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Regular Season Game 1 - New Orleans Saints vs. Cleveland Browns

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It's finally here: Week 1 of the regular season. We'll all be focused on the New Orleans Saints versus the Cleveland Browns when the game kicks off at 1:00 PM EST. For today's preview, I'm going to do a position by position comparison to compare which team has more strength at a particular position. At the end, I'll give a summary of what I'm expecting during the game, along with my official prediction. So, let's get right to it.
- Quarterback
At this point, the quarterback situation among these teams comes down to experience. Drew Brees has done exactly what we hope Charlie Frye will be able to do for us: revive a team. A few years ago, Brees turned the San Diego Chargers around, and now he'll try to do the same with the Saints. Frye still needs to prove that he can tone down some of his crazy throws on the run that often end up as turnovers. Fortunately for Frye, he will have several new weapons this season compared to last year, meaning he can make his case to move up in the rankings right off the bat.
- Running Back
When you hear about Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, it sounds like a deadly combination, right? Well, it can be, but in this game, it'll be the Browns' running game that has the slight edge due to a very weak group of linebackers on the Saints. Bush will be utilized all over the field for the Saints in an attempt to create a buzz, but it's not often that a rookie can have his "big" offensive game in his first game. Jerome Harrison has a smaller role to fill, which will ideally allow him to make a big play more than Bush.
- Receiver
Just one week ago, the Saints matched up a lot better against our receivers than they do today. They've traded their No. 2 receiver Donte' Stallworth to the Eagles, and they cut a tight end that many people thought would be a sleeper in the league in Zach Hilton. The only proven receiver they have is Joe Horn, while seventh-rounder Marques Colston will start opposite of him. Meanwhile, the Browns will see the return of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, along with the debut of Joe Jurevicius.
- Offensive Line
The Browns would have had the advantage here of LeCharles Bentley was still with us, but without him, it shifts to the Saints. The Browns made up for our disastrous situation by acquiring Hank Fraley, but that's not enough to compensate for the former first-rounders stacked on the Saints offensive line. The Browns still have some questions regarding the ability of Kevin Shaffer on one end, and the health status of Ryan Tucker on the other side.
- Defensive Line
This position could easily go either way, but everyone is expecting Ted Washington to be the big difference this year on our defensive line. He should be able to take up two offensive lineman, making it difficult for Bush or McAllister to pound it up the middle. The Saints have some talent on their line as well in defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant, but their defensive tackles aren't as sharp. Orpheus Roye was possibly our best defensive player last year, and someone who has not been talked about very much heading into this season.
- Linebacker
This is without question the Browns most improved position, and probably the Saints worst position. The major thing the Browns lacked last year was a pass rush and depth. Willie McGinest and Kamerion Wimbley will create the pass rush for the Browns, while D'Qwell Jackson, Chaun Thompson, and Leon Williams will provide the depth. The Saints group of linebackers are full of average players who will have trouble defending the tough running of Reuben Droughns. Look for Kellen Winslow to take advantage any time a linebacker is covering him.
- Secondary
Mike McKenzie is a solid cornerback for the Saints, but he's nothing we should be overly concerned with. Meanwhile, Leigh Bodden is a guy who seems like he never gets burned anymore. Gary Baxter usually holds up well at his position, but his main question comes down to his health. Brian Russell probably will not play this week, meaning Brodney Pool and Sean Jones will both get starts at safety. That is a big change from a year ago, and could possibly be the most risky defensive position we're sending out on the field today. Fortunately, the Saints don't really have anything better on their end.
- Special Teams
The Browns have explosive returners in the return game with Josh Cribbs and Dennis Northcutt, but you have to fear the thought of Reggie Bush returning for the Saints. Phil Dawson has the edge over John Carney at home, while the difference between Dave Zastudil and Mitch Berger isn't very significant. I thought about picking the Saints for this category due to how often we hold on special teams, so hopefully they don't screw something up today.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 23, New Orleans Saints 13.
The game will not be a blowout, but there's no reason we shouldn't be able to control the tempo of this game. Reuben Droughns will be able to milk the clock throughout the game as the Browns expand the playbook towards Kellen Winslow a little. The Saints still have a lot of work to do at several positions, meaning you can't let the fact that they have Reggie Bush on their team get you scared too much. Bush is not going to be able to carry this team by himself, while the Browns are progressing in the second-year of the new coaching staff.

This is the official gameday thread for today's game. Any comments you would like to make before, during, or after the game should be placed into this thread. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!