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NFL Week 1: Game previews

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CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-9) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-5)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: The Panthers will start Heisman Trophy winning QB Chris Weinke, a 29-year-old rookie and native of St. Paul . . . The Vikings have reached the playoffs the past five seasons, tops in the NFL, and eight times in coach Dennis Green's nine seasons . . . Panthers WR Muhsin Muhammad shared the NFL lead in 2000 with 102 catches. His 266 catches the past three seasons is tops in the NFC . . . Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper shared the NFL lead with 33 TD passes last season. He also ran for seven . . . Vikings WR Randy Moss caught 15 TD passes and posted his third 1,000-yard season. No one has ever started a career with four . . . Carolina allowed a league-high 69 sacks last year . . . The Vikings will miss RB Robert Smith, who retired after running for a career-high 1,521 yards. Also missed will be Vikings All-Pro tackle Kory Stringer, who died during training camp . . . Last season's 7-9 mark was the first losing season in Panthers coach George Seifert's career.

CHICAGO BEARS (5-11) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-4)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: The Bears have averaged 16 points a game over the past four seasons, an NFL-low 1,027 points in that span . . . The Ravens allowed an NFL-record low 165 points (10.3 per game) last season . . . Bears LB Brian Urlacher, NFL defensive rookie of the year, led the team with 165 tackles and eight sacks, and didn't even start the first two games of the season . . . The Ravens cut QBs Tony Banks (1,578 yards) and Trent Dilfer (1,502), and lost RB Jamal Lewis (1,364 yards, six TDs) for the season with a knee injury . . . Elvis Grbac takes over at QB for Baltimore after a career-best season (4,169 yards, 28 TDs) with the Chiefs . . . The Ravens haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 37 games . . . The Ravens had an NFL-high 49 takeaways, including 26 fumble recoveries.

DETROIT LIONS (9-7) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (9-7)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: The home team has won the past eight in this series . . . The Lions have won three of their past four openers, including two on the road . . . The Packers have won the past 10 at home against the Lions . . . Three Lions starting defensive backs — Kurt Schulz, Bryant Westbrook, Ron Rice — have injuries that will limit or prevent them from playing Sunday . . . Packers QB Brett Favre is 59-11 at home as a starter. He has nine consecutive seasons with at least 3,200 passing yards . . . The Packers were 5-2 last season against playoff teams but 4-5 against the rest . . . Lions RB James Stewart had career highs in attempts (339) and yards (1,184) . . . Lions WR Germane Crowell has 13 career TDs, nine of which have gone for 25 yards or longer.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-6) at NEW YORK JETS (9-7)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m. Sunday

THE SCOOP: Ten of past 13 games have been decided by eight points or less. Home team has won five of the past six . . . Both teams allowed only 20 sacks in 2000, tops in the NFL . . . The Colts return all 11 offensive starters from a team that averaged 26.8 points . . . Debut of Jets head coach Herman Edwards, the team's 4-3 defense and newly-installed West Coast offense . . . Colts WR Marvin Harrison has an NFL-high 217 catches over past three seasons and RB Edgerrin James has an NFL record 35 TDs in his first two seasons . . . Jets QB Vinny Testaverde threw an NFL-high 25 interceptions last season . . . Colts defense ranked 25th against the run . . . Jets RB Curtis Martin has 1,339 yards (seven 100s) in 12 games vs. Colts (including a career-high 203 yards on Dec. 3, 2000) . . . Colts PK Mike Vanderjagt has converted 51 of past 53 field goals and has an NFL-high 266 points in past two seasons.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (5-11) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-12)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe has never lost to Cincinnati (3-0), and has won 10 of past 16 September starts. Bledsoe has 14,615 passing yards over past four seasons, second-most in the NFL to Brett Favre's 15,982 . . . The Bengals are 12-64 in September and October since 1991 . . . The Bengals had NFL's second-best running game last season (145 yards per game), but worst passing attack (122 yards). Jon Kitna takes over at QB after being released in Seattle . . . The Patriots are without top WR Terry Glenn, who was suspended by the team for the season, and top LB Andy Katzenmoyer, who is recovering from a chronic neck injury . . . Bengals RB Corey Dillon had a club-record 1,435 rushing yards in 2000, then re-signed with the team . . . Bills castoff Antowain Smith and second-year pro J.R. Redmond will battle to start at RB for the Patriots.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-6) at BUFFALO BILLS (8-8)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: The Saints finished 2000 with the NFL's best road record (7-1) and became the first team to win a division or conference despite a losing record (3-5) at home. The Bills were 5-3 at home . . . Aaron Brooks will start at QB for the Saints. He has 15 TDs in seven career starts, including the postseason . . . The Bills hired head coach Gregg Williams, who helmed the Titan's No. 1 ranked defense in 2000 . . . Saints RB Ricky Williams rushed for 1,000 yards and caught passes for 409 more before an injury ended his season . . . The Bills have no quarterback controversy this year. Rob Johnson has the job . . . Travis Henry is scheduled to be the first Bills rookie RB to start the opener since Thurman Thomas in 1988 . . . The Saints led the NFL with 66 sacks, headed by La'Roi Glover's 17 . . . Bills receiver Eric Moulds has receptions in 49 consecutive games.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (12-4) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-9)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: Seven of the past eight games have been decided on the final scoring play . . . The Raiders, who ended last season one game from the Super Bowl, added more ammunition with off-season pickups of NFL all-time TD scorer WR Jerry Rice (49ers), 1,000-yard rushing RB Charlie Garner (49ers) and AFC sack leader DE Trace Armstrong (Dolphins) . . . Chiefs QB Trent Green will begin a season as his team's starting quarterback for the first time in his eight NFL seasons . . . The Raiders are the only NFL team with two 1,000-yard rushers from last season (Garner and Tyrone Wheatley) . . . Former Longhorn Priest Holmes leaves Baltimore to start at RB for the Chiefs . . . Raiders WR Tim Brown has eight consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons . . . The Chiefs have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons . . . The Raiders averaged 29.9 points per game last season . . . In 2000, Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez had a club-record 93 catches (1,203 yards) and WR Derrick Alexander set a team mark with 1,391 receiving yards.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-7) at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (7-9)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: Nine of this series' 12 games have gone to the home team . . . The Jaguars have won five consecutive openers . . . The Steelers were the only NFL club to beat both AFC Championship Game participants (Baltimore and Oakland) in 2000 . . . Jaguars RB Fred Taylor averaged 107.6 rushing yards per game last season and had a career-high 234 with four TDs the last time these teams met . . . The Steelers' defense, overshadowed in a division with Baltimore and Tennessee, limited opponents to nine points or fewer six times . . . Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith has an NFL-high 450 catches for 6,599 receiving yards the past five seasons. Smith had two abdominal surgeries in the off-season . . . The Steelers rebounded from last year's 0-3 start with a 9-4 finish . . . The Jaguars' 7-9 mark was their first losing record since their expansion season in 1995 . . . The Steelers will play on natural grass at new Heinz Field. Their record on artificial turf is 251-166-1, and their record on grass is 210-320-19.

ST. LOUIS RAMS (10-6) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (11-5)

GAME TIME: 2:15 p.m.

THE SCOOP: The Rams scored 540 points last season (third best in history) but gave up a league-worst 471 (29 per game), more than any playoff team in NFL history. St. Louis has a new coordinator and eight new starters on defense to try and keep pace with the NFL's top offense . . . The Eagles allowed 15.9 points per game in 2000, fewest in the NFC . . . Rams RB Marshall Faulk, the league's MVP, surpassed 2,000 scrimmage yards for the third consecutive season, and scored an NFL-record 26 TDs, including 11 in the month of December . . . Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, second in MVP voting, passed for 3,365 yards and 21 TDs, and led the team with 629 rushing yards and six TDs. He was responsible for 75 percent of his team's offense . . . Rams WR Torry Holt led the NFL with 1,635 receiving yards . . . Eagles RB Duce Staley began last season with a 201-yard rushing day against the Cowboys before a foot injury ended his season in Week 5 . . . Eagles TE Chad Lewis had 69 catches for 735 yards to lead all NFC TEs.

ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10)

GAME TIME: 2:15 p.m.

THE SCOOP: The Falcons are 3-0 vs. 49ers on opening weekend, including last season's 36-28 victory . . . Falcons are 14-5 when RB Jamal Anderson rushes for at least 100 yards . . . After a 2-8 start last season, the Niners finished with a 4-2 run . . . RB Garrison Hearst, who rushed for a 49ers-record 1,570 yards in 1998, will start after missing two seasons due to foot injury . . . Falcons WR Shawn Jefferson had 13 catches for 208 yards in two games vs. Niners last year . . . The 49ers have gone an NFL-record 370 games without being shut out. Their last blanking was 7-0 by the Falcons on Oct. 9, 1977 . . . Niners QB Jeff Garcia passed for an NFC-best 4,278 yards in his first full season as starter. His 31 TD passes were third-most in club history . . . The Falcons are 9-23 since their Super Bowl appearance . . . Falcons QB Chris Chandler had 10 TD passes and 12 interceptions last season . . . Atlanta's running game averaged 75.9 yards per game . . . The 49ers finished 29th out of 31 teams in total defense last season. They may not be much better this season. . . . Dan Reeves has been suggesting he might use Michael Vick, the No. 1 pick in the draft, in certain situations. But if Chris Chandler goes down, Doug Johnson is the real No. 2 quarterback.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-10) at CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-13)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren is 15-17 in two seasons in Seattle . . . Butch Davis makes his NFL head coaching debut with the Browns after an 11-1 season at the University of Miami . . . The Seahawks gave up 6,391 yards last season (third highest in NFL history), and had an offense ranked 19th overall and 21st in passing. Still, they won four of their final seven . . . The Browns started 2-1 but losses and injuries mounted. QB Tim Couch broke his thumb and missed the final nine games. In his 22-game career, Couch has 22 TD passes, 22 interceptions and 66 sacks . . . The Seahawks will start Matt Hasselbeck at QB despite a resume that includes only 29 regular-season pass attempts. He had five TD passes in the final two preseason games . . . The Browns added TE Rickey Dudley (29 catches, 350 yards, 4 TDs) through free agency . . . Seahawks RB Ricky Watters has seven consecutive seasons with at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (10-6) at DALLAS COWBOYS (5-11)

GAME TIME: 11 a.m.

THE SCOOP: Both teams start the season with new quarterbacks . . . The Bucs add QB Brad Johnson, the third-most-accurate passer in NFL history (62 percent), with career totals of 79 TDs and 57 interceptions . . . The Cowboys will start rookie Quincy Carter, who left Georgia after his junior season with a 20-9 career starting record, 35 TDs and 25 interceptions . . . Bucs RB Warrick Dunn ran for a career-high 1,133 yards and eight TDs last season, including a career-high 210 yards and two TDs against the Cowboys . . . Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith ranks third all-time with 15,166 rushing yards. He needs 104 yards to pass Barry Sanders for second, and 1,561 to eclipse Walter Payton's NFL mark of 16,726 . . . Bucs DT Warren Sapp has 29 sacks the past two seasons, most in the NFL . . . The Cowboys will be counting on healthy returns from WRs Joey Galloway and Raghib Ismail. Both had season-ending knee injuries in 2000.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (8-8) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (1-15)

GAME TIME: 2:15 p.m.

THE SCOOP: The Redskins fired Norv Turner and brought in Marty Schottenheimer as head coach. Turner then became offensive coordinator in San Diego . . . . Newcomers outnumber returning players 28-25 on the Redskins' 53-man roster, which includes 11 rookies . . . After last season's 1-15 nightmare, the Chargers are tickled to have 38-year-old quarterback Doug Flutie, who is 30-14 as an NFL starter . . . The Redskins will open with QB Jeff George. He is 46-76 as a starter and has missed most of training camp with tendinitis in his shoulder . . . TCU RB LaDainian Tomlinson, the fifth overall pick in the draft, should start right away for the Chargers, despite an extended holdout . . . Redskins RB Stephen Davis has an NFL-best 28 rushing TDs the past two seasons . . . The Chargers had an NFL-high 50 turnovers in 2000, including a league-high 30 interceptions, and finished with a minus-28 turnover differential . . . Coach Mike Riley is 9-23 in two seasons with the Chargers.

MIAMI DOLPHINS (11-5) at TENNESSEE TITANS (13-3)

GAME TIME: 6:30 p.m.

THE SCOOP: The Dolphins have won nine consecutive openers . . . The Titans have an NFL-best 26 victories over past two seasons, including 15 of 16 home games . . . In 2000, the Dolphins won their first AFC East title since 1994 . . . Tennessee led the AFC in sacks with 55 . . . Miami's defense was the NFL's sixth best and 10 of 11 starters return. But the offense ranked 26th overall despite the Dolphins' best rushing totals since 1984 . . . Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler threw two TDs and 11 interceptions in the final five games . . . Titans RB Eddie George has an NFL-high 4,107 rush yards since 1998 . . . PK Olindo Mare has an NFL-high 67 FGs the past two seasons . . . The Dolphins led the NFL with 28 interceptions . . . Miami RB Lamar Smith rushed for 1,139 yards in 2000. He has 11 TD runs in the past nine regular-season games . . . Titans QB Steve McNair has won 21 of his past 26 starts.

NEW YORK GIANTS (12-4) at DENVER BRONCOS (11-5)

GAME TIME: 7 p.m. Monday

THE SCOOP: The Broncos open the season on Monday Night Football for the fourth season in a row. This year it is also the opening of INVESCO Field at Mile High . . . Giants head coach Jim Fassel is 4-0 on opening week . . . Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is 6-2 in opening games . . . Giants RB Tiki Barber set a club record last season with 2,085 all-purpose yards and averaged 107.8 scrimmage yards . . . Broncos RB Mike Anderson had 15 TD runs, second-most by a rookie in NFL history. He averaged 122.6 yards per start (1,471 yards in 12 starts) . . . The Giants led the NFC in rush defense (72.3) and were second in total defense (284.1) . . . The Broncos led the AFC in offense with a 410.4 yards-per-game average and a 30.3 scoring average . . . Giants QB Kerry Collins passed for 3,610 yards, third-most in club history . . . Broncos QB Brian Griese's ratio of TDs to interceptions (19-to-4) was the second best in NFL history.