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Eagles host Falcons to kick off 2018 regular season

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The NFL's annual Thursday Night Kickoff in 2018 is one for the birds.

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will begin their defense of the Lombardi Trophy hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 6 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

The matchup pits the past two NFC champions and is a rematch of last season's tight divisional playoff round tilt, which the Eagles won 15-10.

In the postseason victory, quarterback Nick Foles threw for 246 yards on 23 of 30 passing, leading one touchdown score and three field-goal drives, as the Eagles' defense stymied Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense in Philly.

The kickoff rematch could have a different signal-caller under center for the Eagles. 2017 MVP candidate Carson Wentz hopes to be ready for Week 1 after suffering an ACL and LCL tear in mid-December that sidelined him for Philadelphia's Super Bowl run. Wentz has begun the running portion of his rehab and could sit out the preseason if he's not ready to return. Might Week 1 be the first time we see Wentz back under center for the Eagles versus Dan Quinn's fast Falcons defense?

The Falcons provide potential offensive firepower in Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones (who went for 101 yards on nine receptions in the last meeting) and running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Expect to see plenty of Atlanta's highlight-reel plays as the NFL promotes the ballyhooed kickoff game.

Ryan and company, however, must deal with a reloaded Eagles defense that added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to the front seven. Already one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2017, the Eagles could be even better heading into this season.

Pitting two playoff teams with star players throughout the rosters provides the NFL with a potentially juicy matchup to jumpstart the 2018 campaign.

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