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Programming notes for the week ahead

As many of you return from the holiday weekend and we get ready for the opening of the regular season, let’s take a look at what’s ahead this week.

On Tuesday, the first ESPN.com Power Rankings of the regular season will make their debut. I’ve seen the results and can’t say there’s anything shocking. But I’ll have further analysis Tuesday afternoon, once the ratings are up.

You might have noticed the Saints have been getting quite a bit of attention in recent days. That’s because they play before everyone else, so their week started earlier. We’ll have much more on Thursday night’s game between the Saints and Packers between now and then. On Wednesday, I’ll have an extensive column in which I’ll take a look at how this year’s version of the Saints compares to the 2009 team that went on to win the Super Bowl.

We’ll have an official announcement soon. But we’ll be having a day-long chat in which all the division bloggers will take a turn. I’ll hit you with details as soon as everything is finalized. That chat will take the place of the usual Friday NFC South chat because I’ll be traveling that day.

Speaking of travel, I’ll be leaving for Green Bay on Wednesday, and NFC North colleague Kevin Seifert and I will be joining forces to bring you all the news, notes and observations on the Saints and Packers.

We’ll begin our Final Word package, a staple from years' past, Friday, and that will focus on the upcoming games for the Buccaneers, Panthers and Falcons.

On Sunday, I’ll be at Soldier Field to cover the Falcons and the Bears, but I’ll also be watching as the Bucs play the Lions and the Panthers play the Cardinals.