By Dan Shearer
Tomorrow officially marks the start of a new NFL season. The Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints travel to Canton, Ohio to play the Hall of Fame game. Sunday marks the 43rd time two teams will meet to play this historic game. Although it is a preseason game, this will be a turn the page event for the Saints, who hope to start a new chapter after the offseason’s bounty gate scandal.
The Saints have a lot to prove this year, taking on the NFC without their head coach, Sean Payton, general manager, Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt, and defensive captain, Jonathan Vilma. One person who might have the most to prove is veteran quarterback Drew Brees, who had been very vocal about his contract situation as well as his feelings about Commissioner Roger Goodell. Brees must prove his worth to Saints fans after signing a 5 year, 100 million dollar contract. He is the NFL’s first 20 million dollar a year man. Saints fans should be worried with their not-so-favorable schedule and the competition they face in the NFC South. I expect this division to be the best in the NFL this year with the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both in the rise, and the still strong Atlanta Falcons fighting for the top.
On the opposite side of the field tomorrow night, we get a look at the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are a team in the midst of a quarterback competition between incumbent starter Kevin Kolb and last year’s fan favorite John Skelton. Skelton had a strong finish to last year after Kolb went down with an injury and has had a strong showing this offseason. The Cardinals offense should be better with Larry Fitzgerald and 1st round draft pick Michael Floyd spreading the field, and a healthy Beanie Wells holding down the running game. Arizona will have a top 15 defense this year with Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson anchoring the secondary. The Cardinals are still a few pieces away from being a playoff team this year, but should put up some competition in the NFC West.