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Countdown to kickoff

With all the excitement surround the first weekend of fantasy football, AP has this buzzkill report:

"CBS Interactive has filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis to clarify who can use the statistics that underlie fantasy football leagues. The lawsuit filed earlier this week claims the NFL Players Association has threatened to sue the company if it does not pay licensing fees for the statistics. CBS seeks a ruling saying that the players cannot control use of the publicly available numbers and cannot demand that CBS pay for their use."

NFL.com's Adam Schefter reports that Bills left tackle Jason Peterswill end his holdout tomorrow:

"Peters informed the Bills on Friday that he plans to end his summer-long holdout and report to the team Saturday, one day before Buffalo opens its season against Seattle. The team already has made the decision that Peters will not play Sunday against Seattle. ... Peters will not be arriving in Buffalo with the new contract he has been seeking."

Slow news day in the NFL so far. Here's what's recently been published on SI.com today:

• Monday's Vikings-Packers game is Adam Duerson's Game of the Week.

Dr. Z talks with Jim Zorn about the Redskins' play-calling in the fourth quarter against the Giants and tackles other topics in his weekly mailbag.

Michael Lombardi writes that succeeding in these three statsis the key to making it to the Super Bowl.

We've heard Rudi Johnson's side of the story. Now, it's Tatum Bell's turn. The alleged luggage thief went on The Dan Patrick Show today to set the record straight.

• Coming up on Friday, Dr. Z will dive into the mailbag to fight off readers furious with his Power Rankings.

Adam Duerson breaks down Week 1's Marquee Matchup -- Vikings at Packers.

• Personnel guru Michael Lombardi reveals three stats that are pretty good indicators as to which team will win the Super Bowl.

All that, plus all the news as we close in on the first Sunday of the 2008 season.

In his first Snap Judgments of the 2008 season, Don Banks takes off the gloves and bluntly wonders if Redskins QB Jason Campbell is a good fit for the West Coast offense ... and if Washington's Jim Zorn is sufficiently prepared to be an NFL head coach.

Thanks to the bulldozing prowess of Brandon Jacobs (116 yards rushing), an unrelenting defense (217 total yards allowed) and, of course, the still-proficient leg of 44-year-old kicker John Carney (three field goals), the world champion Giants turned in a dominating 16-7 win over the Redskins on Opening Night. So much for that championship complacency, eh?

While the Redskins figure out a way to move the ball against the Giants -- who lead 16-0 -- now seems like the perfect time to remind you to catch Tiffany Trott's expansive in-game blog on all the sights and sounds of the NFL season opener.

Couple quick hitters from the AP:

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier is gradually improving, but 'not out of the woods yet.'

Tom Brady has been taken off the Patriots injury report.

Colts center Jeff Saturdayis passing on knee surgery.

ProFootballTalk.com has a scoop a few hours before the defending champs host the Redskins:

"Giants receiver Plaxico Burress wanted a new contract before the regular-season began. And he got one. Per a league source, Burress has signed a five-year, $35 million deal. He'll make $11 million in 2008."

AP has more details here.

It's official. The Bengals player who wears No. 85 will have Ocho Cinco on the back of his jersey. Let's let the AP explain:

"The Bengals said Thursday that they will refer to the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson by his new legal name, Chad Ocho Cinco, in all club business. That includes the back of his jersey for Sunday's season opener at Baltimore."

Don Banks says the Chargers won't miss a beat when -- not if -- Shawne Merriman goes down this season.

Dr. Zpicks five games, taking the betting lines into consideration.

Dominic Bonvissuto helps you figure out which games are worth watching this weekend.

• And notorious pot-stirrer Andrew Perloff is back at it, stating the Giants will have a Super hangover this season.

Interesting story out of Nashville, courtesy of the Tennessean:

"Titans safety Michael Griffin was kicked out of practice Wednesday after an altercation with a teammate. Griffin and cornerback Cary Williams got tangled up during a drill and were separated before they came to blows, but Griffin continued to jaw at Williams well after the altercation and ignored Coach Jeff Fisher's order to calm down. Teammates were unsuccessful in soothing Griffin, so Fisher sent him to the locker room."

From the AP: The Jacksonville Jaguars placed shooting-victim Richard Collier on the reserve/non-football injury list Thursday and signed offensive tackle Charles Spencer to take his spot on the active roster. Collier was shot several times while sitting in his sports utility vehicle early Tuesday and remained in critical condition a day later. He was the team's primary backup tackle.

Unemployed quarterback Daunte Culpepper has officially announced his retirement in an at-times tersely worded statement emailed to various media outlets. ProFootballTalk.com has the transcript here.

What to look for on SI.com/NFL today:

Dr. Z shares his picks, taking the spread into consideration, for Week 1.

Don Banks peers into the future to let you in on a few things that will definitely happen this season.

• Not sure which games to tune into this weekend? Dominic Bonvissuto ranks the Week 1 contests based on watchability.

Andrew Perloff gets you ready for the opening game, Redskins at Giants.

All that, plus all the news as we close in on the official kickoff of the 2008 season

Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch hopes to defy the odds and play in Seattle's season-opener just seven months after having reconstructive knee surgery. Branch practiced Wednesday, but coach Mike Holmgren says Branch has not passed a physical to be cleared to play.

And finally, Bill Belichickhas spoken. In a conference call with Kansas City reporters, Mr. Secret said, "I expect he'll be ready to go," when asked about Tom Brady and his injured foot. Brady practiced Wednesday and appears to be on track to start the season against Kansas City on Sunday.

With a nagging hamstring injury to wide receiver Javon Walker, the Raiders may be forced to look to newcomer Ashley Lelie in their season-opener on Monday night against Denver. Lelie, who was recently released by San Francisco, went through is first practice with Oakland on Wednesday.

Can't get enough of the Rudi Johnson-Tatum Bell story? Good news: The Detroit Free Press is all over it, providing these nuggets in its latest update:

• Johnson on Bell: "He came here to get some stuff out of his locker. That's when he scooped the bags up. Some real shyster, conniving stuff, man."

• Bell: "I ain't no thief. I ain't never been one, and I ain't never going to be one. It was all a misunderstanding."

The Free Press goes into further detail, sharing both players' versions of what happened.

The latest news in the will-he-or-won't-he-play saga of Tom Brady: He practiced with the team today. Brady's also listed on the injury report as having shoulder and foot injuries.

Which game does Peter King call the "game of the weekend?" Packers-Vikings? Nope. Jets-Dolphins? Nah. Cowboys-Browns? No sir. Find out in his first Weekend Pickoff of the season.

The Jets voted Brett Favre to be one ofsix team captains this season. The others: Alan Faneca, Shaun Ellis, Kerry Rhodes, David Bowens and Leon Washington. Conspicuous in his absence? Seven-year Jets veteran Laveranues Coles, who was originally miffed the team signed Favre and cut his friend, Chad Pennington. This latest development can't help the Favre-Coles relationship.

More on the phenomenal Rudi Johnson-Tatum Bell story, courtesy of the AP:

"The empty bags were returned Tuesday evening, but Johnson said he is still missing $200, his ID, credit cards and clothes. Johnson said he had spoken with Bell and did not plan to involve the police."

To recap: Rudi Johnson takes Tatum Bell's job and Tatum Bell retaliates by swiping Rudi Johnson's bags. Hard to imagine this story being topped all season.

Kyle Boller's season is done. The Ravens placed Boller on injured reserve today. Boller injured his shoulder in the second preseason game and hasn't played since.

Dr. Z has chimed in with the first Power Rankings of the season. Falcons fans might not want to click here.

Ross Tucker has even more evidence to prove why the Bengals are the most inept franchise in the NFL.

• Which coach does Peter King think won't be back in 2009? Peek into the crystal ball to find out.

We have an early favorite for NFL story of the year. Cue ProFootballTalk.com:

"[Newly signed Lions running back Rudi] Johnson left his bags outside CEO Matt Millen's office while he met with team officials and, ultimately, worked out a deal with the team. So when Johnson came back to get his bags, they were nowhere to be found. Johnson and Millen were stumped. Enter the eye in the sky. The team checked the videotapes generated by the team's in-house surveillance system, and they quickly identified the culprit. So who might it have been? None other than Tatum Bell, who lost his gig with the Lions after Rudi arrived."

What to look for on SI.com/NFL today:

Peter King's picks for Week 1. If you haven't already, sign up here to compare your picks to his.

• The return of Dr. Z's Power Rankings.

• Former player Ross Tucker musing on all things NFL.

• The NFL Crystal Ball: Nine SI.com writers share their predictions for division winners, playoffs, awards and more.

All that, plus all the news as we count down to tomorrow night's kickoff between the Redskins and the Giants.

Despite missing almost all of training camp, the Chiefs' first-round pick, Branden Albert may start at left tackle Sunday, according to AP. Kansas City opens its season as 16 1/2-point underdogs at New England.

The Steelers have traded offensive lineman Sean Mahan back to the Buccaneers a year after acquiring him. Mahan lost his starting job to Justin Hartwig, but should help Tampa Bay solidify its line. The Bucs alsot traded backup guard Dan Buenning to the Chicago Bears for an undisclosed draft pick.

From ProFootballTalk.com: Recently released quarterback Joey Harrington, late of the Falcons, is paying visit to the Saints. New Orleans is obviously set at starter with Drew Brees but may be looking to upgrade at backup, which is currently Mark Brunell's job.

Fresh off having his three-game suspension reduced to one, Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall told a Denver TV station he wants to catch 140 balls this season. The record, set by the Colts' Marvin Harrison in 2002, is 143.

The AP is the first to report the Saints will indeed open the season in New Orleans as scheduled. The Superdome did not sustain any significant damage during Hurricane Gustav. The Saints, who fled to Indianapolis to wait out the storm, will host the Bucs on Sunday at 1 p.m.

From the Associated Press: The NFL will honor the late Gene Upshaw with his initials and his uniform number stenciled on the field for all 16 games this opening weekend. The league had announced that all NFL players would wear a patch all season with the initials "GU" and the number 63, his former uniform number to honor the Hall of Fame guard and longtime union leader, who died two weeks ago. It originally announced they also would be stenciled on the field for the season opener at Giants Stadium between the Redskins and Giants and for the Denver-Oakland game at Oakland, but the NFL extended that Tuesday to all games. A video tribute to Upshaw will also be shown.

Jaguars tackle Richard Collier continues to be in critical condition in a Jacksonville hospital after being shot outside an apartment building early Tuesday morning. Collier, 26, and former Jaguars defensive end Kenneth Pettway were waiting in a Cadillac Escalade when a gunman fired into the vehicle, said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman Ken Jefferson.

ProFootballTalk.com wonders aloud if the Jaguars, who have had 10 different players arrested since February 2007, have supplanted the Bengals as the NFL team with the most off-field problems.

The Ravens have agreed to terms with veteran QB Todd Bouman, ESPN.com's John Clayton is reporting. The Ravens are hurting at quarterback, with both Kyle Boller and Troy Smith ailing, leaving rookie Joe Flacco as the lone healthy QB.

Two more columns from SI.com writers ...

Don Banks is all over the NFL map with his Snap Judgments, musing on Tom Brady's injury and calling out Kurt Warner for being a fraud.

• Bucky Brooks debuts his new weekly column, NFL Awards Watch, which will track the races for the six major individual awards. Today, Bucky makes his early predictions, including a suprisingly high finish for a certain Jets QB in the MVP race.

From the Associated Press: The Denver Broncos traded versatile defensive back Domonique Foxworth to the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday for an undisclosed draft choice in 2009. Foxworth, a fourth-year pro, became expendable when the Broncos claimed cornerback Calvin Lowry off waivers from the Tennessee Titans this week. Foxworth averaged 55 tackles and 11 pass breakups in his three seasons in Denver, where he played cornerback, safety and nickel back. He totaled 166 tackles and three interceptions in 46 games, including 18 starts. Click here for more on the story.

Bland. Boring. Predictable. Call him what you please, but SI.com's Peter King foresees a Cowboys-Patriots Super Bowl as he makes his predictions for the 2008 season.

The Lions make it official, signing ex-Bengals running back Rudi Johnson to a new deal. They also released Tatum Bell. The Johnson signing is not good news for those fantasy owners who took rookie Kevin Smith high in their drafts. For more on the fantasy tidbits, check out SI.com's Fantasy Clicks.

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