Milt Northrop’s Sunday Playbook: Some imagination went into this week’s NFL schedule - The Buffalo News

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Milt Northrop’s Sunday Playbook: Some imagination went into this week’s NFL schedule

A wonderful man, Val Pinchbeck Jr., was the NFL schedule-maker and advisor until he died in 2004 after he was struck by an auto in midtown Manhattan. Somewhere Val must be looking down and smiling.

Look what these juicy storylines his successors and their trusty computers have cooked up for Week Two of the 2013 season:

• Matchups that find the former Houston Oilers (Tennessee Titans) going to Houston to face the Texans and the Cleveland Browns playing the former Browns (Ravens) in Baltimore. Hatred still lingers in Houston and Cleveland over the loss of their original teams.

• The Dallas Cowboys heading to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, who began their existence as the Dallas Texans in the American Football League. Millionaire owners Clint Murchison and Lamar Hunt fought it out for Dallas before Hunt surrendered and headed off to K.C.

• Another revenge game for the San Francisco 49ers. This time the Niners will try to be the avengers when they face the Seahawks in Seattle. Last week the 49ers had to fend off the avenging Green Bay Packers in San Francisco.

• Another chapter in the Manning Brothers War – Peyton and the Denver Broncos against Eli and the New York Giants in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

• And, how about these throwback games? Washington at Green Bay and Detroit at Arizona in rivalries that have their roots in the 1930s.

Game of the week

49ers (1-0) at Seahawks (1-0)

Kickoff: Ch. 2, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-3)

The scoop: The Seahawks and rookie QB Russell Wilson embarrassed the Niners last Dec. 23, 42-13, temporarily delaying San Francisco’s clinching of the NFC West. Niners WR Anquan Boldin, who had 13 catches for 208 yard against Green Bay last week, goes up against Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman. On top of it all is the Pete Carroll-Jim Harbaugh rivalry, which goes back to their Pac-10 days.

Outlook: A read-option duel between Wilson and Colin Kaepernick is in prospect. Seattle, 24-20.

Top attractions

Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1)

Kickoff: Ch. 4, 4 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-4)

The scoop: The Mannings combined for 11 touchdown passes (seven by Peyton against the Ravens) on Kickoff week. Peyton is 2-0 against Eli. … New York had the ball for just under 23 minutes in losing at Dallas, yet put up 31 points

Outlook: Giants won’t turn it over six times again. New York, 31-30.

Redskins (0-1) at Packers (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-7)

The scoop: Division champions in 2012 each lost their opener –Washington at home. … A rusty Robert Griffin III of the Redskins had a horrid first half in the Monday night loss to the Eagles before arriving at a respectable looking six-point margin. He ended up with a career-high 329 passing yards. … Pack QB Aaron Rodgers has won 19 of last 20 starts at Lambeau.

Outlook: Green Bay defense looked very vulnerable in San Francisco loss. Packers, 31-27.

Titans (1-0) at Texans (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-9)

The scoop: It will be a duel of defensive coordinators who are former Bills head coaches (Gregg Williams versus Wade Phillips). … Houston roared from a 28-7 deficit to win at San Diego on game-ending FG by Randy Bullock. … Texans’ offense was relentless in second half, with Andre Johnson snagging 12 passes for 146 yards. … Tennessee managed just 229 yards but still won at Pittsburgh, 16-9. … Titans are 7-4 all-time against the Texans in Houston.

Outlook: Titans don’t have enough offensive punch to win roadie against J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Co. Houston, 21-10.

Cowboys (1-0) at Chiefs (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs (-3)

The scoop: This is only the 10th meeting ever between the franchises, which both were based in Dallas at one time. … Can’t be impressed by Monte Kiffin defense that gave up 478 yards at home in win over Giants last week. Cowboys gave up TD drives of 80, 80, 90 and 80 yards while scoring on drives of 3 and 16 and getting two return scores. … K.C. had a gimme in opening win at punchless Jacksonville, which managed just 178 yards of offense.

Outlook: K.C. coach Andy Reid is 17-12 against Dallas. Chiefs, 27-20.

Browns (0-1) at Ravens (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-6)

The scoop: Baltimore coach John Harbaugh is 10-0 against Cleveland. … Ravens looked good in opening loss at Denver until bad call led to Broncos TD drive and a blocked punt turned game around. That was it for the black birds. … Browns QB Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions and was sacked six times in loss to Miami last week.

Outlook: Ravens advantage is on offense. Baltimore, 17-10.

Best of the rest

Panthers (0-1) at Bills (0-1)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers (-3)

The scoop: Carolina defense yielded just one TD and kept team in home loss to Seattle in opener. Bills may have more problems with tough Panthers front four and MLB Luke Kuechly than they did in ineffective performance against Patriots. Then there is talented Cam Newton, Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams to deal with.

Outlook: Bills still lacking someone on offense or defense to make a big play when it counts most. Carolina, 27-20.

Rams (1-0) at Falcons (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons (-5)

The scoop: Rams had to settle for FGs four times last week in win over Arizona. TE John Cook had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns in debut with Rams last week. … Ex-Rams RB Steven Jackson faces former team. He had a 50-yard run against Saints last week, but averaged only 2.7 on other 10 carries. … Rams coach Jeff Fisher is 4-0 against Falcons all time. On the other hand, Mike Smith of Birds is 2-0 against Rams.

Outlook: Rams have chance to be surprise team of NFC this year. Atlanta, 28-24.

Vikings (0-1) at Bears (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Bears (-6)

The scoop: Vikes went three-and-out five times and turnovers ended four other possessions in loss at Detroit last week. … Two of three Bears scores in win over Cincinnati came after turnovers. … Adrian Peterson of Vikings totaled 262 yards against Chicago last season, but Bears have won six of last seven in NFC North rivalry.

Outlook: Vikings make ‘em work for it. Bears, 20-17.

Dolphins (1-0) at Colts (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Colts (-2)

The scoop: Indy has won last seven games at home. … Colts QB Andrew Luck will have to stand in against Miami pass rush that turned in six sacks at Cleveland last week. … Four Miami series produced minus yardage against Browns. QB Ryan Tannehill had inconsistent day throwing the ball and new WR Michael Wallace pouted because he was targeted only five times and had one reception for 15 yards.

Outlook: Neither was that impressive in winning openers. Indy, 20-14.

Chargers (0-1) at Eagles (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Eagles (-7)

The scoop: Each had big halftime margins on Monday night. Eagles blitzed Redskins with fast-paced spread offense then let off the gas – with almost fatal results. Chargers had a typical San Diego meltdowns in home loss to Texans.

Outlook: Bolts were worn down in second half of Houston game. Facing fast-break Eagles on the road? Philadelphia, 42-20.

Lions (1-0) at Cardinals (0-1)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Lions (-1)

The scoop: Detroit won home opener by 10 over Minnesota, but had four apparent touchdowns taken off the board because of penalties or other miscues. … Lions gave up 78-yard TD run to Adrian Peterson then held him to just 15 yards on his next 17 carries.

Outlook: Looks like Reggie Bush gives Lions a new explosiveness, but Cards’ Larry Fitzgerald finally had a quarterback to throw to him. Arizona, 30-27.

Saints (1-0) at Buccaneers (0-1)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Saints (-3)

The scoop: Where improvement of New Orleans defense showed most last week was on third down. Saints allowed Falcons to convert only 3 of 11 (27 percent). Bills did better than that (4-13, 31 percent) against New England. … Bucs made enough bonehead plays to lose to even the Jets last week. They averaged only 2.6 rushing and QB Josh Freeman had only a 67.9 rating.

Outlook: Bucs look like toast but Saints sometimes struggle outdoors on grass. New Orleans, 27-17.

Steelers (0-1) at Bengals (0-1)

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

The line: Bengals (-7)

The scoop: Steelers at home in Cincinnati where they have won 10 of last 11. If Bengals are going to take command of AFC North, they have to win this one against an injury-riddled, rebuilding Pittsburgh team. Steelers managed just 195 yards in losing first home opener in 10 years.

Outlook: Hard to envision Steelers being 7-point dog against divisional rival, unless there is a repeat of Titans game when they rushed for only 32 yards and allowed five sacks. Pittsburgh, 17-14.

Dog of the day

Jaguars (0-1) at Raiders (0-1)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Raiders (-5)

The scoop: Chad Henne starts at QB for Jags in place of injured and ineffective Blaine Gabbert. Raiders may have found a QB in Terrell Pryor, who leads the AFC in rushing with 112 yards.

Outlook: Jags may be looking at 0-16. Oakland, 27-10.

Last week: 8-7 outright; 7-7-1 versus spread.


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