COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
NFL fans, rejoice. Not only am I finally bringing the subject to the forefront of discussion, but you only have to wait another couple of days for the regular season to start. The defending champion Patriots and Raiders will kickoff at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Though I have always preferred college football to the pros, I'm particularly excited about this season. New England is trying to become the first team ever to three-peat (I, personally, don't think they'll do it,) the Steelers are looking to leapfrog the Pats and head to the Super Bowl, the Eagles will try to win one (No more T.O. drama, please!) the Bengals look to make the playoffs for the first time since 1990, and the Browns under Romeo Crennel, have nowhere to go but up.
Week 1 presents the first of the all-Ohio matchups with Cincinnati visiting Cleveland. Though a 58-48 shootout would be fun again, don't expect it, as both teams defenses aren't THAT terrible anymore, and neither team's offense is clicking well enough yet to light up the scoreboard like that. It will be interesting to see if the Browns can actually mount a running attack this year with their three-headed monster of Green, Suggs (who's injured, not surprisingly) and Reuben Droughns. Expect Droughns, who rushed for 1,200+ yards last year with Denver, to emerge as the feature back, and expect William Green to have another drug conviction. Dilfer will start, but expect Charlie Frye, the Akron product and graduate of my high school's rival Willard, to get his shot as a starter sometime late in the year.
I am going to boldly predict that the often-coined "Bungles" will leave that dubious nickname in the dust this year. They WILL make the playoffs. At this point, I'll say 10 wins and a wildcard, finishing behind Pittsburgh. Get used to hearing "Palmer complete to Johnson" or "Palmer complete to Houshmandzadeh." Barring injuries, this offense is going to put up a lot of points. They won't neccessarily do it on Week 1, though. More on this coming later this week.
Make sure you tune into the U.S. Open Wednesday evening. James Blake, who beat Robredo to keep his momentum going, will face Andre Agassi. Two Americans will battle it out on an American stage. Does it make me a hyper-patriot to be really excited for this?
To the AL Wildcard--the Tribe beats the Tigers 2-0 on Labor Day behind a terrific outing from "Big Start Scott" Elarton. The A's lost, so the Indians are tied with Oakland for second in the race, 1.5 games behind the evil empire in New York. The Tribe will send up Cliff Lee tonight in Detroit, and the offense always seems to hit for him. Cleveland is 6-1 in Detroit so far this year.
Thanks for reading, and if you get the chance, drop me a comment with your preseason choices to make the Super Bowl. Mine? The Steelers out of the AFC, and the Vikings out of the NFC.