According to our new media staff, readers love lists. Why? Read this list: 1. Nobody can read more than a few sentences at a time anymore, 2. Lists are neat and orderly in a chaotic world, 3. You grew up with David Letterman, 4. You can't pay attention long enough even to get to No. 5, so let's skip it. Here they are, a list of lists to kick off the NFL season Thursday night.
A Baker's Dozen of the Most Compelling Story Lines: 1. Can the Packers repeat? 2. Will the Eagles' off-season shopping spree pay off? 3. Can Austin Collie's head survive life in the NFL? 4. Can Kevin Kolb succeed in Arizona? 5. Can Donovan McNabb resurrect his career? 6. Will Alex Smith ever become a solid NFL quarterback? 7. What will happen to Carson Palmer? 8. Will anyone call Brett Favre? 9. Is this the year the post-Vick Falcons complete their amazing revival and win it all? 10. Can John Fox revive the sinking, stinking Broncos? 11. What will happen to Tim Tebow? 12. And Cam Newton? 13. What will Rex Ryan and his big mouth do for an encore?
10 Players, Coaches and Teams You Love to Hate: 1. Rex Ryan. Loud, fat, profane, cocky — what's to like? 2. The Jets. A team reflects the coach, right? Anyone surprised they signed Plaxico Burress?, 3. The Bengals (now holding Carson Palmer hostage), 4. Vince Young, 5. Tom Coughlin (why does this man always look like he's got indigestion?), 6. Al Davis — the NFL's Howard Hughes?, 7. The Eagles (now the NFL's version of the Miami Heat), 8. Dan Snyder, 9. The Cowboys (but not so much now that they are losing), 10. The attention-starved player formerly known as Chad Johnson.
Five Best Organizations: 1. Steelers, 2. Packers, 3. Patriots, 4. Eagles, 5. Falcons.
Five Worst Organizations: 1. Bengals, 2. Bengals, 3. Raiders, 4. Bengals, 5. Bengals.
Mr. Blackwell's Five Best Uniforms: 1. Cowboys, 2. Packers, 3. 49ers, 4. Chargers, 5. Eagles.
Mr. Blackwell's Five Worst Uniforms:1. Bengals, 2. Browns, 3. Bucaneers, 4. Jaguars, 5. Seahawks.
Top 10 Football Players Regardless of Position: 1. Charles Woodson, 2. Troy Polamalu, 3. Haloti Ngata, 4. Hines Ward, 5. Michael Vick, 6. DeMarcus Ware, 7. Elvis Dumervil, 8. Jared Allen, 9. Julius Peppers, 10. Patrick Willis.
Five Biggest Disappointments: 1. Vince Young, 2. Reggie Bush, 3. Dallas Cowboys, 4. Ryan Mathews, 5. Cam Newton (just getting an early start).
Five Worst Rules and Trends: 1. The disappearance of the running game (there can be too much of a good thing, even passing), 2. Moving the kickoff from the 30- to the 35-yard line. It's supposed to reduce injuries — it could make them worse. 3. The five-yard rule for defensive backs on receivers. Ridiculous. They used to tell NBA players they couldn't play against zone defenses, too. 4. Fining defensive players for hard hits. Ban helmet-leading hits, but defenders still have to bring down big, fast offensive players, often with big hits. 5. The overtime format — the college game does it right. (Oh, and one more: all scoring plays will be reviewed. Great, just what we need — another timeout.)
Five Best Quarterbacks: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Phillip Rivers, 3. Tom Brady, 4. Peyton Manning, 5. Matt Ryan/Drew Brees.
Five Most Overrated Players: 1. Mark Sanchez, 2.Reggie Bush, 3. Jay Cutler, 4. Tony Romo, 5. Eli Manning.
Five Teams and Players on the Rise: 1. Chiefs, 2. Falcons, 3. Lions, 4. Matt Ryan, 4. Sam Bradford and the Rams, 5. Texans.
Five Teams Headed the Other Way (besides the Bengals): 1. Panthers, 2. Titans, 3. Seahawks, 4. Broncos, 5. Giants.
Five Teams that Put You to Sleep, Not Counting the Bengals and Browns: 1. Panthers, 2. Titans, 3. Jaguars, 4. Seahawks, 5. Broncos.
Five Teams that Most Define the NFL: 1. Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, 4. Da Bears, 5. Giants.
Five Best TV Announcers: 1. Cris Collinsworth, 2. Cris Collinsworth, 3. Cris Collinsworth, 4. Al Michaels, 5. Troy Aikman.
The Three Worst Former Players Now Talking About Football on TV: 1. Phil Simms — please, make him stop talking or give him a word limit, 2. Michael Irvin, 3. All other former players except Collinsworth and Aikman.
Top 10 Team Rankings: 1. Packers, 2. Falcons, 3. Steelers, 4. Patriots, 5. Chargers, 6. Saints, 7. Eagles, 8. Jets, 9. Chiefs, 10. Ravens.