30 teams in the league, Sunday and Monday will kick off five months of football bliss.
The first week of the season is a litmus test for the fans. They get to find out if everything they saw in the preseason was a sign of things to come or just a figment of their imagination. It's when hardcore fantasy football players sit back with one eye on the television and another on the waiver wire.
The first week also is the hardest to predict. As much as we think we know about how our teams will do, nobody knows anything until they hit the field.
A good example is this past Wednesday's opener between the Giants and Cowboys. The Giants were riding high after their second Super Bowl win in five years, and they opened up at home against a Dallas team they swept last season.
As tough as division games can be, you had to like New York's chances. Instead, the Giants looked rusty. Victor Cruz dropped a few key passes, and the Giants secondary got torched by Tony Romo and his bevy of talented receivers. Dallas pulled off the upset on the road against the defending champs, marking the first time in nine years a defending champion has lost in the opener.
Despite that opening curveball, I will attempt to predict how the remaining 15 games will go. Increasing the degree of difficulty, I will be making these picks based on the spreads found in Danny Sheridan's odds section in USA Today.
Week 1 presents plenty of intriguing matchups. There's a potential NFC championship showdown with the first two QB's chosen in the 2005 draft squaring off when the Packers host the Niners. The Steelers get their rematch against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs when they take on Denver Sunday night—only this time they get Peyton Manning instead of Tim Tebow.
Let's get this inevitable plate of crow started.