Ninety years ago, the biggest college football star in the country, Red Grange, went on a 17-game barnstorming tour to help George Halas promote his young football team. The Bears gained instant pub, as did the still-fresh-out-of-the-box NFL. That football train trip played a huge part in why we are all here today, wondering who is going to win in Week 1 and, ultimately, who will end up in the San Francisco Bay Area for Super Bowl 50.
While Grange provided the NFL with a rush of popularity, the league has never been more prominent than it is today, as evidenced by the wall-to-wall coverage of this past offseason's biggest stories: from the Jimmy Graham trade to the draft in Chicago to, of course, Deflategate.
Yet, now the games are the story, and man, that's a good thing.
Speaking of good things ... Shoutout to Rand Getlin, my colleague on "NFL HQ," who joined our media team this summer. More welcome additions: Cole Wright, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor. (Taylor can be seen wearing smedium shirts around the office often.)
MJD and I recently argued about the current NFL pecking order, yet neither of us could nudge the Seahawks out of the top spot in the Power Rankings. Even without Kam Chancellor in the fold, it's hard to believe Seattle will lose in St. Louis -- for the second year in a row -- this Sunday. But I'm getting ahead of myself here, tipping my picks in the intro. Take a look below, and feel free to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Now, let's get to it!
Elliot Harrison went 181-85-1 on his predictions last season. How will he fare in the 2015 campaign? His picks for Week 1 are below.
For the Texans to win, either Brian Hoyer is going to have to make plays downfield or Alfred Blue must run amok. Hoyer threw three touchdown passes and four picks on passes of 20-plus yards last season, while completing less than half those attempts. As for Blue, well ... Dontari Poe's status is still a bit of a question mark, but K.C.'s front seven is healthier overall than it was for most of last season, when the Chiefs finished 28th against the run. By day's end, Houston's RB might be Alfred Black-and-Blue. Don't forget to tip your waiter, folks. #KCvsHOU
The trick to Arizona winning games is how Bruce Arians' club fares in the fourth quarter. Last year, the Cardinals forced a staggering 14 fourth-quarter takeaways, posting a league-leading plus-10 turnover differential in the final stanza. New Orleans? Minus-five. Expect Drew Brees to throw less passes late in games this year, with Mark Ingram and friends involved more. With Arizona being at home, though, we're anticipating the Cards to force mistakes again in the late goings. And I like Kangol caps a lot. #NOvsAZ
*"[Eagles](/teams/philadelphiaeagles/profile?team=PHI) win," he said.
"Because they're a better team."*
Hard hittin' analysis right there, people.
I, too, feel the Eagles will win, using the run game heavily in the first half while building a double-digit lead. Chip Kelly will have Sam Bradford take vertical shots once the game slows down, which actually might get Atlanta back into the contest. Matt Ryan's Falcons offense is more than capable of capitalizing off takeaways -- if Bradford forces a few throws -- but if Julio Jones gets blanketed, Tevin Coleman must provide balance. Defensively, the Falcons' pass rush will be the difference between winning and losing. Atlanta can ill afford to let Jason Peters pitch a shutout at left tackle. #PHIvsATL
**1)** Does [Tom Brady](/player/tombrady/2504211/profile) still have it at 38 years old?
**2)** Can the aforementioned [Steelers](/teams/pittsburghsteelers/profile?team=PIT) defense rush the passer or cover any of Brady's pass catchers?
**3)** How effective will the [Patriots](/teams/newenglandpatriots/profile?team=NE)' run game be this season?
Expanding on that last query ... With no LeGarrette Blount, it will be fun to see who gets the rock Thursday night. James White? Dion Lewis? Brandon Bolden? Watch Bolden rush for 200. Meanwhile, with no Le'Veon Bell to burn game clock, the Steelers' D could be on the field more than Pittsburgh would like. Disconcerting. #PITvsNE