A few quick thoughts on the upcoming NFL season, a few hours before kickoff…
- If I’m the Indianapolis Colts, I seriously consider keeping Peyton Manning off the field until everyone is 100 percent certain his neck is 100 percent healed, or as close as possible to that assurance. Put aside the fact that it’s better to have a 100 percent Manning in autumn 2012 and beyond than risk further injury to a 80 to 90 percent Manning now. The ubiquitous television pitchman has given his heart, soul, and body to this franchise for 13 seasons. The ownership and management owe him a retirement he can enjoy in the best health possible, not one with chronic pain or persistent conditions or worse. This doesn’t look like the Colts’ year for the Super Bowl, anyway; it’s not like Manning’s long recuperation time is the only factor keeping the Colts from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. If I’m the Colts, I also begin to contemplate my options for the post-Manning era.
- On paper, the Patriots look monstrous. There’s no doubt they’ll be among the AFC’s toughest teams. If anybody can get Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth to straighten up and fly right, it’s Belichick . . . but . . . something’s not quite right with this team. Two AFC East titles, two home playoff losses in two years. What makes these guys fold when the pressure’s on?
- Why must my Jets endure such turnover after years they go deep in the playoffs? Two new wide receivers, an offensive line with no experienced backups, new offensive line starters. I figure the Jets will be good and be in the playoffs again. But it feels like every year starts with some new learning curve.
- I know they have the same questions, but something about the Baltimore Ravens looks tough this year.
- Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that the Pittsburgh Steelers toyed with the football gods with their bizarre participation in the filming of the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. (MAJOR MOVIE-SPOILER ALERT: The team and coaches are playing the Gotham City football team and apparently the villain arrives in town and kills all of them. Really, next summer you’ll get to watch Ben Rothlesberger & Troy Polamalu blown to smithereens. Something kinda creepy about all that.)
- I am so glad I’m not a Washington Redskins fan. All offseason and camp, Mike Shanahan fans the flames of speculation that he’s seen something special in perennial backup John Beck, that some spark is there, that the league might have its next Kurt-Warner-esque late-bloomer story. And then a week before opening day . . . never mind. Everybody get excited for Rex Grossman! Yeah!
- Packers, Saints, Falcons, Eagles. The NFC will be represented by one of those four.
My probably worthless Super Bowl pick: Saints over the Ravens.