Posts Tagged ‘Green Bay Packers’

Cheeseheads must be excited.

Coming out from under a legends shadow is hard enough, doing it against a team that has won more Super Bowls than any other team in NFL history is tougher than running a mile in a treadmill made of treacle.

Aaron Rodgers is on fire and on Sunday he has a chance to become the third Green Bay Packers quarterback to hoist up the trophy named after the Packers coach who won Super Bowl I and II.

Bart Starr and Brett Favre have both played in two Super Bowls each (winning three of four combined) and now Aaron gets to play in his first big dance.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a quarterback who already has two shiny jewel-encrusted rings, and Big Ben will be after number three.

This is going to be an epic battle, and this will be the opportunity the former Cal Quarterback will have to become a household name.

I think it is also a time to avoid comparing Favre to Rodgers. Favre was a once in a lifetime talent who, despite winning only one ring himself, has left a legacy that is just about unbeatable (with maybe the exception of Peyton Maning). Rodgers could go and get himself a ring on Sunday, but that does not mean he is suddenly the equal of Favre.

If Rodgers does lead the Pack to the W then he could go on and lead his team to two or more titles in the next five seasons.

This Packers team is pretty special, and Rodgers could be on the road to emulating the success of the best Super Bowl qb ever, Joe Montana, but there is 60 minutes of football to play first.

Rodgers will only lift the trophy if the following things happen;

  • The Pack get a running game going. If James Starks can get 100 yards it will be incredible, but he will need to get between 50 and 70 to keep the Steelers D honest.
  • The Packers TEs have a great game. Rodgers will be expected to look for the WRs Jennings, Driver and Jones, but with the loss of Jermichael Finley earlier in the season Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree and Donald Lee will be called upon to be difference makers.
  • He needs to know where the tasmanian devil Troy Polamalu is on every play. Polamalu plays extremely aggressive football and he can get frustrated if he is beat early. Polamau will want to land a knockout blow (legal hit wise) on every play, but its probably not best to test him too often.
  • If he can scramble when he wants to but not because he is running for his life every other play.

Can Rodgers give Wisconsin it’s 4th Super Bowl trophy?

To buy an Aaron Rodgers shirt in the UK click here

Super Bowl XLV - Can't wait for kickoff

I can’t wait for Super Bowl XLV to kickoff on Sunday night here in England. The Green Bay Packers v Pittsburgh Steelers has the ideal combination of explosive offense and bone crunching defense, along with a rich, rich history from both teams and their combined 9 previous Vince Lombardi trophy wins.

To prepare for the big game I have a number of rituals, which I will describe below. If you have any please add them in the comments section at the end of this post, as I’d love to hear what you do around the world to get ready for the biggest game on the planet.

To buy a Troy Polamalu shirt from a top UK NFL merchandise shop click here

NFL Fan in England’s Super Bowl traditions

  • Super Bets – I like to do some MVP and some first touchdown scorer bets. This year I have money (not much of it) on three different players for MVP and three different scorers for first td. I always go for both teams quarterbacks to get a rushing td as the first score. I have Aaron Rodgers at 16-1 and Big Ben Roethlisberger at 25-1. Last time Big Ben was in a Super Bowl it looked like he had scored, only for his run to be called back and Gary Russell to punch it in.
  • Super Food – Well not exactly super food in the traditional sense, more like junk food. I have a life size plastic Redskins helmet that doubles up as a food server. I fill the middle with toffee popcorn and the two trays in the face cage with Peanut M ‘n’ M’s. I get some Doritos (cheese and fiery hot) and also a bag of beef crisps and a single Snickers bar that I cut into small slices during the pre game build up.
  • Super Drinks – I have had a can of Pepsi with me at the Super Bowl since 1987, and despite the fact I don’t drink normal Pepsi under any other condition (I have Pepsi Max nowadays) I get a can ready. I also get a pack of Budweiser (bottles) that my wife and I share.
  • Super Program – I always have a Super Bowl program with me, which this year I purchased via http://www.nfluk.com . I got an email yesterday to say it had been dispatched so I hope it arrives today or Friday. I did used to buy it from a shop in Birmingham called Great American Sports, but they shut up shop in the West Midlands. I then ordered it 2 years ago via a website called Great American Sports with its business based in Devon (which may or may not have business relations to the former shop with the exact same name that closed in Birmingham) and they failed, first time round, to send me the correct limited edition program I paid for so I refused to ever use them again. When I rung up to complain I was indeed sent the correct program second time round but I was asked not to mention this on my blog, then in an email told I could publish what I want. I kept the first one as it arrived with a damaged spine. This damage I blame on nobody as I cannot prove it was damaged before or during transit. I miss the shop in Birmingham.
  • Super Structures – Hmmm maybe at bit of an exaggeration but I do move the sofa from the side of the living room to a spot directly in front of the television. It’s important to have your drinks and snacks within touching distance so I make sure that the nest of small tables we have are displayed in front of the sofa.
  • Super Monday – One last thing – as the Super Bowl finishes in the early hours of Monday morning here in England I book the day off and so does my wife. We like to go for a swim in the morning and then a nice lunch. My way of saying thankyou for staying up until 2am to watch the game.

What do YOU do to get ready for the big game?

The road to Super Bowl XLV gets extremely interesting this weekend as we will be whittling down from eight to a fantastic four – with no Thing or man with rubber arms in sight.

Gone are the current AFC and NFC champions, both knocked out in the Wild Card round last week.

Ready to make their 2011 playoff debut are the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears – the top four seeds in the NFL this season.

Joining them are the survivors from last week, the Packers, the miracle 8-9 Seahawks (still with a losing record despite a playoff win), the J-E-T-S and the Baltimore Ravens.

Without further ado it’s prediction time……

Jets @ Patriots – Following the absolute slaughter of the Jets by the Bellicheck machine known simply as the Pats this should be deemed as a New England walkover. Brady is fresh from a week off, spent combing his hair and applying expensive Hollywood folicle product. Sanchez on the other hand tried his best to lose the game last week according to many NFL hacks, and he was rescued from oblivion by a late Antonio Cromartie kickoff return and some kicking heroics. This game will, I have no doubt, see the Jets madder than hell because they wont take it anymore, and despite all the smoke being blow up the Patriots asses, I have this as a Jets win. Why you may ask? Well firstly the Jets have a quality running game blending the shifty Shonn Greene and the veteran, but so far Super Bowl ring-less Ladanian Tomlinson. IN one of the Pats losses this season Peyton Hillis ran for a devastating 184 yards as the Browns cruised to an upset win. Sanchez has a 3-1 record in the playoffs in only his second NFL season – a remarkable achievement considering he is perceived as inaccurate and lacking big play dynamism. Brady has a lot of weapons, more than the host of a terrorist gun amnesty convention, but he can be rattled. The Pats may have a quality team but I just feel that this is not their time, and for the Jets this is part of the stars aligning. I also cant help but see a vision of Brad Smith, the modern day slash (not the Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist), doing something special.

Prediction – Jets 23-20 Patriots – MVP the Jets offensive line helping the team rush for 180 yards.

Ravens @ Steelers – If this was a few thousand years ago it would be a prize gladiatorial fight between Spartapolamalu and Spartalewis in the amphitheatre of your nightmares. As it is the 2011 version wont be much different, with blood, sweat, tears and likely some body parts being left on the field at the end of this battle. The Steelers have the experience and the QB with two hand-crafted rings full of Pittsburgh shaped jewels. The Ravens have a mixture of youth (QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice) along with some grizzled veteran wideouts and TE in Anquan Boldin (who faced the Steelers in the Super Bowl two seasons ago) TJ Houshmananzadddehhhahahahaaaahahahahah and the second coming of Todd Heap. The Steelers have in my humble opinion the most underrated starting running back in the NFL Rashard Mendenhall, and possibly the best deep threat wide receiver to play in the league in the last 5 years in the form of Mike Wallace. It’s not rocket science but this game will come down to turnovers – if any team makes three they will not make it past this weekend. Yes I expect a close game, and this time I’ll go with the Ravens in the second AFC upset of the weekend. Providing Ray Rice can chew up the clock, Willis McGahee can vulture two red zone scores and Baltimore can end up with a ground shaking win and a matchup for Rex Ryan’s former team versus his current team in the AFC Championship.

Prediction – Ravens 24-19 Steelers – MVP Willis McGahee two short scores – one late to seal the win.

Packers @ Falcons – There is a lot of love out there for the Green Bay Packers, and a distinct lack of respect for the 13-3 Falcons, who boast a 7-1 home record. Matty Ice has shown he can lead a team to a division crown and the best record in the NFC conference, but still they seem to be underestimated. The Pack have lost 5 games already away from the chilly tundra of Wisconsin, and whilst the Georgia Dome turf may suit them as a pass first team, they will be playing the house of the Clean Birds with no facility to Lambeau Leap. Packers RB James Starks came from nowhere to post gaudy figures against the Eagles, but a repeat performance will be much harder. This will be a big game for Falcons DE John Abraham, who will be sniffing out Aaron Rodgers like a fox after some chicken bones in a bin bag. This will also be time for former Chargers #2 rb to show the world why he is a #1 RB and a quality one at that. The Falcons have the ability to stretch the field with future Canton enshrinee TE Tony Gonzales, and the league’s top wideout Roddy White, but it will be Turner’s ability to keep the Packers honest that will be the biggest factor in this game. The Packers love to use defensive back blitz packages, but the towering Matt Ryan should be able to see them coming and use Gonzales as a perfect outlet en-route to a second consecutive home playoff game next week.

Prediction – Falcons 31-27 Packers – MVP Matt Ryan 255 yards and three touchdown passes.

Seahawks @ Bears – Two division winners facing each other for the second time this season in the Windy City, one with a quarterback who has played in a Super Bowl, and one who’s gun-slinger looks like he has a man’s body with a petulant child’s head on top. The Seahawks are capable of going back to Chicago and taking away a victory, but I am predicting a grizzly bear mauling by Peppers Idonoje and Urlacher come the weekend match-up. This could finally be the game Devin Hester shows up as a starting wide receiver, but we are more likely to see Charlie Whitehurst get a military buzz cut first. The key to the Bears moving up and down the field will be the big play capability of Johnny Knox and the ability for Mike Martz to swallow his pride and give the rock to Matt Forte. The Seahawks will be able to match the Bears offensively, but they will not be able to prevent the Bears D from menacing Hasslebeck all day long. I predicted a Hawks win last week, but this time they will come unstuck, the Bears will be ready with a honey trap. Kick to Hester at your own peril.

Prediction – Bears 27 – 10 Seahawks – MVP Matt Forte – 160 combined yards and 2 touchdowns.

Your thoughts…………………………………….

 

Like poo on a shoe I have a feeling the Cardinals will not be removed from the playoffs this week as Kurt gets busy through the sky

There’s nothing like starting my divisional playoff predictions with a Kylie Minogue song reference, but ‘I can’t get the Cardinals out of my head’ and as long as Kurt Waner hasn’t been concussed and is lying in a heap on the Superdome floor I smell an upset.

I got three out of the four Wild Card games right last week, with my only mistake being predicting an Eagles win against the Cowboys. I have to admit the only reason I went with Philly was because they were my pre-season Superbowl prediction, and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.

Well now its time to dust down the Mystic Meg costume and sprinkle so prediction powder on the 2009-2010 NFL Divisional Playoff round;

NFC – Cardinals @ Saints

If you thought you saw an unforgettable fireworks display last week in the desert, this could be bigger, better faster and even higher scoring (seriously). Bizarrely this game will not come down to the quality of the QBs or WRs, it will come down to the team that has the most convincing running game. Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush versus Tim Hightower and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. Momentum is a funny thing and the Cardinals will have it in bucket loads after their electric game last week, whereas the Saints looked awful after they lost their unbeaten record to the Cowboys (and yes I know the Saints were playing scrubs Week 17). Both teams have dominant All-Pro safeties in the form of Adrian Wilson and Darren Sharper, but both team CBs (as a unit) are not the best in the league. Providing the Cardinals offensive line keeps up the work rate then they have the ability to push Arizona into a 2nd NFC championship in a row.

Prediction – Cardinals 38-33 Saints – Game MVP Kurt Warner 307 yards passing 3 touchdowns.

NFC – Cowboys @ Vikings

I have even having to type the word Favre, seeing as he should have retired in the last decade, but here I am again talking about Mr Wrangler. The Vikings and the Cowboys match up pretty well, and I have to say this is going to be the biggest game of the weekend, with two star studded squads that can boast remarkable offensive lines, excellent quarterbacks, and defensive studs – exemplified by the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and the Vikings mullet wearing nut job Jared Allen. Both teams have receivers that have had bonanza breakout seasons (Miles Austin and Sidney Rice), and both have some depth and ability to change the gears with their running games. Now the romantics will want Brett to take his weapons to the NFC Championship but I have Dallas showing why they are no longer a team to be laughed at when it comes to the business end of the season. That and the fact Felix Jones is just about the only human being I know that could keep pace with Chris Johnson in a running race. Wait for Felix to do something jaw dropping and then let others know you read it here.

Prediction – Cowboys 27-24 Vikings – Game MVP Tony Romo 311 yards and 2 touchdowns

AFC – Jets @ Chargers

It doesn’t matter what you wear, what you smell like or whether you know your tango from your Foxtrot, providing you have a ticket to the dance you can do whatever you like on the dance floor. Take a bow the Rex Ryan led New York Jets. The Jets have the number one defense and the number one running game, but they now face a team that has the hottest winning streak in the NFL. We all have to admit that Ladanian Tomlinson is no longer the same 20+ touchdown monster that he has been, but he still has a nose for the end zone. The maturation of Vincent Jackson has countered the decline in LT’s skills, and Antonio Gates continues to remain at top three fantasy TE for San Diego. This should be the game that signifies the Philip Rivers era in the AFC, but Jets CB Darrell Revis is that good that he can kill off Jackson and force Rivers to make passes that he might not want to attempt. This game will be the lowest scoring and it could come down to the kicking game (both field goals and field position from punts). It could be a bit of magic from Darren Sproles that blows this game open but I see the Jets leaving California with their Superbowl dream still intact.

Prediction – Jets 19-16 Chargers – Game MVP Thomas Jones 103 yards rushing 1 touchdown

AFC – Ravens @ Colts

The Ravens blew past the Patriots from the first offensive play and then like a skilled surfer dude they rode the wave of momentum to build up a lead that even Tom Brady could not claw back. The Colts will simply not allow this to happen as Peyton Manning will lock and load time after time to help Indy create an early lead. The Ravens running game is pretty special and Ray Rice was rewarded for his show of skills by gaining a 2nd Team All-Pro selection earlier this week. With support from Willis McGahee the Ravens running game has been  up there with the best. This game is in my opinion the Colts to win, with their home fans, home turf and NFL MVP. If the Colts get a 21 point lead this game could get ugly. I would love to see the unfashionable Ravens get the upset and set up a defensive slug fest with the Jets for the rights to go to the Superbowl, but this is Manning’s time. The Colts have no Steelers or Patriots to face and they just have to much speed to be stopped. Reggie Wayne to have a beast of a game and Dallas Clark to cause headaches to the Baltimore D all day long.

Prediction – Colts 30-19 Ravens – Game MVP Reggie Wayne 121 yards and 1 touchdown

Any thoughts???????

This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

I cannot be alone in standing up and giving a big round of applause to Brett Favre for completing one of (if not the) most legendary feats of modern professional sports – 271 consecutive starts as an NFL quarterback.

Records are there to be broken, but almost 17 consecutive seasons of sun, wind, hail, snow, away fan abuse, and defenders trying to put him on his back puts Brett Favre on a stage that I very much doubt anyone will be able to share.

I do hope and pray that Brett’s retirement announcement is official – for two reasons – one selfish and one admirable.

The selfish reason is obvious, I don’t think I could cope with ANOTHER off-season filled with ‘will he or won’t he retire’ gossip from the smug ‘I deserve a big slap in the face’ Adam Schefter or the likes of PTIs Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser to the varied sports writers that guest on Around the Horn (gotta love Woody Page !!!).

The admirable reason is Favre compiled some statistics that make your eyes bleed, from the 17 consecutive seasons with 3,000 plus passing yards to the mind blowing 65,127 total passing yards, to the insane 464 passing touchdowns.  Those statistics are to be poured over in 2012 or 2013 (I can’t work it out) when people make their pilgrimage to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Finishing aged 39 with 16 starts in his final 16 games is the perfect way to bow out, and although he threw an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions in 2008 (22 a piece) he kept up his 17 year streak of over 3,000 yards a season and 18 or more touchdowns.

Any longer and Favre risked not only a serious injury but he risked damaging his legacy as the toughest SOB that ever put on an NFL uniform.

One Super Bowl win (and two Super Bowl appearances) may seem a little low for a guy who was a prime performer for 17 full NFL seasons, but we have to remember he did not always have a world beating support cast, nor did he have the best head coaches (Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman).

Just for fun and just for the record for you trivia nuts here is Brett’s stats from his first NFL start and his (hopefully) last one.

First – September 27, 1992 – 17-3 home win Packers v Steelers – 14 of 19 210 yards 2 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s First NFL touchdown 76 yards to WR Sterling Sharpe

***269 consecutive regular season games inbetween***

Last – December 28, 2008 – 17-24 home loss Jets v Dolphins – 20 of 40 233 yards 1 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s Last NFL touchdown 13 yards to WR Laverneus Coles

There will never be another Brett Favre, he is a one off, a grizzled block of granite that is tougher than King Kong after Godzilla has just abducted Fay Wray.

I want to thank you Brett for the memories and I wish you a happy, peaceful and content retirement, safe in the knowledge that you left every single ounce of pride, guts, determination, charisma and class on the turf or grass of every NFL Stadium.

Brett Favre I salute you………..as long as you stay retired.

Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Someone posting on my blog this week made the remark that the New Orleans Saints had an impressive outing running the ball in Week 1 after I put in a post that two backs that both got around 5o yards on the ground each was not exactly setting the world alight.

I stick by that, but I did say at the time that Reggie Bush could legitimately catch 150 passes in a season. Bush is creating a position that is almost unique, a dumpoff back that is gameplanned to be dumped off to as a first resort by Drew Brees, not a last resort after seeing a primary and secondary target man marked.

I call him the best wide-back in the NFL !

It got me thinking who is the best catching running back in NFL history (past and present combined) ?

Well here are the top running back/full backs listed by the amount of regular season receptions they have made Up to end of 2007, and the team they had the most impact on and then average catches per year (in brackets)

TOP 5 all time – all retired

Larry Centers – 827 catches – Arizona Cardinals – Full Back – 1990-2003 (64 catches a year)

Marshall Faulk – 767 catches – St Louis Rams – Running back – 1994 – 2005 (70 catches a year)

Keith Byars – 610 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – Fullback – 1986-1998 (51 catches a year)

Marcus Allen – 587 catches – Los Angeles Raiders – Running back 1982-1997 (39 catches a year)

Tiki Barber – 586 catches – New York Giants – Running back  1997-2006 (65 catches a year)

Top 5 – active all playing in 2008 in NFL

Warwick Dunn – 463 catches –  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1997 – now (46 catches a season)

LaDanian Tomlinson – 458 catches – San Diego Chargers  – 2001 – now (76 catches a season)

Edgerrin James – 418 catches – Indianapolis Colts – 1999 – now (52 catches a season)

Michael Pittman – 415 catches – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1998 – now (46 catches a year)

Ahman Green – 364 catches – Green Bay Packers – 1998 – now (40 catches a season)

Where does Reggie Bush fit in ?

Reggie Bush – 161 catches – New Orleans Saints – 2006 – now (81 catches a season)

Other current contender in the NFL

Brian Westbrook – 347 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – 2002 – now (69 catches a season)

So what do the numbers tell us ? Well if we extrapolate Reggie Bush’s season average over a 10 year period then you have Bush at 810 catches and he becomes the all time greatest catching running back in NFL history.

Both the Chargers LT and the Eagles Brian Westbrook have proved over a longer period that they are true dual talents both running and receiving – Westbrook has two 1,200+ rushing seasons to add to his catches and LT has a mind blowing 7 1,200 yard + ground yard seasons.

Reggie Bush is in my opinion not a #1 running back but he is an All Pro wide-back – maybe I have given Reggie a title that matches his talents ! He is not a 1,500 yard running back but he is a 1,500 yard a season gainer (not even including his punt returns). 

Who do you think the best wide back is in NFL history ?

Chris Cooley will need more than 1 catch a game to lift the Redskins - picture by Lawrence Vos

Chris Cooley will need more than 1 catch a game to lift the Redskins - picture by Lawrence Vos

Ok I missed my prediction on the Giants v Redskins game, but I did stay up until 4.00am in England to watch the game, and then leave for work 4 hours later.

I noticed quite disturbingly that the Giants managed 0 receptions to their tight end Kevin Boss, and apart from one endzonelook in the 1st quarter Boss managed to do a big fat not a lot. Redskins TE Chris Cooley was right up there with Boss in terms of a non-descript game, with just one catch.

Someone needs to get that ‘rabbit in front of the headlights on a freeway’ look shaken from Jason Campbell’s face, and until that happens I think that the Redskins are pretty much doomed to mediocrity for the 17th consecutive season.

Anyway………on to my NFL 2008 Season Week 1 Predictions and thoughts

Seattle at Buffalo

The Bills are best described by many as a dark horse for a wild-card spot, but I don’t think that will be the case, I would more likely describe them as a grey donkey, nice to pat on the head but seriously lacking the ability to run with the thoroughbreds like New England and San Diego. Seattle are missing Previous Superbowl MVP Deion Branch and wily veteran Bobby Engram, instead relying on young wideouts.

Prediction – Seattle to win 27-17

LV – wrong 0-1

Detroit at Atlanta

U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi you ugly – not exactly a showcase for the NFL’s finest here in Georgia. Rookie 1st round pick Matt Ryan makes his Falcon debut, handing off to new Atlanta tailback (and lifetime backup) Michael Turner. The Lions will be licking their lips with DeAngelo Hall gone and Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams revving up for a spectacular season. Kevin Smith the new Lions RB will be one to watch and he may break 100 on the ground in his debut.

Prediction – Detroit to win 31-14

LV wrong 0-2

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Its Ocho Cinco time baby ! Despite looking like he went 12 rounds with that mutant 7ft Russian heavyweight boxer Bengals QB Carson Palmer should find himself with an opportunity for an upset. With the Ravens going to another rookie QB Joe Flacco to start the season I have a feeling Baltimore will come out of the gate a little slowly. Willis McGahee is banged up and the Ravens D may have lost that mystique by the end of this one.

Prediction – Cincinnati to win 21-20

LV wrong 0-3

St. Louis at Philadelphia

All signs point to Rocky town for this one, with Donovan McNabb once again able to find his TE LJ Smith in the red-zone. Brian Westbrook if he stays healthy should be in line for an NFL MVP award, and rookie DeSean Jackson the former Cal wideout should provide a spark. The Rams have Steven Jackson back in uniform and Marc Bulgerback at QB but the Rams D will still be vulnerable, even with #2 pick Chris Long at DE.

Prediction – Philadelphia to win 38-9

LV correct – 1-3 – Note got Philly score exactly right !

Houston at Pittsburgh

Houston showed signs of becoming respectable in 07, and with the welcome return of Andre Johnson at WR it could be the Texans first winning season. Pittsburgh added another talented running back in the draft – Rashard Mendenhall as a rocket propelled backup, but there are offensive line question marks. This will be a chance for Big Ben Roethlisberger to show why he gets paid the big bucks, Texans will make it a fight though.

Prediction – Pittsburgh to win 19-17

LV correct 2-3

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Both teams will see anything but an AFC Championship appearance a failure, and both will be looking to establish the run before launching any rockets in the sky. Vince Young the Titans QB is only a few steps away from being a top 10 performer. David Garrard needs to prove he can go 16 games and keep his INTs low for a second season. Jacksonville’s running game to settle this one in an old fashioned slugfest.

Prediction – Jacksonville to win 20-17

LV wrong 2-4

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

The evergreen Jeff Garcia comes to Louisiana with a chip on his shoulder after a first round playoff exit earlier in the year. The Buccs will unfortunately be the ones on the tailgate bbq after they get grilled by Drew Brees and the Saints who will unleash Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister and a big ol dollop of Marques Colston along with relishing the thought of seeing Jeremy Shockey in Black and Gold.

Prediction – New Orleans to win 24-17

LV correct 3-4 – Note got New Orleans score exactly right!

Kansas City at New England

Hmmmm lets spare the analysis on this one. Bill Bellicheck will have the Pats so hungry they may end up spying on the hot dog and candy floss stalls in the pre game warm ups. Look for KC to give a bit more fight than many experts say but for the Pats to win in style. Even Sammy Morris should get 50 yards and a score.

Prediction – New England to win 24-14

LV correct 4-4

N.Y. Jets at Miami

Can anyone get through an opening week blog without mentioning the F word ? and I’m not talking Gordon Ramsay swearing in the kitchens of Florida. Look for Chad Pennington to get the headlines in this encounter, and he gets the Dolphins back to basics, ball control, accurate passing and some leadership at the QB position. The Jets will have the attention of the world at the kickoff, but the respect for Pennington will be the abiding memory at the end.

Prediction – Miami to win 17-13

LV wrong 4-5 – Note Pennington did earn some respect in the game

Arizona at San Francisco

Looks like Matt Leinhart is not the saviour after all as Kurt Warner gets the start and the Cardinals again look to have a good season and a playoff place. Look for Arizona rookie RB Tim Hightower to get on the scoresheet and for the 49ers to look bloody awful. Face it if any of the other 31 NFL teams announced that JT OSullivan was their starting quarterback the first thing you would do is laugh. JT has done an amazing job to get the gig in Frisco, but any sensible coach will get Frank Gore 25-30 touches as a priority.

Prediction – Arizona to win 33-13

LV correct 5-5 Note I did predict Tim Hightower to score !

Carolina at San Diego

Carolina welcome back Jake Delhomme from an injury lost 2007, and despite Steve Smith missing out the Panthersshould be able to compete wih a solid running game. The win however belongs to the San Diego Chargers who will want to be all business in the first half of the season. Rivers will throw no more than about 20 passes as the Chargers look to chew up the clock with LT, Sproles and even Jacob Hester getting some carries.

Prediction – San Diego to win 23-20

LV wrong 5-6

Dallas at Cleveland

The Cleveland Browns bandwagon is still pretty full after Derek Anderson inspired his team to prominence. The 2008 season will not have the fairytale ending to it in my estimation though, as Dallas will pour vodka in the punch and drop dog food in the trifle and escape from Ohio with a big W. Everyone is talking about the strength of Marion Barber, but the Cowboys masterstroke is the drafting of RB Felix Jones who has more speed than Keaunu Reeves holding a bag of bowling balls after falling out of an aeroplane.

Prediction – Dallas to win 24-19 

LV correct 6-6

Chicago at Indianapolis

The only positive the Chicago Bears can get from this game is to reminisce that the last time they met was in the Superbowl. Indy will dominate this game from their first possession, which I will bet will result in a touchdown. Marvin Harrison will be wanting to show there is life in the old dog still, and Dominic Rhodes will be back in his favourite colours of blue and white. If Chicago muster 21 points ill call that an upset by itself.

Prediction – Indianapolis to win 28-13

LV wrong – 6-7

Minnesota at Green Bay

Two quarterbacks with big question marks over their heads – Aaron Rodgers in his first start and Tavaris Jackson looking to show that he truly belongs in this league after an up and down 2007. Can either live up to their expectations ? I don’t think either will be the biggest factor of the game as it will be up to Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson to show who is the top young running back. AP to win this particular battle.

Prediction – Minnesota to win 16-10

LV wrong 6-8

Denver at Oakland

The Raiders are trying to build a team of young and spirited world beaters, but I can’t see them winning against a Broncos team that  every year show they know how to do the most important thing – run the football. With Brandon Marshall out week 1 that will give the Raiders some relief, but the Broncos have the offensive line intelligence and the shutdown cornerbacks to leave California with a victory.

Prediction – Denver to win 29-23

LV right 7-8 (Overall score 7 right 8 wrong)

Bet you all have opinions – come back on Tuesday to see how I go ! Feel free to add your thoughts……