Yes, indeed. After an interminably long wait, we have a full slate of actual meaningful NFL football games. Hope springs eternal, everyone but the Vikings and Saints are 0-0, and every fan out there hopes that his or her team will ride off to the playoffs. Are you ready?
-- There's more to Rex Ryan than you may think. While you're watching the pregame shows and eating your Ochocincos cereal, please do take a few minutes this morning to check out this absolutely tremendous Rex Ryan profile in the New York Times. Nicholas Dawidoff does a stellar job of getting inside the head of everyone's favorite/least-favorite coach. Among the revelations and reminders: A dust-up with a neighbor in 2002 stood in Rex's way for a few head-coaching jobs; he really is the game's best defensive coach (not named Dick LeBeau); his players love him to an admirable degree; he likes "unlikely athletes"; and he once borrowed one of brother Rob's contact lenses to hit a two-run homer.
-- The reason for Jacksonville's sellout could see the field. Want to know why there isn't a blackout for once in Jacksonville? It isn't because the Jaguars are so terribly exciting ... nope, it's because local boy Tim Tebow(notes) is coming home with his new team, the Denver Broncos. Tebow will be the second quarterback behind Kyle Orton(notes), and head coach Josh McDaniels already has said there are plays lined up for His Tebowness. It's expected Denver will show some Wildcat looks, but the best place to use Tebow is in the red zone. The Broncos didn't get it done in that area last season, and Tebow scored as many collegiate rushing touchdowns as Marshall Faulk. Tebow is still putting things together as a quarterback at the NFL level, but he could definitely help his team with his ability to get in that end zone from a variety of formations.
-- There's concern in Pittsburgh. The cloud that hangs over the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening day is obviously the four-game suspension that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) will serve to begin the season. Second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon(notes) will take hold of the offense, which means you'll see some different looks. Dixon is a great option quarterback, and running back Rashard Mendenhall(notes) will be expected to step up. But as they face the Falcons, the Steelers know they can't go with a total ground attack; Dixon will have to make plays downfield. Look for a lot of trips and bunch formations -- Pittsburgh is exceptional at running the ball with bunch receivers blocking, and those quick clearout routes could really help Dixon's game.
-- Ladies and gentlemen, the most expensive nickel defensive tackle in NFL history! After a tumultuous offseason nobody wanted, it comes down to this: Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth(notes) will most likely see action only in nickel looks and obvious passing situations. This means that Haynesworth essentially got his way; he never wanted to play nose tackle in a 3-4 or 5-2 front, and Washington's new nickel fronts feature four-man lines, with Andre Carter(notes) and Brian Orakpo(notes) on the edges and a rotation of players on the inside two. If Haynesworth doesn't show up big-time in the opener against the Dallas Cowboys, the pressure on him could very well move from head coach Mike Shanahan to Haynesworth's own teammates. And that's where this situation could get even uglier than it's already been.
- Rex Ryan