NFL players and coaches seem ready to play. The regular officials will be on the field.
But the grief of the past two weeks is not forgotten.
"Fans look to us for some relief," Giants coach Jim Fassel said as he got his team back to work within sight of the white smoke still hanging above the ruins of the World Trade Center.
But no one quite knows what they will be playing for.
There will be a 16-game schedule, but the teams still don't know whether there will eight teams in the playoffs or 12. That won't affect play this weekend, when nobody is eliminated, but it certainly will down the line. And the scenarios proposed for a full playoffs are rather improbable, which means the eight-team playoffs are likely.
The regular officials will be back this weekend, too, settling their labor dispute with the league in part because both sides realized the dispute was far down the list of priorities after last week's events.
And it's hardly business as usual for the league. Security will be extremely tight, cars will be scrutinized entering parking lots, bags will be searched entering the stadium, and large numbers of police will be on hand.
On the field, how many players will go back to work without the passion they had in Week 1? Or will the concentration required take their minds off what's happened in this country, at least for three hours on Sunday?
Oakland (1-0) at Miami (1-0)
The Raiders beat the Dolphins 27-0 last January in a playoff game in Oakland. But the Dolphins are 14-0 at home in August and September dating back to 1993 -- call it the heat factor.
"It's a different story here. When you come out here, it's hot and they're going to be in black," Miami safety Brock Marion says. "We train in this heat all the time. It's a big difference when you come down here this time of the year."
This could be a critical game if there is just one wild-card team in each conference. These are two of the stronger teams in the AFC, but there are four more -- Denver, Baltimore, Tennessee and Indianapolis -- two of whom won't make the playoffs if only four AFC teams get in. And that doesn't even count potential fringe contenders.
"These games are crucial because, to be realistic, you could go 12-4 and not make the playoffs in the AFC," Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon says. "You could go 12-4 and lose to a conference opponent and wind up losing a tiebreaker. So, every game is critical."
Tennessee (0-1) at Jacksonville (1-0)
Until last Nov. 26, when they lost 16-13 in Jacksonville, the Titans had bedeviled the Jaguars, winning four straight, including the 1999 AFC title game at Alltel Stadium.
Tennessee's home loss to Miami two weeks ago makes this another important one if the number of playoff teams are reduced. Neil O'Donnell, a New Jersey native who knew people on the top floor of the World Trade Center, may start at quarterback for Steve McNair, who injured his shoulder vs. Miami.
Of note: Titans guard Bruce Matthews will tie Jim Marshall for the most games played by a non-kicker, 282.
New York Giants (0-1) at Kansas City (0-1)
New York Jets (0-1) at New England (0-1)
It just happened that the New York teams are scheduled out of town this week (as is Washington, the other team near the site of an attack). That's probably a good thing.
Players on both the Jets and Giants have visited the sites and have had strong reactions. Player representatives Michael Strahan of the Giants and Kevin Mawae of the Jets played a pivotal role in convincing other player reps to vote against playing last week.
The Giants certainly need a win after wilting in mile-high Denver in the last quarter-and-a-half of the final game played before the disasters, the Broncos' 31-20 win. But playing in a week NFC East, they're likely to have only Philadelphia to compete with for a division title.
The Jets, on the other hand, are among the fringe teams in the AFC. They have to win this one. In fact, they have to hope the league figures out a way to keep the 12-team playoffs. Kansas City is in the same position, particularly in the AFC West. New England, having lost in Cincinnati, doesn't have to worry about the playoffs.
Washington (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0) (Monday night)
The Redskins' 30-3 loss in San Diego the first week was a good indication of how far they've slipped following Dan (The Fan) Snyder's shopping spree before last season. They're now in total rebuilding mode.
Interesting note on the Packers: their postponed game was with the Giants. It now will be played the final week of the season with, perhaps, serious playoff ramifications.
Baltimore (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0)
The Bengals are feeling upbeat after winning their opener for the first time since 1997, but the win was over New England. The Super Bowl champs are an entirely different story, particularly for a team that has the turnover-prone Jon Kitna at quarterback.
Note to the Bengals, particularly rookie WR Chad Johnson, who is predicting Corey Dillon will run for more than 100 yards: In his last five games against the Ravens, Dillon has managed 168 yards on 66 carries, a 2.5 average.
Denver (1-0) at Arizona (0-0)
The Cardinals will have been off for 24 days when this Sunday night game starts. They also find themselves in the unusual position of leading the NFC East -- they were off in the first week and the other four teams lost.
The Broncos' major task is replacing Ed McCaffrey, who broke his leg in the opener. Eddie Kennison, who has failed in St. Louis and New Orleans, is the No. 1 choice. But QB Brian Griese, three good running backs and a top offensive line might make that moot.
Philadelphia (0-1) at Seattle (1-0)
One of the weekend's more interesting matchups.
The Seahawks could get only three field goals in their 9-6 win in Cleveland, but Matt Hasselbeck demonstrated he can be the quarterback they have lacked.
The Eagles lost in overtime to the Rams. They might have won had Donovan McNabb not balked at being his usual creative self. He stayed in the pocket until the fourth quarter, then ran for 41 yards that led to two touchdowns.
Buffalo (0-1) at Indianapolis (1-0)
The last time these two met was Dec. 11 at the RCA Dome. Both were 7-6 and Bills coach Wade Phillips suggested before the game that both were out of the playoffs.
The Colts won 44-20, won their next two and made it to the postseason. Phillips was fired and Gregg Williams is now the coach of a rebuilding team.
St. Louis (1-0) at San Francisco (1-0)
An important game for the 49ers, who hope to contend in what could be a very competitive NFC West. Again, it's important to win the division in the event of eight-team playoffs.
The Rams started eight new players on defense opening week in Philadelphia and held up remarkably well for the first three quarters, when they limited the Eagles to three points. They get back Grant Wistrom, their best defensive lineman, for this one.
Minnesota (0-1) at Chicago (0-1)
Are the Vikings as bad as they looked in their shocking home loss to Carolina? Perhaps. RB Michael Bennett isn't Robert Smith yet and the offensive line showed the effect of losing four Pro Bowlers in the past two years.
The Bears actually stuck with Baltimore for a while. But the offense remains one of the NFL's worst.
San Diego (1-0) at Dallas (0-1)
Doug Flutie brought life and leadership to the Chargers in their opener, a 30-3 win over Washington. They're actually favored in this game, which shows the state of the Cowboys, who are a home underdog to a team that was 1-15 last season.
Emmitt Smith needs 64 yards to pass Barry Sanders for second place behind Walter Payton in career rushing.
Carolina (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)
Both these teams might be better than originally thought, particularly the Panthers, who got a decent performance from Heisman winner Chris Weinke in his first start.
Atlanta's prize rookie quarterback, Michael Vick, probably will get some playing time. He was 0-for-4 in the opener in San Francisco, but ran twice for 32 yards.
Detroit (0-1) at Cleveland (0-1)
Ty Detmer, traded by Cleveland late in the preseason, now starts against the Browns because he knows Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense better than Charlie Batch.
Cleveland's defense was impressive in the loss to Seattle, even without injured Courtney Brown, who will miss this week's game, too.
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