The NFL Season kicks off tonight with the Giants and Cowboys…with replacement officals…

The NFL season opens tonight and the league wastes no time rolling out the intensity. Opening night offers one of the hottest rivalries in football, the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants and their NFC East arch rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick a winner. All five times these two teams have opened the season against each other the Cowboys have won, but the Giants have gotten into their heads, winning both meetings last season, including the game that ended the ‘Boys playoff hopes. The Giants sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo nine times in those games and had so much pressure on him Dallas’ off season focus was to build an offensive line to slow down Giants defensive captain Jason Pierre Paul. They may have forgotten about Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. The Cowboys also added to their defensive backfield specifically to deal with the Giants high flying recieving corps and their elite quarterback, Eli Manning. Yes, I did say elite, and Manning will have a rookie corner to pick on. I take the Giants in the opener. As for the rest of the season, in the vernacular of the game, I’ll take a pass. Under the best of circumstances the NFL is the toughest league to get a handle on going in because no other league advertises parity and actually delivers, because no other league has that one great equalizer, revenue sharing. It’s what makes the NFL the cashiest of all cash cows. You’d think other leagues would catch on. 32 teams, revenue sharing, parity, tough to pick a winner (how many of you had the Giants last season?) and everybody gets rich. That’s not to say everything is rosy in NFL- Land. One of the reasons I’ll take this season a week at a time is because that’s apparently good enough for the NFL, which is turning over week one to the replacement officals who worked the pre season games while the dispute with the guys who understand the game at this level, and all the rules changes, goes on. By the time tonight’s game kicks off the league will probably have turned over week two to the replacements as well, which will lead to misinterpretations that can effect outcomes in more ways than one. Most of the rule changes in the NFL each year deal with safety issues and no player’s safety is more a focus of those changes than the quarterback, who, more than any other player, carries the fortunes of his team. Somebody is going to get hurt while the replacement refs are trying to catch up with the regular season speed of the game and the league continues to hand off it’s games to them on a week to week basis, and the dynamics of that players team will change for the rest of the season. I do like the Patriots to return to the Super Bowl because, while other teams are trying to adapt to the new emphasis on tight ends, with two, and sometimes three in many new formations, Bill Belichick was the innovator, and he’s got three great tight ends to compliment an already deadly passing game. For tonight, I take the Giants. As for next week, I’ll let you know when we get there. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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