File this one under “at least he’s not picking Da Bears”. The Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon manages to shrug off Thursday’s opener and joins the legion of doubters who predict there won’t be a three-peat in Foxboro.

Asking the Patriots to win a third straight championship is asking too much. The offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, is at Notre Dame. The defensive coordinator of a terribly underrated unit, Romeo Crennel, is in Cleveland. You can’t speak of a man’s genius for four years, as Brady has of Weis’s, and then convince us that the offense will just keep on truckin’ without him. It’ll be too hard because Ted Johnson, deadly against the run, retired and because Tedy Bruschi suffered a mild stroke in February and will sit out this season. It’ll be too hard because no NFL team stays healthy enough year after year after year. It’ll be too hard because the NFL is the most competitive of the professional leagues, because while there’s always a patsy or two among the 32, there’s also a team or two that comes out of nowhere to turn 6-10 into 10-6.

It’ll be too hard because the Colts are too good, because the Jets are too good, because the Ravens are too good, because the Eagles are still good despite their mini-drama, because the Falcons are too good and because the Panthers should be at least as good as they were two years ago in their Super Bowl season.

Somebody will stun us this year, the way the Carolina did two years ago, the way the Chargers did last year. But that team almost certainly won’t be the Redskins, not this year. Yes, the Redskins have a 12-4 defense. But they’ve got a 4-12 offense. The Ravens figured out how to win a Super Bowl with that kind of imbalance, but more often a team that reaches the Super Bowl has to have, if not a great quarterback, then a hot quarterback. Patrick Ramsey gets no benefit of the doubt starting this season, not even from his coaches, who want Mark Brunell ready to go quickly, which isn’t the best sign.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Alridge picks the Vikings and Panthers to be amongst the Eagles’ toughest challengers in the NFC, though he can’t resist dumping on the Packers and Lions in the process.

How bad is Green Bay’s defense?

It could be ugly. Brett Favre’s offense will have lots of great moments this season. But new defensive coordinator Jim Bates has his hands full. There aren’t many run-stoppers up front, no consistent pass-rusher outside of end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (above), and a secondary full of holes.

“With this defense, when we were fully healthy in Miami, we were a good football team against the run,” Bates said during training camp. “If we’re playing well, we can still get pressure up the field and stop the run.”

Bates did work miracles with the Dolphins, but this would be ridiculous.

Seriously, why did Lions owner Bill Ford give Matt Millen (record in Detroit: 16-48) a five-year contract extension?

Good question. But how can Detroit’s offense miss this season with Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, rookie Mike Williams and tight end Marcus Pollard all on the field?

Insert Joey Harrington joke here.