NFC showdown between Packers, Seahawks highlights Week 1

What a juicy matchup to help kick off the NFL’s opening week. The two best teams in the NFC, Green Bay and Seattle — sorry Atlanta, but that Super Bowl meltdown remains too fresh — face off at Lambeau Field.


While clarity for a season that lasts 17 weeks isn’t going to come in Week 1 — sometimes it doesn’t come until December — it’s fair to label the Packers and Seahawks as prime contenders.

Seattle’s defense could be the league’s best. Aaron Rodgers has plenty of targets on offense, including former Kansas State standout Jordy Nelson. Yep, a classic matchup in Week 1.

“This will fit together real well,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says of his defense. “We should be good up front against the running game, which is always crucial to us. Then we will see how well we can build up our pass rush. I like the mix that we have.”

Could this be a preview of a January NFC game?

“Well, every game could be looked at in that way, but yeah I think our two teams know,” Rodgers says. “… You know it’s going to be two teams that expect to be there in the end.”

The opener between the Buccaneers and Dolphins that was scheduled for Sunday was postponed by the NFL until Nov. 19 because of Hurricane Irma.

Atlanta at Chicago

Nowhere in a medical dictionary is the term “Super Bowl malaise.” No matter; it exists.

Will the Falcons fall victim to it? They insist not, having gotten rid of all the angst and disappointment from that collapse well before they gathered for training camp.

An offense that can beat up on anyone, particularly with running back Devonta Freeman ready to go, makes Atlanta dangerous. A defense that was somewhat suspect before it fell apart against the Patriots adds plenty of mystery to the Falcons’ chances.

New York Giants at Dallas

Much of this game — well, the buildup to it — has been about Ezekiel Elliott, who is eligible to play Sunday night.

The Giants tend to play well at Dallas, going 5-3 in AT&T Stadium, and they have the defense to slow down the Cowboys’ Elliott, Dak Prescott, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. But will wideout Odell Beckham Jr. be recovered enough from his ankle injury to catch passes from Eli Manning?

Oakland at Tennessee

Lots of folks point to the Titans as a team to watch, and with Derek Carr healthy, we know the Raiders are a contender. So this sets up as the best opening matchup in the AFC.

Even though it has 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack , Oakland must display a stingier defense, especially against the run. Tennessee, which also has uncertainty on defense, can pound the ball with DeMarco Murray and Derek Henry.

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis has the second-longest tenure among NFL head coaches at 14 seasons and counting. He also has the ignominious distinction of an 0-7 playoff mark, which is unprecedented. He might need a playoff berth AND a win or two to stay put.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

One of the NFL’s best (if recently lopsided) rivalries is renewed on opening weekend. The Steelers seem primed for a run toward a seventh Lombardi Trophy, though there should be at least some concern that star RB Le’Veon Bell only reported this week. The Browns are improved over the squad that went 1-15. Another such debacle is very unlikely, and an upset here would silence any mistake-by-the-lake talk for a while.

Arizona at Detroit

Now that Matthew Stafford has become the league’s highest-paid player, it’s time for Detroit to use his ample skills to do more than lose in wild-card playoff games. A victory over the revitalized Cardinals would stamp the Lions as legitimate — at least in early September.

Philadelphia at Washington

While Kirk Cousins makes mammoth bucks under the franchise tag and wonders where his Stafford-like long-term deal is, the Redskins must show they have upgraded their defense. It could be tested by the Eagles’ upgraded receiving corps, particularly Alshon Jeffery.

Jacksonville at Houston

After what the Houston area has been through because of Hurricane Harvey, a victory would provide some happiness. To get it, the defense that just might rival Seattle’s will need to be dominant. Having J.J. Watt, noted defensive end and philanthropist, back on the field is huge.

Carolina at San Francisco

If Cam Newton can return to anything close to his MVP form and the defense is stout, especially the secondary that leaked in 2016, Carolina will be a factor in the NFC South.

Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams

The Luckless Colts — Andrew Luck’s shoulder has not healed enough for him to play — do have some luck. After all, they open against the Rams, who are missing their best player, holdout DT Aaron Donald.

New York Jets at Buffalo

An impossible game to get excited about. Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since the turn of the century. New York’s offseason moves might set football in Florham Park back a century.

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, Monday night

If the Broncos can release safety T.J. Ward, they must feel very secure in what they have on D. Having Von Miller, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby and Brandon Marshall can give a team that security. Much depends on what Trevor Siemian can deliver in the passing game.

The Chargers moved up from San Diego with two mainstays, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, and developing youngsters Melvin Gordon at running back and Joey Bosa at defensive end. But they still are likely to be a last-place team in the tough AFC West.

New Orleans at Minnesota, Monday night

The prime-time spotlight will shine on Adrian Peterson’s return to Minneapolis. He’s not even the top RB in the Big Easy, with Mark Ingram holding that role. But Peterson will be the focal point against a Minnesota defense that needs more consistency.



Olathe West takes control in the second half to drop Topeka West, 68-36

OLATHE — Topeka West led at the end of the first quarter Wednesday night and the Chargers were within four points at... Read more