NFL WEEK 3: TODAY'S GAMES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Atlanta (0-2) at St. Louis (1-0)

AT Time: 1 p.m.

Philadelphia (0-2) at Buffalo (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bills by 11 1/2.

Vs. spread: Eagles 1-1; Bills 1-1.

Last week: Eagles lost to Bucs, 19-5. Bills beat Jets, 17-3.

Series: Tied 4-4.

Last meeting: Bills won, 24-17, on Nov. 11, 1996, in Philadelphia.

Outlook: Buffalo has won seven of its past eight home games and should have no trouble making it eight of nine today against pitiful Philadelphia. QB Doug Flutie has the Bills' offense rolling, and Buffalo has gained more than 300 yards in each of its past nine games. Outscoring the Eagles shouldn't be too hard. Last week, Philadelphia scored five points against Tampa Bay. Even the Phillies outscored them that day, winning, 6-5. More bad news: The Eagles haven't won a game on the road since Dec. 14, 1996, when they beat the pre-Bill Parcells New York Jets by one point at the Meadowlands.

Notable: Bills have won their past seven games when RB Antowain Smith rushes for a TD.

Injuries:

EAGLES: Out: DE Hugh Douglas (knee). Questionable: DT Bill Johnson. Probable: TE Luther Broughton (hamstring); QB Koy Detmer (back); WR Dameane Douglas (quadriceps); WR Dietrich Jells (ankle); QB Doug Pederson (shoulder); WR Torrance Small (rib).

BILLS: Out: RB Thurman Thomas (liver contusion). Doubtful: G Joe Panos (neck). Probable: DT Ted Washington (ribs).

Indianapolis (1-1) at San Diego (1-0)

Time: 4: 05 p.m.

Line: Pick.

Vs. spread: Colts 2-0; Chargers 1-0.

Last week: Colts lost to Patriots, 31-28. Chargers beat Bengals, 34-7.

Series: Chargers lead 12-6.

Last meeting: Colts won, 17-12, on Oct. 4, 1998, in Indianapolis.

Outlook: With a win, the Chargers' Mike Riley will become the first coach in team history to win his first two games. The key matchup in this game is no secret. Indianapolis' young, high-scoring offense will collide with San Diego's veteran, stingy defense, which finished last season ranked No. 1 in the league. As a side note, new Chargers QB Jim Harbaugh will face the team he played for from 1994-1997 and led to the AFC title game in 1995.

Notable: Colts RB Edgerrin James is the eighth NFL rookie to open with back-to-back 100-yard games.

Injuries:

COLTS: Out: LB Jeff Brady (knee-ankle); RB Darick Holmes (ankle). Doubtful: CB Tony Blevins (groin). Questionable: CB Paul Miranda (knee). Probable: LB Cornelius Bennett (knee); CB Steve Muhammed (hip); CB Tyrone Poole (thigh); LB Andre Royal (ankle).

CHARGERS: Out: WR Charlie Jones (hip); QB Ryan Leaf (shoulder). Questionable: RB Natrone Means (knee-ankle); G Aaron Taylor (ankle). Probable: RB Terrell Fletcher (foot); C Roman Fortin (hamstring); WR Jeff Graham (groin); QB Jim Harbaugh (knee); S Rodney Harrison (ankle); C Kendyl Jacox (knee); DT John Parrella (knee).

Minnesota (1-1) at Green Bay (1-1)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Packers by 1.

Vs. spread: Vikings 0-2; Packers 0-2.

Last week: Vikings lost to Raiders, 22-17. Packers lost to Lions, 23-15.

Series: Vikings lead 38-36-1.

Last meeting: Vikings won, 28-14, on Nov. 22, 1998, in Minnesota.

Outlook: The Packers have won 31 of their past 32 regular-season games at Lambeau Field. Their lone defeat during that span came last Oct. 5, a Monday night game, when the Vikings gave them a 37-24 prime-time thrashing. Minnesota QB Randall Cunningham threw for 442 yards and four TDs that night. WR Randy Moss caught five passes for 190 yards and two scores. Of course, the Vikings' offense has yet to get untracked this year, and Minnesota is averaging only 17 points. The Vikings will need more than that to beat the Packers today.

Notable: Vikings have sacked Packers QB Brett Favre 30 times, most of any team.

Injuries:

VIKINGS: Out: DE Martin Harrison (knee). Doubtful: WR Matthew Hatchette (ankle). Questionable: RB John Henry Mills (ankle); LB Kailee Wong (hamstring). Probable: LB Rob Holmberg (ankle); WR Randy Moss (flu); T Korey Stringer (knee).

PACKERS: Out: TE Mark Chmura (neck). Questionable: DT Santana Dotson (neck). Probable: S Rodney Artmore (hamstring); T Earl Dotson (back); QB Brett Favre (thumb); LB Brian Williams (ankle).

Denver (0-2) at Tampa Bay (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bucs by 2 1/2.

Vs. spread: Broncos 0-2; Bucs 1-1.

Last week: Broncos lost to Chiefs, 26-10. Bucs beat Eagles, 19-5.

Series: Broncos lead 3-1.

Last meeting: Broncos won, 27-23, on Sept. 15, 1996, in Denver.

Outlook: Denver will try to avoid starting 0-3 for the first time since 1994. That won't be easy on the road against a top-ranked Tampa Bay defense that hasn't allowed a TD in 12 quarters, dating to last season. Despite another horrific game, Bucs QB Trent Dilfer will start again. His No. 1 job today should be handing off to RB Warrick Dunn and FB Mike Alstott.

Notable: Broncos RB Terrell Davis has 884 yards rushing and six 100-yard games in his past six games vs. NFC opponents.

Injuries:

BRONCOS: Out: S George Coghill (knee); LB John Mobley (knee-IR). Questionable: WR Rod Smith (groin); DE Alfred Williams (back). Probable: RB Terrell Davis (wrist); QB Brian Griese (thigh); RB Howard Griffith (toe); C K.C. Jones (knee); T Tony Jones (toe); QB Chris Miller (elbow); G Mark Schlereth (knee); TE Shannon Sharpe (ankle); DE Maa Tanuvasa (wrist); DT Keith Traylor (hip); LB Al Wilson (shoulder).

BUCS: Out: CB Floyd Young (hamstring). Questionable: WR Bert Emanuel (hamstring); C Tony Mayberry (hip); DT Anthony McFarland (ankle). Probable: RB Mike Alstott (knee); WR Reidel Anthony (ribs); QB Trent Dilfer (shoulder); T Jason Odom (groin); DT Warren Sapp (knee).

Seattle (1-1) at Pittsburgh (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Steelers by 4.

Vs. spread: Seahawks 0-2; Steelers 1-0.

Last week: Seahawks beat Bears, 14-13. Steelers beat Ravens, 23-20.

Series: Tied 6-6.

Last meeting: Steelers won, 13-10, on Sept. 27, 1998, in Pittsburgh.

Outlook: After its crash of '98, Pittsburgh is back to doing what it does best, playing tough defense and forcing turnovers. The Steelers own the AFC's No. 1 defense. They have forced seven turnovers and have yet to commit one. Last week against Chicago, new Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren broke through for his first victory. Beating Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium won't be easy. The Steelers are 45-11 under coach Bill Cowher at home.

Notable: Steelers have won three of their past four home openers and seven of their past eight games against AFC West foes.

Injuries:

SEAHAWKS: Out: RB Dustin Johnson (concussion-IR); WR Charles Jordan (hamstring); T Todd Weiner (ankle). Questionable: LB Deshone Myles (knee). Probable: QB Jon Kitna (toe); LB Anthony Simmons (knee).

STEELERS: Out: S Lee Flowers (ankle); LB Mike Vrabel (arm). Questionable: T Chris Conrad (knee); S Chris Oldham (ankle); WR Bobby Shaw. Probable: RB Jerome Bettis (hamstring); LB Carlos Emmons (calf); G Alan Faneca (ankle); RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (ankle); LB Jason Gildon (ankle).

Chicago (1-1) at Oakland (1-1)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Raiders by 7.

Vs. spread: Bears 2-0; Raiders 2-0.

Last week: Bears lost to Seahawks, 14-13. Raiders beat Vikings, 22-17.

Series: Raiders lead 5-4.

Last meeting: Bears won, 19-17, on Sept. 29, 1996, in Chicago.

Outlook: After back-to-back road games, the Raiders return home riding a tidal wave of emotion from last week's victory over Minnesota. The Raider Nation had waited a long time for a victory that big. Sellout or no sellout, the Bears will face a loud and hostile crowd, ready to make life miserable for QBs Shane Matthews and rookie Cade McNown. The Bears' offense has turned a bit wild and crazy under new coach Dick Jauron and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. The Raiders will counter with a high-pressure defense that leads the AFC in sacks with nine.

Notable: Raiders WR Tim Brown needs seven receptions to become the 11th player in NFL history with 700.

Injuries:

BEARS: Questionable: T Blake Brockermeyer (head); DT Jim Flanigan (hamstring); RB Ty Hallock (quadriceps); LB Warrick Holdman (concussion). Probable: K Jeff Jaeger (hip).

RAIDERS: Out: QB Scott Dreisbach (leg); T Matt Stinchcomb (shoulder). Doubtful: RB Zack Crockett (foot). Probable: DT Darrell Russell (ankle).

N.Y. Giants (1-1) at New England (2-0)

Time: 8: 20 p.m., ESPN.

Line: Patriots by 6.

Vs. spread: Giants 1-1; Patriots 1-1.

Last week: Giants lost to Redskins, 50-21. Patriots beat Colts, 31-28.

Series: Giants lead 3-2.

Last meeting: Patriots won, 23-22, on Dec. 21, 1996, in New York.

Outlook: For the second week in a row, New England roared back from behind to win, beating Indianapolis. This time, the Pats might not have to cut it so close. They'll face a Giants team coming off an embarrassing loss to Washington, not exactly a confidence-builder. And to think, defense was supposed to be the Giants' strength. All is not gloom and doom for New York. Its offense came alive (somewhat) last week. Amani Toomer caught five passes for 105 yards, and fellow WR Ike Hilliard caught eight passes for 114 yards and a TD. Pats QB Drew Bledsoe is off to a sizzling start. He has thrown for a league-high 639 yards and five TDs.

Notable: Patriots' Ben Coates has 50 TD catches, third on the career list for tight ends.

Injuries:

GIANTS: Out: RB Gary Brown (knee). Doubtful: CB Conrad Hamilton (knee). Probable: LB Scott Galyon (hand); CB Jason Sehorn (hamstring).

PATRIOTS: Out: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). Questionable: RB Kevin Faulk (ankle); T Zefross Moss (ankle).

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