With all due respect to March Madness, this is the best week of the year.
Over the weekend, we were welcomed with college football’s opening week. Now, we have the NFL thrown into our lives, starting Wednesday night when the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys kick off another year.
But for me, I’m slightly scared.
Scared that the Falcons still won’t get to where they’ve been built to go — the Super Bowl, or at least deep into the postseason. Scared that quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t really the leader of the future the Falcons paid him to be.
Scared we’re one more underachieving season away from letting go of head coach Mike Smith, the best coach the Falcons have ever had.
Hopefully, my paranoia isn’t necessary, because the Falcons are expected, yet again, to have a successful year. Even if the season won’t go as planned, these are the days to cherish.
Because everyone is 0-0, and each team’s fanbase sees their squad as a Super Bowl contender.*
And, yes, it could always be worse. I know that, because I’ve seen what “worse” is, and it’s not pretty. It’s a half-full Georgia Dome for the biggest games of the season. It’s wondering which scrap-heap quarterback the Falcons will start next week, because they don’t have anyone to rely on at the position. It’s counting the days until key injured players finally get healthy and we have a chance again.
None of these problems are Atlanta’s problems, at least not right now.
And even though Las Vegas says the Falcons are just 30-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, I see reasons to believe they can make it to Miami for the Big Game at the end of the year. For one, they’re getting older — experienced players should be better-suited for the postseason, right?
Secondly, Julio Jones, man.
Third, new coaches have these players believing again. They’re running a solid offense that mixes up plays so opposing defenses don’t know what’s coming. Our defense is going to be able to hold opponents to fewer points, at least that’s the hope.
And dammit, we should be able to beat New Orleans this year!
So raise a glass (this evening, maybe — it’s a little early for that), and let’s all toast to another season of pro football. Are you as fired up as I am?
* – Maybe not you, Browns fans.