The first Sunday of the NFL season is tomorrow, and there’s really nothing quite like it.
For die-hard fans, it’s better than Christmas morning when you were in elementary school.
Opening day is always special, but The Freak has witnessed how watching the NFL today has really changed from the past. Don’t you remember the only game you could watch on television was on cable TV – WLBZ out of Bangor, Maine?
That gave you no choice but to watch the Patriots. It’s probably the biggest reason there are so many local Pats’ fans.
Today, you can watch any NFL game with the NFL Sunday Ticket, or you can channel surf on all the East and West Coast channels of all the networks, and probably see the majority of games. No longer do I have to cross my fingers on Friday while checking the old TV Guide to see if the Giants are playing this week.
And what about Sunday’s pre-game shows?
Years ago, they were only one hour and on a couple of channels. Now, you can watch them starting at 8 a.m. right up to game time on the channel of your choice. They bombard you with so much information and insight that it can be overwhelming.
Fantasy football has really changed over the years. The Freak can remember when our current fantasy league started about 20 years ago. You didn’t know if you won the fantasy game until the USA Today newspaper came in on Tuesday down at Mac’s in the old Waterfront Mall to get the NFL game stats and manually add them up.
Obviously, this was long before the Internet, and now you can find out instantaneously on your cellphone if you won your fantasy game or not.
Probably one of the best innovations is the NFL Red Zone, which goes live to every game once a team gets inside the 20-yard line. You get to see every touchdown for all the games on that Sunday without having to hit your remote.
You just kick back, relax and see all the big moments of every game. They also will go to a split screen of all the teams in the red zone at that one moment, so you miss nothing. It’s truly the ultimate NFL TV experience when your team is not playing at the time.
Finally, the invention of PVR, which is a big upgrade over the old VCR, for recording your game. First of all, with the old VCR you could only tape one game at a time, and you had to wait until you felt that game was fully recorded (four hours in case in went into OT) before you could watch it. Now, with PVR , you might get home an hour into the game, you can immediately begin watching it and fast forward all the commercials until you reach the game live.
Also, when you are watching your team live on TV and you get one of those inconvenient interruptions – your in-laws dropping in – you can pause the game until they leave and you don’t miss a thing.
Enjoy Sunday folks!
The sure thing
Tough opening week as only two games really stick out.
The Freak doesn’t like taking road teams in Week 1, but the Bills are home to the Patriots and are starting rookie quarterback EJ Manual, who was hurt all pre-season and really is not ready. Unless CJ Spiller can run wild all game, Tom Brady, with or without all his weapons, will put up enough points to win.
The only team that realistically doesn’t have a chance to make the playoffs is Oakland (sorry Leard), which has to play one of the young guns in Andrew Luck and his Colts. Oakland is on the right rebuilding track, but is a couple of years away from being competitive. The Colts show last season was no fluke
Today’s Jets’ organization looks very similar to the old Raiders’ regime. They continue to make bad personnel decisions, and have a coach that has no idea about offensive football. Tampa has made some great moves in the off-season, including trading for former Jet Darrelle Revis. What are the odds he picks off a pass from the likes of Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Brady Quinn, Joe Namath, Vinny Testaverde or whoever starts at QB in Revis’s homecoming? Pretty good, Bucs win.
Don’t mortgage the house pick
Coach Payton of the Saints is back from a year-long suspension. That will make the offensive side of the ball great and will give the D some stability and direction. Atlanta took advantage of Payton’s absence last year, but look for the Falcons’ wings to get plucked Sunday. New Orleans wins at home.
One of the week’s best matchups is the Packers visiting the 49ers. If the Packers can run the ball with rookie Eddie Lacy, they may have a chance as this will slow down the 49ers’ pass rush against one of the worst offensive lines in football. Rodgers is great, but you can’t throw a football on your back. Take San Fran.
In a matchup of two of last season’s worst teams, the Chiefs visit Jacksonville. Don’t think the TV ratings will be high for this game, but KC and new coach Andy Reid will revitalize that talented offence and beat the Jags.
The Freak only gets this gut feeling a couple times a season, but the Titans will beat the Steelers.
Pittsburgh is minus two of Ben Roethlisberger’s favourite targets in Heath Miller (injured) and Mike Wallace (free agency), along with a below-average running game and a back end that’s old and slow.
Chris Johnson will be a blur running through this secondary, and the improved Titans’ D will show its true colors in a big win on the road.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.