Like most modern NFL fans, I’m not usually all that stoked for pre-season games, because we generally see a lot of projects on the field and not a whole lot of the stars that we really want to watch. As the 2011 contests kick off tonight, though, I have to admit that I’m pretty excited. Even though we didn’t miss much because of the lockout this spring and summer, the possibility was there, and it’s great to know that live action is ramping up again.
Here are few things to look for from tonight’s games, with a decided Colts slant.
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles
This could be a very early preview of two teams who might stand between the Colts and their Lombardi Trophy. The Eagles dominated free agent news the past two weeks, and they swooped in yesterday to nab Steve Smith from the New York Giants. Since there are so many new pieces for this team and an accelerated schedule between their signing and the season opener, fans may actually get to see some star power on the field tonight .
The Ravens, for their part, have designs on getting back to the Super Bowl, and seeing Ricky Williams in the same backfield with Ray Rice could be fun. I expect lots of veterans to be riding the bench for Baltimore tonight.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots
The Patriots signed Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson-Ochocinco early on and then became kind of quiet. I think Belichick will once again have these big egos playing well together and in line to be the Colts’ last AFC opponent of the season. Maybe the newcomers will see some action tonight.
The Jaguars still aren’t very exciting, but they do have a recent Colt, having signed LB Clint Session to a $30-million contract. What a great deal … for Session.
Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers
Former Colts safety Bob Sanders joins the Chargers, another Colts-killing team. We loved Sanders in Indy, and you know he’ll be in Greek-god shape, but I just don’t think he can stay healthy. Body parts fall off as he runs down the field to deliver one of his monster hits.
And the Seahawks, well, they made the playoffs last year. It will be really tough for them to get back there again, even playing in such a terrible division.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys tried to do last year what the Colts will do this year: play in a Super Bowl on their home turf. The `Boys may have been just a year off, and they could very well be in Indy during the first week of February.
For the Broncos, and everyone else, it’s all about Tim Tebow v. Kyle Orton. It’s hard to see the Broncos keeping their big-dollar pretty boy on the bench for long, particularly after they tried to ship Orton out of town during the off-season. I’ll bet it’s really “cozy” in Broncos camp this summer, and should be even more so after Tebow gets in his three quarters or so tonight.
Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders
In a word, yuck!