Min­nesota (1-0) at Pitts­burgh (1-0)

Starkville Daily News - - NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE -

The last time they faced off in At­lanta, the Fal­cons routed the Pack­ers for the NFC ti­tle. When they meet to­day night, the site will be dif­fer­ent as the Fal­cons play their first reg­u­larsea­son game in Mercedes Benz Sta­dium.

Con­sid­er­ing how poorly Green Bay played last Jan­uary at the Georgia Dome, it prob­a­bly wel­comes the change of venue.

"It's past," Pack­ers star quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers in­sists. "You can't re­write his­tory. It's just two 1-0 teams who both think we can be there at the end of the sea­son. These are the type of games, like last week, that you win these games and you feel bet­ter in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary when you're com­ing down to fill­ing out that 12-team bracket."

They got to 1-0 in dis­sim­i­lar ways. Green Bay com­pletely shut down Seat­tle — yet an­other highly touted NFC con­tender — at Lam­beau Field. At­lanta strug­gled with lowly Chicago be­fore a goal-line stand, helped by a dropped pass that should have been a touch­down, al­lowed it to sur­vive.

Now, the Fal­cons, who fol­lowed that NFC cham­pi­onship win with a Su­per col­lapse against New Eng­land, open their new digs of­fi­cially. The roof will even be open for the first time dur­ing a game, it ap­pears. So the Fal­cons would play their first open-air home game since 1991, their fi­nal sea­son at At­lanta Ful­ton-County Sta­dium. Both come off im­pres­sive road wins. Ea­gles coach Doug Ped­er­son is a dis­ci­ple of Chiefs head man Andy Reid. Their forte is of­fense, and Kansas City was op­por­tunis­tic and, at times, dom­i­nant in New Eng­land with the ball.

Run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt set a rookie de­but record with 246 yards from scrimmage, while wide re­ceiver Tyreek Hill has a 60-plus yard TD in five con­sec­u­tive games.

Philly's Car­son Wentz, 4-0 in Septem­ber matches, must watch for Chiefs line­backer Justin Hous­ton, who had 4 1/2 sacks the last time the clubs met. Yes,

Philadel­phia (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0) New Eng­land (0-1) at New Or­leans (0-1)

it re­ally did hap­pen in the 2017 kick­off game: New Eng­land got ham­mered in the fourth quar­ter at home by Kansas City.

Usu­ally, the Pa­tri­ots re­spond af­ter a loss, es­pe­cially one in which Tom Brady strug­gled. Since 2003, the Pa­tri­ots are 42-6 in the reg­u­lar sea­son af­ter a loss.

"What you are in Septem­ber is dif­fer­ent from what you're gonna be as the sea­son goes on," Brady says. "You're try­ing to see where your de­fi­cien­cies are and you're try­ing to make im­prove­ments. Ob­vi­ously what we did the other night is not good enough, by any means."

New Or­leans had far too many de­fi­cien­cies at Min­nesota, and its loose cov­er­age of re­ceivers could be its demise against Brady. But Drew Brees can make up for some is­sues.

The Vik­ings, par­tic­u­larly se­cond-round run­ning back Dalvin Cook (127 yards rush­ing) were im­pres­sive on Mon­day night against New Or­leans, but a short turn­around for a trip to the Steel City is never en­vi­able. Their last win in Pitts­burgh came on Sept. 24, 1995.

Cleve­land kept it close against archri­val Pitts­burgh, which seemed out of synch. Maybe star run­ning back Le'Veon Bell will be more im­pact­ful af­ter not re­port­ing un­til Sept. 1; he had 32 yards on the ground last week, ty­ing a ca­reer low.

Of note is how the Steel­ers ap­pear to be build­ing a de­fense to com­ple­ment their all­world of­fense led by Bell, An­to­nio Brown and Ben Roeth­lis­berger.

Chicago (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-0)

It's im­pos­si­ble to know what the Bucs have af­ter be­ing forced by Hur­ri­cane Irma to move their bye up to open­ing week. They could be dy­namic on of­fense and im­proved on de­fense, which would put them in the mix.

"We are play­ing a game on Sun­day, so it doesn't mat­ter what it's like. It's prob­a­bly go­ing to be hard on them, but I don't think any­body is go­ing to be feel­ing sorry for us," coach Dirk Koet­ter says. "I know the Bears aren't go­ing to be feel­ing sorry for us."

For­mer Bucs quar­ter­back Mike Glen­non played well in his first out­ing for Detroit and was a dropped pass away from an up­set of the Fal­cons.

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