Great sports columnists.

It takes a lot of restraint for me not to turn this into a sports blog with entries akin to Bill Simmons or Dan Shanoff. The truth is that I would love nothing more than to be a nationally recognized sports writer. Come on Page 2, let me have my own column already. I've been blogging for over two months, I've paid my dues!

Well I've decided to stop my self-imposed moratorium on daily sports ranting. The NFL season has arrived, and so I no longer care if my three confirmed readers want anything else. Sports column.

So tomorrow night is the big opening act on NBC between defending Super Bowl champs Pittsburgh Steelers and sexy not-even-close-to-a-sleeper pick Miami Dolphins. I have to admit, I'm on the Dolphins bandwagon, and I'll tell you why. Daunte Culpepper is due. I've watched his career closely since he was drafted by the Vikings in 1999 or 2000 or whenever that was. There is a definite trend to be found. Two steps forward, one step back. He breaks out, adjusts, has a mediocre year, adjusts more, has a bad year, adjusts again, and breaks out once more. The last time he busted loose would go down as the finest year a quarterback has ever had were it not for Peyton Manning's gaudy, concurrent numbers.

We all know Daunte was a disaster last year, most of all myself. But he's ready to bust out again. And he has Chris Chambers to chuck it to, who I would definitely rank above Randy Moss any day of the lunar calendar. Daunte is at his best when he's in a system he likes, with a talented receiver to catch it, and a running game to keep the defense honest. System? Maybe. Nick Saban is definitely up to something down there in Miami. Receiver? Check. Running game? Check. I'm proud to say I've got both Ronnie Brown and Chris Chambers on my fantasy team. Championship!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are like Blur. They've been around for a while, solidly doing their business but never lighting things up. Then it all comes together for one magical moment when a chundering, balls-to-the-wall hit comes along and the whole world takes notice. But then while they're all waiting for the follow-up, the band quietly goes in a new direction and everybody's glad to let them go. Last year was one shining day in the sun for Pittsburgh. It won't be repeated. Willie Parker just signed a big contract extension. Of course that means he's in for an injury or simply a disappointing year. Ben Roethlisberger isn't the fantastic quarterback everyone thinks he is. He's just smart enough not to make mistakes. They don't have the gadget plays since Antwaan Randle-El left, Hines Ward is overrated and nursing an injury, the defense ain't getting any younger, and opposing offenses will soon learn how to counteract the Polamalu Effect. It's parity, and Pittsburgh is on the downswing this year.

So who do I like in tomorrow night's contest? Duh, Miami. They're going to at least get off to a big start so they can build the bandwagon to enormous proportions. I'm eager for football's return to NBC too, it reminds me of the good old days. Here's hoping that my boss won't remember that she hasn't drafted a defense for her fantasy football team yet. Happy times!

No comments: