Posted: Wednesday September 8, 2010 1:45PM ; Updated: Wednesday September 8, 2010 3:09PM
Peter King
Peter King>WEEKEND PICKOFF
NFL Week 1
 
Thursday, Sept. 9
 
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
That this is the first game of the year saddens me. I wish the NFL had saved it until a Sunday night in Sweeps Month (November). But since it's being played now, a couple of thoughts: In the NFC title game eight months ago, Minnesota turned the ball over five times to just once for the Saints, and still New Orleans had to go to overtime to win. So don't tell me that missing Sidney Rice dooms the Vikes. I don't buy it. Thought about this one for a long time, and the difference came down to New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. His schemes led to the Saints so battering Brett Favre last January that even without excellent blitzing Saints safety Darren Sharper in Thurday's game, Williams, I figure, will come up with a few ways to torment Favre.
 
Sunday, Sept. 12
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jake Delhomme's been to the Pirate Ship a few times, and he starts his season of redemption with a respectable outing against the Rookie League Bucs.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
A spirited effort by the feisty Bills, with C.J. Spiller topping 100 yards on the ground in his first NFL game. But I see the Dolphins' new bookend rush combination, Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, bothering Trent Edwards enough to force a couple turnovers.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
I'm not even sure I'd call this an upset. Without Leigh Bodden in the secondary, New England goes with a very young Big East alumni corner tandem -- rookie Devin McCourty (Rutgers) and second-year man Darius Butler (UConn) are likely to start -- and Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens should have some schooling in store for them.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
This is your chance, Texans. Time to throw off the can't-beat-Indy tag. Time to forget the 1-5 division record last year. No team has aimed for the opener the way the Texans have since the schedule came out in April. The difference: Arian Foster will control the clock the way Peyton Manning always does. Feed him, Gary Kubiak.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars
Yes, Tim Tebow will get in the game. No, he won't be effective enough.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
Fascinated about the Dennis Dixon Effect. A few guys in the Steelers locker room didn't think he was getting a fair shot to win the job in camp, behind the now-injured Byron Leftwich, and now that Dixon's the guy, I think the energy boost could pay dividends Sunday. He's going to be fun to watch. Key to the game for Atlanta: Rookie Sean Weatherspoon, in his first NFL game, trying to corral Dixon the way he corralled all those Big 12 mobile quarterbacks.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
So many close games this weekend ... and in Nashville, Chris Johnson takes a tattooing from a physical Raiders D but still gets his 12th straight 100-yard game.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Carolina Panthes at New York Giants
I worry about Eli Manning behind an offensive line that enters the season unusually beat up, so much so that a Panthers win wouldn't surprise me. But this is the day the Giants start playing defense the way they played under former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and that's bad news for Matt Moore.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Oh, I want to pick the Lions. I think the Suh-Vanden Bosch left side of the defensive front is going to be a 16-game tormentor, and I agree with GM Martin Mayhew, who said this week, "We have the potential to be a pretty decent team." But I think the Bears win a slobberknocker, and Jay Cutler is the key figure in it.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
I love how Darnell Dockett says he wants to now outplay his third contract in the desert. Well, this game's a great time to start. He's had sacks in three of his past five games against the Rams, and Sam Bradford will be starting his first NFL game. Better get it out quick, Sam.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
They last met on opening day 2007, and it was McNabb vs. Favre that day. Now it's Kolb-Rodgers, of course, and as on that day, the Packers QB is more experienced and, as I see it, the winner (Sept. 9, 2007: Pack 16, Eagles 13.) Look for Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers to throw lots of looks at Kolb in his opener as the Eagles' quarterback, and look for some of those rushes to hit home.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Before the game, Pete Carroll hustles through the calisthenics line. "Say a Hail Mary! Say a Hail Mary!'' Ooooops. Had him confused with Gerry Faust there for a minute. I like Seattle's effort this summer. I like Carroll starting Justin Forsett. I like a lot about what Carroll and GM John Schneider have done. But I like the San Francisco linebackers a lot more than that. And maybe I've been swayed by impressive August performances during which Alex Smith got the ball out very fast against Minnesota and Oakland, but I think he's going to have a pretty good year, starting this weekend. Plus, no Russell Okung at left tackle for the 'Hawks. Not good.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Jim Haslett's guys get in six or eight great shots on Tony Romo, who takes a licking but keeps on throwing. As Cris Collinsworth will say in the middle of the third quarter: "Romo's getting hit more than Rocky Balboa! How's he staying upright?!'' That's why they pay him the big money, Cris.
 
Monday, Sept. 13
 
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
You mean there's life after "Hard Knocks?'' There is, and his name is Shonn Greene. I think Greene and a fresh LaDainian Tomlinson will win the day in the Meadowlands.
 
10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Someone asked me which team to pick this week in the knockout pool, and I said San Diego. There really is not a good one. Even in this one, Dexter McCluster has a chance to wreck this game for the Chargers. I look for the Chiefs to use him in four or five spots and let him be the player Darren Sproles is for San Diego.
 

 
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