(via Getty Image)

Oh sweet football – love of my life, destroyer of brains, enabler of drunks – you’ve returned! And not a moment too soon.

Last year, the Giants were the first defending champ to lose the Thursday opener since the tradition began last decade. This year, the Ravens are the first not to have it in their own stadium on account of their city’s baseball team pushing them around. Perhaps next year Roger Goodell will heed the counsel of Peter King and place the game in Wichita.

I truly have enjoyed the side drama about Denver residents being completely irate that the NFL had the audacity to put pictures of Joe Flacco around their town to promote this game. I’d like to think that if the Broncos lose tonight, all that signage will get torched in an orgy of mayhem, but the losing fans will probably just do lame shit like draw mustaches on Flacco. Joke’s on them – HE already flirted with the Fu Manchu.

Even though CBS isn’t broadcasting this game, I imagine Jim Nantz’s orgasm will be audible to anyone in the contiguous 48 states the first time Peyton Manning completes a pass to Wes Welker. The game being on NBC means we get to see Carrie Underwood tell how she’s been waiting all day for Sunday night on Thursday. Oh, and the debut of Scott Pioli’s balls on the pregame set. What fun!

The great thing about the season kickoff game is that, even though I dislike both of these teams immensely, I couldn’t be more overjoyed to watch this, even if it ends up being a 13-9 stinker. That’s what seven months of football deprivation will do to you. The only thing that could bring me down is Peyton Manning getting one of those innocent-looking Kevin Kolb concussions that ends his career, because I’m pretty sure the NFL would cancel the rest of the season if that happened.