NFC East: Marc Bulger
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 p.m. ET
What you need to know: As my colleague James Walker points out, the Browns have been awful in season-openers (1-8) since returning in 1999. When the schedules were released this offseason, this seemed like a marquee matchup for Week 1, but now conventional wisdom suggests the Cowboys will roll. Even with all the injuries at wide receiver, the two starters Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton are still available. And rookie Felix Jones and tight end Jason Witten are like having two more receivers.
The Cowboys may have already sent an advance party to Tampa to set up Super Bowl operations, so the season-opener should be a formality. Wade Phillips, who was portrayed as a tender soul on HBO's "Hard Knocks," begins the season squarely on the hot seat. The Jason Garrett coaching family currently outnumbers the Phillips family, 3-2, on the staff, but Bum's always a phone call away. Like it or not, Phillips needs to win at least two playoff games to keep his job, but he'll have to pick up a couple of regular-season wins first.
Prediction: Cowboys 34, Browns 21
Tony Romo torches the Browns' secondary and DeMarcus Ware sacks Derek Anderson three times. The Dawgpound will sound like a golf gallery by the fourth quarter.
St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET
What you need to know: This game has blowout written all over it. Who cares if Donovan McNabb will be playing with inexperienced wide receivers. It's not like the experienced ones are world-beaters. He's attempted to temper the enthusiasm for rookie DeSean Jackson, but it's a lost cause for this receiver-starved fan base. With the exception of T.O., McNabb's never known what it is to throw to a superstar, but it's never held him back that much.
And plus, he has a superstar in the backfield. Armed with a new contract, Brian Westbrook is poised to have a huge season. And the addition of Lorenzo Booker gives Philadelphia a nice change-of-pace player. Let's not kid ourselves about the Rams. Even with the addition of rookie defensive end Chris Long, this is still a bad football team. Steven Jackson is a great running back, but his quarterback, Marc Bulger's career is running a fade pattern. Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard will stop complaining in time to play an effective game in the nickel defense, and defensive end Trent Cole will batter Bulger. This is a great way for the Eagles to begin the season.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Rams 10
Take this one to the bank. Andy Reid isn't fighting the distractions that plagued him heading into last season. He and McNabb think they can make a Super Bowl run, and in the watered down NFC, that's a definite possibility.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's contract includes more guaranteed money than the recent contracts of two other CAA clients, Marc Bulger and Tony Romo. Don't you just feel awful for these owners? If he didn't have to pay exorbitant money to first-round rookies, perhaps Jerry Jones wouldn't have to scrape by with a $1.1 billion stadium.
- Cowboys running back Tashard Choice performs in a skit at the NFL rookie symposium. If I'd known there were going to be skits, I totally would've covered this event. I heard the Pacman Jones skit was priceless.
- Homer alert: My longtime pal Calvin Watkins says the Cowboys have the fourth-best safety tandem in football.
- Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reaches into the wayback machine for this story.
- Pacman is telling Jerry fishing stories.
- The Freak sounds off about his former team.
- Here's Ralph Vacchiano's reading list for Giants fans.
- Check back Monday