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Colts, Cardinals will let it fly in the desert

It's not a divisional or even a conference matchup, but based on entertainment value alone, Indianapolis at Arizona tonight is the most attractive game on the Week Three schedule in the NFL.

It's Peyton Manning of the Colts (2-0) going against Kurt Warner of the Cardinals (1-1) and his slew of receiving stars. It will be the Colts' first visit to Arizona since 1990.

While tonight's game at University of Phoenix Stadium figures to be a shootout, San Francisco's game at Minnesota matches two of the most producting running backs in the league.

Adrian Peterson of the Vikings leads the NFL with 272 yards. Frank Gore of the 49ers is third with 237 after he became the second back in league history with two scoring runs of 75 yards or longer in the same game, San Francisco's win over Seattle. The Niners-at-Vikings game is the only one on the Week Three schedule matching undefeated teams.

After their emphatic upset of the New England Patriots, the unbeaten New York Jets face another challenge at home against the Tennessee Titans, who, surprisingly, are winless.

>Game of the day

Colts (2-0) at Cardinals (1-1)

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

The line: Cardinals (-2 1/2 )

The scoop: Duel between Manning and Warner should produce lots of excitement. Warner completed NFL record 92.3 percent (24 of 26) in win at Jacksonville last week, erasing Vinny Testaverde's mark (1993) from the books. . . . Neither team has run well. Cards averaging 79.0 and Colts just 66.0. . . . Indy pass defense allowing only 139 per game, however. . . . Colts have won last 11 regular season games, longest active streak in NFL.

Outlook: Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston crack Indy umbrella. Arizona, 35-30.

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>Top attractions

Titans (0-2) at Jets (2-0)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Jets (-2 1/2 )

The scoop: Jets in middle of rugged stretch with road games at New Orleans and Miami next. If they win next three Jets could be 9-0 before roadie at New England Nov. 22. Titans started 10-0 in '08 before Jets routed them, 34-13, in Nashville. Now they're looking at 0-3 after OT loss to Steelers and three-pointer at home against Houston. . . . New York leads entire league in total defense. Only touchdown against Jets in two games was a fumble return by Texans in opener.

Outlook: Jets pressure rattles Kerry Collins. New York, 24-10.

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Falcons (2-0) at Patriots (1-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Patriots (-4 1/2 )

The scoop: Little opportunity for Pats to catch a breath after gift win from Bills and domination by Jets. . . . Falcons led NFL in rushing in '08 and QB Matt Ryan is off to a hot start (108.5 passer rating). It's homecoming for Ryan, who played at Boston College. . . . New England averaging only 3.6 per rushing attempt and had difficulty protecting Tom Brady against Jets' pressure. Outlook: If Pats win it won't be easy. New England, 27-24.

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49ers (2-0) at Vikings (2-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-7)

The scoop: Niners 7-4 since Mike Singletary took over during '08 season, but have won six of last seven. Singletary says he's "not satisfied" at being 2-0. What's he want? Three and oh after two games? . . . Vikes' Brett Favre is third in league with 104.9 passer rating, but is averaging puny 7.2 per completion with longest pass 21 yards.

Outlook: Niners will be NFC surprise team, but today's it's Vikings, 17-13.

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Dolphins (0-2) at Chargers (1-1)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-5)

The scoop: Honeymoon is officially over for Tony Sparano as Miami head coach. Second-guessing was rampant after Monday night loss to Colts despite huge advantage in rushing and time of possession. Miami has won last seven over Bolts since San Diego playoff win in '95. Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle) is out of this one.

Outlook: Chargers lead league in passing yards and Miami gives up big plays through the air. San Diego, 30-21.

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Panthers (0-2) at Cowboys (1-1)

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

The line: Cowboys (-8)

The scoop: Remember when Wade Phillips was a defensive coach? Dallas is second to Saints in total offense but 30th in total defense and has given up 54 points in two games. . . . Cowboys may be without RB Marion Barber. Felix Jones will start. . . . Panthers have given up average of 33 points.

Outlook: Panthers aren't that bad. Dallas, 27-20.

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>Best of the rest

Jaguars (0-2) at Texans (1-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-4)

The scoop: Jags may be looking at last-place finish in AFC South. NFL putting a team in Jacksonville is another example of misreading of Florida markets by NFL, MLB (Tampa and Miami) and NHL (Tampa and Miami). . . . Houston is last in league in defense with league-worst 215.0 yield on the ground, but Jaguars rank in bottom third in offense and have few weapons beside RB Maurice Jones-Drew.

Outlook: Texans shook off manhandling by Jets to upset Titans last week. Houston, 24-16.

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Saints (2-0) at Bills (1-1)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

The line: Saints (-6)

The scoop: Saints lead league in offense and Drew Brees tops passer ratings with 132.9. . . . Bills don't defend middle of field well against the pass, which means Brees, WR Marques Colston and TE Jeremy Shockey should have field day.

Outlook: Trent Edwards can't keep up with Brees in wide-open duel. Saints, 42-27.

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

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Steelers (-3 1/2 )

The scoop: Seems odd to see Pittsburgh ranked only 28th in league in rushing. More and more they seem to be falling back on passing of Ben Roethlisberger. . . . Erratic Bengals impressive in win on road against overrated Packers. . . . Cincy surprise has been RB Cedric Benson, a Bears castoff, who is averaging 4.3 per carry.

Outlook: Steelers never have lost to Bengals with Mike Tomlin (4-0) as coach. Pittsburgh, 17-10.

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Broncos (2-0) at Raiders (1-1)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-2)

The scoop: Denver completed Ohio sweep last week with win over visiting Browns after fluke win at Cincinnati, but could Broncos could handle Ohio State or Division III powerhouse Mount Union? . . . Except for close loss to Chargers, Raiders might be 2-0 even though QB JaMarcus Russell is completing only 35.2 percent with 46.6 passer rating.

Outlook: Former Denver coach Mike Shanahan was 21-7 against Oakland. That dominance is over. Raiders, 20-14.

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Browns (0-2) at Ravens (2-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-13 1/2 )

The scoop: Two games in and Eric Mangini is already feeling the heat in Cleveland. . . . Remember when Ravens used to win games with no offensive TDs? They rank third in the league in offense now and only Saints (12) have more TDs than Baltimore's nine. . . . Chargers QB Philip Rivers blistered Baltimore pass defense last week, but Browns have no downfield passing attack.

Outlook: Routine win for ex-Browns over Browns, 31-10.

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Packers (1-1) at Rams (0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: Home opener for Rams, who kept Redskins out of end zone last week, a tribute to new head coach Steve Spagnuolo's familiarity with former NFC East rival. . . . First road game for Packers, who won close one over Bears and fouled up on late drive with a chance to pull out Cincinnati game last week.

Outlook: Spags has Rams playing some "D." Packers, 17-13.

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Chiefs (0-2) at Eagles (1-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Eagles (-8)

The scoop: Big news will be what Eagles do now that Michael Vick is eligible to play. He won't start at QB. Kevin Kolb gets the duty for second NFL start. . . . Even with Matt Cassel, Chiefs may be even worse than in '08. Losing home opener to Raiders a bad sign.

Outlook: Eagles' defense not stellar in first two games, but will dominate Chiefs. Phila., 34-10.

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Giants (2-0) at Buccaneers (0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Giants (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: Opponents having difficulty getting Giants' offense off field because Eli Manning is 17 for 23 in third down passing. . . . Giants WR Mario Manningham looks like blooming superstar. His 16.0 average per catch is best among league's top 10 in receptions.

Outlook: Bucs looking at 4-12 season while Giants look solid and well-balanced. New York, 31-14.

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Bears (1-1) at Seahawks (1-1)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Bears (-2 1/2 )

The scoop: Seneca Wallace will start at QB for Seahawks in place of injured Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle has injuries elsewhere as the bug strikes again. . . . Bears coming off impressive home win over Steelers.

Outlook: Big day for Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Bears win, 24-10.

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>Dog of the day

Redskins (1-1) at Lions (0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Redskins (-6 1/2 )

The scoop: Washington held to three FGs at home by Rams last week. Redskins were 0-5 in red zone and 0-4 in goal-to-go situations in 9-7 win. . . . Lions are trying hard for new coach Jim Schwartz. They jumped in front of Vikings, 10-0, at home but couldn't hold on.

Outlook: Detroit grit keeps it close. Washington, 20-17.

-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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