Originally Published: September 11, 2010

Sunday Countdown: Your weekly NFL guide

Weekly Picks

Mike Ditka Keyshawn Johnson Cris Carter Tom Jackson
  Ditka Johnson Carter Jackson
Minnesota @ New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans
Carolina @ N.Y. Giants N.Y. Giants N.Y. Giants N.Y. Giants N.Y. Giants
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh Atlanta Pittsburgh Atlanta Atlanta
Denver @ Jacksonville Denver Denver Jacksonville Denver
Cleveland @ Tampa Bay Cleveland Cleveland Tampa Bay Tampa Bay
Indianapolis @ Houston Houston Indianapolis Indianapolis Houston
Miami @ Buffalo Miami Miami Miami Miami
Detroit @ Chicago Chicago Chicago Detroit Chicago
Oakland @ Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
Cincinnati @ New England New England New England New England New England
Arizona @ St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Arizona St. Louis
San Francisco @ Seattle San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco
Green Bay @ Philadelphia Green Bay Green Bay Philadelphia Green Bay
Dallas @ Washington Dallas Washington Dallas Dallas
Baltimore @ N.Y. Jets Baltimore N.Y. Jets N.Y. Jets Baltimore
San Diego @ Kansas City San Diego Kansas City San Diego San Diego
Week 1 Record 9-7 10-6 8-8 10-6
Overall Record 9-7 10-6 8-8 10-6
Mike & Mike's Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks | More picks: Experts' picks | SportsNation: Pick Week 1

Countdown Confidential

By Sal Paolantonio and Bob Holtzman

Eagles' O-line faces huge challenge: The third preseason game in Kansas City scared the Eagles straight. The Chiefs, using a traditional 3-4 defense, sent wave after blitzing wave right up the gut. The result: Kevin Kolb often abandoned the pocket quickly or drifted into a backpedal that disrupted his timing and rhythm.

Third-string center Mike McGlynn was overmatched. Left guard Todd Herremans, playing in his first game back from a bad foot injury, tried to hold his own. And right guard Stacy Andrews proved once and for all that he had to go.

So, after months of experimentation, the Eagles have reconfigured the interior of an O-line that has been problematic since back-to-back humiliating defeats last season in Dallas.

Pressed into service at center is veteran Jamaal Jackson, who is coming off major knee surgery and hasn't played a down of football in eight months. Herremans hopes to reach a comfort level at left guard. And replacing Andrews, who was shipped to Seattle for a late-round draft pick, is Nick Cole, who failed as Jackson's replacement in the playoffs against Dallas and spent most of training camp in the trainer's room with knee swelling.

And here come the Green Bay Packers, who also employ a 3-4 defense that features one of the best young nose tackles in the game, the 337-pound B.J. Raji. Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers' zone blitz schemes led the league with 30 interceptions in 2009.

Last season, Capers called for a blitz on 245 of 540 pass attempts -- an astonishing 45.3 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 62.2 against the Packers' blitz -- fifth-lowest in the league.

There could not be a more challenging home debut for Kolb, who did not throw a touchdown pass in 19 offensive possessions in his first preseason as the official replacement for Donovan McNabb.

-- Sal Paolantonio

Owens mastering Bengals' offense: It was 10 p.m. on an unusually cool Friday in late July when the Bengals' decision to sign Terrell Owens a day earlier was validated.

"One of the coaches went to his dorm room for bed check," Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski told me. "And there was Terrell, 10 o'clock on a Friday night, with his playbook laid out on the floor, asking some of our younger receivers questions."

Six weeks later, Owens' knowledge of Cincinnati's offense is far beyond what most expected.

"He picked up the offense faster than anyone I've ever been around," quarterback Carson Palmer said.

The other thing the 36-year-old Owens did during his 12-catch, 143-yard preseason was energize his 32-year-old reality-show buddy Chad Ochocinco.

-- Bob Holtzman

Week 1: Numbers Crunching

By Aaron Schatz, FootballOutsiders.com

Colts at Texans, 1 p.m. ET

Last season, the Houston offense got worse after halftime, ranking seventh in DVOA before the half but 16th after the half. However, the defense got better after halftime, going from 26th before the half to 11th after the half. Indianapolis allowed a league-low 3.9 average yards after catch last season, including just 2.7 average YAC on passes beyond the line of scrimmage.

• More Colts-Texans: Intel Report | Madden Sim

Cowboys at Redskins, 8:20 p.m. ET

Last season, the Cowboys led the league with an average of 6.5 yards after the catch, while the Redskins were second with 6.2 yards after the catch and the Eagles (led by new Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb) were fourth with 5.9 yards after the catch.

The 2009 Cowboys had the best offense in the league after halftime, but their defense dropped from sixth in DVOA in the first half to 21st in DVOA in the second half.

• More Cowboys-Redskins: Intel Report | Madden Sim

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

The Steelers will have a serious field-position problem if they haven't improved their kickoff coverage from last season. The Falcons had the best net kickoff value in the league, according to FO measures, while the Steelers had the worst net kickoff value of any team in the past 17 years. Although the Steelers may want to go to a heavier ground game with QB Ben Roethlisberger out, the Falcons had an excellent run defense last season. They finished the season second in our DVOA ratings and ranked first in run defense from Week 10 onward.

• More Falcons-Steelers: Intel Report | Madden Sim

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

Remember when the Panthers destroyed the Giants near the end of last season? New York fans better hope that late-season trends don't carry over to the new season. Last season, Carolina's offense had the biggest improvement in the league from the first half of the season (23rd in DVOA) to the second half of the season (eighth). The Giants' defense had the biggest decline from the first half of the season (10th) to the second half (28th).

• More Panthers-Giants: Intel Report | Madden Sim

More Week 1 previews from Football Outsiders Insider


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