By Doug Halberstadt
The day all National Football League fans have been longing for is now only hours away. The long-awaited and much-anticipated 2009 regular season begins tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 10) with a game between the Tennessee Titans and the defending world champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Once again this season, I’m going to try to pick the winners of all the games each week. Last year, I fell short of my goal of 75 percent correct. If memory serves me correctly, I was somewhere in the high 60s. My goal this season is an even 70 percent. I’m pretty sure I can hit that. Prior to each week’s games, I’ll make my selections in this column. Remember, they are for entertainment purposes only, and in no way should they be relied on to help you when you decide whom you are taking in your office pool. Good luck this season, and here are my picks for week No. 1.
I like the defending world champions on their home turf in Thursday night’s nationally-televised season-opener. In Sunday’s games, I like the Falcons at home over the Dolphins. Former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton leads the Broncos into Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. I look for Orton to get his first win in his new uniform. Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings are in Cleveland to battle the Browns. Favre should also pick up his first win with his new “Purple People Eater” friends.
The Jaguars travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Colts. It’s impossible for me to pick against Peyton Manning at home on opening day. I like the Colts in this one.
Last season, they didn’t win a single game. Why should they start this year off any differently? The Lions’ losing streak should continue when they face the Saints in the Superdome. The Cowboys should win at Tampa. I like the Eagles over the Panthers, even though the game is in Carolina. Baltimore should go to 1-0 with a home-opening victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
I look for the Texans to have a better year this season. They should get off to a good start and win at home over the New York Jets.
It’ll be a good test for the richest man in the NFL, but I think Eli Manning will defend the home turf and send the Redskins back to Washington with a loss. In what should be a good game out West, the Cardinals are at home against the 49ers. I’m taking the 49ers as my upset special of the week.
St. Louis has to try to defeat the Seahawks and their famous 12th man in Seattle. That’s too much of a task for the redbirds. I like Seattle at home.
As much as I would like to be correct in all of those games, the next one is really the only one I truly care about. The Sunday night game on NBC, Chicago at Green Bay. Look for Jay Cutler to show all those cheeseheads and the rest of the nation why he will be the best quarterback in the NFC North this year.
There are two games on Monday night. The Buffalo Bills and New England play in the early game, and the Chargers and the Raiders make up the double-header. Tom Brady and the Patriots should have no trouble at home. The Raiders should be a shoo-in at home on a Monday night, in a nationally-televised game.
There you have it, my picks for week No. 1. I took 10 home teams and six road warriors. My season-long goal is 70 percent, but I’d like to get off to a really good start with week No. 1. Come on, BEARS!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the September 9-15, 2009 issue