With the dawn of a new season, like many NFL coaches and analysts alike, we circle games we can't wait to watch. From ferocious defenses to high-flying offenses, to games that could decide the division, or perhaps the games that decides who gets bragging rights, here's the 10 most anticipated games of the 2009 season.
It's the first game of the 2009 season featuring the defending Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers, and last year's mid-season Super Bowl favorite Tennessee Titans.
On paper, this game is virtually meaningless as neither team plays in the same division, likely won't meet in the playoffs, and an opening day win/loss surely won't make or break a season. But believe me when I say it, as soon as these two lace it up and start hitting each other, you'll get excited that the football season is underway.
Steelers win convincingly.
Maybe it's because I'm a die-hard Bears fan, but even if you don't like the Bears or Steelers, there's many reasons to get excited about this game. This is going to be Chicago's true test of whether or not they're going to be for real in the NFC. Remember: Jay Cutler is 1-0 against the Steelers in his career, as he went 22 of 29 passes for 248 yards with 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 106.7 passer rating in leading the Broncos to a 31-28 win on Oct. 21, 2007 in Denver.
This game should be a defensive battle, but I think the Bears destroy the Steelers. OK fine, I'm kind of a fanboy. Steelers win by 10 or less.
I'm nicknaming this game the "Shockey Bowl." The Giants will go into New Orleans to play the all too familiar tight end Jeremy Shockey for the first time since his departure after the 2007 season.
Since leaving New York, Shockey has caught 50 balls for 483 yards, yet the end zone has alluded him.
This game should be entertaining with or without Shockey on the field as the Saints bring arguably the NFC's most high-flying offense against the NFC's most fierce defense. This game could get very interesting, very fast.
Giants win 17-10.
This is going to be Tom Brady's true test of whether or not his body is ready to start taking bludgeoning hits again. Arguably the NFL's best defense in the Baltimore Ravens is going to put tons of pressure on Brady. Even if Brady avoids the pressure, he's going to have a hard time making long passes with Ed Reed an Ray Lewis lurking around down field.
Look for this game to be surprisingly close with the Patriots barely edging out the Ravens.
This game could decide who will win the AFC South, period. It's a late-season match-up featuring two division powerhouses who likely will have a good enough record to win the division.
As of now, this game is too close to call for me. If I had to choose, it'd be the Colts barely squeaking past and into another AFC South Division Title.
When it's all said and done, this game could determine the champs of the NFC North. Brett Favre makes his return to Soldier Field, a place he hates to play in when Bears Coach Lovie Smith is on the other sideline. Before Smith's arrival, Favre was 21-8 against the Bears, but since Smith came along, he's 3-7.
The Vikings are the consensus pick to win the North, but not so fast my friends. Most of the time, the division is won by head-to-head records and margin of victory. If the snow is falling, and the temperatures are below zero (after all this game is on December 28), it's going to be really hard for the dome team Vikings to get going.
Bears win convincingly (I'm serious!).
Last year the Steelers owned the Ravens defeating them three times, the most painful knocking out their rivals in the AFC Championship game, costing them a Super Bowl appearance. This year will be different.
First of all, it's got to be on purpose that the NFL made the schedule so that these two teams meet late in the season. Secondly, these guys are arguably the best defenses in the NFL. These games are going to be rough, brash, and very entertaining to watch.
Predictions: I can't. It's like asking who's better- Goliath or Goliath. I'll leave it at that.
New York still has a bad taste in their mouth from the last time these two faced off. It was the game that decided who was going to the NFC Championship game, and Eli Manning was picked off late as the Eagles flew to yet another NFC Championship game.
This year the NFC East division will come down to the Giants and Eagles, two teams that account for perhaps the NFL's greatest rivalry of all time. The two have met 154 times, and the Giants lead the series 82-70-2. However lately, the Eagles have taken down the Giants 6 of the last 10 meetings.
Look for these two to split the series, but another meeting in the playoffs, when New York gets their revenge.
It's one of the more exciting rivalries in recent memory, and this meeting should prove no different. The last time these two faced was in 2007 when both teams were unbeaten before the match-up and by the time it was over, the Patriots won and went on to an undefeated season.
All-time the Patriots lead the Colts 44-28, but the Colts are 4-1 in the last five meetings. The biggest win came in the AFC Championship as the Colts advanced to Super Bowl XLI.
Two high-powered offenses will go down to the wire as this game is going to come down to who makes the last mistake. That will be the Patriots, therefore Colts win by a touchdown.
ESPN is already nicknaming this game "the regular season Super Bowl." It's Brett Favre in a Viking uniform going against a team he played 16 years for that chased him out prematurely, it's the high-powered Minnesota defense going against the high-flying Packer offense, it's Brett Favre the shunned against Aaron Rodgers the savior. Oh, and by the way, it's on Monday Night Football.
This game literally is the entire season for Brett Favre, as he wants to stick it to the very team that ran him out of town, forcing him to the New York Jets, and subsequently to the Vikings.
The Vikes will put up a big fight, but this time Favre's heart is stronger than Rodger's arm as he guides the Vikings to an uplifting victory.