After a whirlwind of activity over the last five weeks with free agency coinciding with training camp due to the lockout, the 2011 NFL season kicks off tonight with the 2009 champion New Orleans Saints at the 2010 champion Green Bay Packers.Â The Patriots don’t play until Monday night, so Pats fans will have plenty of opportunity to view other games until then. With that in mind, here is a guide as to what teams Pats fans should be rooting for – or to be more precise, which teams Pats fans should be rooting against.
New England at Miami
Monday night, 7:00 PM on espn
Pats (-7); over/under 45Â½
Aside from obviously rooting for the Patriots, the team also benefits from a loss to a division rival.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
Sunday night at 8:25 PM on NBC
Jets favored by (4Â½); over/under 40Â½
This should be obvious, but even if you hate the Cowboys or have some sort of ‘division pride’ thing going, you have to root for the Jets to lose not just this game, but every game they play in – even if it’s against the Steelers.
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
Thursday night at 8:30 on NBC
Green Bay (-4); over/under 47Â½
I understand that there may be a temptation to want the Packers to lose so they have less of a chance of repeating as champions, which would make the Pats 2003-04 back-to-back Lombardis less significant. However, bragging rights need to be set aside for now because the Pats own the Saints first round pick in the 2012 draft; that was the trade that resulted in New Orleans grabbing Mark Ingram and the Pats selecting Shane Vereen. Â As much as I like the Saints and their fans, we should be rooting for them to lose as often as possible this year.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
10:15 PM Monday night on espn
Denver (-3); over/under 40
The Pats own the Raiders second round pick in next year’s drafting as they dealt their 3rd and 4th round 2011 picks for Oakland’s 2011 7th and 2012 2nd. So once again Pats fans should be rooting for the Raiders to lose this year, above and beyond memories of Jack Tatum, Ben Dreith, and Raider fans who still whine to this day about the Tuck Rule. Go Broncos.
The other games I don’t really have much of a rooting interest in this point. I suppose I should want the Chargers to lose to the Vikings as they are more of a potential playoff threat than any other AFC team, but on the other hand I don’t want them to feel like next week’s game against the Pats has added importance. Regardless, here is a look at the rest of the games:
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Steelers (-2Â½); o/u 36Â½
Root for the meteor?
Detroit at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Bucs (-1Â½); o/u 41
Tough to root for the Lions after they talked so much about their preseason victory against the Pats, but on the other hand it would be nice to see Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz, who got his start from and has the utmost respect for Bill Belichick succeed where so many others have failed. Perhaps the best thing to do is to root for Stafford and Freeman the two quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft not named Mark Sanchez, to have huge individual games.
Atlanta at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Falcons (-3); o/u 40Â½
I suppose we should root for Foxboro South, the team with
Scott Pioli Thomas Dimitroff and BC’s Matt Ryan. Interesting side note: though they will not be on the field at the same time, best friends and former Patriot starting safeties James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather will be facing each other for the first time in their NFL careers.
Buffalo at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Chiefs (-6); o/u 40
It’s easy to root for Foxboro West, but with an under appreciated Matt Cassel not playing Sunday, I would kind of like Chiefs fans to see their team falter. The Bills are not really a threat within the division, so I actually kind of feel a little sorry for them; throw them a bone and a win.
Indianapolis at Houston, 1:00 PM
Texans (-8Â½); o/u 43
On one hand I find it almost impossible to root for anything associated with Bill Polian. On the other hand wouldn’t it be nice to see the Colts win just to shut up all these people that wax poetic about how valuable and irreplaceable Peyton Manning is?
Philadelphia at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Eagles (-5); o/u 44
Well, we do know who PETA will be rooting for. And it is difficult to get behind a team that has received so much pre-season hype. But to this day I still think of the verbal jabs from Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner towards the Patriots, still simmering nearly a decade since their Super Bowl loss, and find it difficult to want them to win.
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Browns (-6Â½); o/u 35Â½
I don’t think even the people who live in Ohio care about this game.
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Jaguars (-2); o/u 37
My only thought on this game is about how the Jags had David Garrard go to a meet and greet promotional event, and then as soon as it was over they pulled him aside and told him he was cut. For doing that I hope Luke McCown lays an egg. Plus it will be nice to see the Titans do better than when Jeff Fisher was there.
New York Giants at Washington, 4:15 PM
Giants (-3); o/u 37Â½
I don’t care for either team or their fans, but I just cannot root for any New York team in any way, shape or form. After that we can go back to our distaste for Snyder’sÂ Redskins.
Carolina at Arizona, 4:15 PM
Cardinals (-7); o/u 37
I’m not much of a Cam Newton fan, so I’m rooting for the Cardinals.
Seattle at San Francisco, 4:15 PM
49ers (-5Â½); o/u 37Â½
How do you feel about Pete Carroll? I don’t particularly care for him, so I’ll go with Harbaugh to get his first win.
Minnesota at San Diego, 4:15 PM
Chargers (-8Â½); o/u 41Â½
With Childress and Favre gone there’s no longer much of a reason to dislike the Vikings. I would prefer San Diego miss the playoffs, but I would also like for them to not feel that their backs are up against the wall when they come to Foxboro next week. I’ll root for a San Diego win, but for the Vikings to expose some holes in the Chargers that the Pats can exploit.