What to watch in Week 1

We asked some of our football experts what they were the most excited to watch in Week 1.

Updated: September 8, 2006, 3:06 PM ET
ESPN.com

Games to watch in Week 1

• Colts at Giants (Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET): Brother vs. brother. Eli Manning vs. Peyton Manning. This game is being hyped a lot and it's probably annoying some people, but it's going to be a great game. Every player on these teams has a best friend or brother he'd give anything in the world to beat. Now these guys get to help one of the leaders of their team beat his brother. I think that's going to result in a game with a great deal of intensity for an early-season game. Both teams are going to want to win one for their own Manning.

• Cowboys at Jaguars (Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET): This game is interesting because of Terrell Owens. Everyone has focused this past offseason on the fact that T.O. hasn't practiced much because of injuries. People seem to think this is going to result in a feud between T.O. and coach Bill Parcells. Although that might be true, it's not what I'm looking at in this game. The real potential for a feud is among T.O., Terry Glenn and Drew Bledsoe. Glenn and Bledsoe have an excellent on-field camaraderie that has been built over several seasons in New England and Dallas. T.O. is the new kid at school trying to find his way, but these two guys know exactly what the other can do. It's going to be interesting to see how Owens handles it when Glenn gets those first reads and big pass plays T.O. believes he deserves.

• Falcons at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET): These are two of the elite teams in the NFC South, and we get to scope them out against each other in Week 1. This game has importance for a variety of reasons. One, the Falcons have to beat one of these top teams to prove they are a contender and not just the little brother who gets taken to the woodshed when the stakes get big. Two, a win in this game will put the winner one game up in the tough NFC South. The third reason is that Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall has been talking trash to Panthers WR Steve Smith and that might elicit a heckuva performance from one of the top receivers in the game if he's healthy enough to play.

Player to watch

I'm looking forward to the beginning of the Reggie Bush era in the NFL. It has been a long while since we've seen a rookie enter the league with this type of hype about the kind of impact he can make on the league, and that's including when Michael Vick came into the league. The only thing is, I can't really call it hype because we all know just how special Bush is going to be.

Bush
Tim Umphrey/Getty Images
Reggie Bush was the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Despite his being in the same backfield as Deuce McAllister, I'm picking Bush to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. People are expecting Bush not only to save a franchise that has been moribund in recent years both on and off the field but to help a city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina last year. And despite these huge expectations, I fully expect him to come through and that's because it's so rare to see such a blend of fluid speed, size and athleticism in one player.

Mix that in with the chip on his shoulder the Houston Texans placed there by not taking him No. 1 overall, and your heart starts beating fast just waiting for his first play from scrimmage this weekend against the Browns. This kid has the ability to be the type of player people tell their kids they saw play live even when they were actually nowhere near the stadium.

Ready for some football

I'm so excited about this upcoming football seasons because I think it's going to be exciting every week. This is the first time since the advent of free agency that I think there are as many as 18 teams with a true shot at making the playoffs and winning it all.

Eighteen teams!!

Think about that for a second; that's more than half the league. In the past, we've marveled at the parity of the league because there were as many as 10 teams with a legitimate chance at the Super Bowl when the season started. What's really great about this is that the parity isn't because it's a watered-down league. There is just a plethora of talent on a bunch of teams that is being properly used by excellent coaching staffs. It doesn't get any better than that, baby!

The reason for this parity has everything to do with the evolution of front offices around the NFL. No longer does the front office take a backseat to the coaching staff in terms of what happens on the field. Now, the coaching staff, players and front office all have to be in top shape for a team to have a true chance at winning it all. Organizations are following the lead of teams such as the Steelers and Patriots and realizing that cohesion is necessary to be successful in this league. Not only are they reaping the benefits of this approach but the fans are, too.

Jaworski's QB of the week
Palmer
Palmer
My quarterback of the week is Carson Palmer for a combination of reasons. One, he's a man on a mission. He has come back extremely quickly from a serious injury that, by some accounts, was career-threatening. The dedication he showed to his rehab and getting back on the field with his teammates shows how important football is to him. Trust me when I tell you the injury will only serve to focus him when he's on the field. When anyone has a serious injury like that, it's easy to play the pity game and lose a bit of the dedication one has to the game, but Palmer has shown none of that. This injury only served to remind him how much he loves the game of football, and that's why he threw his heart and soul into his rehab.

The other reason I believe he's going to have a great week is because this offense is deadly. The Bengals have outstanding offensive weaponry at every position, culminating with three excellent receivers. This week, they will play a Kansas City defense that will play at a high level eventually but isn't there yet. This week will be a tough test for the Chiefs, and they might take a bit of a spanking against Palmer and the Bengals.
-- Ron Jaworski

On the defensive
My top defense for this week is the Philadelphia Eagles. This team is filled with veterans who have a lot to prove after a down year. This is a prideful bunch of guys who've had to spend the entire offseason hearing the chirping from fellow competitors and commentators about how they might have fallen off their perch as one of the top defenses in the league. This week, they get to play a Texans offense that has had unbelievable issues in the past protecting QB David Carr. Trust me when I say the Eagles are champing at the bit for a chance to get after Carr.

Expect to see the Eagles of old, with blitzes seemingly coming from everywhere. The Eagles can afford to blitz so much because the secondary is so good. This is a defense that has the potential to put up some extremely impressive numbers because of that secondary. Philly has one of the best safeties (Brian Dawkins) in football and two young, hungry and talented cornerbacks (Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown) who have proved they can play with any set of receivers in the league. I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and watching this defense go at it Sunday.

-- Mike Golic