Its finally here, its time for football to begin.
Over the course of the last 7 months, we've seen a rise of one of the most beleaguered franchises in sports history (New Orleans Saints), we've seen the fall from grace of one of the marquee faces of the league (Ben Roethlisberger), we've seen a face of a franchise get shown no brotherly love (Donovan McNabb), and even a foul-mouthed, pot-belly, charismatic head coach (Rex Ryan) show us the true definition of 'Hard Knocks'.
We could have never predicted what would transcribe over the last seven months, and the prognosticators will have you to believe certain things are facts when in actuality they are just figments of their imagination. So what's really real in 2010? Let me see if I can help out just a bit.
What's A Lie: That there are 3 teams (Cowboys, Vikings, and Packers) that are better than New Orleans this season.
What's The Truth: No team in the NFC knows who they are more than the Saints, and this will bear out over the 17-week season.
From a pure talent perspective, no team stands head and shoulders above the Cowboys and Vikings. No quarterback has been crowned as the new king of QB's quite like Aaron Rodgers has this season. These are all facts, and those teams are deserving for the lofty expectations that have been placed on their shoulders. The problem is that no team has found a way to effectively 100% be who they are on the football field regardless of the situation that's put in front of them. The Saints had the best offense in football last year, they could sufficiently run the ball, they could pass the ball any and everywhere on the field, and defensively they were a ballhawking, disruptive force for opposing offenses. They were the best team in the NFL.
So why can't they do it again? For starters, this is the defense's second full season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The offense is virtually unchanged, and more than anything else Drew Brees looks like he hasn't changed one bit. If he's on point, then the Saints' are on point. The championship goes through New Orleans.
What's A Lie: The divas of the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver core will bring doom to the Queen City.
What's The Truth: Those divas will help a run-oriented, defensively-led team get over the top to make a serious run in the playoffs.
Don't let all of these free agent acquisitions and the receiving threats that the Bengals picked up in the offseason fool you, this team as currently constructed is built on the foundation of a strong running game and a defense that pops you in the mouth and makes plays on the ball. As crazy as it sounds, Cedric Benson was the most important player on last years team, and with the emergence of Bernard Scott they have as potent a 1-2 combination as anyone in the league. You know what other 1-2 combination they have which might be the best in the league? The defensive back duo of Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph are the best in the league. I say that because I watched them with my own eyes and I've seen no one do it like them. So there's only one major concern with the Bengals in 2010...
What's A Lie: With quality talent surrounding Carson Palmer, he will regain his status as one of the elite QB's in the NFL
What's The Truth: Carson Palmer will continue to be the QB he's always been the last 2-3 years.
Carson Palmer just doesn't look quite the same since his epic 2005 season. I just don't believe him. Do you believe him? Don't worry I'll wait...
What's A Lie: That Ryan Mathews will be the most productive rookie running back in the NFL this season.
What's The Truth: Jahvid Best & C.J. Spiller will remind everyone once again why they were the best two tailbacks in college the last two seasons.
You've heard me cry from the high heavens about the greatness that is Jahvid Best. When the man's spine damn near exploded while diving in the endzone, the throne was passed to Dos Ocho aka C.J. Spiller. These two men have carried the throne well. However, from everything I've read on various publications and even in fantasy football rankings, that Ryan Mathews will be a better back then these two at the end of the season.
That simply is not the case.
There's a reason that LaDainian Tomlinson suddenly looks like a potent offensive weapon in a Jets team committed to the run. San Diego is essentially NOT committed to the run one bit. What makes us think that Norv Turner will flip the script now all of a sudden? He allegedly promised Ryan Mathews 250 carries...yeah okay. The only two candidates for ROY are Best and Spiller. Case closed.
What's A Lie: The NFC East is the best division in football.
What's The Truth: The AFC East & North are the two best divisions in football.
I'm thoroughly convinced by the actions of the Eagles and Redskins that I can no longer take them seriously until I see something to convince me otherwise on the football field. Kevin Kolb is an unproven QB much in the mold of Aaron Rodgers was in his first year. He had a decent year, but his team went 6-10 because Rodgers didn't know how to win games. Philadelphia will fall under similar circumstance, but it'll make Kolb better or his career will end miserably like every other despicable Houston Cougar QB.
As for the Redskins...well, the way that Mike Shanahan and his staff have managed Albert Haynesworth lets me know that I have no faith in their organization until further notice.
What's A Lie: That Donovan McNabb was not fit to lead a team into the field of battle.
What's The Truth: Donovan McNabb will lead a team back into playoff contention...it just won't be the Redskins.
There's nothing I've seen in Donovan's game that I truly believe that he doesn't have anything left to offer. However, the Redskins leave me nervous beyond a reasonable doubt. McNabb might be on a new team in a couple of years, but if he can find a way to turn the Redskins into a winner...he should be praised and hailed as the QB that Kenny and I have lifted him up to be from the get go.
WHO'S GOING TO WIN TONIGHT, VIKINGS OR SAINTS? THOUGHTS ON WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS NFL SEASON? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!