I don't know about you, but I have been waiting too long for this. Real, meaningful, NFL football is back! No more meaningless preseason games that only serve to injure key players. Every game counts, as teams take their first step towards an NFL title.
The season begins on Thursday with a classic NFC East rivalry. The best conference in football will showcase the defending champions and the most inspirational story from last year (RIP Sean).
This game should be a classic NFC East game, where the running games will be the key to victory
The Redskins made a big splash this offseason by trading for Jason Taylor. This will help their pass rush, which is very important for the Redskins. The secondary is a problem for the Redskins. They don't have a shutdown corner, and Springs is a year older. The safeties aren't the greatest in the world, especially after the tragic loss of Sean Taylor.
The LB corps doesn't look that impressive, but Fletcher is a good performer every year and is a leader on that team
On the offensive side of the football, everything rides on the health of the offensive line and the ability for Jason Campbell to continue his growth and grasp a new offensive system.
Samuels needs to stay healthy, and second-year tackle Stephon Heyer needs to show that he can replace Jansen as a blocker and a leader on that offensive line. The change in offense is something that Jason Campbell needs to grasp, or the Redskins are going to be in a world of hurt.
The Giants' defense is solid, despite the loss of Strahan and Osi. Tuck and Kiwanuka will still provide a potent pass rush, and unlike the Redskins, the secondary has improved from last year. This year, Aaron Ross has become the CB the Giants have looked for. Corey Webster has regained his confidence will be a solid No. 2 corner.
The X-factor will be the play of rookie Terrell Thomas. At nickel, his physicality can help jam receivers at the line. Gibril Wilson was only a good player due to that line, but Kenny Phillips has looked explosive and is a playmaker on defense.
The offense is only going to get better for the Giants. Healthy RBs are going to give the Giants a number of rushing options, and the evolution of Eli Manning, along with the drafting of Manningham and the blossoming of Smith and Hixon, gives the Giants depth at WR.
But as I stated earlier, this game will come down to the running game.
The Giants have a much better rushing attack and will benefit from taking an early lead. Eli should continue the form he had in the playoffs, making smart decisions and limiting his mistakes.
Though I think this is Jason Campbell's breakout season, the first regular-season game with a new offensive system will cause the Redskins to struggle. Especially against the Giants' pass rush and the playmakers in the secondary.
Look for the Redskins' offense to make some mistakes, leading to turnovers and points for the G-Men. The only way for the Redskins to win is to take the lead and hope that Portis and Betts run all over the Giants. I don't see that happening, and I predict the Giants to win the first game of the season.