So the New Orleans Saints have been slated to open up the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings on the Thursday before opening Sunday and you'll surely hear more than a few times that this will be a "rematch" of the NFC Championship game.
Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
Well all of that talk is just fine, except that it's a wildly inaccurate, oversimplification of what that week one game actually means. First of all, it's not a rematch. A rematch would mean that the winner would get to go back in time and play in the Super Bowl the Saints won. Sure, it's the same two teams but their rosters will be different (if only slightly) and the stakes won't be nearly as high.
But most importantly, don't call this a rematch because that would take away from what this game is really about: The first game the Saints will play as Defending Super Bowl Champions.
Let that sink in for a moment. Never in New Orleans' history has the Big Easy hosted the opening game of the season with the defending Super Bowl Champions defending the Superdome turf. This game will ride high in emotions for the home team - from the ring ceremony to unveiling the championship banner - and you know the Dome will be as loud as ever.
For the Vikings? Surely they'll be looking for some sort of redemption from last year's loss in the NFC Championship game, but every player on that team knows that, win or lose, the first game of the 2010 season will not erase the memory of their last game of the 2009 season. Both teams will be playing for a new year and a new championship.
Not that an opening day victory against the Vikings wouldn't be any less sweet.
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