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Sunday Playbook by Milt Northrop: Bills among teams facing a moment of truth

How good are the Dolphins? How bad are the Jaguars?

Week Three of the NFL schedule is when some teams will learn the facts of life. It could be a crossroads week for others.

Five games, including the Bills at Jets, match teams with 1-1 records. For these 10 teams this could be a point of departure – toward playoff contention or middle-of-the-road status.

And, will the 2-0 Texans, Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, Saints, Bears and Dolphins continue on their merry way?

Two games find winless teams – Browns versus Vikings, Giants versus Panthers – facing each other. It’s time to turn things around before it’s too late.

A look at the schedule:

Game of the day

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

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-1)

The scoop: Houston has had to pull out wins over San Diego and Tennessee in overtime despite an offense that averages 450 yards and a defense that yields an AFC low 255. … Houston WR Andre Johnson leads league with 20 receptions but with no touchdowns. … Super Bowl champion Ravens unimpressive so far, collapsing in second half at Denver and not really lighting things up in 14-6 home win over Cleveland.

Outlook: Ravens (3-0) never have lost at home to Texans. Baltimore, 23-21.

Top attractions

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

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-2)

The scoop: Green Bay leads the league in offense (482.5) and Aaron Rodgers is first in passing yards (813). However, Pack have given up an average of 458 yards to Niners and Washington. … Ex-UB back James Starks provided some ground support (132 yards) to Rodgers’ passing in home win over Redskins. … Bengals are young and talented on defense but may not be able to contain Rodgers.

Outlook: Can’t see Bengals QB Andy Dalton able to match Rodgers. Packers, 30-24.

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

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-7)

The scoop: Saints back home after escaping outdoor game on grass at Tampa Bay on Garrett Hartley field goal at the gun. … Cardinals upset Lions last week thanks to a missed field goal and a blocked FG. … Drew Brees of Saints has passed for 300 yards or more in last seven games, second longest such streak ever. … It’s Louisiana homecoming for ex-LSU Tigers Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Minter of the Cards.

Outlook: Addition of Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall gives Arizona weapons to hang in with NFC’s best, even on road. New Orleans, 33-28.

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

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Dolphins (-2)

The scoop: Atlanta had 24-3 halftime lead at home against Rams last week and was hanging on at the end. … Dolphins 2-0 with both wins on road against Browns and Colts. … Falcons pass combo of Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones will put Miami pass rush/coverage to test. Jones had 11 catches for 182 yards against Rams. Ryan has 107.9 pass rating. … Ex-Falcons CB Brent Grimes bailed out Fish with INT last week in game they once led, 14-3.

Outlook: Both teams may be overrated, but Dolphins more so. Atlanta, 20-17.

Colts (1-1) at 49ers (1-1)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: 49ers (-10)

The scoop: Two teams trying to bounce back from losses. Niners were handled in startling fashion at Seattle in NFC West clash. Colts couldn’t finish in home loss to Dolphins. … Andrew Luck of Colts faces his old college coach, Jim Harbaugh of the Niners. … SF QB Colin Kaepernick looked ordinary against Seattle, especially with run threat taken away.

Outlook: Luck shows well in shootout with Kaepernick. San Francisco, 31-24.

Best of the rest

Bills (1-1) at Jets (1-1)

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

The line: Jets (-2)

The scoop: This is one of those “probably should win” games Bills fans had wrote in before season even began. Jets lack flash but Bills not so much better that this is an automatic win. … Interesting to see how Marrone, Manuel and Co. handle themselves on road for first time. … Jets allowing only 241 yards a game after facing Bucs and Pats.

Outlook: Bills can’t afford four turnovers like last year in 48-28 loss to Jets at MetLife. … Buffalo, 23-20.

Giants (0-2) at Panthers (0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Giants (-1)

The scoop: Giants have turned ball over 10 times in two losses. Panthers coach Ron Rivera under fire for team’s inability to win close games. … Eli Manning and Giants receivers should have a big day against wounded Carolina secondary.

Outlook: Giants should start to get things straightened out. New York, 30-14.

Rams (1-1) at Cowboys (1-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Cowboys (-3)

The scoop: Two more teams coming off losses. Rams QB Sam Bradford filled air with footballs after team fell behind, 24-3, at half at Atlanta. Ended up with 352 yards and three TDs. … Cowboys ran for only 37 yards and 2.3 average in close loss at Kansas City.

Outlook: Rams defense clamped down last week after giving up two long drives in first half. Dallas, 17-14.

Browns (0-2) at Vikings (0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings (-6)

The scoop: Brian Hoyer, who played in two games for Arizona last season, gets start at QB over Jason Campbell for Browns with Brandon Weeden injured. Cleveland has been unable to get offense moving in losses to Dolphins and Ravens. Cleveland averaging only 275 yards a game. … Vikings couldn’t hold late lead at Chicago and lost a one-pointer last week. … Last Cleveland win over Vikings was in 1989. Browns are 0-4 since.

Outlook: Hoyer faces long afternoon against Jared Allen and the Vikings’ rush. Minnesota, 21-10.

Buccaneers (0-2) at Patriots (2-0)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Patriots (-7)

The scoop: Internal problems on both sides. Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano dealing with dissension over relationship with QB Josh Freeman. Pats’ Tom Brady openly grousing over mistakes by his young receiving corps.

Outlook: Neither side in synch yet, but it’s more likely Pats will find their way sooner. New England, 27-17.

Chargers (1-1) at Titans (1-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Titans (-3)

The scoop: Chargers had to travel to Philly after short week last week, now they head back east of Mississippi to face tough Titans. … Tennessee has managed only 238.5 yards per game against Steelers and Texans on the road. … Philip Rivers of Bolts seems more comfortable in Mike McCoy offense.

Outlook: San Diego has won last three visits to Tennessee, but timing of this assignment looks too tough. Titans, 27-20.

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

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Pick ‘em

The scoop: Our favorite NFL fact: Lions never have won a regular season or postseason game in Washington. NEVER, and that goes back to 1939 – 21 games. … Redskins piled up a lot of yards in garbage time after falling behind Eagles and Packers by huge margins in first half.

Outlook: Passing show between Matthew Stafford and Robert Griffin III in prospect. Washington, 35-31.

Bears (2-0) at Steelers (0-2)

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

The line: Bears (-2)

The scoop: Hard to believe these old-line NFL teams with storied pasts have met only 25 times in 79 years. ... Both Bears wins at home in close games. … Steelers averaging only 2.4 yards per rush and have given up seven sacks. Very un-Steelerish.

Outlook: Like Steelers as home underdog in front of fans waving Terrible Towels. Steelers, 17-14.

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

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

The line: Broncos (-15)

The scoop: Broncos have scored 90 points and averaged 463 yards. Only the 2001 Colts and 2009 Saints have started a season with two 40-plus points performances. … Raiders lead league with 198.5 rushing average. … Peyton Manning of Broncos has 9 TD passes and no interceptions.

Outlook: This is a game and opponent that used to have Raiders licking their chops. Could be blowout, but Raiders have some talent and grit. Broncos, 30-21.

Dog of the day

Jaguars (0-2) at Seahawks (2-0)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-19)

The scoop: QB Chad Henne will start for Jags. Seahawks’ pass rush, secondary and deafening crowd noise will make him wish he was back in Miami. … Seahawks lead league in defense (230.0) while Jaguars are last in offense (213.0) and points (11).

Outlook: Jax looks like worst team in league but 19, that’s almost an NFL-record spread. Seahawks, 28-10.

Last week: 10-5 outright, 5-9-1 versus spread.

Season’s record: 18-12 outright, 12-16-2 versus spread.