Red Zone

What to watch for in week one’s NFL games

Updated: 2013-09-07T02:42:31Z

The Associated Press

Games of the week

•  Green Bay at San Francisco, 3:25 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): The last time the Packers saw Colin Kaepernick in person, he set a postseason record for quarterbacks by rushing for 181 yards in San Francisco’s 45-32 victory. Green Bay, which has a pretty effective passer of its own in Aaron Rodgers, looked inept when it came to slowing down Kaepernick and the Niners’ read option. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers wants his guys to be aggressive and force the issue with Kaepernick and the versatile 49ers offense.

•  Atlanta at New Orleans, noon: Welcome back, Sean Payton. Now let’s see how much your presence means for the Saints. New Orleans lost its first four games last season while Payton was suspended for the entire schedule due to the bounty scandal. He doesn’t want his return to be the focus at the Superdome, especially with the division rival Falcons and their equally prolific offense in town. Sorry, Sean, it’s the big storyline in the Big Easy.

•  Philadelphia at Washington, 6:10 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Here’s one to savor: Washington’s Robert Griffin III, back from major knee surgery, running the read option. And this: Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, versatile offense trying to match points with RG3. Kelly’s Philly version of the Quack Attack already is without receivers Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn. But he does have DeSean Jackson, do-everything running back LeSean McCoy, and Michael Vick to run the show.

•  Houston at San Diego, 9:20 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Finishing off the opening weekend will be the Texans, who have never beaten the Chargers, but are favored over rebuilding San Diego. Houston is built around stars like a RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson, DE J.J. Watt and LB Brian Cushing, who just got a huge contract extension.


Also worth watching

•  Minnesota at Detroit, noon on Fox (Ch. 4): This one is simple: If the Lions can neutralize Adrian Peterson, then their high-powered offense could have a field day, particularly if Reggie Bush ignites the running game. That, of course, is an IF the size of Ford Field. Peterson rushed for 273 yards in two games against Detroit in his MVP 2012 season.

•  Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets, noon: Darrelle Revis was the Jets’ best player for most of his six years with them. A shutdown cornerback with big-play skills, he also was one of the franchise’s biggest headaches because of several contract disputes. So New York dealt him to Tampa. Considering the uncertainty at quarterback for Rex Ryan’s club — rookie Geno Smith starts — Revis could find himself with several chances for picks. And pick 6s.

•  Seattle at Carolina, noon: Historically, the Seahawks don’t travel to the East Coast too successfully. That really shouldn’t be a factor to start the season, though, and this is one of Seattle’s best squads. While versatile quarterbacks Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are focal points, how much the defenses can slow down the opposition will decide this one.

•  Cincinnati at Chicago, noon: A very intriguing game out of the gate for the Bengals, who many see as a Super Bowl contender — or at the very least, an AFC North winner. A win at Soldier Field over the revamped Bears under new coach Marc Trestman could stamp Cincinnati as a force. Two standout wideouts, Cincy’s A.J. Green and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, will be on display.

•  N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 7:30 p.m. on NBC (Ch. 41): Cowboys owner Jerry Jones loves the idea of his team being featured in prime time. He must hate the idea of playing the Giants, who have never lost in Jerry’s billion-dollar house, going 4-0. Breakaway receiver Victor Cruz is back from a bruised left heel for New York.

•  Arizona at St. Louis, 3:25 p.m.: The Rams went 4-1-1 in the division, and considering how strong San Francisco and Seattle were last season, that’s impressive. If St. Louis truly is on the upswing in its second season under Jeff Fisher, it will get more production in the deep passing game. The tools are there with QB Sam Bradford and first-round pick Tavon Austin.

Just the highlights should do

•  New England at Buffalo, noon: The Patriots, winners of nine straight openers, dominate the Bills like no one else, winning 18 of the last 19 meetings and 23 of 25.

•  Oakland at Indianapolis, noon: The Raiders have the look of the worst team in football. The Colts look like they could push Houston to the limit in the AFC South.

•  Tennessee at Pittsburgh, noon: While the Steelers’ backfield is a jumble after the presumed starter, rookie Le’Veon Bell, sprained his right foot, the Titans have Chris Johnson, a one-time 2,000-yard rusher.

•  Miami at Cleveland, noon: The Browns have won four straight over Miami. To get to five, new coach Rob Chudzinski needs his offense to pound the ball with Trent Richardson.

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