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Week 2 Capsules

September 13, 2002|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO AT ATLANTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Atlanta by 3

Quick slant: Georgia Dome makes 2002 debut. They've really spruced up the place since Chris Chandler left.

Plot: The Bears think they are the NFC's answer to the Patriots--Chicago went 13-3 last year and is an underdog to a team it defeated a year ago, 31-3--which, of course, ignores one key difference between this season and last: Chris Chandler, who started for the Falcons in that 2001 rout, now backs up Jim Miller in Chicago. This, in turn, has turned the Atlanta offense over to Michael Vick, who turned the Green Bay defense inside out during a 37-34 overtime loss. Vick at home? Long may the Bears roam, trying to catch him.

Stats right: Bears have won six of the last seven games against Falcons.

Monday's headline: "Bears Inhale Vick's Vapor Trail"

*

MIAMI AT INDIANAPOLIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 2 1/2

Quick slant: Is new and improved going to be enough?

Plot: Tony Dungy's defensive overhaul of the Great Sieve of Indianapolis remains a work in progress. Dungy won his debut as Colt coach, 28-25 over Jacksonville, but his defense surrendered 343 yards. Next: Old AFC East rival Miami, which scored 49 points against Detroit last week and totaled 68 points in two victories over Indianapolis in 2001. Home-field advantage evidently is the reason the Colts are favored, but they are 0-4 against the Dolphins at home since 1997.

Stats right: Miami has not had a losing season since 1988, but is 5-9 in the playoffs in that span.

Monday's headline: "At Least Colts Won't Lose Twice to Dolphins This Season"

*

TENNESSEE AT DALLAS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Tennessee by 3

Quick slant: After losing to Houston Present, Cowboys brace for Houston Past.

Plot: Unable to cope with season-opening defeat and national humiliation, fans in Dallas have begun the rallying cry: Out with Quincy! In with Chad! (For the record, these are fans of the Dallas Cowboy Football Team, not the Greater Metroplex Chess Club.) When your starting quarterback is named Quincy Carter (13 for 30 in the loss to the Texans), anyone, even a former minor league pitcher named Chad Hutchinson, starts to sound good.

Stats right: Cowboys have forced only eight turnovers in last eight games.

Monday's headline: "Team Formerly Known as Oilers Routs Team Formerly Known as Cowboys

*

DETROIT AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Carolina by 3

Quick slant: They shoot horses, don't they?

Plot: Bottom feeders of the world, unite! Detroit and Carolina, the worst teams in the NFL in 2001, meet in the second week of the 2002 season because American football does things differently than soccer and opted not to relegate Carolina to the Arena League. Detroit opened the 2001 season with 12 straight losses; Carolina closed it with 15 consecutive losses. The Panthers, now quarterbacked by Rodney Peete, finally won last week, 10-7 over Baltimore, while Detroit held the Dolphins under 50 points in a 49-21 loss.

Stats right: Panthers averaged 15.8 points last season while finishing 1-15. Last Sunday, they scored 10.

Monday's headline: "Peete Repeats, 10-7"

* NEW ENGLAND AT NEW YORK JETS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2.

The line: New York by 1 1/2

Quick slant: Patriots winning everywhere, except in Las Vegas.

Plot: New England's last defeat came before Thanksgiving. Their 10-game winning streak includes victories over St. Louis, Oakland, Miami, Pittsburgh (twice) and the team favored to beat them today, the Jets. The bookmakers still refuse to believe, despite two significant pieces of evidence: 1) This time last year--Week 2, Jets versus Patriots--Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe out of the game, introducing the country to Tom Brady; 2) Vinny Testaverde turns 39 in two months.

Stats right: Jets were outgained, 381-269, in win over Buffalo last Sunday.

Monday's headline: "Pats Beat Jets, Beat Bookies, Who Are Beating a Dead Horse"

*

GREEN BAY AT NEW ORLEANS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Green Bay by 2

Quick slant: Brett Favre runs into another guy he ran out of town.

Plot: Kurt Warner, Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks ... you could stock a Pro Bowl with ex-Packer quarterbacks who have come and gone during Favre's Lambeau residency. Brooks, drafted by Green Bay in 1999 and dispatched to New Orleans in 2000, remembers telling Favre, "I can play in this league; I'm going to be a star." Favre told Brooks to just be patient and it would happen. Brooks: "Brett was right. Here I am." And there he goes, back to .500 after Sunday.

Stats right: Packers have allowed more than 140 yards rushing in five consecutive games.

Monday's headline: "Favre to Brooks: Patience Is a Virtue"

*

CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Cleveland by 4 1/2

Quick slant: The name is Rudd. As in mud.

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