Every year, it's fun to predict the very first offensive play of the Cleveland Browns NFL season.
2007 (Pittsburgh): Jamal Lewis rushed to the right for 2 yard gain.
2006 (New Orleans): Charlie Frye passed to Braylon Edwards down the middle for 76 yard touchdown. Holding penalty on Kevin Shaffer negates the play, and the touchdown.
2005 (Cincinnati): Reuben Droughns rushed to the right for 24 yard gain.
2004 (Baltimore): William Green rushed to the right for 1 yard gain.
2003 (Indianapolis): Kelly Holcomb passed to William Green for 28 yard gain. Holding penalty on Ryan Tucker negates the play.
2002 (Kansas City): Jamel White rushed to the left for 3 yard gain.
2001 (Seattle): Tim Couch passed to Kevin Johnson for 28 yard gain.
I cannot find play by play statistics for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. It would seem like the Browns could be eager to test their high-octane offense early with a pass from Derek Anderson. The only time the Browns ran a successful pass pattern without a penalty during the stretch above was way back in 2001. If we try something risky and we connect, I'm begging for a holding penalty to not be called on our offensive line.
Things usually seem a little tense on play No. 1 though, so here is my official prediction for the first offensive play the Browns will run during the 2008 season:
Browns First Play (2008): Jamal Lewis rushes to the left for 5 yard gain.
In my optimistic approach, I would love for the Browns to try to work in the "big" play on the second play. Depending on which matchup Rob Chudzinski likes better, he would have Anderson playaction fake and then air it out deep to either Braylon Edwards or Donte Stallworth, with a checkdown option to Kellen Winslow in the flat.
Cowboys First Play (2008): Tony Romo passes to Marion Barber for 17 yard gain.
I think we're going to be really vulnerable to a screen play right off the bat. Just like the Chicago Bears did to us on their first play last week, the Cowboys would be wise to let our defensive line -- a unit trying to make a statement with two potential Pro Bowlers now -- overpursue with their energy, and just flip the ball to Barber for a sizable gain.
So, make your guesses here. If anyone predicts the exact play (rush vs. pass), yardage (tough to do for deep pass plays), and players involved, I'll send you a $25 reward via PayPal (no PayPal, no luck). You may predict penalties if you wish, but they are not necessary to win the "award". If there happens to be a tie, I'll judge whoever was closest to also predicting the Cowboys' first offensive play. Be aware that odds are probably in favor of nobody winning the prize, but it's still worth a shot!
If you're not interested in the monetary award, still make your prediction for the Browns, along with your reasoning!
P.S. Don't forget to play PFC Pick'em, where first place gets $150 at the end of the season! The contest is run by yours truly.