Packers-Seahawks a spicy start
OK, we got that out of the way.
Well, not really, because one of the major focal points of the 2014 season opener between the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and the Packers is what happened the last time Green Bay was in Seattle.
For those who don't remember - and for all those Packers fans who have blocked it from their minds - the Seahawks prevailed 14-12 on Russell Wilson's desperation pass that Golden Tate stole away from Green Bay's secondary on the final play.
Two days later, the NFL reached a new contract with its officials, and the replacements were, uh, sent packing.
''Now, we'll all have our own debate about that whenever the time comes when we're retired and gone,'' Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ''That referee was standing right there, looking right there - right down at it - and he didn't miss what he saw. He just saw it the way that Golden Tate made the catch. So I know that he wasn't confused.''
As for this spicy matchup Thursday night to kick off the schedule, both teams are favored to win their divisions and push each other for the NFC title.
Aaron Rodgers testing Seattle's superb secondary is intriguing. So is Marshawn Lynch running against what Green Bay sure hopes is a more stingy defense.
''I can promise you that the only time that topic will be brought up is when I'm in here,'' coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. ''We're past it.''
The champion Seahawks, No. 1 in the AP Pro32, are 5 1/2-point favorites over No. 4 Green Bay.
Pro Picks came on strong like the Seahawks did in the playoffs last winter. So why not ride the champs in the opener at very loud CenturyLink Field?
No. 29 Buffalo (plus 6 1-2) at No. 12 Chicago
The Bills take a huge step toward a 15th straight non-playoff season.
No. 9 San Diego (plus 3) at No. 14 Arizona, Monday
Have to wait for the last game of opening weekend for the ...
UPSET SPECIAL: CHARGERS, 21-20
No. 8 Indianapolis (plus 7) at No. 2 Denver
In a league pretty much all about the QBs, this one has Peyton Manning, king of Colorado, vs. his replacement in Indy, Andrew Luck. Go with the royalty in a tight one.
No. 10 (tie) Cincinnati (plus 2 1-2) at No. 10 (tie) Baltimore
One of these teams that AP Pro32 has dead even gets an early foothold in the AFC North.
No. 31 Cleveland (plus 6 1-2) at No. 13 Pittsburgh
Not even one of sports' greatest rivalries can overshadow the biggest NFL uncertainty: Will Johnny Football play?
Won't matter ...
No. 3 New England (minus 4 1-2) at No. 24 Miami
Patriots haven't lost an opener since 2003. They won't end that success string in the Miami heat.
No. 5 New Orleans (minus 3) at No. 20 (tie) Atlanta
Early-season test in NFC South, which looks like Saints' division to rule.
No. 6 San Francisco (minus 5 1-2) at No. 25 Dallas
Two teams coming off messy preseasons. Dallas' regular season might be just as bad.
No. 22 Washington (plus 2 1-2) at No. 27 Houston
Two first-time head coaches. Game could be decided by how many times Clowney and Watt get to RG3.
No. 26 Tennessee (plus 4 1-2) at No. 16 Kansas City
Salary cap woes prevented Chiefs from improving in offseason. It will hurt them immediately ...
No. 15 Carolina (plus 1) at No. 18 Tampa Bay
Panthers are another team that took steps backward.
No. 32 Oakland (plus 5) at No. 19 N.Y. Jets
Considering their upcoming schedule, Jets already have a must-win game.
No. 30 Jacksonville (plus 10) at No. 7 Philadelphia
We're already out of breath thinking about the pace Chip Kelly's Eagles will keep. Jaguars won't slow it much.
No. 28 Minnesota (plus 4) at No. 20 (tie) St. Louis
Rams' defense must carry them and just might - at least this week.
No. 23 N.Y. Giants (plus 4 1-2) at No. 18 Detroit, Monday
Upheaval in both places. Lions seem a tad further along.
2013 RECORD: Against spread: (120-127-7). Straight up: (166-99-1).
Best Bet: 11-10 against spread, 17-4 straight up.
Upset special: 9-11 against spread, 6-14 straight up.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL