NFL WEEK 1

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Arizona at N.Y. Giants

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 6 1/2

Vs. spread in '99: Cardinals 6-10; Giants 7-9.

Series: Giants lead 73-39-2

Last meeting: Cardinals beat Giants, 34-24, on Nov. 28, 1999 at New York.

Outlook: Rookie Ron Dayne, the Heisman Trophy winner from Wisconsin, should give the Giants a weapon they traditionally have lacked - a great running game. Cardinals couldn't stop anyone last season, and their defense looks no better. Defensive end Simeon Rice remains a holdout.

Notable: Cardinals swept Giants in '99 for first time since 1979 and aim for longest win streak since 7-game stretch from 1974-77

Injuries:

CARDINALS: Out: DE Thomas Burke (knee); C Mike Gruttadauria (knee); DE Andre Wadsworth (knee). Doubtful: LB Zack Walz (knee). Questionable: S Tommy Bennett (knee); QB Chris Greisen (ankle); LB Johnny Rutledge (knee). Probable: G Lester Holmes (knee); CB Tom Knight (hip); S Kwamie Lassiter (ankle).

GIANTS: Out: TE Pete Mitchell (knee). Doubtful: DE Jeremiah Parker (neck); CB Andre Weathers (knee). Probable: TE Dan Campbell (hamstring); WR Ron Dixon (heel); LB Pete Monty (thumb); S Shaun Williams (toe).

Chicago at Minnesota

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 4 1/2 .

Vs. spread in '99: Bears 11-5; Vikings 4-11-1.

Series: Vikings lead 42-33-2.

Last meeting: Vikings beat Bears, 27-24, in OT on Nov. 14, 1999 at Chicago.

Outlook: Did coach Dennis Green make the right decision? He gets his first look today at his new starting quarterback, Daunte Culpepper. If Culpepper has time to throw, he could start receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter on record-breaking seasons. The Bears need pressure on Culpepper from defensive end Phillip Daniels and big days from quarterback Cade McNown and wide receiver Marcus Robinson.

Notable: Game features NFC's top two receivers in yardage from last season, Robinson (1,400) and Moss (1,413).

Injuries:

BEARS: Questionable: TE Dustin Lyman (shoulder). Probable: LB Ty Hallock (abdomen); LB Khari Samuel (knee).

VIKINGS: Questionable: DE Michael Boireau (knee); G Corbin Lacina (knee).

Detroit at New Orleans

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 1

Vs. spread in '99: Lions 7-9; Saints 4-11.

Series: Saints lead 8-6-1.

Last meeting: Saints beat Lions, 35-17, on Sept. 21, 1997 at New Orleans.

Outlook: New Orleans makes its debut under Jim Haslett, who needs to add some toughness to this moribound franchise. Detroit quarterback Charlie Batch has fought injuries throughout training camp and won't start. Lions will go with ex-Raven Stoney Case. Lions' fate may depend on running back James Stewart.

Notable: Lions' eight fumbles and 22 total giveaways were fewest in NFC last year.

Injuries:

LIONS: Out: G Stockar McDougle (knee); WR Herman Moore (shoulder). Questionable: QB Charlie Batch (knee); G Kerlin Blaise (knee); LB Scott Kowalkowski (thumb). Probable: DT Luther Elliss (elbow); TE David Sloan (toe); S Kywin Supernaw (neck).

SAINTS: Out: LB Charlie Clemons (calf), S Rob Kelly (fibula), CB Fred Thomas (knee). Questionable: TE Andrew Glover (knee), WR Keith Poole (patella). Probable: CB Alex Molden (thumb), RB Chad Morton (thigh), S Chris Oldham (hamstring), LB Darrin Smith (knee), WR Robert Wilson (clavicle), CB Corey Harris (ankle).

Indianapolis at Kansas City

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Colts by 3.

Vs. spread in '99: Colts 9-6; Chiefs 8-8.

Series: Tied 6-6.

Last meeting: Colts beat Chiefs, 25-17, on Nov. 7, 1999 at Indianapolis.

Outlook: Colts' Peyton Manning led AFC in passing a year ago and is still young enough to improve. Chiefs' Elvis Grbac is dependable, but is no Manning. It is a tough opener for the Colts, who some believe are ready to go to the Super Bowl. Kansas City always tough at home, but the Manning-Marvin Harrison-Edgerrin James trio is the toughest in the NFL to beat.

Notable: The Colts return 21 of 22 starters from AFC East championship team.

Injuries:

COLTS: Out: WR Terrence Wilkins (head). Questionable: TE Justin Snow (hamstring). Probable: DT Larry Chester (abdomen); DT Ellis Johnson (thigh/knee); DE Chukie Nwokorie (hand/ankle); DE Mark Thomas (knee); LB Marcus Washington (hamstring).

CHIEFS: Doubtful: TE Jason Dunn (shoulder). Questionable: RB Dante Hall (back); DT Chester McGlockton (ribs).

Jacksonville at Cleveland

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Jaguars by 10.

Vs. spread in '99: Jaguars 9-8; Browns 5-11.

Series: Jaguars lead 4-0.

Last meeting: Jaguars beat Browns, 24-14, on Dec. 12, 1999 at Cleveland.

Outlook: This is the kind of opener the Jaguars need. While many wonder whether this nucleus has missed its chance at the Super Bowl, Jaguars open against Browns, who have not shown they will make quick progress like expansion predecessors Jacksonville and Carolina did. Jaguars must find a running game without Fred Taylor (out with a knee injury).

Notable: Browns' Tim Couch became fifth rookie QB since 1970 with positive TD-INT ratio (15-13).

Injuries:

JAGUARS: Out: DE Eric Curry (groin-injured reserve); T Leon Searcy (leg); WR R. Jay Soward (ankle); RB Fred Taylor (knee); C John Wade (foot). Doubtful: DE Joel Smeenge (calf). Questionable: P Bryan Barker (ankle); DT Emarlos Leroy (calf); S Mike Logan (hamstring).

BROWNS: Questionable: DB Daylon McCutcheon (rib). Probable: TE Mark Campbell (foot); QB Tim Couch (elbow); WR Kevin Johnson (hamstring); CB Lewis Sanders (groin).

San Francisco at Atlanta

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Falcons by 7

Vs. spread in '99: 49ers 5-11; Falcons 6-10.

Series: 49ers lead 41-24-1.

Last meeting: Falcons beat 49ers, 34-29, on Jan. 3 at Atlanta.

Outlook: Jamal Anderson's return has sparked optimism in Georgia that the Falcons can bring back memories of the '98 Super Bowl season. Opening at home against the rebuilding 49ers isn't so much a test as a quiz. With Steve Young retired, Jeff Garcia opens at quarterback for San Francisco. Garcia isn't a difference maker. Anderson is.

Notable: Falcons' 5-11 record in '99 equals worst for team coming off Super Bowl season ('98).

Injuries:

49ERS: Out: RB Paul Smith (calf). Doubtful: T Dan Dercher (hamstring); C Ben Lynch (shoulder). Questionable: RB Terry Jackson (knee); LB Jeff Ulbrich (shoulder). Probable: G Phil Ostrowski (thumb); LB Ken Norton, Jr. (back); LB Edward Thomas (back).

FALCONS: Out: WR Jamie German (ankle); QB Danny Kanell (finger), LB Mark Simoneau (groin). Doubtful: DE Brady Smith (groin). Questionable: DE Ed Jasper (leg); T Ephraim Salaam (knee). Probable: WR Tim Dwight (leg).

Tampa Bay at New England

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Buccaneers by 3.

Vs. spread in '99: Buccaneers 11-5; Patriots 6-8.

Series: Patriots lead 3-1

Last meeting: Buccaneers beat Patriots, 27-7, on Nov. 16, 1997 at Tampa Bay

Outlook: Bill Belichick bolted the Jets to coach the Patriots, and his timing isn't so good - the first nine games are against '99 playoff teams. Keyshawn Johnson, who caught 172 passes during the last two seasons for the Jets, is expected to lead the Bucs to the Super Bowl. Johnson will give the Bucs' offense the boost it needs against a team that is ready for rebuilding.

Notable: Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe has passed for 15,410 yards and 94 TDs over past four seasons, second most in NFL to Brett Favre.

Injuries:

BUCCANEERS: Out: S Dexter Jackson (ankle). Probable: G Kevin Dogins (shoulder); QB Eric Zeier (foot).

PATRIOTS: Report no injuries.

Philadelphia at Dallas

Time: 4:05 p.m., chs. 45, 43

Line: Cowboys by 6.

Vs. spread in '99: Eagles 10-6; Cowboys 8-9.

Series: Cowboys lead 48-30.

Last meeting: Cowboys beat Eagles, 20-10, on Dec. 12, 1999 at Dallas.

Outlook: Receiver Joey Galloway, the Cowboys' big free-agent acquisition, needs to make big impact quickly to justify the move. He takes over for the retired Michael Irvin as the Cowboys try to remain a potent offense. Emmitt Smith is still capable of carrying the load - he averaged 4.2 yards a carry last year. The Eagles, with second-year quarterback Donovan McNabb ready to become one of the NFL's best, could contend for playoffs.

Notable: Eagles' RB Duce Staley produced NFL-best 40.9 percent of club's offense in '99.

Injuries:

EAGLES: Out: WR Na Brown (hand). Questionable: LB Ike Reese (hamstring). Probable: LB James Darling (ankle); P Sean Landeta (ankle); WR Torrance Small (hamstring); G Bobbie Williams (shoulder).

COWBOYS: Out: CB Dwayne Goodrich (hamstring); CB Charlie Williams (knee). Questionable: CB Mario Edwards (hamstring). Probable: QB Randall Cunningham (shoulder); TE David LaFleur (groin).

San Diego at Oakland

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Raiders by 6 1/2 .

Vs. spread in '99: Chargers 10-6; Raiders 8-8.

Series: Raiders lead 48-30-2.

Last meeting: Chargers beat Raiders, 23-20, on Dec. 26, 1999 at San Diego.

Outlook: Chargers have played the Raiders tough the last few years. After two lost seasons, Ryan Leaf has reclaimed his job. If Leaf starts to play like the Chargers expected when they spent the second pick of the 1998 draft on him, they will surprise the Raiders and many others. San Diego will have to pass to win this one.

Notable: San Diego run defense held opponents to NFL-best 3.06 yards per carry.

Injuries:

CHARGERS: Questionable: CB DeRon Jenkins (foot); WR Reggie Jones (knee); WR Mikhael Ricks (ankle). Probable: S Rogers Beckett (hip); CB Fakhir Brown (shoulder); RB Jermaine Fazande (ankle); G DeMingo Graham (ankle); C Kendyl Jacox (knee); WR Nate Jacquet (Achilles); QB Ryan Leaf (ankle); DE Darren Mickell (shoulder); CB Scott Turner (calf).

RAIDERS: Doubtful: LB Eric Barton (hamstring); G-T Nate Parks (ankle). Probable: S Anthony Dorsett (chest).

Seattle at Miami

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Dolphins by 2

Vs. spread in '99: Seahawks 6-11; Dolphins 7-11

Series: Dolphins lead 4-2.

Last meeting: Dolphins beat Seahawks, 20-17, in 1999 AFC wild-card game.

Outlook: With the Dan Marino era over, Jay Fiedler takes over as the Dolphins' starting quarterback. Dave Wannstedt gets his second chance as an NFL head coach, and his chore is rebuilding. His quarterback is unproven. The Seahawks are in their second season under Mike Holmgren. Advantage experience.

Notable: Dolphins have won NFL-best eight consecutive season openers and have won 26 of last 30 home openers

Injuries:

SEAHAWKS: Out: DE John Hilliard (groin); DT Tim Watson (knee). Questionable: TE Christian Fauria (hamstring). Probable: CB Shawn Springs (hamstring).

DOLPHINS: Out: CB Terrance Shaw (knee). Questionable: RB Autry Denson (ankle). Probable: G John Bock (ankle); WR Bert Emanuel (hamstring); DT Jermaine Haley (ankle); T Todd Wade (elbow).

N.Y. Jets at Green Bay

Time: 4:15 p.m., chs. 13, 9

Line: Packers by 2 1/2 .

Vs. spread in '99: Jets 8-6; Packers 7-9.

Series: Jets lead 5-2.

Last meeting: Packers beat Jets, 17-10, on Nov. 13, 1994 at Green Bay

Outlook: Two quarterbacks fighting injuries: Green Bay's Brett Favre had tendinitis during the preseason; Jets' Vinny Testaverde back from torn Achilles' tendon. After losing their coach (Bill Parcells) and trading their top receiver (Keyshawn Johnson), Jets need to regroup. However, Curtis Martin's running gives them a shot at an upset in the opener. The Packers are going without injured running back Dorsey Levens.

Notable: Packers QB Favre can tie Dan Marino for most consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons with 9.

Injuries:

JETS: Questionable: QB Chad Pennington (knee).

PACKERS: Out: WR Corey Bradford (leg); RB Dorsey Levens (knee); LB Brian Williams (knee). Doubtful: T Chad Clifton (knee). Questionable: RB Ahman Green (knee); LB Bernardo Harris (knee). Probable: QB Brett Favre (elbow); DT Santana Dotson (knee).

Tennessee at Buffalo

Time: 8:20 p.m., ESPN

Line: Pick

Vs. spread in '99: Titans 13-5; Bills 8-8.

Series: Titans lead 22-13.

Last meeting: Titans beat Bills, 22-16, in 1999 AFC wild-card game.

Outlook: Opening night rematch of last year's memorable wild-card game, which the Titans won on a 75-yard kickoff return when Kevin Dyson took a lateral from Frank Wycheck. Since then, the Bills let key personnel leave, most notably Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and the Bears' Thomas Smith. Tennessee came up a yard short of forcing overtime in the Super Bowl, so no team should be hungrier.

Notable: Jevon Kearse had at least one sack in eight consecutive games last season and set NFL rookie record for sacks.

Injuries:

TITANS: Out: S Eric Morris (shoulder). Questionable: LB Frank Chamberlin (shoulder); WR Yancey Thigpen (ankle).

BILLS: Out: QB Doug Flutie (groin); G Joe Panos (foot). Questionable: RB Jonathan Linton (ribs). Probable: G Ruben Brown (ankle); K Steve Christie (leg); DE Erik Flowers (foot); CB Antoine Winfield (thumb).

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