In a tradition that dates all the way back to 2004, the NFL kicks off the regular season on a Thursday night with a home game for the defending Super Bowl Champions. If that long-standing tradition continues, the NFL will kick off the 2007 regular season in the RCA Dome with the Colts playing an as-yet-undetermined opponent. When I first looked at Indy's home-field opponents for 2007, it looked obvious who the opponent would be: New England. It'd be just like 2004, when the Colts and Patriots did a replay of the previous season's exciting AFC Championship game.
But I'm about to pull a John Kerry and flip-flop on my guess.
I now believe it will be the Saints visiting the Colts for the What-If Bowl to open the season. The storyline is built in: What if the Saints had knocked off the Bears in the NFC Championship game? Reggie Bush! Drew Brees! Who knows if New Orleans will be a contender again in 2007-2008, so the NFL will schedule this game early while the buzz is still hot.
The Patriots are the second most likely team to play the season opener, but I have a feeling the NFL knows that the Colts/Patriots game will be a ratings grabber whether it's the first game of the year or it's going up against American Idol or is being played at 3 o'clock on a Tuesday morning. Why waste Indy/New England on a game that will already have a built in audience?
If it's not the Saints or Patriots, look for the Broncos to be visiting the RCA Dome on that Thursday night. Maybe the two equine squads don't have the same draw as Indy/New England does, but they've had several pretty exciting match ups in the past several years.