NFL WEEK 2

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Buffalo (0-1) at N.Y.Jets (1-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Jets by 5

Vs. spread: Bills 0-1; Jets 1-0.

Last week: Bills lost to Vikings, 34-13. Jets beat Seahawks, 41-3.

Worth watching: Can Jets QB Neil O'Donnell keep this up? Were his five TD passes last week a fluke or a sign of things to come? The Bills need production from RB Thurman Thomas, because QB Todd Collins is no Jim Kelly.

Outlook: Has Bill Parcells done one of the fastest rebuilding jobs in NFL history? It certainly seems that way. The once-lifeless Jets, who didn't put up much of a fight and went 1-15 last season, stunned Seattle in the season opener and are favored to win their home opener today. With O'Donnell's passing and RB Adrian Murrell's running and receiving, the Jets should improve to 2-0.

Notable: Thomas has averaged 4.7 yards a carry against the Jets, his best mark against any team.

Injuries:

BILLS: Out: C Dusty Zeigler (knee). Probable: WR Eric Moulds (knee); S Manny Martin (ankle).

JETS: None reported.

Minnesota (1-0) at Chicago

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 1 1/2

Vs. spread: Vikings 1-0; Bears 1-0.

Last week: Vikings beat Bills, 34-13. Bears lost to Packers, 38-24.

Worth watching: Vikings RB Robert Smith is healthy again -- he gained a career-high 169 yards, including a 78-yard TD run, against Buffalo last week. The Bears need a solid game from QB Erik Kramer, as Rick Mirer continues to wait in the wings.

Outlook: The Bears will have to find a way to block DT John Randle, and it won't be easy with new starters at center (Evan Pilgrim) and left guard (Chris Villarrial). Chicago's best chance is to control the ball with RBs Raymont Harris (122 yards vs. the Packers) and Rashaan Salaam.

Notable: The Vikings have won four of the past five meetings at Soldier Field.

Injuries:

VIKINGS: Questionable: P Mitch Berger (hip). Probable: TE Andrew Glover (knee).

BEARS: Out: WR Curtis Conway (collarbone); G Todd Perry (hamstring). Doubtful: DT Chris Zorich (thumb). Questionable: LB Sean Harris (knee); T James Williams (ankle).

San Francisco (0-1) at St. Louis (1-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 1

Vs. spread: 49ers 0-1; Rams 1-0.

Last week: 49ers lost to Bucs, 13-6. Rams beat Saints, 38-24.

Worth watching: 49ers rookie QB Jim Druckenmiller, the first-round draft choice, gets rushed into action because of Steve Young's latest concussion. Can Rams RB Lawrence Phillips have two big games in a row? He rushed for 125 yards in the opener.

Outlook: The San Francisco dynasty may be ending. After 15 years as perennial contenders, the 49ers must cope without superstar WR Jerry Rice, who is out for the season after knee surgery. Does Druckenmiller-to-Terrell Owens inspire much fear? Not yet. Plus, the Rams are tough at home.

Notable: The 49ers went without a TD last week for the first time in 97 games (including playoffs).

Injuries:

49ERS: Out: T Harris Barton (knee); WR Jerry Rice (knee). Doubtful: C Chris Dalman (knee); LB Kevin Greene (toe). Questionable: QB Jeff Brohm (finger-back); QB Steve Young (concussion).

RAMS: Out: RB Jerald Moore (elbow). Doubtful: S Toby Wright (hamstring). Questionable: WR Isaac Bruce (hamstring). Probable: C Bern Brostek (back).

Green Bay (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1)

Time: 4 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Line: Packers by 7 1/2

Vs. spread: Packers 0-1; Eagles 0-1.

Last week: Packers beat Bears, 38-24. Eagles lost to Giants, 31-17.

Worth watching: Eagles RB Ricky Watters, who always wants the ball, better do something with it if the Eagles have any upset hopes.

Outlook: Injuries are beginning to pile up on the Super Bowl champs, most notably with CB Craig Newsome out for the season with a knee injury. But the Packers still have too much talent for the Eagles, who continue to have uncertainty at quarterback with Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete.

Notable: The Eagles have won four of their past five home openers.

Injuries:

PACKERS: Out: TE Mark Chmura (knee); K Brett Conway (quadriceps-IR); LB Seth Joyner (knee); CB Craig Newsome (knee-IR). Questionable: G Joe Andruzzi (knee); TE Jeff Thomason (ankle). Probable: DT Gilbert Brown (hip).

EAGLES: Out: WR Chris T. Jones (knee); WR Antwuan Wyatt (knee-IR). Questionable: WR Bill Schroeder (thigh); LB Darrin Smith (ankle); LB James Willis (hip). Probable: DE Darion Conner (hamstring); LB Ray Farmer (back); TE Chad Lewis (neck); DE Mike Mamula (groin); T Jermane Mayberry (knee); QB Rodney Peete (calf); S Tim Watson (neck).

Carolina (0-1) at Atlanta (0-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 3

Vs. spread: Panthers 0-1; Falcons 0-1.

Last week: Panthers lost to Redskins, 24-10. Falcons lost to Lions, 28-17.

Worth watching: Carolina rushed well in its opener, led by Anthony Johnson's 134 yards. QB Chris Chandler passed for 290 yards but threw three interceptions in his debut as Atlanta's starter.

Outlook: The Falcons look like one of the NFL's worst teams. The Panthers need to bounce back after their upset loss to Washington. Either way, the game figures to be somewhat competitive, as all four meetings have been decided by four points or fewer.

Notable: Chandler was knocked down 22 of the 40 times he went back to pass last week.

Injuries:

PANTHERS: Out: QB Kerry Collins (jaw). Questionable: LB Lamar Lathon (leg-ankle); LB Sam Mills (ankle). Probable: LB Percell Gaskins (thigh).

FALCONS: Out: DE Anthony Pleasant (knee). Questionable: RB Jamal Anderson (ankle); S Chris Bayne (hamstring); CB Juran Bolden (hamstring); RB Byron Hanspard (back); G Gene Williams (ankle). Probable: RB Bob Christian (back).

New England (100) at Indianapolis (0-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Patriots by 5

Vs. spread: Patriots 1-0; Colts 0-0.

Last week: Patriots beat Chargers, 41-7. Colts lost to Dolphins, 16-10.

Worth watching: It's early, but will Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe push Packers QB Brett Favre for MVP honors? His four-TD pass game against San Diego indicates he will. RB Marshall Faulk had 124 yards from scrimmage last week for the Colts.

Outlook: With Bledsoe, RB Curtis Martin, TE Ben Coates, et al., the Patriots simply have too much offense. The Colts need a big game from QB Jim Harbaugh, who benched himself last week and can't afford to do that again.

Notable: The Patriots have scored 40 or more points in four of their past 13 games.

Injuries:

PATRIOTS: Questionable: LB Todd Collins (hamstring); WR Terry Glenn (ankle); CB Steve Israel (knee); LB Willie McGinest (hamstring); T Zefross Moss (elbow); C Dave Wohlabaugh (ankle).

COLTS: Doubtful: T Derek West (groin). Questionable: C Jason Johnson (hamstring); RB Roosevelt Potts (knee). Probable: TE Bradford Banta (knee); G Tarik Glenn (ankle); DE Carl Powell (ankle); CB Dedric Mathis (groin).

Tampa Bay (1-0) at Detroit (1-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Lions by 4 1/2

Vs. spread: Bucs 1-0; Lions 1-0.

L Last week: Bucs beat 49ers, 13-6. Lions beat Falcons, 28-17.

Worth watching: Tampa Bay DT Warren Sapp is becoming one of the league's best. He had 2 1/2 sacks in the opening victory against the 49ers and knocked out Jerry Rice and Steve Young. Lions RB Barry Sanders carried only 15 times for 33 yards against the Falcons.

Outlook: Under second-year coach Tony Dungy, the Bucs look like one of the league's most improved teams. The Lions are harder to figure, though home-field advantage and Sanders should make the difference in this game.

Notable: Sanders has 1,763 rushing yards (117.5 per game) in 15 games against the Bucs.

Injuries:

BUCS: Questionable: DE Eric Curry (thumb); G Frank Middleton (toe); CB Anthony Parker (hamstring). Probable: LB Jeff Gooch (thumb); WR Karl Williams (thigh).

LIONS: Out: G Chris Harrison (knee). Questionable: LB Antonio London (hamstring); S Van Malone (ankle); WR Herman Moore (leg); LB Matt Russell (abdomen); CB Bryant Westbrook (groin). Probable: Tracy Scroggins (shoulder).

N.Y. Giants (1-0) at Jacksonville (1-0)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line: Jaguars by 3 1/2

Vs. spread: Giants 1-0; Jaguars 0-1.

Last week: Giants beat Eagles, 31-17. Jaguars beat Ravens, 28-27.

Worth watching: Giants rookie RB Tiki Barber rushed for 88 yards and had a total of 120 from scrimmage in his debut. With QB Rob Johnson (ankle) questionable, the Jaguars need a big game from RB Natrone Means.

Outlook: It may depend on the health of Johnson, who stepped in for injured Mark Brunell and was 20-for-24 in his first NFL start. The Jaguars should be tough at home with him. Without him, the Giants could pull an upset.

Notable: The Giants are 6-2 against AFC Central teams in the '90s. The Jaguars have won six straight regular-season games.

Injuries:

GIANTS: Out: C Brian Williams (eye). Doubtful: CB Conrad Hamilton (knee); RB Rodney Hampton (knee); CB Phillippi Sparks (hepatitis). Questionable: DE Cedric Jones (ankle). Probable: Marcus Buckley (hip).

JAGUARS: Out: QB Mark Brunell (knee). Questionable: QB Rob Johnson (ankle). Probable: S Dana Hall (knee); S Mike Logan (hamstring); WR Will Moore (hamstring).

Tennessee (1-0) at Miami (1-0)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 11

Line: Dolphins by 6

Vs. spread: Oilers 1-0; Dolphins 0-0.

Last week: Oilers beat Raiders, 24-21, in OT. Dolphins beat Colts, 16-10.

Worth watching: Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson manufactured a quarterback controversy when he said Dan Marino (10-for-26, JTC 105 yards in opener) could be pulled if the future Hall of Famer continues to struggle. Oilers RB Eddie George is making it clear there will be no sophomore slump (216 rushing yards in opener).

Outlook: The Oilers play well on the road -- 6-2 last season -- but the Dolphins tend to be tough at home early, with victories in four straight and seven of their past eight home openers.

Notable: Oilers QB Steve McNair is 5-2 as a starter.

Injuries:

OILERS: Questionable: S Blaine Bishop (forearm); T-G Jason Layman (hip); WR Derek Russell (collarbone); S Armon Williams (ankle).

DOLPHINS: Out: DE Daniel Stubbs (knee-IR). Doubtful: P John Kidd (hamstring). Questionable: RB Karim Abdul-Jabbar (ankle); TE Frank Wainright (shoulder); LB Zach Thomas (leg). Probable: T James Brown (ankle); S Corey Harris (ankle).

San Diego (0-1) at New Orleans (0-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 2

Vs. spread: Chargers 0-1; Saints 0-1.

Last week: Chargers lost to Patriots, 41-7. Saints lost to Rams, 38-24.

Worth watching: The Chargers, three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, might be a worse team than the Saints, which could give Mike Ditka his first win as New Orleans coach.

Outlook: Jim Everett, cut by Ditka in the off-season, will start for the Chargers because of Stan Humphries' shoulder injury. The ditching of Everett was supposed to be a confidence-builder for Heath Shuler, Ditka's quarterback choice. Shuler's effort last week -- 8-for-21, 115 yards, two interceptions -- inspired little confidence, and Danny Wuerffel waits in the wings.

Notable: The Chargers lead the all-time series, 5-1.

Injuries:

CHARGERS: Doubtful: QB Stan Humphries (shoulder). Questionable: RB Carwell Gardner (knee); DE Shawn Lee (knee); LB Junior Seau (knee).

SAINTS: Questionable: G Chris Naeole (knee); TE Irv Smith (knee). Probable: LB Mark Fields (ankle); QB Heath Shuler (rib).

Denver (1-0) at Seattle (0-1)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line: Broncos by 6

Vs. spread: Broncos 1-0; Seahawks 0-1.

Last week: Broncos beat Chiefs, 19-3. Seahawks lost to Jets, 41-3.

Worth watching: Denver RB Terrell Davis knows where the holes are against the Seahawks -- he has rushed for 318 yards in four games against them. With QB John Friesz out eight weeks with a broken thumb, the Seahawks turn to 40-year-old backup Warren Moon.

Outlook: The Seahawks are the early leader in the most-overrated-team race. After being one of the big players in free agency in the off-season, they looked horrible and got blown out by the Jets in Week 1. The Broncos look like a Super Bowl team again.

Notable: The Seahawks have sacked the Broncos' John Elway 10 times in their past three meetings.

Injuries:

BRONCOS: Doubtful: G Dan Neil (abdomen). Probable: TE Dwayne Carswell (foot).

SEAHAWKS: Out: QB John Friesz (thumb); RB Oscar Gray (gluteal); DE Martin Harrison (knee); WR James McKnight (knee). Probable: DE Michael Sinclair (back).

Dallas (1-0) at Arizona (0-1)

Time: 8 p.m., TNT

Line: Cowboys by 10

Vs. spread: Cowboys 1-0; Cardinals 0-1.

Last week: Cowboys beat Steelers, 37-7. Cardinals lost to Bengals, 24-21.

Worth watching: WR Michael Irvin had seven catches, two for TDs, in the Cowboys' dismantling of the Steelers. He could have a tougher time tonight, though, facing Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams.

Outlook: Dallas' overwhelming talent showed up against a good Pittsburgh team last week, resulting in a 30-point blowout. The Cardinals blew an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Bengals in their opener and have lost 13 in a row to the Cowboys. Enough said.

Notable: Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith needs three rushing TDs to pass Walter Payton for second on the NFL's all-time list.

Injuries:

COWBOYS: Out: T George Hegamin (knee). Probable: G Nate Newton (foot); CB Deion Sanders (back).

CARDINALS: Out: T James Dexter (knee); LB Eric Hill (ankle); T Matt Joyce (knee); RB Derrick Moore (knee).

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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