The biggest perk of playing in the 2011 NFL season opener on Thursday is that it gives the Green Bay Packers 10 days off until their next game, with no stress of playing on a short week before it. The team has the weekend off and can relax after an intense game against one of their toughest opponents of the season.
Maybe they'll watch some of the other games around the NFC North, with no easy match-up on the schedule. Here are the odds from SB Nation.
Falcons at Bears. Atlanta is favored by 3, which I have to admit surprises me. Looking back at 2010, I see the Bears went 6-4 at home, so maybe home field isn't a huge advantage for them. The Falcons played two similar road games last season, both losses at the Eagles and Steelers, so they seem better suited at playing inside their dome. I like the two big offseason moves the Falcons made (draft WR Julio Jones, sign free agent DE Ray Edwards) while the Bears only added WR Roy Williams for some reason, and didn't do enough to improve their offensive line.
Lions at Buccaneers. Tampa's favored by 1, which is really a sign to stay away from this game. Detroit has been awful on the road for a while, until they won in Tampa last December. If the preseason version of QB Matthew Stafford shows up, then the Lions should win. Otherwise I'd give the Bucs the edge. I guess I'm as much on the fence about this game as the odds makers.
Vikings at Chargers. San Diego is favored by 9 and that sounds about right. Too many changes for the Vikings as they enter the non-interim era under Leslie Frazier. Road games on the west coast always seem to take a little something out of the visiting eastern team too.
Will any of these games grab your attention on Sunday?