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Week 1 Capsule

September 05, 2003|Lonnie White, Times Staff Writer

HOUSTON AT MIAMI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Miami by 13 1/2.

Introduction: It's now or never for Coach Dave Wannstedt and the Dolphins. With one of the best defenses in the league, Miami believes it can win it all this season.

Plot: Ricky Williams left and Ricky Williams right will be the base of Miami's attack, with quarterback Jay Fiedler throwing occasionally to receiver Chris Chambers. On defense, the Dolphins are expected to be better than last season with the addition of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau and safety Sammy Knight. The Texans still have plenty of holes to fill, but they do have quarterback David Carr, one of the NFL's best young passers.

Bottom line: Even if the Dolphin offense sputters, the defense is still strong enough to defeat the Texans by two touchdowns.

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TAMPA BAY AT PHILADELPHIA

Kickoff: Monday, 6 p.m., Channel 7.

The line: Philadelphia by 3.

Introduction: Super Bowl champs get no respect. The Buccaneers are the defending NFL champions, but they open the season on the road as underdogs at the Eagles' new Lincoln Financial Field.

Plot: The Eagles will be looking to avenge last season's NFC championship game loss to the Buccaneers with a healthy Donovan McNabb at quarterback. Both teams have quick and aggressive defenses capable of dominating a game. Expect Tampa Bay to attack underneath with an assortment of quick passes to take advantage of the size of receivers Key- shawn Johnson and Joe Jurevicius.

Bottom line: If McNabb is able to get outside the pocket and make plays, the Buccaneers will have problems in a game expected to be tight.

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ST. LOUIS AT N.Y. GIANTS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11.

The line: Even.

Introduction: Classic matchup of offense versus defense. With Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, the Rams have the league's most explosive offense going against Michael Strahan and the Giant defense.

Plot: After missing much of last season because of injury, Warner is back at quarterback, and the offense should be clicking again. Quarterback Kerry Collins and running back Tiki Barber lead an underrated New York offense.

Bottom line: If the weather holds up, this could turn into a shootout, because the Ram secondary, which has been hit hard with injuries, may not be able to match up against the Giants' solid corps of receivers in Ike Hilliard, Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey.

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SAN DIEGO AT KANSAS CITY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2.

The line: Kansas City by 5 1/2.

Introduction: Kansas City running back Priest Holmes will not have a problem being motivated after signing a lucrative, four-year contract extension Wednesday.

Plot: Kansas City scored 58 points in two games against the Chargers last season and may have even an easier time Sunday against San Diego's young cornerbacks. But expect the Chargers to also score big with running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Drew Brees.

Bottom line: Kansas City quarterback Trent Green should have a field day going up against the Charger secondary, which will start rookie Sammy Davis and second-year man Quentin Jammer on the corners.

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OAKLAND AT TENNESSEE

Kickoff: Sunday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.

The line: Tennessee by 3.

Introduction: Super Bowl hangover. The Raiders will be looking to get off to a strong start after getting blown out in the final game of last season by Tampa Bay.

Plot: Quarterback Rich Gannon will direct an Oakland offense that could be much better than last season's if receiver Jerry Porter can develop into a force. Porter may be the X factor against quarterback Steve McNair and the Titans, who are primed to make another run to the Super Bowl after finishing a victory short last season.

Bottom line: The Titans threw the ball a lot last season, but they are still a running team with Eddie George, and if the Raiders can't slow him down, their losing streak may continue.

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NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

The line: Seattle by 3.

Introduction: After a strong finish last season, the Seahawks and Coach Mike Holmgren are counting on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead them into the playoffs. Holmgren believes Hasselbeck is ready to take the next step.

Plot: A year ago, the Seahawks dug a deep hole by losing their first three games. They'll be looking to exploit a New Orleans defense that had major problems against the pass last season. The Saints will ride the arm of quarterback Aaron Brooks and the legs of running back Deuce McAllister.

Bottom line: The Saints overhauled their secondary during the summer, but they still have a few holes that Hasselbeck should be able to exploit if New Orleans is unable to mount a pass rush.

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NEW ENGLAND AT BUFFALO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Even.

Introduction: Bills have a Lawyer on their side. Former New England Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy gets to face his old teammates.

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