- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The NFL’s oldest rivalry resumes with its 185th meeting, and it already might be a critical game for the hosts, even in Week 2.

San Francisco wiped up the Lambeau Stadium field (no tundra in September, of course) with the Packers last Sunday, handing Green Bay as many losses as it had in 2011. Chicago, meanwhile, toyed with Indianapolis and heads to this Thursday nighter loaded with confidence.

Green Bay, which dropped from the top spot to No. 5 in the AP Pro32 power rankings, wants no part of falling two games behind the Bears (No. 8, AP Pro32) so early in the schedule. The Packers, 6-point favorites in this one, don’t get another shot at the Bears until Dec. 16.

Chicago showed plenty of balance in its opener, and the Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall combination was superb: Marshall had 119 yards on nine receptions and scored a touchdown, while Cutler passed for 333 yards.

“We’re trying to build a new thing here in Chicago,” Marshall said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work. It was a great start.”

Former Bears running back Cedric Benson goes against the team with which he broke into the NFL. It is no big deal to Benson, who was no big deal against San Francisco with a mere 19 yards on nine carries in his Packers debut.

“That was so long ago,” Benson said of his time in Chicago. “I already got my shot at them a couple years ago.”

Indeed. With Cincinnati three years ago, Benson rushed 37 times for 189 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.

He won’t go off this time, but he’ll help the Packers squeeze out a win.

PACKERS, 28-27

No. 30 Cleveland (plus 7) at No. 18 Cincinnati

Bengals looked awful against Ravens. Browns aren’t the Ravens _ or anything close.


No. 9 Dallas (minus 3) at No. 24 Seattle

Seahawks won’t need botched Romo hold to stun Cowboys.


No. 13 Detroit (plus 6 1/2) at No. 2 San Francisco

After shutting down powerful Packers on road, 49ers do same to Lions at Candlestick.

49ers, 24-14

No. 3 Baltimore (minus 2 1/2) at No. 12 Philadelphia

Eagles won ugly, Ravens were gorgeous. That doesn’t change in Week 2.

RAVENS, 23-14

No. 19 Tampa Bay (plus 7 1/2) at No. 10 N.Y. Giants

Can’t see defending champions losing two in a row at home.

GIANTS, 23-13

No. 20 Arizona (plus 13) at No. 1 New England

Cardinals’ defense has been on rise since mid-2011, and Brady Bunch is major test.


No. 6 Denver (plus 3) at No. 7 Atlanta, Monday night

Winner of this game needs to be taken seriously as title contender.

FALCONS, 24-20

No. 14 New Orleans (minus 2 1/2) at No. 22 Carolina

Loser of this game has to start looking deep in the mirror.

SAINTS, 30-24

No. 21 Kansas City (plus 3) at No. 27 Buffalo

Two banged-up teams, but Bills have it worse.

CHIEFS, 17-13

No. 4 Houston (minus 7 1/2) at No. 29 Jacksonville

Jaguars usually play Texans tough and Jones-Drew has full week of preparation.

TEXANS, 24-17

No. 16 Washington (minus 3) at No. 28 St. Louis

Don’t give him top rookie award yet, but RG3 goes 2-0.


No. 15 New York Jets (plus 6) at No. 11 Pittsburgh

Despite what we saw in opener, Mark Sanchez is no Peyton Manning.


No. 23 Tennessee (plus 6) at No. 17 San Diego

Chargers have won last eight in this series. Make it nine, but close.


No. 25 Oakland (minus 2 1/2) at No. 32 Miami

Dolphins were worst of bad teams in openers, but Raiders weren’t much better.


No. 26 Minnesota (minus 1 1/2) at No. 31 Indianapolis

Might be only time Vikings are favored on road all season.

VIKINGS, 14-13


2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 6-10

Straight up: 9-7

Best Bet: 1-0.

Upset Special: 0-1


Online: https://pro32.ap.org/poll an d https://twitter.com/AP_N FL

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