It's finally here.
After over eight months of offseason and preseason hype full of analysis, re-analysis and over-analysis (but no action), we are finally, finally back to real football.
The St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions are underway, and will soon be winless and undefeated in some arrangement, and we can all start basing our projections and analysis on things that actually happened, not guesses based last season plus draft and free agent moves.
Of course, based on those observations that I just disparaged, the Lions should have a commanding advantage in this game.
Though the Rams get Sam Bradford back for a fresh season, his offensive line protection and receiving corps are shaky at best. Even against the Lions' battered secondary, the Rams may not be as effective in the air as Matthew Stafford and his full complement of receivers (including the best one in football).
The caveat here is that the Lions' secondary may be even weaker than advertised, with starting S Louis Delmas and starting CB Chris Houston both listed as doubtful for the game (inactive lists to come shortly).
Both these teams are going to lean heavily on the pass rush to keep the scoring down, but with Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson on one side, and Steven Jackson/Bradford against four new starters in the Lions secondary on the other side, there's a very good chance this one doesn't end 6-3.
We're at halftime, and the story so far is the Rams' secondary dominating Matthew Stafford, who can't seem to read coverages and has thrown three interceptions in the first quarter. Despite a weak showing by the Rams' offense, the defense has kept them in the game, to the point that they lead by three.
The Rams had a couple of opportunities to pull away, as they took the lead on two separate occasions in the second half. The last of those go-ahead scores put the Rams up by a field goal with less than two minutes to go.
But you give the ball to Matthew Stafford with time and a deficit to make up, and things tend to happen. Stafford needed about 100 seconds to take the Lions 80 yards and toss the game-winning touchdown, for a tougher-than-expected victory in Week 1.
Final Score: Rams 23, Lions 27