Well football fans, the time has come!
Tonight at 8:30 PM EST, we will see a matchup of the last two Super Bowl champions.
In what is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated game the NFL has shown us since the last lockout, a couple of decades ago, I expect a close game to the finish. Week 1 has several key matchups, including divisional rivalries.
I will make predictions for each game of Week 1, and share my opinions on why I feel the way I do.
Feel free to comment as to why you agree or disagree, and we will see what Week 1 has in store!
The Packers are coming off of a dream season-winning the Super Bowl.
All too often, it seems teams have a letdown after an appearance in the Super Bowl.
I don't see this happening to the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
With one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers, the sky is the limit once again. Ryan Grant is returning, along with several other players who were injured.
The defenses are both solid, but we know Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers can light up any secondary.
This game will come down to whoever protects the ball and generates pressure on the quarterbacks.
If neither defense can get a stop, we are looking at a shootout.
In my opinion, however, both teams will be a bit sluggish due to the crazy offseason.
The Saints win, 24-21.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have beaten the Baltimore Ravens seven straight games with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
As often as this game is called a rivalry, it is actually quite the opposite.
While the games are physical and often close, the Steelers have owned the Ravens. Joe Flacco doesn't come up big when he is needed, or hasn't in the past.
If he wants to be included with elite QB's, Flacco has to start proving himself worthy this weekend.
I don't see this happening with the Steelers returning one of the league's best defenses, and Big Ben of course.
Steelers win 34-17.
As good as Matt Ryan is, their secondary still leaves much to be desired.
This forces him to be near perfect in a close game which is a recipe for disaster.
As we saw in the playoff game last season, Matt Ryan was flustered and forced into several mistakes by the Green Bay Packers. The Bears defense has the potential to be great, and I think they will be.
Jay Cutler is also underrated in my opinion.
People forget how often he gets sacked, so it's no wonder he was injured and frustrated. If he gets some protection, he can throw the ball as well as anybody.
I see the Bears pulling off the minor upset at home, 24-14.
Not a whole lot to say about this one.
The Bengals are coming into the season with a rookie QB and a running back coming out of jail.
This team is going to be awful. Their defense is athletic enough to keep them in games, but I can't see how they will score very often.
The Cleveland Browns are improving each year under Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis.
I see the Browns running over the Bengals, 27-9.
I've heard a lot of people saying the Chiefs were a one-year wonder last season. Some say they will take a huge step back, while others see an average year around 8-8. I'm not one of those people, because all of the pieces are there for another playoff push.
Matt Cassel isn't a great quarterback, and neither is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both of these guys are classic game managers with some experience.
Running back Jamaal Charles is the player I see giving the Chiefs the edge in this one.
The Bills have improved and have a lot of talent on the roster, but they are a couple of years away.
Chiefs win, 17-13.
Many people, including, myself have the Eagles contending for the NFC championship this season.
As bad a Michael Vick has looked this preseason, I still feel this way. There is way too much talent on this team for the Eagles to fall flat on their collective faces.
The Young Rams have the leadership of Steven Jackson, but I'm still not sold on Sam Bradford.
Bradford looks great at times and lost others, which is normal for a rookie QB. There is just something about his game I don't like.
I see the Eagles pulling away and winning 27 to 13.
This is a match up of two of the most overrated teams in the NFL.
The Lions are always a sleeper pick along with the Houston Texans, but always fail to deliver.
Matthew Stafford simply cannot stay healthy, and until he proves he can I refuse to believe the hype.
Tampa Bay is good and I think Freeman is a potentially great QB, but I need to see more.
Blount is a man among boys, and will prove too much for the Lions defense.
As much a I like the Lions' defensive line, Freeman has the ability to get rid of the ball quickly and move effectively.
The Bucs win this one 24-17.
This will be an ugly game.
Matt Hasselbeck is an adequate quarterback, but coupled with Chris Johnson he should have enough in the tank to win this one.
Jacksonville made a horrible decision releasing David Garrard, especially a few days before opening weekend. He has been a good player for quite a while, yet they feel it is a good move to go into the season with a journeyman and a rookie.
To top that off, they have no major threats outside of Maurice Jones Drew. Stack the box and make an average to bad quarterback beat you, and you can make Jones Drew a non-factor.
Titans win 27-6.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Titans fans all around the country are crying today after hearing Peyton Manning may be done for at least two months. Luckily, Kerry Collins is more than capable of winning games, as he proved in Tennessee just a couple seasons ago.
Houston is another one of those teams who is given a lot of praise, yet fails when it matters the most. If they don't at least win the division this year without having to worry about Peyton Manning, they may never do it.
While talented, the Texans defense still isn't that impressive. Their offense is still one of the best in the league, so this could turn into a high scoring affair.
Colts win 27-24.
This is one of the most interesting games on the schedule in week 1.
Can Kevin Kolb prove he is a franchise quarterback?
What about the highly touted rookie, Cam Newton?
Since Kolb has some experience against NFL defenses, I have to give this one to the Cardinals.
Cardinals win, 24-17.
Yet another Intriguing game!
The Viking's defense is good on paper, but they didn't play well last season. I look for them to bounce back in a big way this season.
The Chargers have it all, yet much like the Ravens fail to win when it matters most.
Phillip Rivers is one of the best QB's in the league fundamentally. He has a tendency to look rushed and force passes at times, but overall plays well under pressure.
The Vikings steal one on the road, 31-17.
Are you ready for the Frank Gore show?
The run game will be the battle of the poor quarterbacks.
Tarvaris Jackson could still develop as a quarterback, but Alex Smith is bad. He was overrated coming into the NFL and is a bust that manages to hang onto an NFL roster.
Frank Gore will run wild in one of the most boring games of the week.
49ers win 14-6.
You would think the Giants should win this one easily.
They have a better player at almost every position, and Washington is in shambles.
Surprisingly enough, I think Rex Grossman will play well. I also think the Giants losing five key defensive players for the season will keep them from doing much in the playoffs, if they are lucky enough to get a wild card.
Still, they should have enough to win, barely.
Giants beat an inspired Redskins team 24-21.
I think Tony Romo is average at best and a playoff choker.
Thing is, the guy gets the job done during the regular season. That and the Cowboys are a talented bunch looking to rebound from an injury-plagued season.
The Jets are always in the mix with a stingy defense and a solid game manager in Mark Sanchez.
If the Cowboys play to their potential, this will be one of the best games of the week.
Cowboys win 27-23.
The Patriots are who we thought they were. One of the best teams in the league, again.
As much as I hate to say it, New England will win their division handily. In this game, Miami has to establish the run and control the clock to keep it close.
I see them doing this early, but then a couple of turnovers will seal the deal.
Patriots win 34-21.
Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell are both coming into this season with a lot to prove.
Not only that, but both of them were discussed in trades when the lockout lifted. Jobs are always on the line, especially for these two.
Oakland has a defense that can win games for them-if they can muster to score when the opportunity presents itself. Settling for field goals just won't cut it.
Denver has a weak secondary with solid LB's and DE's.
This game is going to come down to execution.
Raiders win 17-13.