Are you ready for some football?

The 2006 NFL season begins tonight as the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers host the Miami Dolphins, a team many are picking to be an AFC sleeper team this year.

The Steelers are without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (appendectomy) and Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring(?)), so tonight's game is no where close to being a sure thing. Plus, the Steelers didn't play particularly great at home last year. Hopefully they've at least exorcised that demon.

Like most recent NFL seasons, there is no clear cut Super Bowl favorite before any games are played. The Steelers, if able to stay healthy, certainly have a shot to repeat, but many other teams can claim the mantle of "Best team in the league." Not that being the best team means you win each year. Just ask the 2005 Colts.

I'm gonna pick the Steelers to repeat (of course), but, like I said about tonight's game, it's no sure thing. New England is always good and you can never count out Tom Brady (best quarterback in football right now - three Super Bowls in four years). Cincinnati was pretty explosive last year and if not for Carson Palmer going down on their first offensive play their season might have ended quite differently. If Palmer's leg is fully healed and he's healthy all season they'll be tough. Carolina, Philly, Seattle (if not for that damned Madden Curse) all look good in the NFC, too.

It's going to be a crazy season, that much you can be sure of. It always is. Who would have thought the Steelers would win their last eight games last year, including three on the road in the playoffs (the Super Bowl itself, held in Detroit, doesn't count, because, looking at the number of fans in the seats, that really was a home game for Pittsburgh) against the top three teams in the AFC, to win that One for the Thumb? Weird, improbable things always happen, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Vick and Atlanta broke through and won this year; or Arizona with their high-powered offense; or Chicago and their hardcore defense. Who the hell knows, right?

Okay, maybe not Arizona...

(And did you notice how I didn't even mention the Colts as a favorite? Yeah, that's because no matter how good a regular season they have, no matter how unpredictable an NFL season is, you can always count on one thing: Peyton Manning choking in January. Why would this year be any different?)

1 comment:

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