"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski takes a look at some key Week 1 matchups:
Minnesota at Cleveland: This is obviously a compelling matchup due to the presence of Brett Favre. I am particularly interested in how Favre uses TE Visanthe Shiancoe. Favre has long mastered the art of controlling the hash area with his tight end, and Shiancoe should emerge as a key in Minnesota's offense. Once that inside area is established, the outside will open up for WRs Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice. How Favre and Shiancoe work together will be a big key in assessing where the Vikings are on offense in Week 1.
New York Jets at Houston: I love the Texans' offense. Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson is as good a trio of offensive players as there is in the league. But Schaub's durability remains a question. I worked a game this preseason and saw Schaub tweak an ankle as he ran out of bounds. No one even hit him. That will be a concern all season, and especially against the Jets, whose defensive approach is to attack the quarterback. Buddy Ryan was a coach on some of my Eagles teams. He felt that if offenses spent so much time each week devising protection schemes for the quarterback, he would simply focus on getting to and hitting the quarterback. His son, Rex, feels the same way. Houston's protection of Schaub will be important Sunday, to say the least.
St. Louis at Seattle: It's hard to get a take on the Rams right now. New head coach Steve Spagnuolo virtually assures they will be better on defense. The Seahawks will be a good test for the Rams' defense because WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is perfect for a ball-control quarterback like Matt Hasselbeck. Houshmandzadeh gives good tips to the QB on when to throw, has good hands and offers up his whole body as a target. He's a great pairing with Hasselbeck, who has always been excellent between the numbers.
Monday Night Football: Patriots-Bills
For New England, I am going to watch LT Matt Light closely. He has often struggled against DE Aaron Schobel, who missed 11 games last season. New DE Aaron Maybin will also be a factor, but Light-Schobel bears watching, because Tom Brady is back but not all the way back. Brady now reminds me of Carson Palmer as he made his way back from knee surgery. Brady is fine in a secure pocket, but under pressure or when having to move a bit, I've seen him favor that left leg and not step fully into his throws and deliver the ball with the strength and force he usually does. That will affect his timing and accuracy.
Buffalo's QB Trent Edwards has struggled against the 3-4 defense that New England will run a lot. He was 1-8 against the 3-4 last year. He has trouble identifying reads when a lot of guys drop into coverage. If I was running Buffalo's offense, I would drop the no-huddle completely. They have five new players on the offensive line this year. They need that time in the huddle to make sure they have the play right and are all on the same page. It will be interesting to see how often they go no-huddle.