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New face vs. old face

Power rankings

1. Packers 2. Patriots

3. Ravens 4. Eagles

5. Jets

Upset special

San Francisco (1-0) over Dallas (0-1)

First-year coach Jim Harbaugh gets another signature win thanks to another Tony Romo miscue.

Perspective of the week

With the Peyton Manning-less Colts dropping their season opener 34-7 to the Texans — and looking bad doing so — former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy had some calming words for any panicked fans. "The sky isn't falling," he said. "You can have a disastrous game and still have a good season."

Trash talk of the week

Former Bucs star defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a never-shy NFL Network analyst, said on Showtime's Inside the NFL that the Steelers are "old, slow, and it's over," adding his 13-year-old daughter could cover receiver Hines Ward "in a heartbeat." Pittsburgh lost 35-7 to Baltimore in Week 1. "I wouldn't kick dirt on us," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "We'll be back."

Number of the week

8 Teams that started last season 0-2; none finished with a winning record, and four fired their coach

Quarterback Matt Ryan already has done a lot that would make Falcons fans forget about their former No. 1 overall pick, Michael Vick. He has won 33 games in his three seasons, leading Atlanta back into the playoffs while serving as the new face of the franchise. • But if Ryan beats the Eagles tonight, in Vick's return to a town he used to electrify, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jeff Schultz argued the win would be the "biggest of Ryan's career." • It's not just the Falcons, a popular preseason Super Bowl pick, are coming off a disappointing loss in Week 1 to the Bears. Vick earned three Pro Bowls in six seasons with Atlanta (2001-06) before a dogfighting scandal temporarily derailed his career and landed him in prison. • "Vick hangover still exists, and this is Ryan's opportunity to ease that," Schultz writes. "It's only the second game of the season. But if the Falcons win, Ryan won't have a bigger one on his resume."

Quote of the week

"At one point, the Bills were the team that no one wanted to play. It was Buffalo at No. 1. In every division, there are going to be those teams at the top and the bottom for a while. Then it flips around. So I feel like why not us? Why can't this be the year that we take over that No. 1 spot?"

—Bills receiver Stevie Johnson to on Buffalo, which boasts an NFL-high 11 consecutive playoff-less seasons, competing with the Jets and Patriots in the AFC East

Tough to top

Of the 11 quarterbacks to throw for 500 yards in a game, just one passed for more than 300 in his next one. That was the Saints' Drew Brees, who racked up 349 against the Falcons on Nov. 26, 2006, after 510 against the Bengals. That means the Patriots' Tom Brady, who amassed 517 Monday night in a win over the Dolphins, has a tough task against the Chargers today. However, Brady and Chargers star quarterback Phillip Rivers might combine for 1,000 yards.

Heavy heart

Linebacker Brian Urlacher is the heart and soul of the Bears, and there's no doubt he'll be playing with a lot of emotion today against the Saints after his mother, Lavoyda, died last week. She was 51.

Urlacher's teammates have come to his support, showing up at her funeral Saturday, and he will have an empathetic opponent.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees recalled losing his mother, Mina, on Aug. 7, 2009, during training camp.

"As hard as that was and as much as I needed to be with my family at that time, the guys in the locker room — your teammates — are also a part of your family," Brees said. "So a big part of my healing was coming back and being with the guys in the locker room and, obviously, getting back to playing football because I know that's what she loved watching me do."

Times wires, the NFL,, the Boston Herald, Indianapolis Star and Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report.

New face vs. old face 09/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 17, 2011 6:11pm]
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