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NFL Season Kicks Off Thursday with Giants and Redskins


The 2008 National Football League (NFL) season opens Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Washington Redskins. VOA's Teresa Sullivan has a preview of the National Football Conference contest and more.

The New York Giants surprisingly won last season's NFL championship by knocking off the heavily favored New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl 42. New York scored in the final 35 seconds to edge previously unbeaten New England in one of the biggest upset victories in NFL history.

But this season, New York will be without two key defensive ends, Osi Umenyiora, who could miss the whole year due to an injury, and veteran star Michael Strahan, who retired.

Washington Redskins new head coach Jim Zorn says the Giants' defense will still be as tough and relentless as ever, especially linebacker Antonio Pierce, and defensive end Justin Tuck. "They are very motivated, I think. Antonio Pierce is a guy who motivates his teammates. Tuck is doing a wonderful job at defensive end, just lunging and creating problems for me, trying to prepare for him."

The Redskins, under the leadership of first-time head coach Zorn, have beefed up an already stingy defense, adding two new versatile defensive ends, Jason Taylor and Andre Carter, to their line-up.

Giants quarterback and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, Eli Manning, says New York is going to have to play good fundamental football to beat the Redskins. "They are a good team, and they do a lot of different looks, and they can give you a good pass rush, they can blitz ... they [play with an] aggressive style, so we just got to be consistent, we got to play quality football. It is not about out-scheming a lot of things, it is about out performing out there," he said.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are looking like the team to beat in the NFC, coming off last season's record of 13 wins and only three losses.

Dallas is expecting more consistency from quarterback Tony Romo, and hopes new defensive addition, cornerback Adam Jones, will be every opposing wide receiver's worst nightmare.

One of the most highly anticipated games will be the New York Jets season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Former long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will be making his debut with the Jets following a brief retirement that barely lasted the off-season. The revamped Dolphins will be seeking redemption after losing all but one of their (16) games last season.

The AFC powerhouse New England Patriots start anew with star quarterback Tom Brady at the helm of the team's imposing offense.

Another strong AFC team to watch is the San Diego Chargers, who are predicted to dominate their division.

Each of the 32 NFL teams plays 16 games in the regular season. The NFC and AFC champions play for the league title in the Super Bowl.