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What to watch for Sunday: Week 1

Finally football Sundays are back. Every weekend we'll take a look at important injuries you'll want to keep an eye on leading up to Sunday's kickoffs. We'll also point out any other factors that might affect your fantasy teams and some key storylines to be on the look out for as you enjoy the games.


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Key game-time decisions


Roddy White, WR (Ankle -- Questionable) Atlanta Falcons

White brushed off any questions about whether he'd be on the field to open the season against the Saints. We have no reason to doubt him.

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (Back -- Questionable) New York Giants

JPP traveled with the team to Dallas and will test out his back prior to the game. Given his limited participation thus far in practice, we're expecting limited game reps at best.

Santonio Holmes, WR (Foot -- Questionable) New York Jets

Geno Smith can use all the help he can get in his first start. Holmes was limited in Friday's practice so he could play some against the Buccaneers, but we shouldn't expect a whole lot out of the Jets' most talented playmaker.

Blaine Gabbert, QB (Thumb -- Questionable) Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags gave Gabbert one last season to prove he should keep his job. The right thumb injury won't help his cause. He was limited all week, but we expect Gabbert to take the first snap of the season when he faces the Chiefs.

Brandon Browner, CB (Hamstring -- Questionable); Cliff Avril (Hamstring -- Doubtful) DE Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll called both players game-time decisions. It is interesting to note that while Avril fully participated Friday, Browner sat out the last two days. If neither can go, it's not a huge blow for one of the league's deepest teams as Seattle battles the Panthers.

Rob Gronkowski TE (Back, Arm -- Doubtful) New England Patriots

Kidding. He's not going to play. He did not make the trip to Buffalo with the team.

Key Players Coming off Injures


(Admittedly, the most ballyhooed return takes place Monday night).

Darrelle Revis, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How he moves and cuts on his surgically repaired knee might be the main reason to tune in to the matchup with the Jets.

EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills

The EJ era is underway in Buffalo as the quarterback returns from knee surgery. Coach Doug Marrone says the whole playbook is open, but I'll be watching his mobility and how he commands the new Bills' offense.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears

Yes, Marshall has dealt with hip injuries, but I'm watching to see how he fits into coach Marc Trestman's offense more than if he'll play through an injury. I'm also pumped to see defensive tackle Henry Melton back on the field after a concussion.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Going into his eighth season, the Jags need MJD to carry the load. But coming off a Lisfranc injury, he's entering the portion of his NFL career where usually it becomes harder for running backs to keep pace.

Justin Smith, DT, San Francisco 49ers

Smith is back healthy after fighting through a triceps injury last year. For the 49ers' defense, Smith is like the koozie on your can of barley pop. Sure you'd still drink it without one, but it just wouldn't be as good.

Weather tracking


Petyon Manning hoarded all the lightning bolts Thursday. It looks to be beautiful skies for opening Sunday.

Patriots at Bills -- 68 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Seahawks at Panthers -- 88 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Bengals at Bears -- 78 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Dolphins at Browns -- 74 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Vikings at Lions -- Dome

Raiders at Colts -- Dome

Chiefs at Jaguars -- 88 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Falcons at Saints -- Dome

Buccaneers at Jets -- 83 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Titans at Steelers -- 78 degrees Fahrenheit/Partly cloudy

Packers at 49ers -- 78 degrees Fahrenheit/Sunny, clear

Cardinals at Rams -- Dome

Giants at Cowboys -- 90 degrees Fahrenheit/Clear

Did you know?


Only 1.7 percent of clubs that lost their season openers have won the Super Bowl since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990. Good luck!

When the Chiefs take on the Jaguars it will mark just the second time that players selected No. 1 (Eric Fisher) and No. 2 (Luke Joeckel) overall will play in a Week 1 meeting in the same season. The other occurrence took place in 1982 (Patriots DT Kenneth Sims; Colts LB Johnie Cooks).

Sunday's storylines


New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

I, like the rest of the country, want to see how Tom Brady uses his new toys. I'm just not sure the Bills' banged-up secondary is a good test.

We should see a heavy dose of C.J. Spiller early, but what will Doug Marrone do with Manuel if his team is down big?

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Russell Wilson might have a tough time running against the Panthers' front seven, but he should pick apart the secondary.

Cam Newton begins his pivotal "Save My Coach's Job" campaign against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears


Undoubtedly, Bears pass rusher Julius Peppers started salivating upon hearing Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth would be out. If the Bengals can't protect Andy Dalton, all his new weapons will be worthless.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns


I'm expecting the Dolphins to throw the ball, a lot. This is a stout Browns defense and the Dolphins' offensive line hasn't shown the ability to open up many holes for the running backs.

What sort of Brandon Weeden will we get Sunday? The Brandon who had people raving early in the preseason, or the Brandon who seemed all too much like last season's rendition?

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions


Adrian Peterson. All Day needs to average 156.25 yards per game to gallop to his goal of 2,500. Last season he averaged 136.5 yards in his two matchups against the Lions.

The Lions won't have to deal with Kevin Williams (knee) in the Vikings' defensive front, but running the ball still will be a struggle. The question is, how many bags of ice will Matthew Stafford's right arm require after the contest?

Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts


It's anyone's guess what the Raiders' offense will look like with Terrelle Pryor and a terrible offensive line. The street ball that is likely to ensue will either be thoroughly entertaining or an abysmal atrocity. I'm guessing the latter.

Speaking of offensive lines, how many times will Andrew Luck hit the ground? Likely more than he should and more than his coach will be happy about.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars


You all can watch Alex Smith, I'm going to be dissecting how Andy Reid uses Jamaal Charles.

Cecil Shorts was probably the Jags' best storyline last year. Has he gotten better, especially without Justin Blackmon on the other side?

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints


The Falcons' offense gets the attention, but this game will depend on how much the defense can pressure Drew Brees and how the young defensive backs play against a complex aerial attack.

Sean Payton is back! Now what will the excuse be when the defense undermines his offense?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets


Forget Revis and the revamped defense. We won't get a good read on that side of the ball in this matchup. Instead we should keep our eyes glued on Josh Freeman. He's playing for his job starting Sunday.

Geno, Geno, blah, blah, blah. Let's judge Rex Ryan in this game based on how his defense messes with Freeman. He's really just a defensive coordinator who is required to talk to the media.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers


The Titans revamped the offensive line to help out Chris Johnson, but it will be Jake Locker's play that keeps or costs Mike Munchak his job. His improvement must be on display from the get-go.

Keep an eye on Steelers rookie Jarvis Jones. He's not starting, but I expect him to be all over the field Sunday.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers


You, me, the referees and the league office will all be watching that first hit Colin Kaepernick (aka Kap, not Kaep, apparently) takes in the read option.

The Packers' defense will be under the microscope this entire season. It starts with possibly their most difficult matchup. We'll get a quick look at how much work they've put in defending mobile quarterbacks.

Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams


The Rams' offense was kept mostly under wraps in the preseason. How coordinator Brian Schottenheimer deploys rookie receiver Tavon Austin and opens up the offense for Sam Bradford will tell us a lot about how this season could unfold in the NFC West.

Matched up against an underrated Rams defense, will the Carson Palmer-led offense be as shaky as it looked in the preseason?

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys


Complain about Tony Romo all night if you like, I'll be keeping an eye on Monte Kiffin's defense. The transition from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense looked positive in the preseason. But that is the preseason. We'll see if the thin group can hold up under the real spotlight.

For the Giants, it's all Eli, all the time. Anyone else wondering if he'll try to top his brother's Week 1 performance? No, me neither.

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