Alrighty then...so let's go...
SEPTEMBER 12 - GREEN BAY PACKERS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: Aaron Rodgers appears as though he's ready to take his place among the elite quarterbacks of this league. Last season, he threw for over 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions, and also ran for over 300 yards and 5 scores. He's the key to the Packers' success, and he has a very good running back to complement his passing game in Ryan Grant. Donald Driver is always a threat, and the offensive line should recover from its injuries of 2009 and be much improved with the addition of former Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, who could play either side of the line.
Why We Shouldn't: A home game to open the season is always a plus for us. But it's a tough opener. I'm actually glad that our new-look team will get such a tough opponent to start off, because we will get to see what we're made of right off the bat.
SEPTEMBER 19 - AT DETROIT LIONS
Why We Should Be Concerned: Matt Stafford is now a veteran, and he has the potential to be a successful QB, especially since he has Megatron, AKA Calvin Johnson, to throw to. They also drafted Nebraska monster Ndamukong Suh, which should significantly improve the defensive line.
Why We Shouldn't: They've improved, but they're still god-awful.
SEPTEMBER 26 - AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Why We Should Be Concerned: The Jags still have some talent on offense. David Garrard is inconsistent but can be effective, and Maurice Jones-Drew could present problems for our reshuffled offensive line. Jack Del Rio can be an inventive coach.
Why We Shouldn't: A mediocre talent pool coupled with a pretty weak offseason showing could doom the Jags. Plus, we play them tonight, which will give us (and them) a chance to see what they're all about.
OCTOBER 3 - WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: The return of 5...he's definitely got an ax to grind. The Skins have a proven winner under center, and Pro Bowl-caliber players like Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis are returning healthy. Their tandem at running back now includes Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. They've also added a two-time (back-to-back) Super Bowl champion coach in Mike Shanahan. These ain't the Redskins of Jim Zorn.
Why We Shouldn't: HEY HEY HEY...Fat Albert Haynesworth's saga has been an unwelcome distraction, and there are those who say that Mike Shanahan has exacerbated the problem. The offensive line could be a tad suspect, even after adding Trent Williams to the fold. The receiving corps is unproven, although with Santana Moss, Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Mike Furrey there is definite talent. I think this will be a great game.
OCTOBER 10 - AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Why We Should Be Concerned: Head Coach Mike Singletary has the Niners pointed in the right direction. Alex Smith appears to be maturing; running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Michael Crabtree are leaders on offense. TE Vernon Davis is a beast. Defensively, Patrick Willis is one of the best linebackers in the league. New safety Taylor Mays could intimidate receivers downfield. Make no mistake, the Niners are a team on the rise.
Why We Shouldn't: They are still unproven as playoff contenders. The o-line is improved, but Smith has to show everyone he's the man for the job. The secondary on paper appears to be pretty good, but Mays's coverage issues could hurt them.
OCTOBER 17 - ATLANTA FALCONS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: The Dirty Birds have a decent amount of talent, and Matt Ryan is at the head of it. Roddy White could be a perennial Pro Bowl receiver, and of course they have Tony Gonzalez at TE, despite his advancing age. Never underestimate these boys.
Why We Shouldn't: We always play the Falcons tough, and our offense should have a field day against their weak secondary.
OCTOBER 24 - AT TENNESSEE TITANS
Why We Should Be Concerned: Chris Johnson could give us fits. Resurrected QB Vince Young could find a way to beat us with his athleticism. Jeff Fisher seems to know how to play the Eagles well, being a former coach here. CB Cortland Finnegan is entirely underrated. The last time these boys met, I broke up with my fiancee of two years and Donovan McNabb tore his ACL...bad memories.
Why We Shouldn't: The Titans are still an enigma...they went 13-3 in 2008 only to lose their first 6 games in 2009. They then won 7 of their next 8 before they were finally bounced from playoff contention in week 16. This is a talented team, but they haven't yet shown they can consistently play well.
OCTOBER 31 - BYE WEEK
NOVEMBER 7 - INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: Peyton Manning can always be counted on to play at an elite level; our secondary will really be tested in this game. They have a good tandem at running back in Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. Reggie Wayne is a premier receiver, having stepped out of the shadow of Marvin Harrison. Dallas Clark is a Pro Bowl tight end. Dwight Freeney is coming back healthy, and Gary Brackett, along with Bob Sanders, round out a stout defense. If there was one game I'd love to take off the schedule, it's this one.
Why We Shouldn't: Kinda hard to find a reason...the fire of youth beating the value of experience perhaps? In all seriousness, we do have some advantages. First, it's a home game. Second, we should be rested coming off the bye. Third, I believe our pass rush will be much improved, and today is a great day for them to show it. If they can keep Manning from settling into a rhythm, as the Saints did in the Super Bowl, they can give themselves a chance to win.
NOVEMBER 15 - AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Why We Should Be Concerned: Our second meeting with 5 will take place in Landover, where the crowd should be hyped to support their new franchise QB against his old team. It's our only Monday Night game of the season, which sucks.
Why We Shouldn't: I just don't think the Skins are going to be quite as good as everyone seems to think they'll be. Word has it that Donny hasn't been picking up the offense very well.
NOVEMBER 21 - NEW YORK GIANTS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: As usual, they've got one hell of a defensive line, anchored by Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. They've added Jason Pierre-Paul, who some say could be like Jevon Kearse in his prime. Eli Manning has proven he can beat our defense.
Why We Shouldn't: The Giants have a lot of question marks on offense; Eli can be inconsistent, and when he gets behind he has a tendency to hang his head and lose confidence. They have injury issues at wide receiver, tight end, and the offensive line. The Giants have the potential to make the playoffs, but they're also completely capable of tanking.
NOVEMBER 28 - AT CHICAGO BEARS
Why We Should Be Concerned: We seem to play Da Bearss every year, and they always play us close. They added pass rusher extraordinaire Julius Peppers in the offseason, which will definitely bolster their defensive line. Brian Urlacher, even though he's really never been that effective against us, is returning.
Why We Shouldn't: The Bears didn't do much outside of signing Peppers. They did not have a first or second-round pick in the draft, which really hurt them. Their offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL, and the rest of the offense, aside from Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, and Brandon Manumaleuna, is not very talented. Hester himself is trying to make a name as a wide receiver, but his speed and agility are offset by lack of size and route-running ability. Having thrown a league-leading 26 interceptions last year, Cutler could easily succumb to our pass rush.
DECEMBER 2 - HOUSTON TEXANS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: These aren't the pushover Texans we faced last time. This is a team on the rise, and this year they're really eager to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. QB Matt Schaub is an unsung talent, and WR Andre Johnson is one of the best in the business. LB Brian Cushing will be back from his suspension, and he's a beast. The Eagles will be on limited rest, as this is a Thursday night game. This will be a tougher game than some think.
Why We Shouldn't: Their offensive line is improved, but not too much. They can definitely make the playoffs, but they have to prove they can win in a tough environment like the Linc.
DECEMBER 12 - AT DALLAS COWBOYS
Why We Should Be Concerned: Our first meeting with the NFC East favorites takes place in JerryWorld, where our last two meetings didn't go so well. In fact, they were a shambles. The Cowboys are armed with a stud receiving corps, as well as mainstays Tony Romo and Jason Witten, on offense. On defense, DeMarcus Ware should still be a force, setting the tone for a talented crew. This is also the beginning of a brutal last leg of the season; we start in Dallas, then play the Giants away, then play the Vikings and Cowboys at home.
Why We Shouldn't: The Cowboys haven't looked too sharp this preseason; they've been having issues scoring in the red zone (0-7 in their first 2 games). The stability of the offensive line is in question. Can new starter Doug Free fill Flozell Adams's Bozo-sized shoes?
DECEMBER 19 - AT NEW YORK GIANTS
Why We Should Be Concerned: This game marks our first visit to the new, state-of-the-art Giants Stadium; our record in a division rival's new stadium last year does not bode well for us here. We could be in the heat of a battle for the wild-card spot by this point.
Why We Shouldn't: The Giants, by this point in the season, should be just as beat up and tired as us.
DECEMBER 26 - MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: An awesome defense coupled with a talented offense could spell trouble for us down the stretch. Brad Childress knows Andy Reid well.
Why We Shouldn't: The Vikings banked their season on Brett Favre's return, and that could very well not happen. This is an entirely different team without him. And, even if he does come back, he has had very little success against the Eagles, especially in Philly. The defense will be good no matter what, but the thought of Tarvaris Jackson under center doesn't keep me up at night.
JANUARY 2 - DALLAS COWBOYS AT HOME
Why We Should Be Concerned: For the third consecutive season, we close out the season by playing Dallas. This will be the end of a rough final quarter of the season. We'll definitely be tired.
Why We Shouldn't: We'll be tired, but so will they. They'll be in our house, not Jerry's Fun Dome. Hopefully we can summon some of that Mojo from that final-game drubbing of the Cowboys at home in 2008.