Baltimore at Denver – Thursday 8:30pm

Well, strike up the band! The NFL season is finally here and the anticipation is killing me! Things start out in the thin air of Denver as the Super Bowl Champion Ravens got punked by their Baltimore brethren, the Orioles, and get to start the defense of the Lombardi Trophy on the road. (Where else does this happen?) Denver’s got a lot to play for if you consider the Ravens last minute miracle win on their way to the title and this season’s subsequent shellacking of Joe Flacco’s mug all over the Mile High City to celebrate the return of football. Oh, this one looks like a battle to me! Here’s how this one will turn out and a look at two other big games I’ll be watching…

Denver 27
Baltimore 21

Atlanta at New Orleans – Sunday 1pm

The Falcons head to New Orleans to take on the Saints in this NFC South match-up for early division supremacy. These two teams are the undisputed elite of the division (until Tampa Bay and Carolina prove otherwise). And the winner will get a jump on things in one of football’s toughest brackets. For the Saints, head coach Sean Payton, the team’s heart, is back at the helm. Drew Brees has weapons like Mark Ingram at running back and freak-of-nature Jimmy Graham. I don’t have to tell Fantasy players about TE Jimmy Graham.

Atlanta brings a team that has an older, wiser, wealthier Matt Ryan running the show. The league’s best receiving tandem in Julio Jones and Roddy White are back as is the old man, Tony Gonzalez. Add free-agent acquisition Steven Jackson at running back, and this looks like a team that’s built to play deep into January. Should the Falcons falter with this line-up, look for head coach Mike Smith to join the Jets’ Rex Ryan on the hot seat.

Atlanta 31
New Orleans 28

Green Bay at San Francisco – Sunday 4:25pm

Who remembers these two teams in the playoffs last year? Remember Colin Kaepernick getting OFF? The 56 yard keeper, the record 181 yards rushing with 2 TD’s and then tossing two more scores to Michael Crabtree. Yeah, that was magical. Well, he’s back with the same supporting cast, even better if you consider Anquan Boldin’s presence over the middle and in the locker room. And that defense with the “Smith brothers,” Willis and Bowman, there’s a reason this team is already a Super Bowl favorite.

The Green Bay Packers were simply out-gunned in that playoff loss last January. I’m not sure anyone could’ve stopped Kaepernick that day and here we are again. What did Green Bay learn from the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII? To, no matter what, put a hat on Kaepernick whether he’s toting the rock or not. Suggs did it for Baltimore; look for Matthews to do it for Green Bay. Plus the Pack has the game’s best player in Aaron Rodgers. Look for the outcome to be a bit different this time out.

Green Bay 30
San Francisco 24

Follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkMcEwen


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