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Eight head coaches and starting QBs debut today

It's definitely not the same old, same old in the National Football League, and a lot of the new will be on display during today's 13-game league schedule.

Eight new head coaches -- seven of them first-timers -- will make their debuts today. Also, eight teams will have new starting quarterbacks and for the second season in a row, two will be rookies -- Matt Stafford with the Detroit Lions and Mark Sanchez with the New York Jets. In 2008, the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons made the playoffs despite starting rookies under center all season. That had never happened before in the NFL. Needless to say, Sanchez and the Jets, not Stafford and the Lions, have the best shot at repeating that feat.

>Game of the day

Redskins (8-8) at Giants (12-4)

TV: Ch. 29, 4:15 p.m.

The line: Giants (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: New York swept both games from divisional rivals in '08 on the way to a 12-4 season and NFC East title. . . . Redskins have offensive line questions so defense that ranked second in NFC last season before adding DT Albert Haynesworth may have to carry the team.
Outlook: Giants win typical NFC-East grinder, 20-14.

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>Top attractions

Dolphins (11-5) at Falcons (11-5)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons (-4)

The scoop: Dolphins coming off surprise division championship last year. Repeating will depend on duplicating league-leading plus-17 turnover ratio. Unlikely. . . . Fish get DE Jason Taylor back to join LB Joey Porter in pass rush . . . TE Tony Gonzalez will make Falcons debut.
Outlook: Fish stand up to Atlanta run game. Miami, 17-16.

Eagles (9-6-1) at Panthers (12-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Eagles (-2 1/2 )
The scoop: Panthers were 8-0 at home in regular season last year but lost to Arizona, 33-13, in playoffs. . . . Sean McDermott takes over Philly defense after death of coordinator Jim Johnson.
Outlook: Panthers look shaky. Eagles, 24-21.

Jets (9-7) at Texans (8-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Texans (-4 1/2 )
The scoop: Jets will open season on the road with a rookie head coach (Rex Ryan) and a rookie (Sanchez) at QB. Could be a rough baptism. New York will pin its hopes on defense featuring LB Bart Scott, whom Ryan brought in from his Baltimore defense, safety Kerry Rhodes, DT Kris Jenkins and CB Darrelle Revis. . . . Texans, second in AFC in total offense in '08, looking for fourth straight home win.
Outlook: Last rookie QB to start for Jets was Matt Robinson in 1977 when team went 3-11. Sanchez will do better but not today. Texans, 17-10.

Bears (9-7) at Packers (6-10)
TV: Ch. 2, 8 p.m.
The line: Packers (-4)
The scoop: Chicago will be all abuzz at debut of QB Jay Cutler against hated Packers. Cutler will be tested by new Green Bay 3-4 defense under Dom Capers. . . . Teams have met 176 times since 1921.

Outlook: Cutler leads Bears upset, 20-17.

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>Best of the rest

Vikings (10-6) at Browns (4-12)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-4)

The scoop: Brett Favre will make much anticipated first start at QB for Vikings. New Browns coach Eric Mangini apparently has chosen Brady Quinn as his starter although he tried to keep it a secret.

Outlook: Browns will be tougher under Mangini, but not enough to win this one. Vikes, 31-17.

Cowboys (9-7) at Buccaneers (9-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Cowboys (-5 1/2 )

The scoop: Raheem Morris is eighth head coach in Bucs history (1976-2009). The Bills have had 10 over same span. . . . Cowboys made few moves since disappointing '08 season except dropping Terrell Owens.
Outlook: 'Boys will struggle. Dallas, 24-21.

49ers (7-9) at Cardinals (9-7)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Cardinals (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: Shaun Hill will start at QB for Niners. Cards QB Kurt Warner comes off club-record 30 TDs and 96.9 rating season.

Outlook: Cards are 14-4 at home under Ken Whisenhunt. Make it 15-4. 'Zona, 31-27.

Chiefs (2-14) at Ravens (11-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-13)

The scoop: Connections of new Chiefs coach Todd Haley and GM Scott Pioli with Patriots helped bring trades for new QB Matt Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel, and friends in Miami shipped surplus guards to help KC offensive line. . . . Buffalo native Sean Ryan is Chiefs' TE replacement for departed Gonzalez.
Outlook: Ravens "D" makes it a long day for Cassel. Baltimore, 27-3.

Bills (7-9) at Patriots (11-5)

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

The line: Patriots (-11)

The scoop: Bills ready to start training camp. What? The season is about to start? Why didn't somebody set the alarm? . . . Pats have won last 11 from Bills since 2003 opener. . . . Terrell Owens' first game as Bills WR and Tom Brady's return from knee injury as Pats' QB will be story lines.

Outlook: There's no reason to expect anything but a routine New England victory, 28-3.

Lions (0-16) at Saints (8-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-13 1/2 )

The scoop: New Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz, who was successful defensive coordinator for Titans, opens on road against No. 1 offense in NFL and 5,000-yard passer Drew Brees. Rookie QB Matt Stafford will try to outduel Brees.

Outlook: Brutal assignment for Schwartz and Lions. Saints overcome early Lions enthusiasm, 37-20.

Jaguars (5-11) at Colts (12-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Colts (-7)

The scoop: Jim Caldwell takes over Colts after successful Tony Dungy reign. Torry Holt is new WR weapon for Jax. . . . Recently, Jags have played Colts tough in Indy. Last year's 23-21 victory was second in last five years. Three losses were by seven or less.

Outlook: Indy scored even fewer points (50) than Bills in preseason. Hard to figure either team. Colts, 17-14.

Chargers (8-8) at Raiders (5-11)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 10:15 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-9 1/2 )

The scoop: It appears Richard Seymour will get to Oakland in time for game -- barely. . . . . . . Bolts RB LaDainian Tomlinson has averaged 119.1 yards rushing in 16 career games against Silver and Black.

Outlook: Raiders deserve more respect at home. Chargers, 30-27.

Rams (2-14) at Seahawks (4-12)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-8)

The scoop: NFC West rivals will unveil new coaches. Steve Spagnuolo, ex-Giants defensive coordinator, is rookie leader of Rams. Jim Mora, the son not the father, gets his second shot as head man in NFL after 27-23 mark with Falcons (2004-06).
Outlook: Seahawks are 5-1 in recent home openers. Seattle, 23-10.

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>Dog of the day

Broncos (8-8) at Bengals (4-11-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Bengals (-4 1/2 )

The scoop: Just think. Last home game of Mike Shanahan's glorious tenure as Denver coach was 30-23 loss to the Bills. New man Josh McDaniels has a lot of problems, many of which were of his own making. Kyle Orton takes over as new Denver QB. He won't make Bronco fans forget Elway.

Outlook: Could develop into a wild offensive duel. Bengals, 35-30.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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