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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Game Scout - Week 2
September 15, 2006

Buffalo Bills (0-1) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
SERIES: The Dolphins hold a 49-35-1 all-time series lead and ended a three-game losing streak to the Bills in last December's 24-23 comeback victory. The Dolphins overcame a 20-point second-half deficit behind the play of WR Chris Chambers. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes for 238 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown.
2006 RANKINGS: Bills: offense 27th (17th rush, 24th pass); defense 19th (29th rush, 8th pass). Dolphins: offense 19th (30th rush, 9th pass); defense 25th (26th rush, 19th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Dolphins are holding out hope that CB Travis Daniels can return to help the secondary, which suffered through devastating coverage meltdowns in Pittsburgh. Bills QB J.P. Losman looked much improved in the season opener, but the offensive line will have the difficult task of watching DE/OLB Jason Taylor, who rushes the passer from different angles in Miami's scheme. Offensively, the Dolphins need more consistent play out of QB Daunte Culpepper, who struggled once Miami fell behind in the opener, and RB Ronnie Brown, who had two touchdowns but failed to move the chains behind an offensive line that didn't provide much of a push. However, the Bills' run defense is much more penetrable, which should make for shorter passing situations for Culpepper.

FAST FACTS: Bills: Losman is 1-8 as a starter. ... Five rookies saw playing time on defense in the season opener. ... RB Willis McGahee's 2,455 rushing yards ranks 10th in franchise history. Dolphins: Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was Buffalo's head coach from 2004-05. ... WR Chris Chambers needs one touchdown reception to become franchise's fourth player with 40.

Carolina Panthers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Steve Byrnes, Bill Maas
SERIES: 7th meeting. Series tied 3-3. The Panthers have won the last three meetings between the teams, including a 38-13 rout of the Vikings last year. In that game, wide receiver Steve Smith caught 11 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown to shut up trash-talking Fred Smoot and running back Stephen Davis ran for two more scores. Jake Delhomme threw for three touchdowns and 341 yards, the second-highest total of his career, while posting a quarterback rating of 141.1. The Panthers led that game 24-0 at halftime.
2006 RANKINGS: Panthers: offense 29th (28th rush, 23rd pass); defense 28th (32nd rush, 7th pass). Vikings: offense 15th (22nd rush, 12th pass); defense 11th (14th rush, 11th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Panthers are in desperate need of a strong start mentally. They're coming off a lopsided home loss to Atlanta, have had to juggle an injury-plagued offensive line and still don't know if WR Steve Smith's hamstring will keep him out another week. If Carolina falls behind, the running game becomes a non-factor and Minnesota can attack the line, which will be minus injured LT Travelle Wharton and possibly C Justin Hartwig. The defense is also banged up, with MLB Dan Morgan out. However, the secondary remains strong and the Vikings will attempt to establish the ground game early to avoid making mistakes against CBs Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas.

FAST FACTS: Panthers: Smith caught 11 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota last season. ... Have won six of their past seven road games. Vikings: Have not been shut out in an NFL-high 237 consecutive games. ... S Darren Sharper's 40 interceptions since 2000 leads the NFL.

Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Synthetic
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 66th meeting. The Browns lead the series 33-32. Their lead in the Battle of Ohio is precarious. The Bengals have beaten the Browns three straight times, which means Romeo Crennel is looking for his first victory over Marvin Lewis.
2006 RANKINGS: Browns: offense 30th (24th rush, 30th pass); defense 22nd (27th rush, 16th pass). Bengals: offense 28th (10th rush, 27th pass); defense 15th (22nd rush, 16th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns have to find a way to protect QB Charlie Frye, whether it's by running the ball more effectively or improving their pass-blocking. Frye was sacked five times in the season opener, while RB Reuben Droughns received just 11 carries. To improve those numbers, Cleveland can't afford to fall behind by more than a touchdown in the first half. The Bengals' biggest concern is a letdown following their big victory in Kansas City. Cincinnati has the superior talent, and will look to take advantage of it by pressing Cleveland with the no-huddle offense. The Browns are a bit beat up and undermanned in the secondary, especially with the Bengals expected to get WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (heel) back in the lineup.

FAST FACTS: Browns: In 65 previous meetings, Cleveland leads the total score by just nine points. ... Of WR Braylon Edwards' 34 career receptions, 24 have resulted in first downs. Bengals: Are 18-1 under coach Marvin Lewis when having a position turnover margin. ... Are 22-16 in home openers.

Detroit Lions (0-1) at Chicago Bears (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 153d meeting in the second-longest rivalry in NFL history. The series began in 1930 when the Lions were the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans. They won the first game, 7-6, but the Bears hold an all-time edge of 85-62-5. The Lions lost both of last year's games, 38-6 and 19-13 in overtime.
2006 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 25th (30th rush, 13th pass); defense 10th (14th rush, 15th pass). Bears: offense 7th (12th rush, 6th pass); defense 12th (17th rush, 12th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Lions' receivers are going to have to make more plays than they didn't in the season opener, especially going against a stout run defense that will focus on neutralizing RB Kevin Jones early. If Chicago has a defensive weakness, it's in the secondary, but the Bears mask it well by getting consistent pressure on the passer. Offensively, QB Rex Grossman is coming off his best game as a pro in large part because he involved the running backs and TE Desmond Clark heavily in the passing game. He'll likely need to rely on them again to complement WRs Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian because DT Shaun Rogers and the Lions' run defense largely shut down MVP Shaun Alexander last Sunday.

FAST FACTS: Twelve of the past 16 meetings have been decided by eight points or less. Lions: P Nick Harris has had at least one punt down inside the 20-yard line in 19 consecutive games. ... QB Jon Kitna is 15-4 as a starter when he has a passer rating of 100.0 or better. Bears: Grossman's grandfather, Rex, played four games as a linebacker for Detroit in 1950. ... Muhammad needs two touchdown receptions for 50 in his career.

Houston Texans (0-1) at Indianapolis Colts (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
SERIES: 9th meeting. The Indianapolis Colts lead the series 8-0. They topped 30 points in each of their two meetings against the Texans last season. The Texans' worst loss to the Colts was a 49-14 defeat in 2004.
2006 RANKINGS: Texans: offense 26th (27th rush, 19th pass); defense 32nd (25th rush, 32nd pass). Colts: offense 10th (29th rush, 5th pass); defense 31st (30th rush, 26th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Texans' weakness in the secondary was exposed by Philadelphia, making a follow-up game against Indianapolis' explosive passing game a frightening proposition. Houston must generate pressure with its front four, but the Colts' offensive line is among the league's best at protecting QB Peyton Manning. The good news for the Texans is the Colts' running game struggled mightily against the Giants. What Houston can do offensively could depend greatly on how much help rookie LT Charles Spencer needs with Colts DE Dwight Freeney in pass protection. The Texans are also looking forward to getting a healthy RB Ron Dayne into the mix along with rookie Wali Lundy.

FAST FACTS: Texans: QB David Carr has thrown at least one touchdown pass in nine consecutive division games. ... WR Andre Johnson needs 93 receiving yards to reach 3,000. Colts: Have a nine-game winning streak against the AFC South. ... Manning has thrown for 2,103 yards and 19 touchdowns with a 116.0 passer rating in eight games against Houston.

New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Terry Donohue
SERIES: 20th meeting. The Packers lead the series, 14-5, after claiming four of the last five matchups. The Saints are 0-2 in Lambeau Field and 1-8 all-time in Wisconsin after being embarrassed, 52-3, by the Packers on Oct. 9, 2005.
2006 RANKINGS: Saints: offense 11th (6th rush, 16th pass); defense 3rd (9th rush, 3rd pass). Packers: offense 21st (14th rush, 21st pass); defense 26th (30th rush, 27th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Pressure. The Packers need to put some on Saints QB Drew Brees, who wasn't sacked last Sunday, and score early to take some off their beleaguered offense. FB William Henderson returns for Green Bay, which must run the ball effectively because the line is starting two rookie guards and the Saints constantly harassed Browns QB Charlie Frye in their opener. If given the time, QB Brett Favre should be able to work effectively against New Orleans' secondary. The Saints used RBs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush effectively last week, and Bush's versatility poses matchup problems for opponents. If CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris can't hold up better against the pass, the Packers' defense will have a difficult time getting off the field.

FAST FACTS: Saints: Are 1-8 in Wisconsin, including 0-2 in Lambeau Field. ... Sean Payton is only the fifth of the franchise's 14 coaches to win his first game. Packers: Average age of 25.57 on the 53-man roster to open the season was youngest in the league. ... Mike McCarthy seeks to avoid being the fifth of the team's past seven coaches to begin his first season 0-2.

New York Giants (0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 147th meeting. Giants lead the series, 78-66-2. After winning 7 of 8 against the Giants, the Eagles lost both '05 meetings, including a 26-23 overtime defeat at Lincoln Financial Field last December. Neither quarterback Donovan McNabb nor running back Brian Westbrook played in that game.
2006 RANKINGS: Giants: offense 2nd (3rd rush, 7th pass); defense 23rd (4th rush, 28th pass). Eagles: offense 1st (8th rush, 1st pass); defense 7th (6th rush, 14th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb won't have as much time to throw as he enjoyed in Houston. Giants DEs Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora comprise the league's best pass-rushing tandem, and the Eagles will counter with quick passes to running backs and tight ends. The Giants' offense moved the ball consistently against Indianapolis, and will continue to use RB Brandon Jacobs to spell Tiki Barber. The running game produced 186 yards against the Colts, which will be an especially big factor on the road. But QB Eli Manning will also take shots against the Eagles' secondary, which will have CB Rod Hood starting in place of injured Lito Sheppard.

FAST FACTS: Giants: Barber needs 103 rushing yards to become 21st player in NFL history with 9,000. ... Have lost seven consecutive games against McNabb. Eagles: Starting offensive linemen average 332 pounds. ... McNabb, who missed both meetings last season, needs 253 passing yards to become third player in franchise history with 20,000.

Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Sportexe Momentum
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
SERIES: Fourth meeting. Ravens lead series 2-1. Raiders won last meeting 20-12 on Dec. 14, 2003. Ravens beat Raiders in AFC Championship Game, 16-3, on Jan. 14, 2001.
2006 RANKINGS: Raiders: offense 32nd (21st rush, 32nd pass); defense 16th (31st rush, 4th pass). Ravens: offense 20th (14th rush, 20th pass); defense 2nd (1st rush, 5th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Coming off a nine-sack game against San Diego and with LT Robert Gallery's status uncertain, look for the Raiders to limit their five and seven-step drops and incorporate more short and medium-range passes. Baltimore will see if it can pressure Raiders QB Aaron Brooks with just the front four, then sit back and choke off the vertical passing game. Oakland's best weapon against the pass rush is for RB LaMont Jordan to get untracked early and put the Raiders in manageable third-down situations. Baltimore will rely heavily on RB Jamal Lewis in its own attempt to control the clock. If the Ravens can build a lead, they know the Raiders' run defense can be worn down after watching San Diego rack up 194 rushing yards Monday.

FAST FACTS: Raiders: Will travel an NFL-high 30,702 air miles this season. Ravens: K Matt Stover needs one field goal to tie his career high of converting 23 consecutive attempts. ... LB Ray Lewis has averaged 12.6 tackles in 10 home openers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 26th meeting. Bucs lead the series 15-10 and have won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Falcons. But eliminated Atlanta from the post-season with a 27-24 OT win over the Falcons last Christmas Eve.
2006 RANKINGS: Bucs: offense 31st (32nd rush, 28th pass); defense 13th (14th rush, 13th pass). Falcons: offense 5th (1st rush, 26th pass); defense 4th (5th rush, 10th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Michael Vick might be the most mobile quarterback in the league, but the Bucs have sacked him 16 times over the past four meetings, so pass protection is an area of focus for Atlanta this week. But Tampa Bay's priority remains containing RB Warrick Dunn, who is fresh early in the season and coming of a league-best 132-yard effort on the ground. If the Bucs are successful, Vick will once again be under fire to produce through the air. The Falcons' defense dominated in Carolina, but will be without DE John Abraham and MLB Ed Hartwell. With QB Chris Simms coming off a horrendous game and the line still battling some injuries, the Bucs desperately need to get RB Carnell Williams untracked early to help build some confidence offensively.

FAST FACTS: Bucs: Have won nine of the past 11 meetings. ... DE Simeon Rice has at least one sack in each of the past four meetings. Falcons: Are 6-1 in September under coach Jim Mora. ... Are 12-4 when DT Rod Coleman has at least one sack.

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 15th meeting. Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are tied 7-7 in series that dates to 1976. But Seahawks have won past three and six of past seven, and Cardinals Coach Dennis Green is 1-4 vs. them in his career. A year ago, the Seahawks swept the series with routs of 33-19 and 37-12.
2006 RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 6th (25th rush, 4th pass); defense 30th (20th rush, 30th pass). Seahawks: offense 23rd (18th rush, 18th pass); defense 8th (3rd rush, 20th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cardinals know they'll need to get more out of RB Edgerrin James to win in Seattle, as the Seahawks' front seven figures to generate far more pressure than San Francisco could muster last Sunday. Arizona's receivers enjoy a significant height advantage on Seattle's corners, and the Cardinals would do themselves a huge favor by getting an early lead in the Seahawks' home opener in loud Qwest Field. Seattle's offense has yet to find any rhythm, with the offensive line struggling to gel following the loss of LG Steve Hutchinson. RB Shaun Alexander torched the Cardinals for a combined 313 yards on the ground in two meetings last season, and Arizona's run defense looked shaky in the opener. If Alexander is able to set up the play-action pass, Seattle's offense could click quickly against a Cardinals secondary that is still a major area of concern.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals: James needs 109 rushing yards to pass Earl Campbell (9,407) for 19th-most all-time. ... Seek first 2-0 start since 1991. ... Seahawks: Alexander's six rushing touchdowns against Arizona last season were three times as many as the entire Cardinals team had for the season. ... Have a 10-game home winning streak.

St. Louis Rams (1-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson
SERIES: 113th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 58-52-2. Since 1999, the Rams had won 10 of 12 games in the series until the 49ers swept in 2005 by a total of seven points, 28-25 in San Francisco and 24-20 in St. Louis. How close has this series been? In the 112 games played, the Rams have scored 2,507 points to San Francisco's 2,484, a difference of 23 points.
2006 RANKINGS: Rams: offense 13th (9th rush, 15th pass); defense 9th (28th rush, 2nd pass). 49ers: offense 3rd (13th rush, 3rd pass); defense 27th (8th rush, 29th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The 49ers can't afford another shootout, even if the secondary is considered an area of weakness for the Rams. With an offensive line dealing with injuries, San Francisco wants to establish RB Frank Gore early on to avoid exposing QB Alex Smith to the Rams' complex blitz packages. If Gore can be productive, Smith can use the play-action pass to thwart the pass rush and work downfield to WR Antonio Bryant and TE Vernon Davis. Defensively, the 49ers switch between the 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, but it's the secondary that will struggle to hold up against the Rams' deep receiving corps. However, St. Louis is without injured C Andy McCollum, which could make it more difficult to rely heavily on RB Steven Jackson to set up the pass. Regardless, if the 49ers don't get to QB Marc Bulger early and often, their defense stands little chance.

FAST FACTS: Rams: Bulger has a 90.6 passer rating in five career starts against San Francisco. ... WR Isaac Bruce needs two receptions to pass Steve Largent (819) for 11th-most all-time. 49ers: Seek first three-game winning streak in the series since a 17-game streak from 1990-98. ... DE Bryant Young is sixth among active players with 78.5 career sacks.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) at Denver Broncos (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: The Chiefs hold a 51-41 (.554) all-time advantage, although the Broncos have won the last five meetings in Denver, including a 30-10 win at Invesco Field last season.
2006 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 18th (11th rush, 16th pass); defense 5th (23rd rush, 6th pass). Broncos: offense 24th (5th rush, 31st pass); defense 20th (24th rush, 18th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Don't expect a four-hour game with both offenses looking to run the ball significantly. The Chiefs will come out pounding away with RB Larry Johnson to help QB Damon Huard get into the flow in his first start in place of injured Trent Green. But Johnson could find the plowing tough since Denver is confident CBs Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams can handle Kansas City's receivers -- freeing a safety to help in run support. The Broncos' offense struggled in the passing game last weekend, but Denver has always run the ball effectively against the Chiefs. Look for the Broncos to feature RB Tatum Bell early, provided he can protect the ball. He upset coach Mike Shanahan with a fumble in St. Louis, but fellow RB Mike Bell could be limited by a fractured tip in a finger.

FAST FACTS: Home team has won 10 of the past 11 meetings. Chiefs: Huard is 5-1 in his career as a starter, but his last start came in 2000. ... TE Tony Gonzalez needs one touchdown pass to break Otis Taylor's (57) franchise record. Broncos: Have a 10-game home winning streak, tied for best in the NFL with Seattle. ... QB Jake Plummer is 3-0 with Denver at home against Kansas City.

New England Patriots (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: This is the 93rd meeting between the two teams, with the Jets leading the series 47-44-1. That advantage won't last much longer, however, if things continue to go the way they have in recent year. The Patriots have beaten their AFC East foes eight out of the last nine times, including six games in a row.
2006 RANKINGS: Patriots: offense 14th (4th rush, 25th pass); defense 6th (16th rush, 9th pass). Jets: offense 3rd (18th rush, 2nd pass); defense 24th (10th rush, 25th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Jets coach Eric Mangini faces his mentor in New England's Bill Belichick, under whom he served as an assistant for the past six years. For student to beat the teacher, Mangini will need significantly more production out of the running game than the 91 yards the Jets mustered last Sunday. With two rookie starters along the offensive line, the Jets can't afford to make QB Chad Pennington a sitting duck against the Patriots' complex blitz packages. The Patriots have no such concern about their running game after RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney proved a formidable 1-2 punch in the opener. The questions surround the no-name receiving corps. If the Jets' corners can hold their own, New York can commit more resources to stopping the ground game.

FAST FACTS: Patriots: Seek eighth 2-0 start in 46 years. ... QB Tom Brady is 8-1 all-time against the Jets, including 5-0 at the Meadowlands. Jets: Pennington has seven INTs in his past three starts against New England, but is 15-6 (.714) as a starter at home.

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBD, Bill Macatee, Richard Baldinger
SERIES: 38th meeting. Chargers lead the series 20-16-1. San Diego has won the last three dating all the way back to 1993. The last meeting was a 38-17 Chargers route in 2004.
2006 RANKINGS: Titans: offense 9th (22nd rush, 8th pass); defense 29th (18th rush, 31st pass). Chargers: offense 17th (2nd rush, 29th pass); defense 1st (12th rush, 1st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans must force Chargers QB Philip Rivers to throw more than the 11 passes he attempted in Oakland. However, aggressively attacking RB LaDainian Tomlinson would expose a shaky secondary that was burned for 302 passing yards in the opener. Tennessee will likely take its chances and hope Rivers makes a few mistakes in his first career home start. Immobile QB Kerry Collins gets his second consecutive start for the Titans with rookie Vince Young getting a series each half, even though the Chargers tore apart Oakland's offensive line Monday. Most important for Tennessee offensively is to get RBs Chris Brown and Travis Henry untracked early because the pass protection has little chance of holding up on third-and-long.

FAST FACTS: Titans: Haven't defeated San Diego in 14 years, with three losses since a 1992 victory. ... Brown needs 39 rushing yards to pass Fred Willis (2,241) for 10th place in franchise history. Chargers: RB LaDainian Tomlinson needs two touchdowns to tie Lance Alworth (83) for the most in franchise history.

Washington Redskins (0-1) at Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/17/06
SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass
TV: NBC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer
SERIES: 93rd meeting. Cowboys lead series, 54-38 (Redskins won both playoff games). Redskins swept series last year after losing 14 of 16 matchups from 1997-2004.
2006 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 22nd (14th rush, 22nd pass); defense 18th (22nd rush, 21st pass). Cowboys: offense 12th (20th rush, 10th pass); defense 17th (7th rush, 22nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Clinton Portis received mounds of praise for battling back from a shoulder injury to play Monday. Now the Redskins need him healthy enough to handle more than 10 carries and help provide more manageable third-down situations. Washington was just 4-for-13 on third down against Minnesota, and must control the clock better on the road. Dallas is also seeking more from its ground game after calling just 22 running plays in Jacksonville. The Cowboys' celebrated playmakers are at receiver, but QB Drew Bledsoe has proven time and again he will make back-breaking mistakes under pressure, and Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is among the best at devising packages to get after the passer.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: Coach Joe Gibbs is 8-13 against Dallas coach Bill Parcells. ... Seek consecutive wins in Dallas for the first time since a three-game streak from 1987-89. Cowboys: Are 24-10 in home openers at Texas Stadium. ... Have won 14 of the past 17 meetings.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 09/18/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 18th meeting. The Jaguars lead the series, 9-8, including a 6-3 record in Jacksonville. The Jaguars upset the Steelers in Heinz Field last season, 23-17 in overtime, with Tommy Maddox at quarterback for Pittsburgh. This is the third time they will play on Monday night, all in Jacksonville. The Jaguars won both previous games. The past three games between the clubs were decided by nine points, two of them in the final minute of the game, including overtime.
2006 RANKINGS: Steelers: offense 8th (7th rush, 14th pass); defense 14th (2nd rush, 24th pass). Jaguars: offense 16th (26th rush, 11th pass); defense 21st (13th rush, 23rd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers catch a break with the primetime start considering they are 0-3 in Jacksonville in the month of September. Pittsburgh practiced much of the week indoors with the heat on in preparation, and expects QB Ben Roethlisberger to return to the lineup. Jacksonville's pass rush suffered a significant blow with the season-ending injury to DE Reggie Hayward, but the real key to containing the Steelers' offense is plugging the running game led by RB Willie Parker, although newly-signed Najeh Davenport could get some short-yardage carries. Jacksonville received a strong effort from RB Fred Taylor in the opener, and needs similar production to protect QB Byron Leftwich from the Steelers' swarming defense.

FAST FACTS: Steelers: Coach Bill Cowher is 8-9 against Jacksonville, one of only three losing records he has against teams he has faced at least five times. ... Are 101-1-1 when leading by 10 or more points under Cowher. Jaguars: Taylor has averaged 5.3 yards per carry in five career games on Monday nights.

   
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