Some of what happened in this kick-off weekend was very surprising.
The Saints didn't have that explosive offense we saw in the Super Bowl, the Seahawks weren't bad (actually, they were good), and the Chiefs ran over the Chargers with the help of a rookie punt returner named Dexter McCluster.
We had a few VERY good games. We had the overtime game between the Falcons and the Steelers, a heart-breaking loss by Detroit against Chicago, and a bruiser between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets.
There is no larger rivalry in the NFL these days than the Patriots-Jets AFC East rivalry (except perhaps the Ravens-Steelers or the Brady-Manning rivalry). That is why New England's trip to the Meadowlands is my prediction for Game of the Week.
This may be the most lopsided game of the week. The Packers might have shown some weakness in their game at Philadelphia, and they may have lost Ryan Grant, but they shall prevail.
Aaron Rodgers won't make the same mistakes twice.
The Bills, on the other hand, had a chance to beat their division rivals, the Miami Dolphins, but could never capitalize on all the opportunities.
They could really use some decent receivers on that team, but most of them were bought up by the Ravens.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
The Ravens offense really needs to start clicking. They won their Monday Night opener at the Meadowlands, but that may have been by the grace of some deity.
Joe Flacco looked rushed, their run game was stagnant, and their o-line was about as solid as Jell-O.
Their defense proved, however, that they could get it done without Ed Reed. Another strong showing and a little better offensive timing, and they should pull a close one.
The Bengals, after their "glory" season last year, looked awful against the New England Patriots last week.
Sure, they started to pull it together in the end, but were the Pats really trying at that point?
It seems to me like the egos of the team are already more of a strain than Marvin Lewis can bare, but the talent is something to admire
This could be a great game, but someone has to win.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
Tampa Bay has proven nothing by beating the Browns. In order to earn the respect they desire, they have to win at least one division game. Here's their first chance. It won't be easy.
The Panthers are hot after losing to the Giants, even after they intercepted three Eli Manning passes.
The Panthers are almost always hyped in the off-season to be the "team to beat" in the NFC South.
Not so much this year, because the same division is home to the Super Bowl champions (that's not Carolina, by the way).
It looks like they might have to switch to Jimmy Clausen this week, but that might be a good thing, considering how poorly Matt Moore played.
This one was actually tough to pick, but I'm going with the home team here.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
Cleveland might have lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that doesn't bode well for them.
However, Eric Mangini (for all the ribbing I give him) is a tough coach, and I don't expect the Browns to be as bad this year as they were last year. If Jake Delhomme comes back in time for this one, expect a surprise ending.
If the Browns get my award for "most likely to turn it around" from Week 1, then the Chiefs get the award for "biggest flash in the pan."
I know, I gave props to McCluster earlier, but returning a punt for a touchdown is a rare thing, and he was at home, in the rain.
He also proceeded to fumble the next punt that was kicked to him. Listen, I'm glad they upset San Diego at home, but it might be the only good thing that happens all year.
Winner: Cleveland Browns (that's right, I picked the Browns)
Everyone is talking about how much character the Steelers showed when they beat the Falcons without Ben Roethlisberger.
That's all well and good, but the Falcons are not a great team, by any means, and the Steelers had to go into overtime to beat them.
Dennis Dixon looks like the unseasoned QB he is, and the run game went nowhere.
The Titans looked terrific against the Raiders, but, really, who doesn't look good against the Raiders?
Vince Young looked poised and ready to lead the team, and Chris Johnson, despite a slow start, gave a jaw-dropping performance as always.
They say Pittsburgh has a stout defense, but is it stout enough to stop CJ2K? The answer is...no, just no.
Winner: Tennessee Titans
The Bears, despite Jay Cutler's lack of interceptions (he only had one!), still almost lost to the Detroit Lions. Their only saving grace was that the NFL has inane rules about how to come down with a ball.
I saw how bad they were in the red zone, and all those times they tried to smash it in from the half-inch line (but failed...horribly). Their only hope this week is that the Cowboys get even more penalties.
Dallas needs to take games more seriously. Going for it 3 seconds before the half when your offense hasn't done squat? Really, Dallas, really?
Also, just have your o-line, like, show up, and you'll be golden, and any defense can force an interception from Jay Cutler, so you're probably solid there.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
As much as I would love to pick the Cardinals in this game, I just can't.
I really hope Derek Anderson does well there, and I do love Larry Fitzgerald (who doesn't?), but they almost lost to the Rams. The Rams that went 1-15 last year and may do the same again this year.
Atlanta is really angry that a win in Pittsburgh was merely inches away. If Rashard Mendenhall had been just a little slower, or if he fell when he actually just stumbled a bit, they could have put the game away.
It's things like this that make a burned team look for an easy target. Besides, they get to play in the Georgia Dome.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Fortunately for Andy Reid, Kevin Kolb hasn't passed his concussion tests yet, so there's still no quarterback controversy.
In the meantime, he can continue to start the amazing Michael Vick and win games by sheer force of will.
The Detroit Lions suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Bears last week, but what worse is losing Matthew Stafford for four weeks...again.
Maybe the only thing going for them is their defense, but Vick won't let that bother him as he passes for career-high yards and runs all over the place.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
The Dolphins barely beat the Bills last week. That's just sad. How does Miami expect to compete with the Jets and Patriots?
Their weaknesses will be exploited this week and Brett Favre passes up and down the field, Adrian Peterson runs them over, and Jared Allen crushes Chad Henne with his index finger.
The Vikings, for all I just said, really do need to get it together on offense. They looked pathetically meager against the Saints in their season opener.
It almost like they need a light, scrimmage-like game to get them ready for the rest of the season. I know...Dolphins.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Okay, so the Seahawks didn't look as feeble as everyone predicted last week. This team, however, is the runner-up for the "biggest flash in the pan" award I gave to the Chiefs earlier.
They have an old, injury-prone quarterback, a receiver who is known for shanking it, and a coach who cheated when he already had the most unbeatable team in college history. Seattle, your luck has run out.
The Broncos will not have the season they did last year, and that's not saying much. They exploded out of the gate and then fizzled. Let's try for a slow simmer this year.
You really need to get Tebow out there more, and don't worry, there's no Maurice Jones-Drew this week.
Winner: Denver Broncos
The Rams almost beat the Cardinals. Sam Bradford showed that he really could lead an NFL team down the field.
However, the Rams are looking ragged already, and now they have to go on the road into one of the most hostile stadiums around. Not looking so good anymore.
The Raiders looked, how should I say this, terrible against the Titans. It was almost like they didn't practice.
Fortunately, the Rams have no defense and are, as I said before, riddled with injuries coming into the "Black Hole."
Winner: Oakland Raiders
Dear Texans, I'm sorry for making fun of your secondary last week. Sincerely, Steve.
Seriously, where did that defense come from? And who is Arian Foster? Matt Schaub might be the fantasy stud on that team (and Andre Johnson, of course), but whoever picked up this guy as a flex player was partying all night long.
Who knew that anyone could so utterly destroy the Colts' grip on their division?
That said, the Redskins have little to no chance this week. They showed they had a great defense last week, but the extreme number of Dallas penalties is what really saved them from total humiliation.
If Foster has another great week, the Redskins will get run over.
Winner: Houston Texans
Tom Brady is back. I think I said that last year at some point, but I can really mean it now.
He destroyed the Bengals' defense (with the help of Wes Welker) and will look to do the same this week.
If anything can be taken from the Ravens-Jets meat-grinder, it's that the Jets defense is not invincible, and that a skilled technician can dissect it with great success.
The Jets want to win this game, bad. It's at home, it's against the Pats, and they need to find some excuse to bring back their shameless self-promotion and reporter harassment.
Unfortunately for them, they lost their nose tackle and are glaringly over-hyped. How sad.
Winner: New England Patriots
As much as I love Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard, and as much as I would love to think that the Jags can continue with what the started in Week 1, I know better.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me thousands of times, shame on me. The Jags can never keep it together, and after being embarrassed by the Chiefs, San Diego will not lose two in a row.
The Chargers looked very out of character last week. Maybe it was the late start time, or the rain, or the fact that they probably just mocked the Chiefs as opposed to preparing.
Either way, this is not a team likely to make the same mistakes twice. Look for them to completely own this game, their home opener.
Winner: San Diego Chargers
When I was looking for pictures for this slide, my only results for "giants colts" were buddy-buddy pictures of Peyton and Eli at their summer football youth camp, or pictures of the Jets and the Colts.
Maybe the search engine just couldn't imagine the sheer awesomeness of Manning on Manning violence in the form of a football game.
The Giants got off to a bad start against Carolina last week. They were able to soundly defeat them in the end, but that kind of start against the Colts is a disaster waiting to happen...and a good way to find yourself down 21-0.
Look for Eli to play smoother and more consistently, but his defense is still shaky.
The Colts are mortified that an upstart expansion team could beat them. For the first time ever, they have to actually defend their AFC South title.
As long as Peyton doesn't pull a big-brother and let Eli win (which I highly doubt would ever happen in that family) look for him to make Thanksgiving awkward in the Manning house.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
New Orleans is still the team to beat this year. Drew Brees, while a bit slow at first, eventually began dissecting the Minnesota defense little by little.
He'll have to use the same slow-but-steady approach this week as well, with the 49ers being one of the best-ranked defenses of last year.
San Francisco was a dud in Week 1. I can't tell you why, and I don't think Mike Singletary can either.
The point is, they won't be that bad this week. Their defense will hit hard, and their run game will be up to par. Will it be enough to win, though? Probably not.
Winner: New Orleans Saints
As always, I end with my pick for who will play, and win, the Super Bowl this season. It's very similar to last week, just the other way around.
Super Bowl Prediction: New England Patriots OVER Green Bay Packers
See you next week, after another exciting Sunday (and Monday) of football.