NFL Week One: What To Watch for
Perhaps I'm acting a bit prematurely with this article. After all, there's still a whole week left before every NFL team will have a result in the scorebook. But I just can't wait. Especially when I'm being tortured with non-competitive, cupcake college games.
There's no reason to fret, though. In a matter of a few short days, the big boys will finally be on TV and will take control of the sports pages. Everything will be right in the universe. Here's what to look for in Week One.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Who would've thought that a Week One pairing between teams who totaled five wins between them last season would be one of the most highly-anticipated games of the weekend?
It's a day that Jets fans have been waiting for, and that Packers fans have been dreading. Brett Favre will make his first appearance as the leader of the New York Bretts...Jets...and he'll do it against a largely suspect team of Miami Dolphins.
For Miami, it'll be the first game under the control of the Parcells-Spagnuolo regime and it'll feature Ricky Williams (yeah, that Ricky Williams) as Miami's starting tailback. And did I mention that former Jets starting quarterback Chad Pennington is playing for the Dolphins now?
While this game will be mostly meaningless, because neither team will contend for the division crown, it will be interesting to see how Favre starts his Jets career and how the Dolphins start their rebound from 1-15.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Both of these playoff teams from last year will be in heated competition with the Colts in the AFC South this season. The winner of this game will have the early advantage in the playoff chase.
Fans will see if Vince Young is ready to take the next step and advance out of NFL Offenses 101 and take an upper-division course in defense recognition.
It'll be year two for Jacksonville's QB David Garrard, and the expectations will be cranked up even higher after a competitive game with New England in last year's playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Hopefully, the city of New Orleans will be ready to host an NFL game next Sunday. Hurricane Gustav should be out of the area by then, and residents should be ready to support their Saints as another season kicks off.
This matchup will showcase the two best teams of the NFC South. It will pit an explosive offense (New Orleans) against an always-formidable defense (Tampa Bay).
What might be even more interesting to watch is how Tampa Bay's middling offensive unit moves the ball against New Orleans's porous defense. How these units perform might make up the difference between first and second place in the NFC South.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Finally the main event that could have been even more spectacular for different reasons at various points of the offseason.
First, this was supposed to be the night Brett Favre's No. 4 was going to be retired by the Packers. Then, there was speculation that Favre might be playing in this game as a member of the Vikings.
Now, Favre is playing with the Jets, and this is just a matchup of two teams with good defenses and question marks at quarterback.
Tarvaris Jackson will enter his third year as a Viking and will mark his first opening-day (or night) start. Aaron Rodgers will take the reins of a Packer team that has known only one quarterback for 16 years.
All this pressure on the two most important players on the field will certainly make for some compelling prime-time television on Monday Night Football.
This will also be the first step in each team's journey to a divisional crown and playoff berth. The winner of this game, much like the winner of Tennessee-Jacksonville, will have the upper hand right off the bat.
Now I'll feel sorry for college football fans, who are stuck watching Oklahoma disembowel opponents that shouldn't even be on the same field with them, while NFL fans are thrust right into the excitement that is professional football.
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