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Luster gone from once-great Browns-Giants rivalry

There are only two divisional matchups on the Week Six NFL schedule and nothing even resembling a classic matchup. Even the rematch of last season's AFC championship game New England at San Diego is tarnished because the Patriots are missing Tom Brady and the disappointing Chargers are only 2-3.The Monday Night game pits the unbeaten New York Giants at the Cleveland Browns, which brings to mind some ancient pro football history:Giants versus Browns has little relevance now, but it once was pro football's most bitter and closely-contested rivalry. It was Charlie Conerly vs. Otto Graham, Jim Brown vs. Sam Huff, Paul Brown vs. Steve Owen, Jim Lee Howell or Allie Sherman.Between 1950, when the Browns joined the NFL from the All-American Football Conference, until 1965, Jim Brown's last season, either Cleveland or New York won the Eastern Conference (or its equivalent) 15 times. The Browns took nine titles, the Giants six. Seven times they finished 1-2. Twice a playoff between the two was needed to break a regular-season tie.During Hall of Fame back Jim Brown's nine seasons with Cleveland, the Browns enjoyed only a 9-8-1 advantage over the Giants and his nemesis, Huff, winning the last four to do that. Hall of Famer Paul Brown had a 115-49-5 record as the Browns head coach in the NFL, but he was only 13-13-2 against the Giants.12

>Game of the day

Patriots (3-1) at Chargers (2-3)

TV: Ch. 2, 8:15 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-5)

The scoop: Patriots have defeated the Bolts three times in last two seasons, including 24-21 victory in last season's AFC championship game. . . . Ted Cottrell's San Diego defense giving up 379 yards per game, 14th in AFC. . . . Pats are 2-1 with Matt Cassell as starter. Cassell hooked up with Randy Moss for five completions, 111 yards including a 66-yard TD bomb last week at San Francisco. . . . Bill Belichick kept New England team on coast to get ready for second Pacific Time Zone game in a row. . . . Don't adjust that screen. Those really are '60s powder blue unis Chargers are wearing.

Outlook: Pats can still beat you with their "D." New England, 23-16.

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>Top attractions

Cowboys (4-1) at Cardinals (3-2)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

The line: Cowboys (-4 1/2 )

The scoop: Cowboys (22 wins in last 27 meetings) usually dominate Cards, but this could be most entertaining game on schedule with Tony Romo (NFC best 11 TD passes) against Kurt Warner (second best 10 TDs). However, Warner won't be going against soft Bills' pass rush and coverage this week. . . . Cowboys are averaging 407.4 ypg; vaunted defense giving up 305.

Outlook: Cards pick up where they left off against Bills. Dallas, 41-38.

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Panthers (4-1) at Bucs (3-2)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers (-1 1/2 )

The scoop: Carolina could take two-game lead over Bucs in NFC South with road victory. Should be tight, low-scoring game. Panthers are second in NFC (254.4) in total defense. Bucs held Denver to 16 on road last week in three-point loss. . . . Jeff Garcia starts for injured Brian Griese (elbow, shoulder) at QB for Tampa Bay. . . . DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart lead Panthers' running game.

Outlook: Carolina looks for real. Panthers, 24-14.

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Jaguars (2-3) at Broncos (4-1)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-3 1/2 )

The scoop: Jags won at Mile High, 23-14, last season, but this is a tough spot for a team that already has lost three close games and already is three games behind first-place Titans in AFC South. . . . Denver's Jay Cutler leads AFC with 1,502 passing yards and has thrown for 10 TDs. WR Brandon Marshall leads AFC with 34 receptions. . . . Broncos averaging 29.8 ppg. Usually stingy Jags have given up 20 or more last four games.

Outlook: Jaguars unpredictable. Denver, 30-21.

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Bears (3-2) at Falcons (3-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Bears (-3)

The scoop: Chicago has won eight of last nine against Atlanta. . . . Bears had easy time at Detroit last week while Falcons were earning impressive win at Green Bay. . . . Each team is led by a newcomer at RB. For Bears it's rookie Matt Forte. For Falcs it's NFL rushing leader Michael Turner (543 yards), the ex-Chargers backup.

Outlook: Falcons gaining confidence. Atlanta, 24-20.

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>Best of the rest

Giants (4-0) at Browns (1-3)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Giants (-7 1/2 )

The scoop: Three of Giants victories over clubs that are a combined 1-12. The other was over surprising Redskins. . . . Who needs Plaxico Burress headache? Giants routed Seahawks with Burress out due to team suspension last week. . . . Giants have won last four in rivalry. Browns last victory was in 1985.

Outlook: Supreme effort by Browns makes Giants sweat. New York, 20-17.

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Dolphins (2-2) at Texans (0-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-3)

The scoop: Houston had to perform a miracle against Colts last week to remain winless. They were leading by 10 with less than four minutes to play but managed to lose on two QB Sage Rosenfels fumbles and an interception. Matt Schaub returns to start at QB this week. . . . Dolphins have pulled off shockers at New England and at home against Chargers in last two weeks with running of Ronnie Brown (113 and 125 yards rushing), accurate passing of Chad Pennington (22-29, 228 yards against Chargers) and AFC's fourth-ranked defense.

Outlook: Dolphins never have beaten Texans, but they are new AFC surprise team. Fish, 20-10.

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Ravens (2-2) at Colts (2-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Colts (-4)

The scoop: Ravens held Tennessee to 210 yards last week and still lost. . . . Colts QB Peyton Manning has completed 62.8 percent of passes with seven TDs and no INTs last three times he has faced Ravens. Indy has won last four over Baltimore, including 44-20 rout last season, when Colts scored 37 in first half!

Outlook: Manning always stands up the Ravens. Indy, 20-10.

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Bengals (0-5) at Jets (2-2)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Jets (-9)

The scoop: Bengals are oh for cinco despite spirited efforts against favored Giants and Cowboys in recent weeks. . . . Next three Jets opponents are 2-12. . . . New York had last week off after Brett Favre's six-TD feast against Cardinals.

Outlook: Another Favre field day. Jets, 27-14.

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Raiders (1-3) at Saints (2-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-7).

The scoop: Raiders make debut under interim head coach Tom Cable. . . . Mistake-prone Saints practically handed Vikings a 30-27 victory last Monday night. . . . New Orleans one of most disappointing NFL teams despite Reggie Bush, the NFL receiving leader with 38 catches and offense that is averaging 406.4 ypg.

Outlook: Raiders rally for new coach. Oakland, 27-24.

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Eagles (2-3) at 49ers (2-3)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Eagles (-4 1/2 )

The scoop: Eagles will be without RB Brian Westbrook (broken ribs) and they will be in deep trouble if they lose this one. . . . Philly coach Andy Reid getting criticized for play calling in home loss to Redskins last week. They wonder while rookie WR Desean Jackson (one catch, 8 yards) was not thrown to more. . . . Niners managed only 199 yards in offense in home loss to Patriots.

Outlook: Eagle blitzes bother Niners QB J.T. O'Sullivan. Philadelphia, 21-6.

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Packers (2-3) at Seahawks (1-3)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-1)

The scoop: Green Bay looking like most overrated NFL team after three straight losses (Cowboys, Steelers and Falcons). . . . Seattle is 1-1 at home, but was outscored, 78-16, in two visits to Eastern Time Zone. . . . Opposing RBs have had 100-yard games in all five of Green Bay's starts this season. Packers are averaging only 95.6 on the ground themselves while opponents are rushing at 161.4 clip.

Outlook: S-hawks like it better at home in Pacific Time Zone. Seattle, 23-20.

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Lions (0-4) at Vikings (2-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-13)

The scoop: Do the Lions ever get any good news? Detroit lost 11 of last 12 against divisional foe Vikings. Minnesota has not lost at home to Lions since 1997. . . . Bernard Berrian has first 100-plus receiving yards game by Viking receiver in 35 games.

Outlook: Detroit morale at low ebb. Vikings, 30-13.

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>Dog of the day

Rams (0-4) at Redskins (4-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Redskins (-13)

The scoop: Jim Haslett's first game as Rams' interim head coach. As defensive coordinator, his unit allowed 37 points per game and 411.8 ypg, 31st in league. . . . After winning road toughies at Dallas and Philadelphia, Redskins get Rams, Browns and Lions (a combined 1-11) next three weeks. . . . Redskins QB Jason Campbell does not have a turnover this season. . . . WR Antwaan Randle El, who threw winning TD pass against Eagles last week, is 20 for 26 with five TDs and no INTs in his NFL career.

Outlook: 'Skins barely paying attention. Washington, 21-3.

Byes: Bills, Chiefs, Steelers, Titans.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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