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Green Bay at Philadelphia

Few teams are getting the Super Bowl hype that Green Bay is. The Packers really seem to be grasping the 3-4 defense that coordinator Dom Capers installed last year, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks primed for a huge season. But there are questions on the offensive line, which will be tested by the Eagles’ Trent Cole, and in the secondary, which faces dangerous receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek.

Kevin Kolb has the QB job and nobody in Philly wants to use the rebuilding word. Still, this is not the star-studded roster that went to five NFC title games in the last decade.

Cincinnati at New England

T.O. and Ochocinco on one side, Randy Moss and Wes Welker on the other. Carson Palmer and Tom Brady chucking the ball.

How juicy!

Two division winners who lost wild-card playoff games and are expecting to go deeper in the playoffs face off in what could be the most entertaining matchup of the first weekend. It could get loud, given the trash-talking ways of Cincinnati’s wideouts. The scoreboards could be active, although both teams believe their defenses will hold up.

Dallas at Washington

If Donovan McNabb lost sleep in the offseason thinking about how the Cowboys manhandled him in the 2009 finale and then the wild-card playoff round, he can’t be very relaxed heading into the Sunday night game at FedEx Field. McNabb’s Redskins debut could get painful as the Cowboys ramp up the pass rush, led by All-Pro DeMarcus Ware and NT Jay Ratliff.

Perhaps the most played-out story line in the nation’s capital this summer has been the Albert Haynesworth saga. For now, he’s a part-time defensive tackle.

Atlanta at Pittsburgh

A major opportunity for the Falcons with Pittsburgh starting untested QB Dennis Dixon as Ben Roethlisberger begins his four-game suspension. Atlanta never had successive winning seasons until Matt Ryan and Michael Turner showed up. Now the Falcons are shooting for three in a row, not to mention unseating the Super Bowl champion Saints atop the NFC South.

The Steelers likely will need to win with defense and the ground game for a month. Fortunately for the Steel Curtain, all-world safety Troy Polamalu is healthy again, as is key DE Aaron Smith.

Denver at Jacksonville

Story Continues →