Packers-Seahawks the most interesting matchup of Week 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett plans to give his older brother, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, a hug when he sees him this weekend.

Recent events off the field make their teams’ juicy NFL season-opener on Sunday seem trivial by comparison.

Martellus Bennett, who went to high school in Taylor, Texas, has been working to raise money and supplies for residents of flood-ravaged parts of that state. And this week, Michael Bennett released a statement alleging racially motivated excessive force by the Las Vegas police.

“Sometimes, a hug is the best thing you can give,” Martellus Bennett says as his voice starts cracking. He talks to his brother several times a week.

“Two seconds this way, two seconds that way, the whole thing is different,” he adds. “So for me, I’ll just be happy to see my brother.”

Once the game kicks off, the Bennetts probably won’t have to face each other on Lambeau Field. But the matchup between Seattle’s tough-as-nails defense and Green Bay’s potent offense should be intriguing.

They appear to be the two best teams in the NFC, and this could be a preview of a playoff in January.

“Yeah, our two teams know,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says.

“When you start the season, training camp, I’m sure 32 teams are talking about winning the Super Bowl. It’s not really the case. There’s not that many teams that have those squads that could do it. Us and Seattle are usually in the mix. They have been and we have been for a long time. You know it’s going to be two teams that expect to be there in the end.”

The season got going on Thursday when Kansas City stunned defending champion New England 42-27 in the season opener.

Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and rookie Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times for the visiting Chiefs.

The Patriots faded badly in the second half. Tom Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, struggled mightily in the second half and didn’t throw for a touchdown.

Also, the opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins that was scheduled for Sunday was postponed by the NFL until Nov. 19 because of Hurricane Irma.

Nowhere in a medical dictionary will you find the term “Super Bowl malaise.” No matter: It exists.

Will the Atlanta Falcons fall victim to it? They insist not, saying they have got rid of all the angst and disappointment from their epic collapse at the Super Bowl well before they gathered for training camp.

The Falcons come into the season eyeing another big run, and that starts with the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

“The way this team has developed, the way this team has pushed itself, we are a better team than we were last year,” Atlanta safety Ricardo Allen says. “And if we made it to the Super Bowl last year, we have a fairly good chance of making it fairly far this year.”

The Falcons were a surprise NFC champion last year, going from 8-8 in coach Dan Quinn’s first season to 11-5. They appeared to be on their way to their first Super Bowl victory with a 25-point lead over New England, only to see Brady and the Patriots rally to beat them in overtime.

Not since the Buffalo Bills dropped four in a row in the 1990s has a losing team returned to the Super Bowl the following season.

The prime-time spotlight on Monday will shine on Adrian Peterson’s return to Minneapolis. He’s not the top running back for the New Orleans Saints – Mark Ingram is – but Peterson will be the focal point against a Minnesota defense that needs more consistency. Peterson was released in the offseason after 10 years as a Viking.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer got testy when asked about Peterson.

“I’m just going to talk about my players,” Zimmer says. When asked if Peterson will have a chip on his shoulder, Zimmer responds: “I hope we have a chip on our shoulder. This game isn’t about Adrian Peterson. It’s about the Vikings and the Saints. They’ve got a lot of great offensive weapons and he’s a great player, but this game isn’t about Adrian Peterson.”