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Week 2 Capsules

September 12, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON AT ATLANTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Atlanta by 3.

Introduction: Backup Doug Johnson doesn't have the athletic skills of Michael Vick, but he's a good enough quarterback to keep the Falcons winning.

Plot: Washington's secondary will be tested by Johnson's ability to spread the ball around, which he did very well against Dallas, completing 15 passes to seven receivers. The Redskins will counter with second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey and an underrated ground attack led by Ladell Betts and Trung Canidate. Coach Steve Spurrier called 34 running plays and only 23 passes in the Redskins' victory over the New York Jets.

Bottom line: Look for Johnson to make enough plays, especially on third down, to give Washington more than it can handle in a tight game.

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CLEVELAND AT BALTIMORE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Baltimore by 2 1/2.

Introduction: After a dismal effort in a season-opening loss at Pittsburgh, the Ravens will try to bounce back against Cleveland.

Plot: Expect Baltimore to run the ball with Jamal Lewis to make things easier for rookie quarterback Kyle Boller, who struggled in his NFL debut. The Ravens do not have many big-play players, which will be a problem against the Browns, who limited Indianapolis to 67 yards rushing last week. Cleveland quarterback Kelly Holcomb has to remain aggressive throwing the ball and not worry about interceptions.

Bottom line: Expect a better effort on defense from the Ravens, but they don't have enough offense to defeat the Browns, who will score more points than they did against the Colts.

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DETROIT AT GREEN BAY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Green Bay by 6 1/2.

Introduction: With its receiving corps short-handed because of injuries to Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson, Green Bay will rely heavily on the running game.

Plot: After losing at home to Minnesota last week, Green Bay can't afford to open the season with successive home losses to division rivals. Running back Ahman Green should get plenty of work against a defense that gave up 439 yards and 24 points to Arizona last week. Detroit will ride the arm of Joey Harrington, who passed for four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Cardinals.

Bottom line: Packer quarterback Brett Favre will not throw four interceptions, as he did against the Vikings, and the defense should be able to frustrate Harrington.

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TENNESSEE AT INDIANAPOLIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 2.

Introduction: Two defense-minded teams with great quarterbacks (Steve McNair and Peyton Manning) will battle in a key AFC South showdown.

Plot: Tennessee's Eddie George will face a difficult test against the Colts, who are stingy against the run. Indianapolis has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 13 regular-season games. Manning and Marvin Harrison need to produce more after hooking up for only 44 yards in nine completions last week at Cleveland. With Jevon Kearse free of injury and versatile Lance Schulters in the secondary, Tennessee can win games on defense.

Bottom line: McNair's ability to keep drives alive should help keep the Titans undefeated.

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BUFFALO AT JACKSONVILLE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Buffalo by 3.

Introduction: The Bills' new-look defense will be seeking consecutive shutouts to open the season against Jacksonville and veteran quarterback Mark Brunell.

Plot: After spending more than $20 million in signing bonuses on defensive players Takeo Spikes, Sam Adams, Jeff Posey and Lawyer Milloy, Buffalo shut out New England, 31-0. Brunell needs running back Fred Taylor to have a big game to open up the passing attack for the Jaguars, who consider former UCLA standout J.J. Stokes their No. 1 receiver.

Bottom line: For the second week in a row, quarterback Drew Bledsoe won't have to carry the Bills, who should roll behind running back Travis Henry and an aggressive defense.

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PITTSBURGH AT KANSAS CITY

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

The line: Kansas City by 3.

Introduction: The Chief offensive line may be the best in the NFL. Just ask running back Priest Holmes and quarterback Trent Green.

Plot: The Chiefs enjoyed an easy victory over San Diego in Week 1, but they'll have their hands full against a Pittsburgh defense that held Baltimore to 143 yards passing. Expect the Steelers to try to take away Holmes, who accounted for 183 yards in only 25 touches against the Chargers. In Tommy Maddox, Pittsburgh has one of the league's smartest quarterbacks.

Bottom line: The Steelers will have to blitz to get pressure on Green, who should be able to use a variety of formations and pass plays to exploit Pittsburgh's secondary.

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HOUSTON AT NEW ORLEANS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New Orleans by 8.

Introduction: The second-year Texans opened the season with a big victory at Miami but still will be underdogs against the Saints.

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