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Sunday playbook by Milt Northrop: A pocketful of change

Turnover in the National Football League seems to be a constant, and the 2015 season is no different.

Two rookie quarterbacks and three rookie head coaches will make their debuts on Kickoff Sunday – or on Kickoff Monday –in the NFL.

The two top draft picks of 2015 will be starting their first NFL games, perhaps to their dismay. It will be No. 1 Jameis Winston against No. 2 Marcus Mariota when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host Tennessee.

There was a lot of other shuffling of QBs elsewhere with the untested Tyrod Taylor (Bills) and journeymen Josh McCown (Browns), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets), Brian Hoyer (Texans), Nick Foles (Rams) and Sam Bradford (Eagles) starting for new teams.

Todd Bowles of the New York Jets, Dan Quinn at Atlanta and Jim Tomsula at San Francisco are the fresh faces in NFL head coaching chairs, although Tomsula had one game on an interim basis with the 49ers in 2010 and Bowles three games with Miami in 2011.

Besides the three newcomers to the head coaching ranks, there was the usual recycling. Once the spin cycle was completed Rex Ryan (Bills), John Fox (Bears), Ken Whisenhunt (Titans), Jack Del Rio (Raiders) and Gary Kubiak (Broncos) ended up in their new roles.

Here’s a look at the Week One lineup with last season’s records:

Game of the dayRavens (10-6) at Broncos (12-4)

TV: Ch. 4, 4:25 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-4½).

The scoop: It’s the only game on Sunday schedule matching playoff teams from 2014. Kubiak, who backed up John Elway most of his playing career with Denver, makes his debut as head coach of Broncos. This might be last Kickoff Weekend game for Denver QB Peyton Manning. He passed for seven touchdowns last time the teams met when Broncos won, 49-27, in 2013 season opener at same site.

Outlook: Manning adds to his record 530 career TD passes. Broncos, 35-20.

Top attractionsColts (11-4) at Bills (9-7)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Colts (-2½).

The scoop: King Rex tries to live up to the hype he helped create in Western New York where the yearning for a playoff team is at fever pitch. … Andrew Luck of Colts led league with 40 TD passes last year. … Colts new additions are NFL graybeards Frank Gore at RB and Andre Johnson at WR. … It’s Buffalo debut for RB LeSean McCoy, TE Charles Clay, WR Percy Harvin and QB Taylor.

Outlook: Luck frustrates tough Bills defense with escapability and third-down throws. Colts, 20-16.

Seahawks (12-4) at Rams (6-10)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-4)

The scoop: Fred Jackson (remember him?) makes debut as back up to another ex-Bills RB Marshawn Lynch with Seattle. … Seahawks added receiving TE Jimmie Graham to Russell Wilson’s weaponry. He has 355 receptions since 2011, tops among TEs in league in that span. … Former Eagle Foles makes first start at QB for Rams. St. Louis was one of four teams to defeat Seahawks last season.

Outlook: Rams usually play ’Hawks tough but can’t see them overcoming Pete Carroll’s team. Seahawks, 23-13.

Lions (11-5) at Chargers (9-7)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-3)

The scoop: Lions have won last three in rivalry, but all were in Detroit. Last time Lions went to SD, they were crushed, 51-14, in 2007. … Lions QB Matt Stafford passed for more than 4,000 for the fourth season in a row in 2014. Lions defense ranked No. 2 in league last season but DT Suh has moved on.

Outlook: QB Philip Rivers passes Chargers to 27-21 win.

Saints (7-9) at Cardinals (11-5)

TV: Ch. 29, 4:05 p.m.

The line: Cardinals (-2½)

The scoop: Cards coming off season where they tied for most wins in franchise history. And they did it with backup QB Drew Stanton starting half of games after Carson Palmer went down with knee injury. For that, Bruce Arians was named NFL Coach of the Year for second time. … Saints lost Graham but added ex-Bills RB C.J. Spiller to the offense.

Outlook: Red Birds start off defying the experts again, whupping the Saints, 24-17.

Giants (6-10) at Cowboys (12-4)

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

The line: Cowboys (-6½)

The scoop: Dallas swept last regular-season series from Big Blue for second year in a row. … Cowboys gambling stellar offensive line will allow RB Joseph Randle (6.7 average last season) and ex-Raider Darren McFadden replace the 1,845 rushing yards that went out the door with DeMarco Murray. … Giants fall back on passing of Eli Manning to circus-catching WR Odell Beckham Jr., and WRs Reuben Randle and Victor Cruz.

Outlook: Unless Dallas pass rush has improved, Manning and Giants WR should have big day. Dallas, 34-31.

Best of the restDolphins (8-8) at Redskins (4-12)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Dolphins (-3½)

The scoop: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill doing things Dan Marino didn’t, such as pass for 3,000 or more yards in each of first three seasons. … Kirk Cousins starts season as Redskins No. 1 QB. … TE Jordan Cameron (ex-Brown) and DT Suh are important additions to Miami.

Outlook: Even at home, it would be a minor surprise if Redskins pull the upset. Dolphins, 24-10.

Eagles (10-6) at Falcons (6-10)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 7:10 p.m.

The line: Eagles (-3)

The scoop: This one’s for the birds and the Irish (Kelly vs. Quinn). Bradford makes debut at QB with Philly and NFL rushing leader Murray takes handoffs from him. Falcons’ new coach, the mighty Quinn, was defensive mastermind of Seattle’s two Super Bowl teams. … It was another controversial offseason for Eagles coach Chip Kelly, letting go RB LeSean McCoy, QB Foles and WR Jeremy Maclin.

Outlook: Falcons are only 10-27 in Monday Nighters, but revamped defense leads upset, 27-20.

Packers (12-4) at Bears (5-11)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-7).

The scoop: Former Panthers and Broncos coach Fox takes over in Chicago and starts off facing Packers in oldest, and perhaps bitterest, NFL rivalry. Packers swept Bears last season by a combined 93-31 score.

Outlook: Fox will toughen up Bears, but Aaron Rodgers and Pack are too much to handle. Green Bay, 28-24.

Vikings (7-9) at 49ers (8-8)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 10:25 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-2½).

The scoop: With Harbaugh and so many stalwarts gone, Niners are a shell of team that reached NFC Championship Game last two seasons. … Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater of Vikes closed 2014 season impressively, completing 72.1 passes with eight TDS and five INTs. Vikings get RB Adrian Peterson back.

Outlook: Like Niners as home underdog on Monday night. San Francisco, 20-17.

Bengals (10-5-1) at Raiders (3-13)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Bengals (-3).

The scoop: Former Jaguars coach Del Rio takes over in Oakland after three seasons as defensive coordinator of Broncos. … Oakland rebuilding around second-year QB Derek Carr. He will be throwing to No. 1 draft pick Amari Cooper and former Niner Michael Crabtree. Ex-UB LB Khalil Mack leads a defense which should improve. …. Bengals have gone to playoffs last four years, but seem to olack that certain j’ne se quoi. They were swept by Steelers and lost to lowly Browns in division last year.

Outlook: Bengals didn’t look good in preseason. Raiders, 24-20.

Chiefs (9-7) at Texans (9-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-1).

The scoop: Texans won four of last five under first-year coach Bill O’Brien last season, but three of the wins came against lowly Titans and Jaguars. … Hoyer, an early-season hero with Browns last season before reality hit, starts for Texans. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid welcomes WR Jeremy Maclin to the fold. KC wide receivers did not register a single touchdown catch last season. Maclin should remedy that.

Outlook: Chiefs believe they can win AFC West. Maybe they can, KC 33-28.

Browns (7-9) at Jets (4-12)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Jets (-3½)

The scoop: How about a Josh McCown versus Ryan Fitzpatrick matchup? Not quite marquee material. Jets’ new head man Bowles had successful run as defensive coordinator with Arizona. Jets will be tough as usual on defense. … Browns started 7-4 under Mike Pettine last year before loss to Bills sent them on five-game spiral. Grit will only get you so far in the NFL.

Outlook: It won’t be pretty but Jets, 17-10.

Panthers (7-8-1) at Jaguars (3-13)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers (-3)

The scoop: Carolina had to win its last four (all to teams with losing records) just to get to 7-8-1 last season, but it was good enough to win sad NFC South. … Jaguars need major improvement from second-year QB Blake Bortles.

Outlook: Jax still looks offensively challenged. Carolina, 27-13.

Dog of the dayTitans (2-14) at Bucs (2-14)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers (-3).

The scoop: Teams combined four wins last season, playing in weakest two divisions in NFL. Only thing that makes this interesting is duel of rookie QBs.

Outlook: Tampa fans so excited, 20,000 will turn out as empty seats. Buccaneers, 28-27.

Last year’s record: 161-84-1 outright; 141-132-3 versus spread.


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