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There are fans in Cleveland who see orange helmets and think they're looking at Jim Brown and Otto Graham. Well, maybe Kevin Mack and Bernie Kosar, who nearly got the Browns to the Super Bowl in the '80s.

Sorry, but when the Browns resume play tonight after a three-year hiatus, the starting quarterback is Ty Detmer, with Tim Couch, the next Graham, on the bench. And while they've got some quality free agents, it's an expansion team that will play Pittsburgh at the brand new stadium on the site occupied for nearly 50 years by "the mistake by the lake."

Still, this will have a special flavor.

"I think there will be lots of hugs and lots of tears," says Ohio native Carmen Policy, the Browns' president. "It's going to be a an emotional moment."

Pittsburgh, the Browns' traditional rival, is a perfect opening matchup. Playing the Baltimore Ravens, whom Art Modell moved from Cleveland after the 1995 season, might have been a little too emotional.

The Browns could be competitive against the Steelers, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time in Bill Cowher's seven-year tenure. Last year's offensive problems are supposed to be rectified by the arrival of Kevin Gilbride as offensive coordinator to rejuvenate quarterback Kordell Stewart.

But the major question is whether the Steelers will have running back Jerome Bettis, who missed the exhibition season with a knee injury.

Then there's the Browns' quarterback situation.

Couch, the No. 1 pick in last April's draft, has been impressive and could play some. But for now, the starter is Detmer, a smart journeyman with limited physical skills.

"I know Tim is the guy for the future, but I can't worry about that right now," Detmer said. "I came here to start."

For the team as a whole, the term is re-start.

Cowboys at Redskins
Today, 1 p.m., Ch. 29

Line: Redskins by 3.

Last meeting: Cowboys won, 23-7, at Dallas on Dec. 27, 1998.

Key stat: Cowboys have beaten Redskins three straight.

Worth watching: Washington has placed its future in the hands of quarterback Brad Johnson, who was acquired via trade from Minnesota. Can Emmitt Smith repeat his 13-TD season of '98?

Outlook: Washington finished strong last season, winning four of its last five. Coach Norv Turner is high on the first-to-be-fired list, having failed to get the Redskins to the playoffs in his five seasons. This game will be an indication of how long Turner may last.

Vikings at Falcons
Today, 4 p.m., Ch. 29

Line: Vikings by 4.

Last meeting: Falcons won, 30-27, in OT in the NFC title game Jan. 17 in Minneapolis.

Key stats: Atlanta (plus-20) and Minnesota (plus-14) led NFL in turnover differential last season.

Worth watching: After missing much of training camp, how effective will Atlanta Pro Bowl running back Jamal Anderson be? How will Falcons try to contain Randy Moss?

Outlook: Falcons ended Vikings' dream season with upset in NFC title game, but can Minnesota reclaim its '98 magic? None other than Moss, not usually a team spokesman, said this week the Vikings don't have the same atmosphere that helped them go 15-1 last season. This game could reveal a lot about both teams.

Steelers at Browns,
Tonight, 8:15, ESPN

Line: Steelers by 6 1/2 .

Last meeting: This is the first meeting of these franchises.

Key stats: Cleveland becomes the NFL's 11th modern-era (since 1960) expansion franchise. Only Minnesota won its first game. The Vikings, playing at home, beat the Bears, 37-13, on Sept. 17, 1961.

Worth watching: Cleveland rookie receiver Kevin Johnson, a second-round pick, has shown promise. Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart tries to begin a bounce-back season.

Outlook: A crowd of 72,000 will give the new Browns a big home-field advantage. It may be enough to help them be competitive, but Steelers can win this one by staying conservative. Will the Browns let No. 1 pick Tim Couch off the bench?

Dolphins at Broncos
Monday, 9 p.m., Ch. 7

Line: Broncos by 6.

Last meeting: Dolphins won, 31-21, at Miami on Dec. 21, 1998.

Key stat: Denver coach Mike Shanahan is 6-0 in openers.

Worth watching: Denver's Brian Griese makes his first pro start as predecessor John Elway prepares to have his No. 7 retired at halftime. But will Dan Marino overshadow them all?

Outlook: Broncos will try to make things easy for Griese by relying on Terrell Davis, coming off your basic 2,008-yard season. Marino will have to produce several big plays to pull off the upset.

Patriots at Jets

Line: Jets by 8.

Last meeting: Jets won, 31-10, at New York on Dec. 27, 1998.

Key stats: Jets have won three straight from Pats and five of last seven against them at home.

Worth watching: Jets' Curtis Martin loves playing against his old team -- he rushed for 100 yards in both games against the Pats last year. Patriots' running game is a mess. Will veteran Terry Allen help?

Outlook: Bill Parcells has the Jets thinking Super Bowl; the Patriots, his old team, are thinking fourth place.

Raiders at Packers

Line: Packers by 9 1/2 .

Last meeting: Packers won, 28-0, at Green Bay on Dec. 26, 1993.

Key stat: Green Bay has won 30 of its last 31 home games.

Worth watching: Brett Favre is trimmer and fitter as he tries to avoid repeating a 23-interception season. Raiders have changed quarterbacks again, this time going with ex-Chief Rich Gannon.

Outlook: Packers' debut under new coach Ray Rhodes is one of those must-wins if Green Bay is to beat out Minnesota in the NFC Central. Favre will find Antonio Freeman (league-high 26 TD pass receptions over last two seasons) often enough.

49ers at Jaguars

Line: Jaguars by 6.

Last meeting: This is their first meeting.

Key stat: Jaguars have won 21 of last 24 at home.

Worth watching: How much will prodigal running back Lawrence Phillips help the 49ers? He may be their best hope for a running game. Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor scored 17 TDs (14 rushing, three receiving) a year ago, tied with Randy Moss for most among rookies.

Outlook: Jacksonville starts the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Only the defense may hold the Jaguars back. How they do against Steve Young -- coming off a 36-TD pass season -- will reveal quite a bit.

Giants at Bucs

Line: Bucs by 5 1/2 .

Last meeting: Bucs won, 20-3, in Tampa on Oct. 4, 1998.

Key stat: Tampa Bay has won the last two from the Giants.

Worth watching: Giants are led by end Mike Strahan, whose 29 sacks in the last two seasons lead the NFL. Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer will be under pressure, both literally and figuratively.

Outlook: Giants won their final four games of '98, but recapturing that momentum at Tampa without injured running back Gary Brown will be difficult. Rookie Sean Bennett from Northwestern and LeShon Johnson from Northern Illinois are expected to share time replacing him.

Chiefs at Bears

Line: Chiefs by 3.

Last meeting: Chiefs won, 14-10, in Kansas City on Nov. 17, 1996.

Key stat: Bears have won 12 of last 15 home openers.

Worth watching: No matter what happens at quarterback, Curtis Enis will be the most important Bear on the field. Chiefs QB Elvis Grbac, whom the Bears passed over as a free agent when they opted for Rick Mirer in 1997, tries to bounce back from a poor season.

Outlook: It's the head-coaching debut for the Bears' Dick Jauron and the Chiefs' Gunther Cunningham. The Bears come in rested and healthy. The Chiefs will try to prove they're not a team in decline.

Cardinals at Eagles

Line: Cardinals by 3.

Last meeting: Cardinals won, 20-17, at Philadelphia on Dec. 13, 1998.

Key stat: Cardinals have won the last three from the Eagles.

Worth watching: Eagles start ex-Packer Doug Pederson at quarterback. Can Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer keep improving?

Outlook: Eagles make their debut under Andy Reid, who goes with Pederson until rookie Donovan McNabb is ready. Cardinals have had injury and holdout problems throughout training camp -- Plummer ripped the organization over wide receiver Rob Moore's holdout, which ended Thursday. Plummer says he'll play despite a sore thumb, so opener could be a problem.

Ravens at Rams

Line: Rams by 1.

Last meeting: Ravens won, 37-31, in OT at Baltimore on Oct. 27, 1996.

Key stats: Both teams were too generous in '98: Ravens were minus-7 in turnover differential, Rams minus-10.

Worth watching: Rams going with ex-Arena League player Kurt Warner, who has one quarter of NFL regular-season experience. Ravens' new quarterback is Scott Mitchell, who couldn't get it done in Detroit with Barry Sanders.

Outlook: Inexperience at quarterback likely dooms Rams unless new tailback Marshall Faulk can control things. In any case, it will take Rams time to figure out how it will work.

Panthers at Saints

Line: Saints by 4.

Last meeting: Panthers won, 31-17, at Carolina on Nov. 1, 1998.

Key stat: Panthers have won four of last six from the Saints.

Worth watching: The Saints' one-man draft, Ricky Williams, makes his debut. Carolina is searching for a running game -- can Tshimanga Biakabutuka supply it?

Outlook: George Seifert won two Super Bowls with the 49ers, but now he's starting over with the Panthers, who have just about fallen back to expansion level. Saints have problems, but Panthers have more.

Bengals at Titans

Line: Titans by 9 1/2 .

Last meeting: Titans (then Oilers) won, 44-14, at Tennessee on Oct. 18, 1998.

Key stats: Titans have won three of last four from the Bengals.

Worth watching: Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair has been a middle-of-the-road performer. Can he do more? Bengals need big game -- and year -- from running back Corey Dillon.

Outlook: Titans play first regular-season game in new Adelphia Coliseum, which should provide some home-field advantage. Bengals look like one of the NFL's worst teams -- again -- and may not have the use of receiver Carl Pickens, who signed a new five-year contract only Saturday.

Lions at Seahawks

Line: Seahawks by 9.

Last meeting: Lions won, 17-16, at Detroit on Nov. 17, 1996.

Key stat: New Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren had 48-16 regular-season record with Packers the last four years, best in the NFL.

Worth watching: Holmgren couldn't bring Brett Favre with him, so for now he goes with Jon Kitna. Lions lost Barry Sanders to retirement, so for now they go with Ron Rivers at running back.

Outlook: Holmgren has the good fortune of taking over a decent team. Lions have scrambled to change their offense since Sanders' retirement, which is asking a lot of second-year quarterback Charlie Batch.

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