Here’s some questions to ponder before the rest of the National Football League follows the defending Super Bowl champions onto the gridiron:
Sunday, Sept. 9
Indianapolis at Chicago, 11 a.m. (KREZ) – Is Andrew Luck the next Peyton Manning? Can former Broncos Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall rekindle their pitch-and-catch love affair in the Windy City? Pick: Bears, 27-10. Line: Bears by 9½.
Jacksonville at Minnesota, 11 a.m. – Is MJD ready to tote the rock after missing the entire preseason? Is AP ready to tote the rock AD a la preinjury? Pick: Vikings, 14-9. Line: Vikings by 4.
Miami at Houston, 11 a.m. – Are the Dolphins this bad? Are the Texans that good? Pick: Texans, 27-6. Line: Texans by 10½.
New England at Tennessee, 11 a.m. – Is Brandon Lloyd Tom Brady’s next Randy Moss? Can CJ2K run back into the spotlight? Is Jake Locker ready for the big time at QB? Pick: Patriots, 28-24. Line: Patriots by 6½.
Washington at New Orleans, 11 a.m. (KASA) – Is RG3 all he’s cracked up to be? Can the Saints play ball without their head ball coach? And can their defense tackle without worry of a bounty-conscious, league-mandated fine? Pick: Saints, 33-23. Line: Saints by 9½.
Atlanta at Kansas City, 11 a.m. – Can the Falcons finally get over that postseason hump? Can the Chiefs’ trio of ACL injuries regain their footing? Pick: Chiefs, 17-14. Line: Falcons by 2½.
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m. (KCNC) – Can the dimunitive C.J. Spiller carry the Bills’ backfield load as the feature back? How long until somebody in New York picks up his guitar and pens another terrible Tim Tebow song? Pick: Bills, 17-13. Line: Jets by 3.
St. Louis at Detroit, 11 a.m. – Can Fisher’s line cast a new lot for the Rams in St. Louis? Is this the year of the Lion? Pick: Lions, 30-13. Line: Lions by 8½.
Philadelphia at Cleveland, 11 a.m. – Can the Dream Team rebound from last year’s nightmare? Can T-Rich roll over his collegiate national championship swag into Cleveland? Pick: Eagles, 17-10. Line: Eagles by 8½.
Seattle at Arizona, 2:25 p.m. (KASA) – With only a Kolb and a Skelton, will the Cardinals make a play for a Flynn now that a Wilson runs the Seahawks? Pick: Seahawks, 20-16. Line: Seahawks by 2½.
San Francisco at Green Bay, 2:25 p.m. – Is this a Week 1 preview of the NFC Championship? Defense? Or Offense? What’s your poison? Pick: Packers, 24-17. Line: Packers by 5½.
Carolina at Tampa Bay, 2:25 p.m. – What will Cam Newton do for a sophomore-season encore? Or will Josh Freeman outplay and outperform him by the Bay? Pick: Panthers, 27-20. Line: Panthers by 2½.
Pittsburgh at Denver, 6:20 p.m. (KOBF, KUSA; KRSJ 100.5 FM) – Will the Steelers play angry after their first-round playoff exit last year in Denver? Is Manning all the way back? If so, just how far can he carry the Broncos? Pick: Broncos, 22-20. Line: Broncos by 1.
Monday, Sept. 11
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 5 p.m. (ESPN) – Just how good will sophomore receivers A.J. Green and Torrey Smith be this year? Pick: Ravens, 21-13. Line: Ravens by 6.
San Diego at Oakland, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN) – Can Rivers rebound from a down 2011? How good could Run-DMC be if he could just stay healthy? Is this finally the year we find out? Pick: Raiders, 27-20. Line: Chargers by 1.