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nfl preview, 2008 nfl preview, 2008 nfl season
Henny Ray Abrams/AP

NFL Kicks Off Season

September 04, 2008 05:42 PM
by Denis Cummings
The 2008 NFL season begins tonight with the defending Super Bowl champion Giants hosting the Redskins. FindingDulcinea previews the top teams and storylines.

Giants, Redskins Kick Off 2008 Season

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The Giants are looking to prove that last year’s improbable Super Bowl run wasn’t a stroke of luck, but they’ll have to do it without star defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. “Nobody really has a lot of respect for us. Even when we won the Super Bowl, everything was a fluke. [David Tyree] catching the ball on his helmet was a fluke. We go down in the two-minute drive, and it was a fluke,” says Giants’ receiver Plaxico Burress. “I think it is a real slap in the face for us.”

The Giants’ Super Bowl opponents, the Patriots, were almost perfect last year, going 19-0 before losing the Super Bowl. Though another perfect regular season is unlikely, they return most of their key players and have one of the easiest schedules in the league. “If it all ended today, the Patriots would be remembered as the first 18-1 team (winning percentage: .947) that underachieved,” writes the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley. “Fortunately, it doesn’t end today. On the contrary, it begins again, a new crusade, a new mission.”
The Chargers gave the Patriots all they could handle in last year’s AFC title game and many suspect that this could be their year to go to the Super Bowl. Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman has announced that he will try to play this season despite doctors’ recommendations that he undergo season-ending surgery.

The 2007 Super Bowl champion Colts have been one of this decade’s best teams, but with QB Peyton Manning returning from knee surgery and one of the league’s toughest schedules, they might struggle this year. “My instincts tell me this is going to be an uphill climb all season, an atypically difficult season for a team that has won 12 or more games five seasons in a row,” says the Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz. “And I will go on record now as saying, they're not going to sniff 12 victories this season.

The Cowboys, who finished last year with the NFC’s best record, return with Pro Bowl QB Tony Romo and WR Terrell Owens and upgraded their defense with LB Zach Thomas and controversial CB Adam Jones. They are as talented as any team in the league and are picked by many to win the NFC. “Just being favored assures the Cowboys of nothing,” writes Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. “But frustrating playoff losses to Seattle and New York have put Tony Romo and Owens and head coach Wade Phillips and the other key leaders of this team on the hot seat to prove they are more than just a collection of highly talented players.”
The Packers, who were an overtime loss away from the Super Bowl last year, return with almost all of their key players—the notable exception being future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. Favre, who has started every game for the Packers since 1992, was traded to the Jets and will be replaced by 24-year-old Aaron Rodgers. “If Rodgers thinks only the eyes of Packer Nation will watching, he’s sadly mistaken,” wrote Robert Reischel in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Several national outlets are calling Rodgers the biggest story in the NFL this season. Most are also predicting that Rodgers will fail.”

The Favre deal made the Jets relevant again and now Jets’ fans are dreaming that Favre can lead the team to the playoffs after a disastrous 4-12 season. Favre begins his career with the Jets against the Dolphins, led by ex-Jet Chad Pennington, who was released after Favre was acquired.

Reference: Football guide

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