If the Denver Broncos seem panicky after their 0-2 start, wait until next week.
That's because this week, the schedule puts them in Tampa Bay against a defense that's the best in the league statistically and hasn't allowed a touchdown. Anyone in Denver for 0-3?
"If I was on another team and the two-time world champions came to my stadium, I'd want to embarrass them," Denver linebacker Glenn Cadrez said. "I'd want to make a highlight tape of them. That should be motivation enough for us, because we're not going to get any breaks. No one's going to feel sorry for the Super Bowl champs."
There are two asterisks to the Bucs' defensive dominance.
One is they've played two of the league's worst offenses, the Giants and Eagles.
The other is that despite the defense, they lost to the Giants because Trent Dilfer threw an interception for one touchdown and fumbled for another. So Dilfer was called to pass only 14 times in last week's 19-5 win in Philadelphia.
Dilfer had four turnovers in the Giants' debacle and was benched for Eric Zeier, who was just as bad. Brian Griese demonstrated his inexperience in Denver's 26-10 loss in Kansas City, and Bubby Brister, like Zeier, was no better in relief.
There are other problems for the Broncos, such as the season-ending injury to linebacker John Mobley. Cadrez moves from the middle to the outside and rookie Al Wilson takes over in the middle, a move that would have happened sooner or later regardless.
This game is huge for the Bucs. Their next two games are at Minnesota and Green Bay, trips that will go a long way toward deciding their destiny this season.
"If we can win ugly the next 14 games, then that'll be fine," says coach Tony Dungy. "But I think this stretch will tell us what we're made of. We're playing one very good team at home and two good teams on the road."
Broncos (0-2) at Bucs (1-1)
Line: Bucs by 2 1/2 .
Last meeting: Broncos won, 27-23, at Denver on Sept. 15, 1996.
Key stats: Bucs' defense is No. 1 in the NFL, but offense is No. 29.
Worth watching: Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp is off to a great start, with 4 1/2 sacks in the first two games. Denver's Terrell Davis averaging only 3.5 yards per carry.
Outlook: Tampa Bay's offense has allowed more points (16 on two TDs and a safety) than its defense (6). Broncos will be lost at sea against a Tampa Bay defense that may outscore its offense again.
Titans (2-0) at Jaguars (2-0)
Today, 4 p.m., Ch. 4
Line: Jaguars by 9 1/2 .
Last meeting: Oilers won, 16-13, at Jacksonville on Dec. 13, 1998.
Key stat: Jaguars have won four of the last five from the Titans.
Worth watching: Neil O'Donnell, who once led Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl, replaces injured Steve McNair at quarterback for Tennessee. Jaguars' Jimmy Smith leads NFL with 16 receptions.
Outlook: The season is only two weeks old, but if Jacksonville's defense stays at No. 5 in the league, the Jaguars won't lose much. O'Donnell is a capable replacement for McNair, but this is McNair's offense. Titans going for their first 3-0 start since 1991, but . . .
Giants (1-1) at Patriots (2-0)
Tonight, 8:15, ESPN
Line: Patriots by 6 1/2 .
Last meeting: Patriots won, 23-22, at New York on Dec. 21, 1996.
Key stats: Giants have won two of last three vs. Patriots.
Worth watching: Drew Bledsoe has brought New England from behind in the fourth quarter to win both games. Giants' Kent Graham has thrown only one TD pass (and one interception).
Outlook: Giants still reeling from 50-21 loss to Washington. They remain in search of a running game as they wait for Gary Brown to return from injury, but that won't be this week. Bledsoe may lead Pats' offense to great things this season.
49ers (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1)
Monday, 9 p.m., Ch. 7
Line: 49ers by 2 1/2 .
Last meeting: 49ers won, 28-14, in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 1993.
Key stats: Arizona's offense is No. 25; San Francisco, No. 27.
Worth watching: San Francisco's Charlie Garner is doing a creditable job, averaging 5.8 yards per carry (133 yards) and leading league's running backs with 102 receiving yards (six catches). Simeon Rice has two sacks for Cardinals.
Outlook: San Francisco has been roundly criticized for passing up Jake Plummer in the 1997 draft and Plummer has been hailed as The Next Great Quarterback. But partially due to a thumb injury, Plummer has struggled this season, with only one TD pass and seven interceptions. The 49ers are aging, but they still know how to win in the fourth quarter.
Colts (1-1) at Chargers (1-0)
Line: Colts by 1.
Last meeting: Colts won, 17-12, in Indianapolis on Oct. 4, 1998.
Key stats: Chargers have won five of last six home openers.
Worth watching: Colts' Marvin Harrison leads NFL with five TD receptions. Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh was 15 of 26 with 2 TD passes and no interceptions in opening victory at San Diego this week.
Outlook: The Peyton Manning-Marvin Harrison combination, which has produced 12 TDs in the 14 games the two have played together, is getting the attention of defensive coordinators. It's early, but the Chargers' defense shows no signs of slipping from its No. 1 standing of a year ago. Colts rookie running back Edgerrin James will be a big challenge.
Redskins (1-1) at Jets (0-2)
Line: Redskins by 1.
Last meeting: Redskins won, 31-16, at Washington on Sept. 26, 1996.
Key stats: Washington leads the NFL with 85 points scored.
Worth watching: And the leading rusher in the NFL is -- believe it or not -- Washington's Stephen Davis (235 yards, 5.0 avg). Jets' Keyshawn Johnson is averaging 21.9 yards per catch.
Outlook: Thanks to Brad Johnson, the NFL's leading passer (125.9), Redskins offense has been one of the stories of the season. He's completed 40 of 61 and thrown five TD passes and zero interceptions. Jets try again with Rick Mirer (passer rating: 33.0).
Seahawks (1-1) at Steelers (2-0)
Line: Steelers by 4 1/2 .
Last meeting: Steelers won, 13-10, at Pittsburgh on Sept. 27, 1998.
Key stats: Pittsburgh is 45-11 under coach Bill Cowher at Three Rivers Stadium.
Worth watching: This looks like a matchup made for Jerome Bettis, who can improve on his 4.0-yard rushing average. Seattle looking for a boost from quarterback Jon Kitna, due back from a toe injury.
Outlook: The Steelers' resurgence continues. Bettis could have his way against soft Seahawks defense. Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart has not been intercepted in 50 passes.
Bears (1-1) at Raiders (1-1)
Line: Raiders by 7.
Last meeting: Bears won, 19-17, at Soldier Field on Sept. 29, 1996.
Key stats: Oakland's No. 6 offense goes against Bears' No. 23 defense.
Worth watching: Bears' Curtis Enis' is sixth in NFL with 158 yards rushing (3.4 avg.). Raiders' Tyrone Wheatley averaging 4.1.
Outlook: Raiders coming off one of their biggest wins in years last week at Minnesota. It's their home opener and the Bears' first road game under coach Dick Jauron. How much will Cade McNown play? No matter who plays, improving Raiders too much.
Vikings (1-1) at Packers (1-1)
Line: Green Bay by 1.
Last meeting: Vikings won, 28-14, at Minnesota on Nov. 22, 1998.
Key stat: Minnesota coach Dennis Green has a 9-5 career record vs. Packers.
Worth watching: Green Bay's tight end situation. Tyrone Davis in now the main man because Mark Chmura was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a bulging disc in his neck. Chmura is out for the rest of the season.
Outlook: The critics are after new Minnesota offensive coordinator Ray Sherman, whose unit is producing points at half the rate it did for Brian Billick (now Ravens head coach) a year ago. Packers QB Brett Favre still has a sore thumb. These teams are no longer overpowering. The home field will help the Pack.
Lions (2-0) at Chiefs (1-1)
Line: Chiefs by 4.
Last meeting: Chiefs won, 28-24, at Detroit on Nov. 28, 1996.
Key stat: Kansas City has won 43 games in a row when it scores 21 points.
Worth watching: Lions' Ron Rivers averaging 4.5 yards per carry as Barry Sanders' replacement. Chiefs' leading rusher is ex-Bear Bam Morris (32 yards, 2.9 avg.).
Outlook: Charlie Batch, Detroit's second-year quarterback, is emerging as one of the NFL's best. While Sanders listens to his father's advice to return to the Lions, Rivers is holding his own. Chiefs coming off a win over Denver, which a lot of teams will be able to say this season.
Falcons (0-2) at Rams (1-0)
Line: Atlanta by 2.
Last meeting: Falcons won, 21-10, at St. Louis on Nov. 29, 1998.
Key stats: Falcons have beaten the Rams four straight.
Worth watching: St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner, who survived Arena Football, led Rams to victory over Ravens in opener. Falcons need big game from new starting tailback Byron Hanspard.
Outlook: The Super Bowl seems a long way off in the Falcons' rear-view mirror. Quarterback Chris Chandler is probable.
Browns (0-2) at Ravens (0-2)
Line: Ravens by 13.
Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the new Browns and the old Browns.
Key stats: Cleveland is 31st in offense, 30th on defense.
Worth watching: Struggling Ravens going with Stoney Case at quarterback. Browns hope rookie Tim Couch keeps improving.
Outlook: Wonder what Ravens owner Art Modell will think when he sees the new Browns take the field? Once he gets over the emotion, he should be able to count on a win.
Bengals (0-2) at Panthers (0-2)
Line: Panthers by 7.
Last meeting: This is the first meeting.
Key stats: It's Bengals' No. 9 rushing offense vs. Panthers' No. 31 rushing defense.
Worth watching: Bengals receiver Darnay Scott has at least six catches in five of last six games.
Outlook: Cincinnati won't know if it's going with Jeff Blake or rookie Akili Smith at quarterback until kickoff. If Bengals give the ball to running back Corey Dillon enough, it might not matter. If Panthers get big day from running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka, they should control the game.