It is here! No more pretending! No more waiting! No more pre-season! Yes, sports fans the NFL season is set to begin!
This is a great time of year. Every team is technically on equal footing. New England could stink. Detroit could run the table and win them all. The Cowboys might go a whole season without a controversy. For at least one week everyone has an honest shot at living the dream- a seat at the table for Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
Week One of the 2009-2010 NFL Season will be kicking off this Thursday in Pittsburgh with a full slate of games on Sunday and even a double header on Monday night. While it would be fun to comment on all the games, I am just going to comment on what I perceive to be the game of the week which also happens to be the season opener- Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers,( Sept 10, Thursday at 8:30 on NBC).
This game will be the best one played all weekend. Both teams have solid defenses. Both teams have solid running games. Both teams have strong quarterbacks, and both teams have a stable of capable receivers. You will be hard pressed to find two teams so evenly matched.
A slight edge goes to the Steelers at QB. It is hard to argue with all that Roethlisberger has accomplished in his young career to date. Collins did well last season, but he was also rarely asked to win the game for the Titans.
I would have to give the Titans the edge at running back. Second year running back Chris Johnson is an electric speed demon of a back and LenDale White looks ready to play this year (especially since he is in the last year of his contract). You’ll be hard pressed to find a better motivator to play well then money. The Steeler running attack is nothing to sneeze at either. Willie Parker has been a tremendous back the last few years, but he is also coming off of yet another injury. Second year back Rashard Mendenhall looked good before he got injured last year. If those guys fail then Mewelde Moore is a capable fill in.
The receiving edge has to go to the Steelers. Hines Ward has been one of the best possession receivers in the game for many years. When in doubt, you can count on him to make the big play. Santonio Holmes will be looking to build off his Super Bowl MVP performance this season. At just 25, the speedy Holmes has yet to play his best ball either. The Titans upgraded their receiving core by adding a former Steeler, Nate Washington. However, Washington was just the third receiver in Pittsburgh so it remains to be seen how much of an upgrade he will be.
The defenses are about even as are the special teams. When it comes down to it, the deciding factor will be are the Steelers ready to defend the title or will they suffer a letdown in their first game as defending champs a many teams often do? Or will the Titans be ready to prove that the best team was really the one with the best record last season, and not the Super Bowl winners?
I see this being a hard fought game on the ground with Ben Roethlisberger making a few key plays through the air to keep the game close. In the end, the power running attack of the Titans will set up Rob Bironas for the winning kick late in the fourth quarter, Titans win 27-24.
For beer, it is only appropriate to pay homage to the home team, especially since the Steel City has a rich history of brewing. The Iron City Brewing Company has been brewing the nectar of the Gods since 1861. Iron City Brewing has always been in the forefront of the American beer industry brewing the first lager and even the first light beer. These guys even had their own presidential candidate, Dan Crawley of Churchill, PA.
The signature beer is of course Iron City Premium Lager. Brewed in Pittsburgh since 1861, Iron City Lager has a modest alcohol content of 4.5%. Not a high calorie beer at only 140, the Iron City Brewery website also boasts a protein content of .9 grams with no fat and 10 grams of those fattening carbs. I mention the nutritional content because this is not a beer that you will drink for the taste. When you wake up the next morning with a nice hangover you will know exactly how many hours you will need to spend at the gym.