With the 2011 NFL season descending upon us like an ancient Persian army, I find myself bracing for the stranglehold I will undoubtedly be caught in over the next 96 hours. As an extremely measured member of the “media”, I understand that the regular season of any professional sport is a race to categorize, scrutinize, and dissect every single team in every possible way in an effort to develop some sort of system through which we can predict the outcome of future games. This, of course, is a fruitless effort. If this exercise had any meaningful impact on the sport, itself, it would be no fun. Still, in your flurry, as fans, to figure out who is good, bad, mediocre, and unbeatable, consider this; This is just one week, and these paper walls we build to separate teams from one another are feeble at best.
Though the games count, the starters will play, and you will be watching real football for the first time in months, I caution you to pull back the reigns just a little bit on this week. Some teams are going to give you reason to believe in them this week. Some others will give you reason to bet their opponents every week for the remainder of the season. Do not react to every one of these influences.
With this warning in place, I wanted to play a game before the season opener tonight. In this game, I will provide you with a glimpse into the near future with some headline predictions for Monday (Tuesday) morning. I will then tell you why what’s taken away from some of these week one match-ups should not be taken too seriously.
1. “The Falcons’ offense did not get any more explosive this off-season”. For some reason, the drafting of Julio Jones this off-season has made fans and analysts alike jump to all kinds of conclusions about Atlanta’s offense being more explosive this year. While I do believe this pass offense will be improved, I do not believe it will be as drastic a change as most people are anticipating. Their week one match-up at Chicago could make that offense look a lot less explosive than we can expect it to be this season.
2. “The Rams are really good this year” As an Eagles fan, I can assure you I have insight into this prediction that you can bank on. I can’t say the Rams will win this game, but I can say that they will look good no matter the outcome. This game is going to be a typical Eagles early season scare. (see Detroit last year). There will be points scored in this game, and you will see a Rams offense that you are not used to. DO NOT BE FOOLED. An inspiring performance by the Rams here may be more indicative of an Eagles’ slow start than a Rams ascent to NFC contention.
3. “Houston is going nowhere and Kubiak is gone. ” That’s right, I really have a strong feeling that the Colts find a way to shock the world and pull this one out with Kerry Collins at the helm. I believe Collins is a lot better than most are giving him credit for and so are the Colts. I wouldn’t react so quickly to this outcome though. This season is a short one, but it’s not that short. I think the Texans may buy themselves some weeks to play(and win) out from under the spotlight with a let down in the opener and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win the division in spite of this set back.
4. “The Giants are contenders.” The Redskins are bad. Stop doing this thing you people do every year and just open your eyes. When a team shows you how bad they are, believe them. In week one, the Giants are going to pound the Redskins thoroughly and look unstoppable doing so. I implore you to see through this farce. The media is putting way too much stock in the Redskins this year and this win will have everyone talking about Big Blue and how they are overcoming their summer set backs. Lies, lies I say, they’re all lies. Stop lying to yourself, to me, just stop it. The Giants will become more of what we’re all expecting them to be, feeling the sting of the injury bug by late September.
5. “Miami is better than we thought.” No they aren’t. They are bad like they’re supposed to be. They just managed to play well enough in a loss to New England that we’re stuck listening to this ESPN fodder pour out of Skip Bayless’s mouth all week long.
Well, that’s all for the warnings. I am giddy like a school girl to get this year underway and I know you all are with me. Just remember as we charge into this hopeless final battle for our Sunday free-time, not everything is quite as it seems.