Sunday Morning Under the Helmet: Three Things To Watch for in NFL Week One

Alex JohnsonCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 07:  The San Diego Chargers walk through their inflatible helmet during pregame introductions before the game with the Carolina Panthers on September 7, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Panthers won 26-24.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It's finally here!

After seven long months of waiting, the NFL kickoff weekend is here.

The National Football League is all about excitement, surprises, and shockers. Every Sunday morning we'll take a trip around the league and look at three things you have to watch for, and might surprise you.

1. Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears...an offensive shootout?

Is it Packers vs. Bears or Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler? This matchup has been hyped up as a battle between two of the league's best young quarterbacks.

Rodgers is in his second season as Brett Favre's replacement; Cutler is in his first year as a Bear after being traded from Denver in the offseason.

Who would've ever thought a Packers-Bears game would be an offensive showdown?  But that's exactly what it's going to be.

With Cutler, the Bears' pass offense is finally legit. Cutler will also help running back Matt Forte get more room to run. The Bears no longer have to rely solely on their defense, which makes them a scary team for 2009.

Rodgers and the Packers' offense are also an explosive crew. With Greg Jennings and Donald Driver on the outsides, and Ryan Grant carrying the rock, we could see a plethora of points put up by the Pack.

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So forget about the defenses and watch these two team's light up the scoreboard on Sunday night.

2. Small names who will put up big numbers

We always talk about what the "big-name players" will do. But today we'll look at what some of the lesser known guys will do week one.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back, is out of the Week One matchup versus the Detroit Lions. Who will replace him? A guy named Mike Bell.

Obviously Reggie Bush will get his touches, but Bell will likely see between 13 and 18 carries Sunday.

Bell ran for 677 yards on 157 carries (a 4.3 yards-per-carry average) in 2006 with the Denver Broncos, so he has proven he can run hard.

Bell goes against a Lions defense that ranked last in both rushing yards allowed and points allowed in 2008 and hasn't seen too many significant improvements since.

Expect Bell to rip it up on the ground Week One.

Another name to watch is a guy also from the Saints: wide receiver Lance Moore.

Moore is a very underrated receiver and goes against the same lowly Lions defense.

Moore caught 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns in '08. He also has '08's top quarterback (in terms of passing yardage) throwing to him.

Expect Moore to post big numbers against Detroit.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry could also have a big Week One.

He goes against a weak Denver Broncos defense that ranked 26th against the pass in '08.

Henry will see more time on the field now that T.J. Houshmandzadeh is in Seattle.

Henry has shown big-play ability in his career despite his off-field troubles, and quarterback Carson Palmer has called him "Randy Moss Jr."

Watch for Henry to put up Moss-like numbers against the Broncos.

3. Tom Brady's return and T.O. in Buffalo

Every NFL game features its very own, unique story lines. The Patriots-Bills Monday night showdown is filled with some intriguing story lines, with the biggest including Terrell Owens' debut as a Buffalo Bill and Tom Brady's return from injury.

Brady's 2008 season ended early in the Week One matchup versus the Kansas City Chiefs, when Bernard Pollard fell into the 2007 MVP's left knee, causing serious injury.

Brady had reconstructive knee surgery and rehabbed enough to return to health. 

We know he's now healthy, so the only question that remains is whether he will be the same Tom Terrific that threw for 50 touchdowns in '07.

Owens was released from the Dallas Cowboys early in the offseason, presumably because of rumored locker room issues between him and quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten toward the end of last year.

He will be joining Lee Evans on the wide receiver depth chart and could possibly have a big year for the Bills.

T.O. missed most of the preseason with a toe injury but is expected to be fine for Monday night.

All eyes will be on this game to see the Brady vs. T.O. show.

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