Interesting topics for Week 1

Figured we’d take a look at an interesting topic or two for each game on the schedule this week, while I’m between calls here. Hope you guys had a great holiday weekend.

Steelers vs. Titans — Tennessee could use a tip-top WR Nate Washington to try to get that vertical game going, and I imagine he will play but might be limited. Some people are down on RB Willie Parker, but I think he will remain a workhorse there, and this is a great first test for the post-Albert Haynesworth Titans defensive line.

Falcons vs. Dolphins — TE Tony Gonzalezis going to provide some matchup issues for those Miami edge players who like to rush (OLBs Joey Porter and Jason Taylor). Very intrigued to see how much Wildcat the Dolphins run this season, and if/when QB Pat White gets some work in the RB Ronnie Brown role.

Panthers vs. Eagles — How many carries does RB Brian Westbrook have in him after missing so much time? Will Andy Reid try to attack a vulnerable run-stopping interior defense, or stick with his pass-heavy ways? I’m not sure defensive coordinator Sean McDermott can deploy the varied blitzes the way Jim Johnson did, and Carolina’s banged-up backfield could be called on for a heavy workload.

Bengals vs. Broncos — Okay, for a game between two non-playoff teams there are sure to be plenty of eyes on this one. Does WR Brandon Marshall play? Can QB Kyle Orton play (doubtful to me) and if he can’t, does Tom Brandstater get the call (wouldn’t be stunned). Will WR Chad Ochocinco test the league’s new Twitter rules? The Josh McDaniels’ era also begins in Denver.

Browns vs. Vikings — No lack of cloak-and-dagger stuff here. Browns coach Eric Mangini won’t reveal his starting QB and Vikes coach Brad Childress won’t say who will be his No. 2. Tune in for all of this and more!

Texans vs. Jets — Rookie QB Mark Sanchez gets to face a team that has suffered on D and is coming off a rough preseason, with top CB Dunta Robinson sitting out all of the preseason waiting to sign his franchise tag. I have a feeling this is going to be a big, big season for Jets RB Leon Washington.

Colts. Vs. JaguarsPeyton Manning is healthy out of the box for the Colts, but given their issues at tackle, how long will that remain the case? Guessing the Colts going to have to grind things out on the ground a little more. Jaguars need to re-establish their physical identity. Could be a long year for them.

Saints vs. Lions — Will the Lions losing streak continue? I tend to think so. Rookie QB Matthew Stafford faces a defense that will be much more aggressive under Gregg Williams. And the Saints shouldn’t have too much difficulty scoring points on anyone. Lions coach Jim Schwartz makes his debut.

Ravens vs. Chiefs — I expect Matt Cassel to start the game under center for KC … not so sure he will finish it against this defense. Ravens expect to have OLB Terrell Suggs back and ready to go.  Todd Haley, in his first game as a head coach, has plenty to juggle now that he’s calling plays, too.

Buccaneers vs. Cowboys — Congrats to RB Cadillac Williams for making it back from another major knee surgery. Not sure he will be enough — or the running back by committee approach –given some of the limitations on offense. Dallas will be looking for a quick start from WR Roy Williams with T.O. gone, but I’m watching TE Martellus Bennett, RB Felix Jones, and, as always TE Jason Witten

Cardinals vs. 49ers — This isn’t a joke game anymore. This one could loom large come January. Didn’t like a lot of what I saw from the Cards in the preseason and I worry about a Super Bowl hangover from them. Rookie holdout Michael Crabtree will be watching from home as the 49ers play smashmouth football and youngster Josh Morgan gets the starting WR spot that Crabtree should have claimed.

Giants vs. Redskins — Will anyone besides TE Chris Cooley or WR Santana Moss do anything in the Skins’ passing game this season? Will Washington’s tackles be able to withstand New York’s studs on the edge? Both teams can play defense, and the Giants are sure hoping that rookie WR Hakeem Nicks continues his production from the preseason. They need some go-to targets to emerge.

Seahawks vs. Rams — My prediction of a division title for Seattle could go down in flames with a loss here. Okay, so it’s still a little early for that. This isn’t a bad way for a Hawks team nursing some offensive line issues to enter the season, though. I think Steve Spagnuolo gets the Rams playing with more passion and fire, if nothing else.

Packers vs. Bears — Another game that could end up helping decide a division title. Can the Packers maintain their robust momentum coming out of the preseason? Bears fans are hoping they get the chance to deify QB Jay Cutler, starved for a franchise quarterback for so long. What a great way to end the first Sunday of football.

Patriots vs. Bills — I smell a blowout here. Bills had a tumultuous preseason during which the offense flatlined. Patriots are highly motivated and I like their chances to do big things this season. Might not be much of a game by halftime, but, come guys, it’s the first Monday Night Football game of the year. Throw in the T.O. factor (will this game be on up against his reality show?) and you’ve got to stay tuned, because we’re not done yet with the nightcap coming up …

Raiders vs. Chargers — Okay, this one could get plenty lopsided, too. The Raiders are a mess. The Chargers, I believe, will run away and hide in the AFC West. But it’s a rivalry game and it’s Tom Cable’s first season-opener and I think QB JaMarcus Russell is going to make some nice strides this season. Just worry about who he has to throw the ball too. Might end up seeing RB Darren McFadden lined up more in the slot.

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