Hello all and welcome to the 2012-13 NFL season, I hope you enjoy your stay.
So the opening game on wednesday saw the defending Champion New York Giants fall to their division rivals Dallas Cowboys in an impressive display and thoroughly enjoyable opener. Now it's everyone else's turn!
6pm (Sky Sports) Indianapolis Colts @ Chicago Bears
Should be an interesting one, can Andrew Luck prove himself to all the hype? Were the Colts right to essentially throw an entire season and the man who single-handedly made their franchise on the scrap in order to get him? The Colts still have a long way to go to return to the dominance of the Peyton Manning era, as their defence still needs building and they many of the guys who he used to throw to have since gone. They've gone complete overhaul so don't expect any miracles.
Da Bears however have been quietly growing in confidence over the last couple years (sneaking into the playoffs for the first time in what feels like ages) and look to build on that momentum. If they can stay fit they could well once again be the sleeper-package of 2012. They've managed to hang on to the majority of the team they've been building and with the homefield advantage should be able to keep this one under control.
Prediction: 14 - 24 Bears
Sunday 9:25pm (Sky Sports) San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
This should be a real cracker to wake up the season. The Packers should have been perfect last year, but they fell apart at one of the last hurdles. The Niners were the surprise package but made sure to justify their hype by getting all the way to the NFC final. Sadly for both these teams last year, a plucky young Eli Manning and his New York Giants stood in their way as they raced to the finish line.
The Niners will look to prove they weren't overachievers last year, and there won't be a bigger place for this than away to the formidable Packers. Green Bay will still feel slightly aggrieved they didn't win back-to-back titles last year, and having more or less the same team that has been so dominant over the past couple years, will look to prove a point to the rest of the league themselves. The John Harbaugh led Niners have one of the best defences in the league however and will want to upset their bitter, historic rivals. This should be a real thriller that could well be left in the balance, I'm only going with the slight advantage of being in Green Bay for this one:
San Francisco 17 - Green Bay 21
Sunday/Monday 1am (Channel 4) - Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
And if that wasn't enough, this should be a fascinating one. Peyton Manning's Broncos have looked pretty strong over the pre-season and have some history battling Ben Roethlisberger over the years leading this to be quite a mouth-watering affair.
The Steelers will be out for retribution after this being where they played their last competitive match, losing to Tim Tebow in overtime in the first round of the playoffs last season. In Tebow's place is an older but much, much more talented quarterback who seems to be hitting the targets Tebow fluked to last year with ease. Not to mention the real reason the Broncos were so successful last year; their highly underrated defence, meaning this will be one hard-hitting match. I like Peyton to get his first win here throwing mile-high passes in the high-altitude rockies, what with the Steelers over just resolving their receiver issues, but my, it will be tough.
Pittsburgh 10 - Denver 14.
Monday/Tuesday 12am (BBC!!!!!) Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
Here we have an early division match between the never say die Bengals and (glorious - ed.) Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals impressed many last year with a team of focused, young players, lacking stars or distracting egos. Unfortunately they couldn't do much in the playoffs, but the Bengals had much to feel good about going into this season and in acquiring The Law Firm from New England, have added an extra dimension to their attack.
Like many of the teams already mentioned Baltimore have a lot of skeletons to rid of after a disappointing end (less said about that the better, thanks) to the previous season but Terrell Suggs injury notwithstanding, the Ravens will be a force to reckon with. I personally think we missed on our best (probably only) chance of winning a title last year as our best guys just keep getting older, but also with a weaker AFC, having one hand on the Championship and a ticket to the Superbowl, for want of that fateful last minute agonising fuck up. I'm confident about tomorrow however simply because, we just don't lose at home to the Bengals. Sorry.
Cincy 10 - Baltimore 17.
Monday/Tuesday 3:15am (BBC Red Button) San Diego vs Oakland Raiders.
This is always a fun one. These two teams almost always kick off the Monday night double-bill representing the West Coast and there is no love lost in this California-via-LA rivalry. The Chargers are the forever perennial underachievers and one of the most frustrating teams in the league. They are a team who are constantly tipped to be challenging for the superbowl, because they should be; when they're at their best they are one of the most fun and exciting teams in the league. But they always inexplicably fuck-up, and recently the Raiders have been the team to pick up the pieces of the implosion that they often cause. The Raiders, like the Bengals, are a young team of talented players who were extremely unlucky to miss the playoffs last year. If they can stay fit they should be able to do the business this time around, but you really can never tell with the West Coast anymore. Anyway, I'm going Chargers because they should win, but am fully away this may not be the case and would never put money on it.
San Diego 24 - Oakland 17
and the rest:
Jacksonville Jaguars 10 Minnesota Vikings 14 (zzzzzzz)
Buffalo Bills 14 New York Jets 10 (lol, Tebow time coming)
Miami Dolphins 7 Houston Texans 21
New England Patriots 24 Tennessee Titans 10
St. Louis Rans 7 Detroit Lions 28
Washington Redskins 14 New Orleans Saints 17
Philadelphia Eagles 21 Cleveland Browns 6
Atlanta Falcons 14 Kansas City Chiefs 17 (Chiefs are being tipped by many as this years sleeper-pick, and I'm willing to go along with it, for now anyway)
Seattle Seahawks 17 Arizona Cardinals 14
Carolina Panthers 24 Tampa Bay Bucs 9
So, YOU?! What do you plan to do this opening weekend? Who will you be watching, how are you feeling about your respective teams, fantasy prospects etc? ARE WE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?