AP National Writer
Well, it's that time of year again, when Americans across the land take an extended break from being productive at work, paying attention to trouble spots overseas, or noticing they have a family.
Our long national nightmare is over.
Since early February, we've had to get by with such mundane pursuits as pretending we care about politics, spending quality time with the kids, or -- gasp! -- watching the occasional hockey game (a caveat: this usually occurred only when flipping through channels in a futile bid to find someone yelling about Tim Tebow).
Sure, there was the occasional respite in our joyless lives.
The draft. Free agency. Watching repeated repeats of the 1976 Super Bowl on NFL Network.
But now, we are truly whole again.
We get to spend six days a week working on our fantasy league roster, deciding how much of that mortgage check can be diverted to betting on the Giants, and listening to the talking heads chatter on endlessly about which teams need a third-string quarterback (why won't they give Tebow a shot, for heaven's sake?)
Then, comes Sunday.
Glorious, glorious Sunday.
No need for pews when you've got a Barcalounger. The 50-inch, hi-def screen is our pulpit. All is right with the world -- unless our team loses, of course. But that ain't happening. No way. Seriously, we killed it in free agency, and our GM really likes the rookies he drafted, and at least we don't have Tebow mucking up our roster.
What's that you say?
It's just a game. There's no balance in our lives. We should spend more time worrying about a potential war in Syria than we do about Rex Ryan's latest gaffe.
Well, clearly, you're European or something.
This is what we live for.
This is all we live for.
And there's nothing sad about that, right?
So, drum roll please, let's take a look at what to expect from NFL '013:
AMERICA'S TEAM: Tony Romo steps up his game, doubling his interceptions from 19 to 38. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones rewards his quarterback by signing him to a 42-year, $2.7 billion contract, while also stressing that doesn't mean Romo won't be his quarterback for all of eternity. Also, upon learning that several franchises will soon have stadiums newer than his, Jones announces plans to implode 4-year-old AT&T Stadium and build a 500,000-seat replacement. Oh, and Dallas misses the playoffs again.
RGIII-D: To ensure Robert Griffin III has no more problems with his knees, Dr. James Andrews surgically alters the Redskins quarterback into a hologram. Even though Griffin can no longer be tackled, coach Mike Shanahan says he will continue to announce the starter on a week-to-week basis.
BAN THIS: Showing just how much influence it has over all elements of society, the NFL's ban on purses larger than a piece of gum becomes the latest fashion craze. All across the country, women willingly start carrying tiny clear plastic bags that require them to leave wallets, phones, bobby pins, sunglasses, mirrors, someone else's purse, and 17 J.Crew receipts at home. Everything but gum, that is.
JETS GEL: Rex Ryan is fired before the season is a month old. In a stunning move, the Jets bring back Tebow as a player-coach. He names himself the starting quarterback and leads the Jets to an improbable playoff appearance despite a passer rating of 0.04. Miley Cyrus even concedes she should've Tebowed instead of twerked at the MTV Video Music Awards.
ON THE MOVE: After losing their first 10 games, including "home" contests in Shanghai and Kiev, the Jacksonville Jaguars quietly move to Los Angeles. No one notices. In either city.
RETRO PREDICTION: This is only for those folks who don't realize the season actually started Thursday because they were too busy debating what's going to happen on the series finale of "Breaking Bad" (Bonus prediction: Walt doesn't make it). Anyway, Peyton Manning throws seven touchdown passes in Week 1 against defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. The Broncos win by something along the lines of 49-27.
SUPER HAPPY FUN PICK: While we're at it, let's go ahead and take the Broncos to win it all. Oh wait, the New York Giants haven't won a championship in two whole years. Time for that drought to end. Besides, they'll have the home-field advantage. Eli Manning completes four passes for 12 yards and leads the Giants to a 12-7 victory over Peyton's Broncos on a snowy, 12-degree day at the Meadowlands. The NFL proclaims the first outdoor Super Bowl in a northern city to be a complete success, while stepping up its global warming program to ensure the next one is played on an 80-degree February day. The Mannings hook up afterward for a rap album, which goes multi-platinum with such hits as "Football On Your Phone, The Remix" and "I Can't Believe My Younger Brother Has Three Rings And I Only Have One."
Enjoy the season, everyone.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.