It's back, baby, and better than ever.
No more lockouts or holdouts or strike-driven freakouts.
When the New Orleans Saints march into Lambeau Field on Thursday night to take on the Title Bay Packers, when toe meets leather and we witness that first inevitable touchback, all will be right with America again.
So on the eve of the NFL season, here are my top 10 NFL predictions:
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1. The game will be more popular than ever.
According to SI.com's Richard Deitsch, last year's NFL television ratings were up 13 percent over 2009. Professional football games attracted twice as many viewers as the regular prime-time programming on the broadcast networks. The Packers-Steelers Super Bowl set an American television record with 111 million viewers.
That's not likely to change. Our economy may stink and our politicians may be jokes, but our HDTVs are bigger than (the old) Jonah Hill and more vibrant than real life. What better way to escape the depressing world outside than parking ourselves in front of the television inside to keep a running count of the concussions.
2. The Colts will crumble without Peyton Manning.
After all, Manning is the Indianapolis Colts. And unfortunately, No. 18 is having neck problems to the point where he will not play in Sunday's opener and the Colts had to go out and hire Kerry Collins, one of the few active players who was actually coached by a young Joe Paterno.
Hope Apple has a better time of it without Steve Jobs than the Colts will have without Peytie-Pie.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals will not be as bad as you might think.
Not that Mike Brown is playoff-bound, mind you. But I like Andy Dalton. (Redheads rule.) I love A.J. Green. Mike Zimmer's defense is better than it showed last season. And the team will benefit from the lack of on-going drama provided from a now-gone receiver.
Call me crazy, but I think the Bengals could go 7-9.
4. The Browns will be the surprise team of the AFC.
And I'm not just saying this because of a lifelong affection for the guys in the orange helmets.
Teamed with first-year head coach Pat Shurmur, second-year quarterback Colt McCoy is sitting on a breakout season. Peyton Hillis would flatten his grandmother for an an extra yard.
Playoffs? Maybe not. But they won't be that far off.
5. The Lions will be the surprise team of the NFC.
Or it won't be such a surprise since Sports Illustrated picked the Motor City madmen to reach the playoffs. To reach its potential, however, Detroit needs former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley out of the hot tub and on the playing field.
6. The Eagles won't be the Dream Team, despite what new backup quarterback Vince Young says.
When did anyone listen to a backup quarterback, anyway?
Andy Reid is a smart guy, but making his offensive line coach his defensive coordinator is a risky move in a town that isn't all that big on risky moves — that don't work.
7. Chad Ocho-Ego will be released by mid-season.
In a stunning development, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick will realize that watching Chad drop balls in person is just not good for his hoodie.
8. The Bears won't repeat as NFC North champions.
Jay Cutler has a better chance of reuniting with Kristin Cavallari than Lovie Smith's team has of finishing ahead of the Pack.
9. Randall Cobb will be good, but he could have been better.
Thank the NFL's Competition Committee for limiting Cobb's powers, moving the kickoff from the 30-yard line up to the 35, which means the former UK return star will watch many a football fly over his head and out of the end zone.
10. The Saints will beat the Jets in the Super Bowl when Rex Ryan blitzes Drew Brees just one time too many.
This will cause Mike Greenberg to weep.