There's been a lot of talk here over the last month about the significance of the preseason performance of a team. But a few years ago I came up with a bold theory that takes this argument a step further and in a new direction. My theory is the first regular season game is really the last preseason game. It's the first time a team takes the field knowing the game really matters and that they'll be playing with the guys standing next to them for the full 60 minutes. There's still some rust to be shaken off that just doesn't come off in the preseason. You have to kick it back up a notch, and at this level of play it still takes some time to get back into that gear. There are a dozen examples. Last year the Browns looked horrible in Week 1 and everyone said Romeo Crennell wouldn't last the season - then they almost made the playoffs. Or take the 2001 Carolina Panthers, who beat Minnesota at Minnesota to open the season - then lost the next 15. Or the 1996, 2001, and 2003 Patriots - who looked terrible the first game of the season and went on to the Super Bowl (winning it two of those seasons.) Or there's how mediocre the Pats looked in the season opener against Buffalo two years ago. Or there's the borderline snoozer from this past Thursday night. This is why I don't put much stock in the preseason - football is a team game. These guys need time to gel and get in a rhythm. You can't do that in camp and practice when you're playing against the same players all the time, you can't do it in the preseason because you aren't in that much and when you are there's a lot of rotation on both your team and the other team. Course I'm sure you can find a zillion examples of where this theory doesn't apply. Take last year's Pats, who exploded in Week 1 and won the next 15 games. Considering they didn't play together in preseason, Tom Brady and Randy Moss fit together like a hand and glove. No theory is absolute. Thoughts?