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Rating The Games

September 07, 2003|Elliott Teaford

**** Makings of a classic

*** Smash-mouth football

** Good for an end around

* Strictly fantasy fodder

** Arizona at Detroit, 10 a.m. If not for Steve Mariucci making his coaching debut for the Lions and Emmitt Smith making his as a Cardinal tackling dummy, this might be the dog of the day. Mariucci, in particular, has lots to prove. LINE: Detroit by 4.

* Houston at Miami, 10 a.m. Can a team with Jay Fiedler at quarterback really win in the NFL? It really can if that team is the Dolphins and the season opener is against the Texans. LINE: Dolphins by 14.

**** St. Louis at N.Y. Giants, 10 a.m., Channel 11. The game of the day features quarterback Kurt Warner attempting to prove the Rams are worthy again of consideration as a Super Bowl contender and Giant motormouth-tight end Jeremy Shockey attempting to remind them otherwise. LINE: Pick 'em.

** Denver at Cincinnati, 10 a.m. Carson Palmer begins his pro career with a team that might not be as good as his USC Trojans were last season. Best of luck, kiddo. LINE: Denver by 6.

*** Minnesota at Green Bay, 10 a.m. Isn't this a little early for this storied rivalry? No tundra, frozen or otherwise, but there might be a stray mosquito or two buzzing around the cheeseheads at refurbished Lambeau Field. LINE: Green Bay by 5.

** Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 10 a.m. Tommy Maddox was better than Kordell Stewart last year, and he's bound to be better than any quarterback the Ravens can start. Offensively challenged Baltimore will go with rookie Kyle Boller. LINE: Pittsburgh by 5.

** New England at Buffalo, 10 a.m., KLSX-FM (97.1). There must be some reason to get excited about this game, but for the life of us we can't imagine what it is except that Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe are swell guys and Bledsoe used to play for the Patriots and now plays for the Bills. LINE: Pick 'em.

* San Diego at Kansas City, 10 a.m., Channel 2, KMPC (1540). Mow the lawn, pick up the dry cleaning, walk the dog, take the kids for a bike ride, go shopping with your spouse, take out the trash, call your mom. Don't watch this game! LINE: Kansas City by 5 1/2.

** Jacksonville at Carolina, 10 a.m. Rodney Peete isn't quite as old as dirt, but he's getting there and he's all the Panthers have to offer at quarterback. Jack Del Rio, another former USC guy, makes his debut as Jacksonville's coach. LINE: Carolina by 4.

** Indianapolis at Cleveland, 10 a.m. Peyton Manning and his crew of wide receivers can be a pleasure to watch while shredding opposing secondaries. Manning and Marvin Harrison were the league's best hook-up last season. LINE: Pick 'em.

* Atlanta at Dallas, 1:15 p.m. If anyone can make the Cowboys worth watching it's Bill Parcells, but it probably won't happen in the opener. Michael Vick will be sidelined by an injury, so there's not much to like about the Falcons either. LINE: Dallas by 2.

** Chicago at San Francisco, 1:15 p.m., Channel 11, KLSX-FM (97.1). The 49ers begin anew, having ditched the aforementioned Mariucci in favor of Dennis Erickson, who proved he could coach college kids but was a bust in the pros. LINE: San Francisco by 7.

** New Orleans at Seattle, 1:15 p.m. So Mike Holmgren thinks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is ready to take the next step? He'd better hope it isn't off the end of a pier and into Puget Sound. LINE: Seattle by 3.

**** Oakland at Tennessee, 5:30 p.m., ESPN, XTRA, (690, 1150). Depending on how you look at it, this is either a rematch of last year's AFC championship game or a preview of this year's AFC championship game. The Raiders won last time, earning the right to have their heads handed to them by Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. LINE: Tennessee by 3.

**** Tampa Bay at Philadelphia, 6 p.m. Monday, Channel 7, KMPC (1540): It remains to be seen if Eagle fans will be as brutal on visitors at plush new Lincoln Financial Field as they were at dumpy old Veterans Stadium. The guess here is that they'll be in midseason form by the second quarter. LINE: Philadelphia by 3.

-- Elliott Teaford

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