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NFL Guru


September 12, 2009 3:08 PM

Are You Ready For Some Football?!?

How's that for a way to kick off the 2009 NFL season?

The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers needed to overtime Thursday night to survive the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field and Ben Roethlisberger had to engineer another clutch drive to pull off the win, just like he did in Super Bowl XLIII. Santonio Holmes once again had a big game and put up identical numbers to his Super Bowl MVP performance --nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.

So now we have a full slate of games scheduled for Sunday, with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders closing out Week 1 on Monday night, and if that game or any of the ones being played on Sunday rival last week's college football Monday night spectacular between Miami and Florida State, we're in for an incredible season.

Obviously, there are a lot if intriguing story lines involving quarterbacks, starting with Tom Brady looking to show everybody that his knee his fine and he is the same quarterback who threw 50 touchdown passes and led the Patriots to an unbeaten regular season two years ago.

Meanwhile, the NFC North has suddenly become QB central; In Minnesota there is a lot of buzz about how a certain No. 4 (who shall remain nameless on this blog) will be able to play second fiddle to running back Adrian Peterson; Jay Cutler hopes to put Denver in his past and bring the Chicago Bears back to respectability; No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford, having been named Detroit's starter, will try to repeat the success of last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year, Matt Ryan and in Green Bay, Aaron Rogers looks to further distance himself from the large shadow still cast by that same No. 4.

If the NFC North is QB central, then the NFC East is Soap Opera central; The Dallas Cowboys have moved into posh new digs, complete with a gigantic scoreboard hanging from the roof in the middle of the field that has become a prime target for punters and the center of a heated debate. They also are beginning the post-T.O. era and post-Jessica Simpson era; over in Philadelphia the Eagles welcomed the Michael Vick circus to town but at the same time assembled enough talent to be the early favorites to win the division; two years removed from their Super Bowl victory, the New York Giants want to close out their final season at the old Meadowlands in style but need to get back the chemistry that helped them win Super Bowl XLII and Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn hopes to follow in the footsteps of his fellow second-year head coaches Mike Smith in Atlanta, Tony Sparano in Miami and John Harbaugh in Baltimore, all who led their respective teams to the playoffs.

The NFC South nearly sent all four teams to the playoffs last year, but Tampa Bay completely overhauled its roster, fired Jon Gruden as head coach, promoted 33-year-old Raheem Morris, who fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski 10 days before the season, to head coach, jettisoned QBs Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese along with future Hall-of-Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks and drafted Josh Freeman as the QB of the future. Sounds like a non-playoff rebuilding year is in store for the Bucs; Atlanta improved its already potent offense by signing future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and has the inside track on winning the division; the Carolina Panthers have one of the best 1-2 punches at running back in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, with dangerous wide receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad as Jake Delhomme's primary targets, but their usually stalwart defense has taken a step back; Drew Brees has a good shot of becoming the first quarterback to put together back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons and has a much improved defense to back him up so other than the Bucs this looks to be a strong division again.

Finally, the NFC West looks to be Arizona's for the taking after the great run the Cardinals put together last season all the way to the Super Bowl; Kurt Warner has all of his weapons back in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Sean Breston and with Father Time catching up to him, Warner will be even more motivated to lead his team back to the big game in Miami; Mike Singletary has the 49ers going in the right direction in San Francisco and should give the Cardinals something to think about; Seattle begins the post-Mike Holmgen era with Jim Mora taking over as head coach and looking to return the Seahwawks back to the top of the NFC West; St. Louis likely will bring up the rear in the division once again as power runner Stephen Jackson simply does not have the weapons around him.

Tomorrow I will preview the AFC division by division just in time for all of the network pre-game shows Sunday morning so you can print these out and keep these notes in front of you as you watch Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan and Curt Menefee on FOX and Dan Marino, James Brown, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe on CBS.

Until next time, stay thirsty my friends.

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