Would you like to read a post that gets you caught up on all the news around the league just before Sunday’s kickoffs? Continue on, brave reader, and sift through our new Sunday Notes post that gives you the juiciest, most interesting, or most nonsensical item for each game.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore: On a day when Peyton Manning’s consecutive start streak will end, Joe Flacco will take the first offensive snap for the 49th straight time, putting him fourth overall among active players.
Atlanta at Chicago: The inclusion of Todd McClure in the Falcons’ injury report was no surprise after his late August knee surgery, but Atlanta’s run defence will also take a blow with Cory Peters out. On the other side of the ball Marion Barber is out with a calf injury, and he’s important as a backup behind Matt Forte to absorb hits and run between the tackles.
Cincinnati at Cleveland: The Browns are 1-11 in season openers since becoming the new Cleveland Browns in 1999, and the Bengals have dropped their last three. One team is still getting acclimated to a new offense after a lockout shortened offseason, while the other has rookies at key offensive positions. The likely result? The most unwatchable game of the day.
Indianapolis at Houston:The Colts aren’t asking Kerry Collins to replace Peyton Manning. That wouldn’t be smart, because no one can do that. They’re asking him to play quarterback to the best of his ability with an arm that’s been throwing for 17 seasons. The offense as a whole will figuratively replace Manning, because this is a time for leaders to lead.
Tennessee at Jacksonville: On Friday Big Cat Country reminded us that while Luke McCown certainly isn’t an upgrade over David Garrard, he’s far from a downgrade. They’re two average quarterbacks, and now it’s McCown instead of Garrard acting as the bridge to Blaine Gabbert, a process he’ll start today.
Buffalo at Kansas City: It wasn’t surprising to see Matt Cassel listed as probable on the Chiefs’ final Week 1 injury report, and Jonathan Baldwin out. But Steve Breaston was penciled in late with a hamstring injury, adding to the early hobbling for the Kansas City offense.
Philadelphia at St. Louis: In his column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mike Missanelli threw out another name for the Eagles and their creaky offensive line: the “I’m not sure I believe team.” Cheer up Mike, because it looks like wide receiver Steve Smith will play today, completing a speedy recovery from microfracture surgery. So that’s good, right?
Detroit at Tampa Bay: This day is rife with optimism, with teams destined to be brutally awful still holding the same record as Super Bowl contenders, at least for the next few hours. Still, Tampa’s last game against Detroit is haunting, a game that knocked the young, upstart team out of the playoffs last December after a narrow loss.
Carolina at Arizona: Today and throughout the rest of the season Cam Newton will test Ron Rivera’s patience, and he’ll also test our ability to sit through Panthers games.
Minnesota at San Diego: Although he looked comfortable in the preseason during limited time, the Vikings are still waiting to see which Donovan McNabb–the awful Washington one, or the efficient Philadelphia one from a few seasons ago–shows up.
Seattle at San Francisco: Michael Crabtree participated in two full practices this week, and he’s looking to make a quick impact only four days after returning from a broken foot. A year ago he missed most of training camp with a neck injury and still played in San Francisco’s season-opener, but there are some notable differences this time around.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets: We end with the headline item because we’re terrible teases. Jason Witten became a very rich man on the same day that he’ll likely receive plenty of work with Tony Romo’s wide receivers neutralized by the Jets’ corners.