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Previewing Week 1 Around the NFL

Sep 9, 2012, 11:08 AM EDT

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1:00s

Washington @ New Orleans
While the Eagles are taking care of
business against Cleveland (we hope), an NFC East foe will be locked in a
far different kind of battle. The Washington Redskins, winners of five
games a season ago, are pitted against New Orleans Saints to break in the
season, a perennial Super Bowl threat despite bounty scandals as long as
Drew Brees is in tow. Tough draw for our rivals to the south.

Obviously the Birds
will see the Skins twice this season, and with second overall pick
Robert Griffin III at quarterback, the expectation — at least here –
is they can no longer be taken lightly. How he performs in his debut will
surely be a hot topic in football circles, but as for the Eagles,
Washington is not the only concern is this one. They take on the Saints
in a big Monday night contest at the Superdome in Week 9.

Unfortunately
this game will not be broadcast locally, as it’s a much more compelling
match-up than Philly against Cleveland even — at least on paper. The
much-hyped arrival of RG3 would be reason alone to tune in, along with
the added suspense of the Saints trying to win a football game now on
their interim-interim head coach. And hey, despite all that stuff, NOLA
is still a contender this year, at least they are in my eyes.

This
has the potential to be a great game, a shootout even if Bob lives up
to the hype. Brees’s Saints should have little trouble putting up big
numbers against a questionable secondary (that might be a little kind), but Griffin has a chance
to begin defining his legacy from day one against a defense that’s been
overhauled schematically. In all probability, New Orleans is simply too
mush for Washington, but the experiment could be fun to watch.

St. Louis @ Detroit
I’m going to throw in my first UPSET
ALERT! of the season. The Lions remain a trendy pick to make the playoffs upon
finally returning to prominence a season ago, but the Rams should not be
slept on here. With Jeff Fisher taking over as head coach in St. Louis,
they will be tougher than expected. Meanwhile, Detroit — Philly’s Week 6
opponent — is expected be a tough customer in the NFC landscape, but they
still have plenty of holes to exploit. In all likelihood, the Rams still have too many themselves, but they could surprise.

Atlanta @ Kansas City
The
Falcons are said to be utilizing more three-wide formations on
offense this season, so the world will get its first real look at the new passer
friendly version in Arrowhead Stadium. The Birds get Matt Ryan and
Atlanta immediately following the bye, so they are a team to keep an eye on.

Indianpolis @ Chicago

The
Eagles don’t have the Bears this season, but they looked an awful lot
like a playoff team last year until Jay Cutler got hurt. Chicago should
be in the mix again in 2012, and this game takes on an added dimension
with number one overall draft pick Andrew Luck making his first career
start.

Jacksonville @ Minnesota
We have eight TVs, and there are nine one o’clock games. Guess which one didn’t make the cut?

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4:25s

San Francisco @ Green Bay
Neither
team pops up on Philadelphia’s schedule, but if the Birds plan on
playing deep into January, there is a good chance they’ll run into one
of them eventually. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship last
season, and the Packers are only one year removed from winning it all.
Including playoffs, the two of them combined for 29 victories in 2011.
This is the marquee match-up in the conference for Week 1.

As
long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, Green Bay will continue to be heavy
favorites. What’s less than certain is whether Frisco’s breakout 13-3
season was a fluke, but their defense should remain stingy as ever.
Great game that will be appearing in most markets.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Unlike
the national game above, the Eagles face both the Panthers and the Bucs
later on in the slate. Both clubs have made sweeping changes coming off
of losing seasons, so it will be interesting to see how much progress
can be measured in Week 1. With the games coming so late in the season
– it’ll be about two and a half months before Philly hosts Carolina — a
lot can change between now and those encounters, but this should serve
as a glimpse into how successful an offseason it was for two future
opponents.

Seattle @ Arizona
Perhaps the most relevant
afternoon game to Philadelphia this Sunday, because the Birds head to
the desert themselves two weeks from now. John Skelton gets the opening
day start for the Cardinals, but it could get ugly for whoever is under
center, as Arizona’s offensive line is scary.
Rookie Russell Wilson making his debut as the quarterback for the
Seahawks adds a layer of intrigue as well, and who knows, they could
even be surprise team coming out of the NFC West.

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8:30

Pittsburgh @ Denver
The
big story here will be Peyton Manning making his first start for the
Broncos, but the Eagles actually have to play one of these teams, and
it’s not Denver. Watching the elder Manning has always been a treat for
any true football fan, as nobody operates an offense quite like he can,
but over the long haul, the Steelers are the team Birds fans need to
worry about — in Week 5 to be exact.