Sep 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) pressured by Houston Texans defensive end Dylan Horton (92) in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens run past Texans

Lamar Jackson passed for 169 yards in his first game with a new five-year contract, Justice Hill ran for two touchdowns and the Baltimore Ravens opened the season with a 25-9 victory Sunday over the visiting Houston Texans.

Jackson completed 17 of 22 passes with one interception and ran for 38 more yards with a lost fumble. J.K. Dobbins had 22 yards and a touchdown on eight carries before departing early in the second half with a possible Achilles injury.

Baltimore’s Zay Flowers had nine catches for 78 yards in his first NFL game, while Odell Beckham Jr. had two catches for 37 yards in his Ravens debut.

In his first NFL game, Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud passed for 242 yards and was sacked five times. The No. 2 overall draft pick out of Ohio State this past April was 28-of-44 passing and lost a fumble.

Dameon Pierce had 38 yards rushing on 11 carries for the Texans, while Nico Collins and Robert Woods each had six catches for a combined 137 yards.

Jackson was intercepted by Houston’s Steven Nelson on Baltimore’s second drive, but used the third drive to move the Ravens 58 yards in nine plays with Dobbins scoring on a 4-yard TD run for a 7-0 lead.

Stroud’s first taste of NFL play was rocky. He completed his first NFL pass to himself for no gain when his throw was batted out of the air and rebounded into his arms. Houston gained just 4 yards of total offense on its first three drives.

Stroud settled in to guide drives of 67 and 68 yards that ended in Ka’imi Fairbairn field goals of 35 and 38 yards in the final 4 minutes of the first half to trail 7-6.

On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens went 71 yards on eight plays with Hill scoring on a 4-yard run and Gus Edwards adding the 2-point conversion run for a 15-6 lead.

The Texans followed by turning the ball over on downs for the second time, and the Ravens worked a five-play, 42-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard score from Hill and a 22-6 lead with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter.

After the Texans’ M.J. Stewart recovered a Jackson fumble at the Ravens’ 32-yard line, Houston could only muster a 36-yard field goal to pull within 22-9 with 13:47 remaining. The Ravens added Justin Tucker’s 39-yard field goal with 4:10 remaining.

Baltimore offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum departed in the fourth quarter with leg injuries.

–Field Level Media

Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) tackles ]Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.

Lions stun champ Chiefs in prime-time season opener

David Montgomery’s 8-yard touchdown run with 7:06 left Thursday night propelled the visiting Detroit Lions to a season-opening, 21-20 win over the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL’s season-opening game.

Montgomery’s score and Riley Patterson’s point-after kick brought Detroit back from a 20-14 deficit created by Harrison Butker field goals of 35 and 39 yards late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, respectively.

Jared Goff completed 22 of 35 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown for the Lions, who are a trendy pick to win the NFC Central and did nothing to slow down the hype with a solid performance. Detroit made few mistakes, committing only four penalties and one turnover.

The Lions’ defense came up big in the second half. Rookie Brian Branch’s 50-yard interception return of a Patrick Mahomes pass that caromed off open receiver Kadarius Toney tied the game at 14 just over four minutes into the third quarter. Detroit later stopped the Chiefs on their final two possessions after taking the lead.

Mahomes hit on 21 of 39 attempts for 226 yards with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a team-high 45 yards but had a spate of passes dropped. Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was held out of the game.

Getting a rare non-Thanksgiving national TV shot after a strong finish to last year nearly produced a playoff berth, Detroit initiated the scoring on Goff’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown with 2:46 left in the first quarter. It capped a 14-play, 91-yard drive that lasted just over eight minutes, one that was sparked by a risky fake punt on fourht-and-2 from Detroit’s own 17.

Predictably, Kansas City answered with a touchdown march of nearly six minutes. Mahomes connected with rookie Rashee Rice on a 1-yard laser that capped a 13-play drive with 11:50 to go in the second quarter.

The Chiefs then took a 14-7 lead with 34 seconds remaining in the half as Mahomes found backup tight end Blake Bell for a 4-yard score. Mahomes converted a third-and-17 with a 34-yard strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to key the drive.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) stands over center in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Old rivalry at Soldier Field anchors Week 1 betting plays

A classic NFL rivalry attracts our spotlight as the 2023 regular season begins.

The Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and stand out as our top target of Week 1.

We also take a closer look at two other games grabbing our attention with intriguing betting angles.


Packers at Bears, 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday

The line: Bears (-1)

One popular perception about the Packers is that the team will suffer from the departure of Aaron Rodgers, which resulted in an unproven QB1 to begin the 2023 season.

But a closer look shows that Rodgers was merely mortal in 2022, and that Jordan Love doesn’t have to play like an All-Pro to be useful.

Love has a young and improving receiving corps led by Christian Watson, and a reliable rushing attack with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon returning.

Perhaps best of all, Love is intimately familiar with adversity.

A first-round pick by Green Bay in 2020, Love watched future Hall of Famer (Rodgers) conduct his business, and has been praised for his approach leading into this season.

“He always come across as kind of a cool customer. … Through all the ups and downs that he’s had, he’s maintained a very steady, even keeled approach,” Packers general manager Brian Gutenkust said during training camp.

Love hopes to keep Green Bay’s dominance over Chicago alive – the Packers have won eight consecutive games against the Bears, including the past four in Chicago.

Chicago and Green Bay are both pegged at 7.5 wins on the Vegas regular-season over/under, but the Bears appear to have more questions than answers.

Quarterback Justin Fields had a breakout season, though his team finished 3-14 and the “breakout” didn’t really involve the passing attack.

Fields surprised everyone with the volume of rushing success but surprised no one with his relative lack of passing success. Bears backers point to the arrival of star wideout DJ Moore, but Moore will need to provide some serious yards-after-catch stats because Fields will lean on the short passing game.

The Bears lost running back David Montgomery and now rely on Khalil Herbert to carry the load. Already, though, there is talk about rookie fourth-round pick Roschan Johnson moving ahead of D’Onte Foreman and making a case for playing time.


According to Action Network stats, Chicago is 12-28-1 against the spread over the past 20 years vs. Green Bay. The Bears lost seven home games in a row to close the 2022 season and 10 straight games overall.


Fields vs. Packers DBs: If Fields can succeed with more than just the short-pass, checkdown game, the Packers could be in trouble.

Green Bay’s defensive game plan will have a key focus on stopping the run – including Fields – and daring Fields to beat them deep a few times. That means Moore will have to find success against two-time Pro Bowl corner Jaire Alexander.

Not an easy task.

The pick: Packers 23-17.


A pair of Sunday games that have trends to track.

Panthers at Falcons, 1 p.m. ET, Sunday

The line: Falcons (-3.5)

The number opened at Falcons -2 but has steadily risen during the week and now sits above the magic 3-point mark at 3.5.

The pick: Falcons -3.5.

The big reasons: No. 1 overall draft pick QBs in their first NFL game. Major talent disparity.

Carolina’s Bryce Young fits the profile. He’s the 18th No. 1 overall pick to start at QB Week 1 of his draft year since the AFL-NFL merger.

The previous 17 went 3-13-1 straight up and 5-12 against the spread in their debut.

As for the talent issue? Wide receiver DJ Moore is gone from Carolina, and the favorite to win NFL Rookie of the Year, running back Bijan Robinson, leads the Atlanta rushing attack.

Last season, the Falcons rushed for 159.9 yards per game; the Panthers could manage an average of only 306.2 yards of total offense, 28th in the NFL.

Give the points or play it safe and take Atlanta straight up (-185 at BetMGM as of Thursday).

Buccaneers at Vikings, 1 p.m. ET, Sunday

The line: Vikings (-5.5)

So many factors lead to one team here, as Minnesota has a new defensive coordinator, Brian Flores, and Tampa Bay has a coach who’s historically inept as an underdog.

The pick: Vikings -5.5

The big reasons: Coaching and quarterback advantage.

Bucs coach Todd Bowles is 12-36 straight up as an underdog and 18-27-2 against the spread.

The Vikings don’t lack for motivation, given their over/under win total of 8.5 is a full 4.5 games below what they accomplished in 2022.

Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has top target Justin Jefferson and rookie Jordan Addison. Tampa has Baker Mayfield trying for career reboot No. 3.

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 NFL Capsules

Week 1
NFL preview capsules for Sunday’s games

Texans at Ravens: First-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie QB C.J. Stroud lead Houston into Baltimore eyeing a turnaround for a franchise with 11 wins the past three seasons. The Ravens loaded up at wide receiver after signing QB Lamar Jackson to a five-year contract, adding Odell Beckham and first-round pick Zay Flowers. Baltimore won 10 games last season for the ninth time during the John Harbaugh era and even without Pro Bowl CB Marlon Humphrey (foot) brings a veteran-laden defense to this fight.

49ers at Steelers: Second-year QB Kenny Pickett put up a brilliant preseason and graduates to a stern test from a San Francisco defense likely to have DE Nick Bosa in the fold. Bosa signed a monster contract on Wednesday and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year joined the team for the first time since minicamp. The 49ers reached the NFC title game behind rookie QB Brock Purdy, whose elbow injury in that game led to offseason ligament surgery. He threw multiple TD passes in each of the final six games (five starts) in 2022 as defenses locked down on RB Christian McCaffrey. With at least two TDs and a win this week, Purdy would become the only QB in NFL history to go 6-0 with multiple TD passes in his first six career starts.

Packers at Bears: Welcome Jordan Love to the stage. The Packers intercepted the torch from Aaron Rodgers, trading him to the Jets and inserting Love into the starting lineup. A rivalry game at Soldier Field pits two solid defenses and unproven quarterbacks. Justin Fields rushed for 1,143 yards last season, but the Bears want him to prove he’s a pro passer with new weapon D.J. Moore matched up with Packers CB Jaire Alexander in a popcorn-worthy pairing.

Eagles at Patriots: A coach for twice the lifetime of Jalen Hurts, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick appreciates the unique challenge the running quarterback presents as the engine of the Eagles’ multi-faceted offense. New England changed offensive coordinators, bringing back Bill O’Brien, who is tasked with getting greatness out of QB Mac Jones while matching wits this week with former co-worker Matt Patricia, an assistant with Philadelphia. The Patriots invested their top three picks on defense, including CB Christian Gonzalez, and expect big things out of other rookies (DE Keion White, LB Marte Mapu, WR Kayshon Boutte).

Panthers at Falcons: Panthers OLB Brian Burns’ “hold-in” is a fancy way of saying he wants more money but plans to play as Carolina chases Atlanta first-round RB Bijan Robinson and QB Desmond Ridder around the dome Sunday afternoon. The Falcons put up a season-high 37 points and beat Carolina on Oct. 30 last season but lost 25-15 in Charlotte. No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young makes his first career start for the Panthers, who went 7-10 last season and hired Frank Reich as head coach in January. Carolina’s new look spans the roster. Active building the roster in the offseason, the Panthers added versatile RB Miles Sanders and veteran WR Adam Thielen and brought in SS Vonn Bell to anchor the back end of the defense.

Jaguars at Colts: A playoff team in 2022 with a 9-8 record, the Jaguars are widely expected to be the best in the AFC South. They split a pair of games with the Colts last season with a 34-27 loss at Indianapolis, then ended the season with a six-game winning streak, including the wild-card victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, before falling at Kansas City in the divisional playoffs. Indianapolis hit the reset button following a 4-12-1 season, hiring Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and drafting Anthony Richardson No. 4 overall to end a run of musical chairs at QB. The Colts won’t have RB Jonathan Taylor (ankle), who was inactive for the 2022 home date with Jacksonville.

Buccaneers at Vikings: No Tom Brady means something new, or at least not as old, at quarterback for the Buccaneers. Baker Mayfield won the job over Kyle Trask and has a star-studded receiving corps, provided Mike Evans puts his contract rift with the club to bed. He’ll be operating behind a young offensive line. Both teams made difficult roster moves to work from under a growing salary-cap burden since they last played a game that counted. The Bucs also made a switch at offensive coordinator, hiring Dave Canales (Seahawks) to replace Bryon Leftwich and shuffling Rachaad White into the featured running back role. Minnesota, a winner of two of the past three meetings with its former NFC Central rival, has a new lead back, too. Dalvin Cook was released after four straight 1,000-yard seasons and replaced by understudy Alexander Mattison.

Titans at Saints: Tennessee tries to find its way back to a winning path on the heels of a season wrecked by injuries that ended with a seven-game losing streak. Two constants remain for the Titans: Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, who is attempting to bring balance to the offense after Tennessee ranked 30th in passing last season. DeAndre Hopkins joined Tennessee to make a trio of weapons and could help the new-look scheme establish balance. New is fitting for the Saints. They signed QB Derek Carr, RB Jamaal Williams and TE Foster Moreau and must cope with the three-game suspension of RB Alvin Kamara. Carr could be busy considering the Titans ranked No. 1 against the run in 2022.

Cardinals at Commanders: Arizona plans to contend, but likely down the road after a cleaning house in January and starting over from the top, down. The Cardinals are keeping Washington guessing as to who’ll start at quarterback with Kyler Murray (knee) shelved for at least a month. It could be Josh Dobbs, the journeyman with two career starts, or rookie fifth-rounder Clayton Tune staring across at a Commanders’ defense drenched with first-round draft selections. If Dobbs starts, it will be after just five practices since he was acquired Aug. 24 from the Browns. Washington put its chips behind QB Sam Howell, a second-year quarterback making his second career start with new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy planning to spice up the attack to highlight WRs Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin. McLaurin (toe) is expected to play.

Bengals at Browns: Perhaps the Bengals pulled the appropriate levers in the offseason and the offensive line woes exposing QB Joe Burrow to 100-plus hits the past two seasons are in the past. Nothing like a face-to-face with Myles Garrett to test that theory. Garrett had 16 sacks in 2022, 3.5 of them in two games against Cincinnati. Burrow’s lead receiver, Ja’Marr Chase (2,501 receiving yards, 29 games), can pass Hall of Famer Randy Moss (2,527) for the third-most receiving yards in a player’s first 30 games on Sunday. Cleveland turned the defense over to spicy veteran coordinator Jim Schwartz, who emphasizes pressure.

Raiders at Broncos: The Raiders (6-11 last season) have beaten the Broncos six straight times and aim to extend the streak under new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Denver is putting past history to bed, or at least that’s the plan under new head coach Sean Payton. The former boss of the Saints sat out last season and arrived with ideas on how to resurrect Russell Wilson from a serious downturn in 2022, his first with the Broncos. Injuries hit at wide receiver in preseason, but Wilson gets a reprieve thanks to a rebuilt offensive line and the return of RB Javonte Williams from an ACL injury. Garoppolo has two big-time playmakers to work with: RB Josh Jacobs and WR Davante Adams. Jacobs led the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards last season while Adams had an NFL-leading 14 scoring receptions.

Dolphins at Chargers: AFC wild-card playoff teams last season, the Chargers and Dolphins are connected by their 2020 draft decisions, when Tua Tagovailoa went to Miami ahead of Justin Herbert landing with L.A. Tagovailoa showed brilliance in moments but also experienced multiple frightening ones with two documented concussions. Tagovailoa was 10 of 28 for 145 yards in a loss to Herbert and the Chargers last season. Chargers RB Austin Ekeler needs one TD reception for 30 in his career, an achievement only five others at his position have accomplished. Marshall Faulk holds the all-time record for RBs with 36 TD catches.

Rams at Seahawks: Eastern Washington product Cooper Kupp was looking forward to returning home to play the Seahawks in Week 1. That won’t happen due to a hamstring injury in camp, putting the Rams in a hole after a 5-12 season and roster rebuild during the offseason. Gone are CB Jalen Ramsey, WR Allen Robinson, LB Bobby Wagner and DE Leonard Floyd. Wagner makes his homecoming by returning to the Seahawks and facing the Rams in the opener. Seattle re-upped with QB Geno Smith after his Pro Bowl campaign in 2022 helped make the Seahawks a surprise playoff entry. Seattle won two games by a combined seven points over the Rams last season. Smith was sacked seven times.

Cowboys at Giants: New York crashed the playoffs thanks to a 7-2 start last season. But the Giants have only one win in the past 12 meetings with Dallas. The Cowboys roll with Dak Prescott, who faced criticism after throwing 15 interceptions last season, and expected the revamped offense with head coach Mike McCarthy taking over play-calling to be a boost. Tony Pollard replaces Ezekiel Elliott as the RB1 and adds a big-play dimension. Dallas relies heavily on defense and revealed plans to move pass rusher Micah Parsons into a more traditional defensive end role. He has nine career games with two or more sacks.

–Field Level Media

All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner intercepted a Josh Allen pass in the second half during a NY Jets 20-17 win over the Buffalo Bills as the two teams met in an AFC East game played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on November 6 2022.

The New York Jets Host The Buffalo Bills In An Afc East Game Played At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On November 6 2022

Josh Allen duels idol Aaron Rodgers in high-stakes opener

Even as quarterbacks are driving primary plot lines for the “Monday Night Football” opener, don’t rule out Sauce becoming more than a side dish when the New York Jets welcome the Buffalo Bills for the high-stakes Week 1 finale.

Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner, a rare All-Pro selection at cornerback in his first season, and the Jets’ defense are positioned to be headliners and already have an established track record of mortalizing Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

“They’re a pretty good group — really good group for that matter,” Allen said. “They’ve got rushers that have motors, they sub those guys in and out so they’re fresh. Their DBs are smart. They game-planned pretty well for us the last couple times we’ve played them and we’ll have our hands full come Monday night.”

Gardner made sure Allen’s favorite target, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, didn’t have his hands full in their two matchups in 2022. Allen had 147 passing yards in the Bills’ 20-12 win on Dec. 11 — when Diggs was held to three receptions for 37 yards — and New York’s defense sacked him eight times with two picks in those two games. Allen had three rushing TDs.

In the Nov. 6 meeting, Gardner intercepted Allen and broke up a late pass on fourth-and-21 that ended Buffalo’s final drive and preserved the Jets’ 20-17 win.

Diggs said the Bills are geared up to turn the page and test themselves against a rising AFC East challenger.

“That first game, I feel like it’s also finding yourself, what kind of team you’ve got, figuring out your identity,” Diggs said.

Allen was 9 years old when Aaron Rodgers was drafted by Green Bay. Allen said he’s mimicked a lot of Rodgers’ movements and looks up to him. Rodgers wants the Bills looking up at the Jets in the standings when the dust settles Monday.

At 39, Rodgers relocated for the first time in his career following a prolific run with the Packers. Unpacking Super Bowl and MVP credentials in New Jersey, Rodgers said he’s grown comfortable in a new shade of green in part because of the level of talent around him.

“I think we’re ready,” Rodgers said. “I played in a great spot for 18 years. We had a great homefield advantage, place was always sold out. I’m expecting big crowd, a loud crowd. It’s going to be electric — ‘Monday Night Football’ — last game of the first week. It will be a pretty special moment to take the field against a division rival and a great quarterback, really good football team. It will be a special environment to start off my career with the Jets.”

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and created a quick connection with Rodgers, who compared his new No. 17 — Wilson — to former Packers teammate and All-Pro wideout Davante Adams. The Jets also signed free agent Dalvin Cook to a one-year deal and added familiar Rodgers cronies Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. There’s depth here, too. New York wants to co-feature running back Breece Hall with Cook and brought in wide receiver Mecole Hardman from the Chiefs.

Expectations for the Jets haven’t been this high since Joe Namath’s guarantee.

“Having a guy like Aaron come in, the type of caliber player and person he is, he elevates everyone,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “You have to elevate your standards and your level of play. And across the board, we have so much talent. It is probably the most talented team I have been on and a great mixture of youth and veteran leadership.”

With safety Micah Hyde dealing with a back injury, the Bills might mark the Monday night return to the field of Damar Hamlin by pairing him with Jordan Poyer in the starting secondary. Hamlin, 25, made the 53-man roster as the latest awe-inspiring mile marker of his progress returning from on-field cardiac arrest at Cincinnati in January.

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles look to ignite high-octane offense vs. Patriots

The Philadelphia Eagles will try to spoil another special day for Tom Brady when they open the season against the New England Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

The Patriots will honor the now-retired quarterback at Gillette Stadium during the game. Brady, who won six of his record seven Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, lost 41-33 to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.

Of course, this Philadelphia team also knows what it’s like to come up short in the big game, heading into this season after a 38-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.

The Eagles have turned the page, said veteran defensive end Brandon Graham.

“Last year is last year and we’re trying to create something special this year,” Graham said. “Our focus is on what we’re doing now, and I know we are all excited about getting it going.”

Third-year head coach Nick Sirianni is 2-0 in season openers, with both wins on the road. The Eagles won their first eight games in 2022 en route to a 14-3 record, a division title and a conference championship.

Last year’s MVP runner-up, quarterback Jalen Hurts, leads what should once again be among the NFL’s most potent offenses.

A.J. Brown set a franchise record with 1,496 receiving yards last season and DeVonta Smith caught the most passes (95) ever in a season by a Philadelphia wide receiver. Philly native D’Andre Swift gained 2,000 yards from scrimmage in his last two seasons with the Detroit Lions and takes over in the backfield for Miles Sanders, who is now with the Carolina Panthers.

The Patriots also have a new running back, with two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott joining last season’s 1,000-yard rusher Rhamondre Stevenson. During his time in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott rushed for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games against Philadelphia.

New England missed the playoffs last season for the second time in three years since Brady departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots slumped to 26th in total offense as quarterback Mac Jones experienced a regression from his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2021.

This game could come down to whether New England’s banged up offensive line can protect Jones. Philadelphia led the NFL with 70 sacks last season — 15 more than the runner-up Chiefs — and return Haason Reddick (16 sacks), Josh Sweat (11) and Graham (11). The Eagles also drafted the Georgia tandem of defensive tackle Jalen Carter and linebacker Nolan Smith in the first round.

“They’ve got great players up there. Obviously drafted very well at that position,” Jones told WEEI on Tuesday. “They take a lot of pride in that, and they have the best defensive line in the NFL. At the end of the day, we just have to go out there and compete and … understand that we’re going against a bunch of beasts.”

New England offensive linemen Trent Brown (illness), Mike Onwenu (ankle) and Cole Strange (knee) were all limited participants in Wednesday’s practice, as were wideout DeVante Parker (knee) and cornerback Jack Jones (hamstring).

The only player on the initial Philadelphia injury report is cornerback Josh Jobe, a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice due to an illness.

Brady isn’t the only ex-Pat making his return to New England. Matt Patricia, a member of Bill Belichick’s staff from 2004-17, is in his first season as a senior defensive assistant for the Eagles.

Belichick downplayed the return of Patricia, whose three Super Bowl wins in New England include two as the defensive coordinator.

“I have a ton of respect for Matt. Matt’s helped us win a lot of games (and) championships here,” Belichick told WEEI on Monday. “But Sunday’s game will be about the Eagles and the Patriots. You won’t see either one of us playing on the field, which is probably a good thing.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 29, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) battles with Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) during the second quarter in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

49ers, Nick Bosa set for opener at Steelers

The San Francisco 49ers are gearing up for a Super Bowl run, and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa ended his holdout just four days before the season-opening game against the host Pittsburgh Steelers.

Having Bosa on the field Sunday against the Steelers is a welcome bonus after 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan accepted last weekend that the star defensive end wouldn’t be with the team.

But after Bosa agreed to a reported five-year, $170 million deal, a record for a defensive player, Shanahan was preparing to have the leader of the NFL’s top defense on the field as much as possible Sunday.

“I know Nick will come in shape. I know he’ll be good,” Shanahan said Wednesday after confirming a deal had been worked out. “We’ll be smart with it and that will be based on the next 2 1/2 practices.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was counting all along on Bosa reporting.

“It is prudent for us to assume that he’s going to be there and prepare in that vein as opposed to being surprised,” Tomlin said Tuesday.

Having the Bosa impasse behind them is a welcome development for the 49ers (13-4 in 2022), who have been to the NFC Championship Game three times over the past four seasons, including a Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2019 season.

Pressure is building on the organization to get over the hump, and having the player who posted a league-high 18.5 sacks last season will be a major help.

San Francisco won 13 regular-season games last season for the second time in four campaigns, but the franchise hasn’t won a Super Bowl crown since the 1994 season.

Due to the NFL salary cap, there is a fear that the championship window is closing.

“Super Bowl is at the top of everybody’s priority list right now,” veteran left tackle Trent Williams said. “Worrying about when the window closes really does nothing for us right now. It’s like worrying about when you’re going to die. It is going to close eventually, but what’s the point of looking forward to it?”

Quarterback Brock Purdy will try to follow up his stunning second half of the 2022 season as he went from Mr. Irrelevant as the last player picked in the draft to starting the NFC title game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Purdy suffered a serious elbow injury during the loss to the Eagles and underwent major surgery before making a speedy recovery.

The Steelers (9-8) also have a second-year quarterback, Kenny Pickett, who started 12 games last season. After throwing eight interceptions in his first five appearances (four starts), Pickett was intercepted just once the rest of the season.

However, Pickett threw just seven touchdown passes in 389 attempts. He maintains that he isn’t feeling any pressure.

“I’m not looking to prove anything,” Pickett said. “I’m looking to go out there and find a way to win. This will be a battle for four quarters. That’s what we’re expecting. Go in there, bring my best and be ready for a four-quarter battle.”

The Pittsburgh defense led by linebacker T.J. Watt (77.5 career sacks) will look to build on last season’s success. The Steelers allowed 18 or fewer points on 11 occasions.

Pittsburgh defensive tackles Cameron Heyward (not injury related) and Larry Ogunjobi (foot) were limited practice participants on Wednesday.

For the 49ers, star tight end George Kittle (groin) was one of seven limited participants. The others were safeties Talanoa Hufanga (knee) and Tashaun Gipson (general soreness), linebacker Oren Burks (knee), running back Jordan Mason (foot), receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (wrist) and kicker Jake Moody (quadriceps).

San Francisco leads the series 12-10. The 49ers won the last meeting, 24-20 at home in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Running back Derrick Henry (22), in action against Jacksonville Jaguars in Nashville on Dec. 31, was the Tennessee Titans' leading rusher for 2017 with 744 yards on 176 carries with 5 rushing touchdowns.

Derrick Henry, Titans visit new-look Saints

The host New Orleans Saints have a good idea of what to expect from the Tennessee Titans’ offense.

The Titans have less of an idea of what to expect from the Saints’ offense in the teams’ season opener Sunday afternoon in the Caesars Superdome.

Tennessee has had one of the leading rushing offenses in the NFL while Derrick Henry has averaged 1,420 yards per season since becoming a full-time starter in 2018.

The Titans’ rushing success doesn’t figure to change — especially with the addition of third-round draft choice Tyjae Spears of Tulane as a change-of-pace runner.

New Orleans, on the other hand, made one of the most significant offseason moves in the NFL by signing former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to try to upgrade an offense that was 16th in passing and 19th overall last season.

“I don’t think there’s any question that this team runs a lot of their offense through the running game, particularly Derrick Henry,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “Obviously with Tyjae Spears being there now, they’ve got a couple of different runners that they can utilize. They have home-run hitters running the ball.

“You have to be able to stop the run and play-action game and, hopefully, get them in some longer yardage situations.”

The Titans ranked 30th in passing offense last season and tried to improve that ranking by signing wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowl selection. The running game and quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be operating behind a rebuilt offensive line.

“In essence, they’ve got five new guys playing in different spots on their offensive line,” Allen said.

Carr played just one series in the preseason, giving Tennessee virtually no indication of what the Saints’ offense will look like with him instead of Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston behind center.

“It’s Week 1 and you have no clue,” Titans linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said. “You have to know yourself and stay true to your rules. You have to be ready for anything.”

The uncertainty is even greater because of the absence of Saints all-purpose running back Alvin Kamara, who is serving a three-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

New Orleans signed former Lions running back Jamaal Williams, the reigning NFL rushing touchdown leader, and signed tight ends Foster Moreau and Jimmy Graham. Former All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas is healthy after playing in just 10 games combined in the past three seasons because of injuries.

“We’ll have to be ready for a lot of different things,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “There will be things that we will have seen from tape and there will be things that we haven’t seen.”

Tennessee had the No. 1-ranked rushing defense last season.

“The team that controls the line of scrimmage is probably going to have a pretty good chance of success in this game,” Allen said.

Both teams were a disappointing 7-10 last season but are optimistic of returning to playoff-contender status.

Saints starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore (knee), who missed the last two preseason games, was limited in practice Wednesday. Titans starting linebacker Harold Landry III (abdomen) also was limited.

– Field Level Media

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the 2022 NFL MVP, and the defending Super Bowl champions host the Lions in the NFL season opener on Thursday night.

Lions first to test champion Chiefs in 2023 opener

Conventional wisdom suggests maybe it’s best to get the first shot at the defending champs, to run into them early before the complete calibration of systems around MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Not these Kansas City Chiefs.

Undefeated in Week 1 since drafting Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid breaks camp with his troops prepared to hit the ground running. Reid is 9-1 in Week 1 since taking over in Kansas City. The Chiefs scored 44 in the opening week win over the Arizona Cardinals in 2022, and have scored at least 33 points in every opener since 2017.

Entering the arena on Thursday as the visitors, the Detroit Lions are widely expected to be in the hunt in the NFC this season following narrowly missing the playoffs in 2022. The Lions made it clear they want to be in the position the Chiefs are in, at the top of the NFL heap glaring down on challengers.

“The guys know all that. They understand that; that’s how they work,” Reid said. “They’re not going to change that part, that comes with the territory, and you’ve got to make sure you’re ready.”

Mahomes arrived to training camp with a clenched jaw, challenging teammates to fight to overcome complacency. He’s one player Reid won’t doubt is ready on Thursday. And Mahomes thrives in regular-season openers. He has five three-plus-TD games in five starts with 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions cumulatively in Week 1.

Kansas City rules the AFC West and has hosted five consecutive AFC Championship games, but even the most recent Lombardi Trophy shouldn’t be on the mind of players Thursday night, according to All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.

“As sick as it sounds, I’m over last year. I’m ready to keep things moving forward,” Kelce said of the Super Bowl banner-raising ceremony pregame. “You know, I think it will be cool for the fans, for the Hunt Family to be able to put another banner up, and that’ll be a moment for them. For me right now, I’m focused on beating the Detroit Lions, not really focused on any of the other stuff that goes on for the first game of the year.”

Fast starts are not exactly the forte of the recent-vintage Lions.

The Lions lost a heartbreaker to eventual NFC champion Philadelphia in Week 1 last season, 38-35, and Detroit staggered to a 1-6 start before finding its footing and finishing 9-8. They didn’t win their first game in 2021 until December.

With Aaron Rodgers out of the NFC North and no clear heavyweight, the Lions are a popular pick to step to the forefront.

Lions coach Dan Campbell called Mahomes “the engine” of the Chiefs and said the only way to beat Kansas City is to make Mahomes go backward.

“Make him go backwards and never turn around where he can throw back that way. That would be about the best way to sum it up,” Campbell said. “Yeah, look, this guy is — he’s tough. That’s the easy answer to all this. He is a highly competitive, highly instinctive aware player and it all — he is the engine in this offense, everything runs through him, he makes it go.”

Detroit itself is buying into Campbell’s team, selling out season tickets to Ford Field for the first time in the history of the stadium and maintaining optimism quarterback Jared Goff and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson can keep their rhythm from the second half of last season.

“It’s fun being here in a city with all this excitement,” Goff said. “That being said, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win. I think we all know that. I know that. I’ve been on winning teams. I’ve been on losing teams. People will continue to be excited if we continue to win. Winning fixes everything, as they say.”

Goff had 29 TD passes last season but the Lions lost most of their proven point producers from 2022. Running back Jamaal Williams scored 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,066 yards. D’Andre Swift had five rushing touchdowns and three receiving TDs and was the second-leading receiver on the team (48 receptions) to Amon-Ra St. Brown (106 receptions, 1,161 yards).

Campbell wants his team’s success to come down to a polished and powerful offensive line and a defensive line built around 2022 No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson. He led the team with 9.5 sacks as a rookie.

General manager Brad Holmes selected running back Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of the 2023 draft, bolstered the depth on the defensive line and found playmakers at positions of need in the offseason.

“We feel even more confident that we’ll be able to compete with the big dogs,” Holmes said. “There’s not a better test than that first opener. I mean, they’re the champs.”

Reid’s next win will be his 270th in the NFL, which would tie Cowboys legend Tom Landry for fourth all-time in victories as an NFL head coach.

–Field Level Media

Aug 5, 2022; Green Bay, WI, USA; Lambeau Field is reflected off the visor of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard as he catches a pass at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Samantha Madar/Green Bay Press Gazette -USA TODAY NETWORK

Packers WR Allen Lazard (knee) doubtful at Vikings

Allen Lazard is not ready for his debut as the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 receiver.

Lazard, elevated to top target status for the Packers upon the trade of All-Pro Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, is officially doubtful for Sunday’s Week 1 visit to the Minnesota Vikings with a knee injury.

Lazard was “stepped on” and missed two practices last week, then did not practice this week.

The Packers are trending positive at other positions with offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and guard Elgton Jenkins (knee) questionable. Jenkins hasn’t played since tearing his ACL at Minnesota last November.

Tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) is also expected to play for the first time since tearing his ACL in October 2021.

Lazard has 109 career catches for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns in 42 games (25 starts) since the Packers signed him in December 2018. He was an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State.

Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins were listed as the starters on the team’s first official depth chart. Wideouts Christian Watkins, Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure are also on the 53-man roster.

–Field Level Media