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Jets, Giants headline week of divisional clashes

The first week of the regular season showed that the National Football League is as unpredictable and exciting as ever. It began with an overtime victory by the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, then New England, Denver and San Diego won games in the final minute and Green Bay overtook Chicago on a 50-yard pass with 1:11 left.

"That's why the fans love the NFL," Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington said about the unpredictability of the league.

Often the biggest surprises in the NFL come in divisional games, and there are seven of them on the Week Two schedule. The slate will be topped by the New England Patriots' visit to the New Jersey Meadowlands to face the New York Jets and the New York Giants' trip to Dallas to open the Cowboys' plush new stadium.

Here's how Week Two shapes up:

>Game of the day

Patriots (1-0) at Jets (1-0)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Patriots (-3 1/2 )

The scoop: Tom Brady and the Patriots face a much tougher test going against the Jets' defense than they did against the Bills in the opener. Rex Ryan's New York defense dominated Houston last week. . . . The big question is: How much will Bill Belichick's schemes befuddle Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez, who was impressive in the opening win at Houston.

Outlook: Jets' Ryan says he's not intimidated by Pats. We'll see. Jets, 20-17.

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>Top attractions

Giants (1-0) at Cowboys (1-0)

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

The line: Cowboys (-3)

The scoop: Opener for Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones' $1.3 billion playpen. . . . Cowboys almost never lose in home opener (34-14-1 all time). Dallas has won four of last five regular-season games against New York but lost at home to G-Men in '07 playoffs. Dallas QB Tony Romo is 4-0 as starter against New York, not counting playoff loss. . . . Dallas had no sacks and allowed 470 yards in win over Bucs last week.

Outlook: Cowboys' offense is potent but defense will get scored on. Dallas, 31-24.

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

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

The line: Colts (-3)

The scoop: Land Shark (formerly Pro Player, Dolphin, Joe Robbie) Stadium is where Colts won their last Super Bowl title. Indy hasn't visited Miami in regular season since '03. . . . In two regular-season starts against Colts, Miami's Chad Pennington has 137.9 passer rating. . . . Colts WR Reggie Wayne had 10 catches for 16.2 average in two-point win over Jacksonville in opener. . . . Miami, the NFL leader in turnover margin in '08, was minus-3 in opening loss at Atlanta, spoiling a solid defensive performance.

Outlook: Miami's pitch-and-putt attack can't keep up with Colts. Indianapolis, 20-10.

*

Eagles (1-0) at Saints (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: New Orleans (-1)

The scoop: With Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (cracked rib) out, it ruins what could be an early season highlight game between NFC Super Bowl candidates. . . . Saints' Drew Brees has thrown for 22 touchdowns in last seven games. . . . Eagles held Carolina to 169 yards in offense last week while Saints rolled up 515 in win over Lions.

Outlook: Eagles hold Brees and Co. down, but attack sputters with Kevin Kolb at quarterback. Saints, 17-12.

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Ravens (1-0) at Chargers (1-0)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-3)

The scoop: LaDainian Tomlinson will miss second game of his Chargers career after leaving Monday nighter at Raiders with ankle injury. . . . Chargers were not impressive in squeaking past Oakland. . . . Ravens limited Chiefs to 1.7 average rush but still found themselves locked in a tie game before go-ahead score with 2:06 left despite strong game from QB Joe Flacco.

Outlook: Chargers are notoriously slow starters under Norv Turner. Ravens are not road patsies. Baltimore, 33-30.

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>Best of the rest

Cardinals (0-1) at Jaguars (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Jaguars (-3)

The scoop: Except for Panthers, Cards had most disappointing opener of all NFL teams. Jax is 2-0 all-time against Arizona but teams have not met since '05 and not met in Jacksonville since '00. . . . 'Zona ran for only 40 yards in home loss to Niners. Jaguars, with two rookies starting at tackle, averaged 4.4 on ground and allowed just one sack but David Garrard averaged only 8.7 per completion.

Outlook: Kurt Warner gets in rhythm. Cardinals, 17-10.

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Panthers (0-1) at Falcons (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: Thanks to Jake Delhomme's five turnovers, Panthers flopped big time in opener at home against Eagles. Carolina has won five of last eight against Atlanta, but was routed, 45-28, in Georgia Dome last November.

Outlook: Despite 38 points by Eagles, Carolina defense gave up only 267 yards. Carolina, 24-17.

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Buccaneers (0-1) at Bills (0-1)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

The line: Bills (-4 1/2 )

The scoop: Bills should change their name to Magicians. Under Dick Jauron they have made three apparent victories (Cowboys in '07, Jets in '08 and Patriots last Monday) disappear in last three seasons. . . . Trent Edwards doesn't throw deep often, but neither do majority of NFL teams. Only four teams averaged more per pass completion and only five averaged more per pass attempt than Buffalo's 14.1 and 8.48 in New England loss. Dallas averaged 22.1 per reception in routing Bucs.

Outlook: Bills shake off New England hangover as T.O. and Evans have big games in 28-16 win.

*

Steelers (1-0) at Bears (0-1)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Steelers (-3)

The scoop: Two old-line franchises have been around forever, but surprisingly have met only 24 times with Chicago owning 16-7-1 advantage. . . . Bears couldn't hang on for opening victory at Green Bay while Steelers were able to rally and defeat Tennessee in OT. . . . Chicago lost LB Brian Urlacher for season, leaving a huge hole in its defense.

Outlook: Ben Roethlisberger will find holes in Bears' pass defense, especially with Urlacher out. Steelers, 17-7.

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Bengals (0-1) at Packers (1-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-9)

The scoop: Bengals try to get up for tough opponent in a difficult venue after mind-bending loss in home opener to Denver on 87-yard pass deflection with 11 seconds left. . . . Bengals haven't visited Green Bay since 1995. . . . Run defense (Matt Forte averaged only 2.2 per attempt) was most impressive aspect of Packers' win over Bears.

Outlook: Packers, who have best home record in league since 1992, will go 2-0 at Lambeau. Green Bay, 33-17.

*

Browns (0-1) at Broncos (1-0)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-3)

The scoop: Browns fans get migraines whenever Denver is brought up. Broncos have won last eight against Cleveland. Last Browns win was in 1990. Clevelanders never will forget the three playoff losses to John Elway and the Broncos in the '80s. . . . Fluke 87-yard play to win accounted for one third of Denver QB Kyle Orton's passing yards against Bengals. . . . Browns allowed five sacks and averaged only 9.8 per completion in loss to Vikings.

Outlook: Both teams struggle on offense. Broncos, 20-10.

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Vikings (1-0) at Lions (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-10)

The scoop: Minnesota has won 13 of last 14 against Lions but barely escaped with 20-16 win at Ford Field last December. . . . Vikings QB Brett Favre made few big plays, let Adrian Peterson do the dirty work in win at Browns. Lions played hard but were outclassed on both sides of ball at New Orleans.

Outlook: Vikings' pass rush will make it a long day for Lions rookie QB Matt Stafford. Vikings, 27-13.

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

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Titans (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: This supposedly is another breakthrough year for Houston, but Texans couldn't run or pass in loss to visiting Jets while Titans shut down Steelers' run but couldn't contain Roethlisberger in OT loss at Pittsburgh. . . . Tennessee gave up 207 receiving yards to Andre Johnson in loss to Texans last season.

Outlook: Texans unimpressive even though they usually play Tennessee tough. Titans, 24-10.

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

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Redskins (-10)

The scoop: Rams were shut out at Seattle while Redskins didn't fare much better in loss at Giants.

Outlook: Rams may be NFL's worst, although Redskins aren't a whole lot better. Washington, 17-10.

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

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: 49ers (-1)

The scoop: Seattle continued to dominate Rams while Niners earned upset at Arizona in division openers.

Outlook: San Francisco had no running game (21 yards) against Arizona. Niners won't get away with that against Seahawks. Seattle, 17-14.

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>Dog of the day

Raiders (0-1) at Chiefs (0-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs (-3)

The scoop: Despite all Raider success over the years, starting with two Super Bowl wins in four appearances, Chiefs have 51-44-2 advantage over old AFL rivals. . . . Without QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs had only 188 yards in loss at Baltimore. Raiders won't be that tough, but they have more offensive weapons.

Outlook: Raiders' building project ahead of K.C.'s. Oakland, 35-21.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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