Whether we party with the gang or go solo in the Barcalounger, we all love to watch football. Industry sources say ratings spiked as much as 30 percent last year. So join us as we pull our favorite jerseys from the closet and take a collective deep breath, because …
1. IT’S TRUE: THE NFL HAS BECOME THE NEW DAYTIME DRAMA
So what if As the World Turns got yanked? We’ve got enough compelling multiple-personality story lines this season. To wit: Will the Dallas Cowboys finally win the NFC Championship? Will Rex Ryan lose the extra 200 pounds and get his QB cover boy a Super Bowl ring? Will Pete Carroll be able to apply his NCAA success to a crippled Seattle Seahawks franchise? What better to do than get a cheat sheet from the experts? We got ours from ESPN analyst and former Kansas City Chiefs coach HERM EDWARDS. His picks:
EAST: The Jets. “A stacked team. Goodrunning game, hard to score on and picked up stellar veterans like LaDainian Tomlinson during the draft.”
NORTH: The Ravens. “Joe Flacco is going to have a good year.”
SOUTH: The Colts. “As long as Peyton Manning is there, they’ll win 12 to 14 games a season.”
WEST: The Chargers. “Philip Rivers is key; a terrific QB.”
EAST: The Cowboys. “Good on both sides of the ball. They could be hosting the NFC Championship this season.”
NORTH: The Packers. “Aaron Rodgers has what it takes.”
SOUTH: The Falcons. “I like the Saints, but they won’t be able to take away the ball 39 times this year again — and that’s what won it for them.”
WEST: No pick. “There’s no dominant QB here.”
You quickly realize …
2. THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THE QUARTERBACK
Rules now favor protecting the quarterback. But watch out: “Pressure is the new name of the game,” Edwards announces. “Look for defenses to think, ‘OK, he may score a couple touchdowns, but if we can hit him enough and knock him around, we’ve got a chance.’ ”
Still, you need …
3. A TOP-TEN LIST! (OR, TWO TOP-FIVE LISTS!)
How to maximize your at-homeviewing experience:
5. If you don’t like the play-by-play calling, mute the TV and turn to theradio coverage.
4. Have a backup plan in case your TV, cable or satellite dish goes out.
3. Count how many beer and food commercials there are during a game.
2. Try calling a play within 30 seconds after each play, like the coaches do, and see how well you succeed.
1. Keep the remote as far away as possible, in case your team loses.
— Herm Edwards
5. Get HDTV.
4. Follow Jay_Glazer on Twitter for last-minute player updates.
3. Get to know Cowboy Dez Bryant, an explosive wide receiver draft pick.
2. Watch a Washington Redskins game. Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb together? You won’t be able to take your eyes off of it.
1. Watch Fox for Mike Pereira, the former VP of officials, who will pop up during games to interpret those inscrutable ref calls.
— Jay Glazer, Insider for Fox NFL Sunday