John Madden
John Madden
Week 1 Viewer's Guide
By John Madden

Green Bay vs. Carolina
This is a good game to open Monday Night Football with. In one corner there's the NFC Champion and a team that could have won the Super Bowl if they'd gotten one more possession. That was such a surprise because I don't think anyone picked them to be in the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. I feel this team and QB Jake Delhomme are both for real.

The way to build an offense is by starting with the offensive line and the same holds true for the defense. You have to build your defense around the defensive line, the pass rush, stopping the run and the Panthers have done that very well.

The defense's foundation will be tested because the Green Bay Packers have a very good offensive line, a great QB in Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green. Having a good running back like Green allows Favre the luxury of not having to throw the ball all the time. Also once the run gets going the play action becomes a big part of what the Packers do on offense.

Delhomme has always reminded me of a young Brett Favre and now he gets to play against the real thing on MNF. That's a heckova recipe for a great opening Monday Night Football game.

Dallas vs. Minnesota
This will be an interesting test for the Dallas Cowboy defense. Last season the defense was ranked first in the NFL and the secondary was its strength. Safety Darren Woodson normally leads this secondary, but he's out for the first five games of the season after having back surgery. It's still a strong secondary with Terence Newman and Roy Williams, but the loss of Woodson will really affect them.

The Minnesota Vikings have the most dangerous wide receiver in all of football in Randy Moss and a quarterback that can get him the football in Daunte Culpepper. That's going to be the real battle for the Cowboys defense and the result of that battle will dictate the outcome of this game. If the Vikings can score a lot of points then the Cowboys are going to be put in a very difficult position because the Vinny Testaverde-led offense has a more conservative approach and won't be looking to put up a lot of points. If they have to play from behind they will have a tough time staying in the game.

Kansas City vs. Denver
I want to see how the Kansas City Chiefs defense is going to play. We know the offense can score plenty of points, but their defense hasn't been able to stop anyone. Last season the defense was truly exposed against the Colts when Indy didn't have to punt all game. Of course neither did Kansas City, but the Chiefs still fell on the short end of the stick. That was the type of team that the Chiefs had and the only change that was made was hiring Gunther Cunningham as the new defensive coordinator. With Cunningham I think there will be a lot more blitzing and then the question will be how the Denver Broncos are able to handle the defensive pressure.

I don't think the Broncos will have any problems handling the blitz, they have a very experienced offensive line and a running QB in Jake Plummer. The real questions for this team are going to be at running back. They have to miss Clinton Portis because he was such a large contributor to what they did. While the trade for CB Champ Bailey did address a question on the defensive side of the ball, it still remains to be seen how they react to one of the best offenses in the league.

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