WAS @ NYG - WAS - Strahan retired and Umenyiora is out for the season. While I believe that the Giants will still be able to apply some pressure on opposing QB's with Kiwanuka and Tuck, the overall pass-rush for the team will almost certainly decline with the loss of two of the top pass-rushers in the league. Both Tuck and Kiwanuka are playing out of their positions from last season, in which that prolific pass-rush won them a superbowl against the unbeatable Patriots. I'm sure there will be those who disagree claiming the current champions will be motivated to play well due to the lack of coverage surrounding them following a superbowl win. Well, let's not forget that the Redskins snuck into a wild card last year and, much like the Giants, will be looking to prove that they aren't a fluke. Besides, this division is so closely contested, it's all up for grabs in the NFC East.
DET @ ATL - DET - The Lions were the only team to go undefeated in the preseason this year. They are a talented team that wants to answer after starting off the 2007 campaign at 6-2 only to finish out of the playoff race and tied with Chicago for last in the division after winning only one of thier last eight regular season contests. You don't think this team wants to prove themselves? The Lions will be hungry in 2008 and I will not be surprised to see them give Minnesota a run for the division title. Detroit has a very young, very talented receiving receiving corps and whatever can be said for Kitna, he's a gunslinger that plays hard and with a lot of emotion. He passed for over 4,000 yards last year. If Kitna can get the interception totals down and throw for 25 or more TD's this year, the Lions will be scary. Now on to Atlanta... While I think Turner was a good acquisition for them and that he should have a good season, the Falcons are also throwing their 1st-round rookie QB into the fire as the starter for them this season. I'm not doubting Matt Ryan's abilities but it will be nothing short of a miracle if he can keep the Falcons out of the cellar in his first NFL season without the benefit of having any veteran tutelage beforehand.
SEA @ BUF - BUF - The Bills will be downright scary this year. This is a team that showed they were really starting to come together last season. Seattle, on the other hand, is on the way out. Hasselbeck has been having some back trouble and isn't getting any younger. His recieving corps has also been riddled with injuries this preseason. I may just be blowing smoke but I really don't look Seattle to do much this year. The Seahawks have claimed the title in football's crappiest division four years in a row. Isn't it time for somebody else to step up and suck a little less?
NYJ @ MIA - NYJ - Brett Favre will show the world why Pennington is now a Miami Dolphin. Favre has always had fun with the game-- like a kid in a school yard. Now he gets the excitement of joining a new team and the freedom of running a 'simple' offense. I know he's getting old but Brett Favre is still young at heart. Look for him to have a good year as long as the Jets can keep him protected and healthy. Miami will surely be better than last year but they just aren't quite ready for the New York Bretts.
CIN @ BAL - BAL - Let's see. A QB without a team or a team without a QB...? I'll take the team without the QB. Flacco is still an unproven commodity and at least it's not Kyle Boller starting for the Ravens yet again. Aside from Carson Palmer, the Bengals also have some of the top receivers in the league but the two biggest names from that list have been dinged up in the preseason and nobody really knows how serious Chad Johnson's injury really is.
KC @ NE - KC - Okay, now the homer in me takes over. The Patriots won as many games this preseason as Tom Brady took snaps-- zero. The Patriots have had their day in the sun and now it's somebody else's turn. Though uncommon with Belichick-coached football teams, the Patriots honestly may be looking past the Chiefs who really wouldn't seem that much of a threat. And can you blame them? 4-12 last season and the Chiefs have stuck to their same guns that seemed to misfire last year, hanging their hopes on Brodie Croyle-- a QB that is still winless in the regular season after six starts. However, the Chiefs are young and starting so many young players and rookies places your team in that echelon of the unknown. The Chiefs can go either way this season. Hopefully, it will be in the right direction.
STL @ PHI - PHI - Westbrook still can put up sick fantasy numbers and McNabb is still not one to be counted out if he can stay healthy. Steven Jackson is coming off a 27-day holdout and has not seen any action since week 17 of last season. Plus, the Eagles come from one of the most competitive and closely contested divisions in all of football where all four teams are legitimate playoff contenders. The Rams, however, come from the NFL's weakest division. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. What does kill you is not being strong enough.
JAC @ TEN - JAC - They're going to be tough. Count on it. MJD is like a bowling ball with butcher knives on it. Garrard is consistent, (only throwing three picks last season) while Vince Young has struggled this preseason. Defensively, both of these teams are pretty good and this may be one of the closest contests this opening weekend has to offer.
HOU @ PIT - PIT - Houston keeps improving but the Steelers know how to win and seem to find a way to do so more often than not. Willie Parker is still fast and now they have the rookie explosion in Rashard Mendenhall as well. Big Ben has proved that he belongs and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, the Texans have a rather large question mark in the form of Amahn Green-- a 31-year-old running back who has missed more than half of the season due to injury two out of the last three years.
TB @ NO - NO - The fact that the Saints are not playing in the Superdome will not hinder them. This is a good team that knows they belong in contention. Beating a quality team like Tampa will only help them prove it. I think this has potential to be on of the most exciting games this week and also one of the most intense division rivalries of the year. These two teams will be going after each other for sure.
DAL @ CLE - DAL - The Browns have been pretty banged-up this preseason with the concussion to Derek Anderson and the laceration on Edwards' foot. The Cowboys look almost unchanged from last season. The Romo-TO and Romo-Witten connections are still online and in service. Even though this game is in Cleveland, Tony Romo will have no trouble dialing long-distance.
ARI @ SF - SF - J.T. O'Sullivan has looked pretty good in the preseason, which I would suppose is why he won the starting job over Alex Smith. Turning a journeyman QB into a prolific passer is something that Mike Martz does extremely well (see Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, and Jon Kitna). Another thing the Niners' new offensive coordinator excels at is giving his running backs space and ample opportunity to make plays. Frank Gore is already one of the premier backs in the league. He could flourish under Martz. With all that being said however, Kurt Warner (named the Cards' starter this preseason) is 7-1 lifetime against the 49ers. I wonder if Whisenhunt will pull him after he goes 7-2...
CAR @ SD - SD - Merriman is hurt and Rivers has been having some trouble with his knee. However, even though I don't think the Chargers will be quite as good as the past few years, they still should have enough to overcome a Steve Smith-less Panthers. DeAngelo Williams has run well in the preseason and Delhomme is back but Smith is a home-run hitter. His actions and suspension will hurt the Panthers for the first couple of weeks this season.
CHI @ IND - IND - The Bears are the only team in the NFL that thinks they can play the game of football without a QB. I can't believe these guys didn't try to acquire somebody through free agency. While the guys that were up for grabs this offseason may not have been a Joe Montana or Brett Favre, they were certainly better than what the Bears currently have. Kyle Orton... Peyton Manning could have multiple surgeries on both knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and wrists then still out-play and out-throw Orton a week later.
MIN @ GB - MIN - Jared Allen asks Aaron Rogers how he likes being a starter in the NFL and then lets him get back up.
DEN @ OAK - OAK - Much like Carolina, the Broncos' best receiving threat is out on suspension. How long do you sit your #1 overall drafted QB? JaMarcus Russell will finally get the nod in Oakland and will be looking to impress against a division rival. DMC provides the Raiders' offense with that home-run capability while Fargas will wear defenses down. The Broncos' 2-back system (Young and Hall) will probably not be as effective. The Raiders will also have their best receiver on the field for this game in Javon Walker. If the Broncos have any edge over Oakland, it may prove to be Cutler over the untried Russell.