NFL FOOTBALL WEEK 3 BETTING PREVIEWS

NFL FOOTBALL WEEK 3 BETTING PREVIEWS

TEXANS at TITANS

Following a harrowing week, the Houston Texans are ready to get back on the field. Apparently the Tennessee Titans don't think Vince Young is.

With many players still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Ike - which brought about an unexpected bye week - the Texans hope to provide the city of Houston a lift on Sunday by going on the road to get their first win and hand the Titans their first loss.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Titans -5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Titans -5.

"I think we could be a bright spot for the city," Texans receiver Andre Johnson said. "A lot of people are going through tough times and maybe us going out winning games could make a lot of people around here happy."

No NFL teams were scheduled to be off in Week 2, but the threat of Ike caused Houston's home game against Baltimore to be pushed back a day to Monday before the league was forced to postpone that matchup until Nov. 6. The severe damage caused by the storm included chunks being torn out of the roof at Reliant Stadium, potentially forcing the Texans (0-1) to move their next scheduled home game - Oct. 5 versus Indianapolis - to a different venue.

Many players endured major damage to their homes, possibly the worst being defensive tackle Travis Johnson seeing his house destroyed. A tree crashed into defensive end Mario Williams' home, and a ceiling collapsed in one room of tight end Owen Daniels' house.

"It's really difficult, not just for myself, but for everyone," Williams said Tuesday. "You've got to go work and you've got to make a living. But at the same time you're thinking: 'I hope my place is still all right.'"

The drama surrounding Young has not been nearly as dire, though it also has served as a potential distraction for Tennessee (2-0).

Though Young was not going to play last week anyway due to a knee injury, it was possible he could have returned for this game but coach Jeff Fisher has said he's sticking with Kerry Collins as his starting quarterback for now.

The team has been concerned about the mental well-being of Young, having called police last week to help search for the third overall pick in the 2006 draft after he was booed by the home fans during a Week 1 win over Jacksonville. Whether or not Young is healthy enough to play is unclear, though Fisher feels Collins at quarterback gives the Titans the best chance to win for the foreseeable future.

"We're going to get Vince back, get his knee back, work with him, get him back involved in the offense," Fisher said. "But Kerry's going to go ahead and play for us until either he struggles or whatever else happens."

Collins threw for only 128 yards last Sunday, but completed 14 of 21 passes without a turnover as Tennessee won 24-7 at Cincinnati. Young was 12-of-22 for 110 yards with two interceptions and a fumble in Week 1.

"He's got to get back. He's eventually going to be under center for us," Fisher said. "When that happens, I don't know. For right now, Kerry's our quarterback."

This game's other starting signal-caller is looking to bounce back from a poor opener. Matt Schaub was intercepted twice, lost a fumble and sacked five times in Houston's 38-17 defeat at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.

The Texans were limited to 234 total yards and went 3-for-10 on third-down conversions.

Their defense was no better, allowing Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger to complete all but one of his pass attempts and letting Willie Parker rush for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

Tennessee's defense, on the other hand, has been exceptional. That unit has given up 202.0 yards per game to lead all teams other than Baltimore, which has played only one game, and is giving up 2.7 yards per rushing attempt to tie Philadelphia for the league lead.

Houston's ground game does not appear to be much of a threat. While rookie Steve Slaton was held to 43 yards on 13 attempts in the opener, Ahman Green was limited to five carries due to an injured ankle and it's unclear if he will play Sunday.

The Titans' rushing attack is in much better shape. Rookie Chris Johnson has rushed for more than 90 yards in each of the first two games while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. LenDale White has been good in short yardage situations and has scored both of the team's rushing touchdowns.

Tennessee has won 10 of 12 all-time meetings between these AFC South foes, including six straight victories since Nov. 28, 2004.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

TENNESSEE is 7-5 against the spread versus HOUSTON since 1992
TENNESSEE is 10-2 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
8 of 12 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
TENNESSEE is 4-0 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 4-0 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
4 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 3-3 against the spread versus HOUSTON since 1992
TENNESSEE is 5-1 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
TENNESSEE is 2-0 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 2-0 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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RAIDERS at BILLS

If the Buffalo Bills' perfect start continues, Lane Kiffin's coaching tenure with the Oakland Raiders may not.

While the Bills' best start in 16 years is at stake, so too might be the job status of Kiffin when Oakland visits Buffalo on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Bills -9 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 76% of bets for this game have been placed on Bills -9.

A tumultuous offseason led to Raiders owner Al Davis sending Kiffin a letter of resignation to sign. Kiffin never put his name on the dotted line and he's continued to clash with the ostentatious icon, bringing about reports the coach would soon be fired, especially after a 41-14 home loss to Denver to open the season.

Oakland (1-1) might have helped saved his job with a 23-8 win at Kansas City last Sunday, though it certainly seems as if one false move - or potentially one more loss - could spell the end of Kiffin's brief tenure as Raiders coach.

"There are certain things I can control, there's certain things I can't," said the 33-year-old Kiffin, who has been at the helm for 18 games. "This happens to be the next one. (Davis) has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now."

He surely is worried about facing the Bills (2-0), one of the league's biggest surprises not only because they're unbeaten, but how they've done it.

Unheralded quarterback Trent Edwards has led a resurgent Buffalo passing attack which finished third-to-last in the NFL last season. Edwards is fourth in the AFC with a 107.7 passer rating, having yet to throw an interception while completing 70.9 percent of his passes for 454 yards.

"'Encouraged' is a good way to describe it," said Edwards, a 2007 third-round pick out of Stanford. "But for me, personally, I still feel like we have a lot to prove. It's Week 2. It's nothing monumental."

A win in Week 3 might be. The Bills haven't won their first three games since a 4-0 start in 1992, en route to the third of four straight trips to the Super Bowl during the Jim Kelly-Thurman Thomas era.

While Edwards looks to fill Kelly's shoes, second-year back Marshawn Lynch is trying to play Thomas' role. Lynch has rushed for a touchdown in each of the first two games, but has yet to post a 100-yard game this year and would like to improve upon his subpar average of 3.6 yards per carry.

A year after Lynch topped all AFC rookies with 1,119 rushing yards, Oakland has the current conference leader among rookies in Darren McFadden.

The former Arkansas standout ran for 164 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last Sunday, and he's averaging 7.0 yards per carry. McFadden now faces a Buffalo defense which has held opposing running backs to 151 total yards and a 3.6-per-carry average through two games.

Offseason acquisition Marcus Stroud has steadied that run defense. The three-time Pro Bowl tackle had two sacks and tipped a pass that led to an interception last Sunday in a 20-16 win at Jacksonville.

Edwards, though, was the key to that come-from-behind victory. He engineered a nine-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie James Hardy with 4:10 to play to give Buffalo the lead.

"The mood is good around here," said Lee Evans, the team leader with 179 receiving yards. "Right now, we're starting to find our niche. Everybody's starting to get a little more confidence in what we're doing and believing in what we're doing."

It seems JaMarcus Russell still might not know what he's doing. The second-year quarterback was 6-of-17 for 55 yards last Sunday, after he contributed virtually nothing offensively in the opener until the fourth quarter, when Oakland was well behind.

Some positive signs from Russell surely would help Kiffin's cause, and possibly help deflect some of the spotlight from the embattled coach.

"I can't be worried about that. I'll let everybody upstairs worry about that," linebacker Thomas Howard said. "He'll be here next week. He's here now. He's our head coach. He's coaching us and we're going to try to keep winning games for him."

The Raiders have won all four meetings between these teams since a 44-21 loss in Buffalo on Dec. 13, 1998.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

OAKLAND is 6-1 against the spread versus BUFFALO since 1992
OAKLAND is 6-2 straight up against BUFFALO since 1992
5 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
OAKLAND is 4-1 against the spread versus BUFFALO since 1992
OAKLAND is 3-2 straight up against BUFFALO since 1992
4 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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BENGALS at GIANTS

The New York Giants looked determined to avoid last year's horrible two-game start in their first two contests of 2008.

Now they'll try to stay focused - and unbeaten - with the Cincinnati Bengals coming to town.

A week after dominating woeful St. Louis, the Giants (2-0) try to keep rolling against another struggling opponent Sunday when they take on the Bengals (0-2) at the Meadowlands.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Giants –13.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Giants –13.5.

New York's ability to overcome an ugly 0-2 start in 2007 made its run to a Super Bowl title all the more memorable, but the Giants seemed determined to avoid putting themselves in a similar situation this year. New York handled Washington 16-7 in the opener, then put together an impressive all-around effort in blowing out St. Louis 41-13 last week.

The Giants defense looked outstanding again, sacking Marc Bulger six times and limiting St. Louis to 201 total yards. Justin Tuck led the way with two sacks and a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown, while Fred Robbins added two sacks for New York.

"Hopefully, this is the start of big things to come," Tuck said. "Six (sacks) today, but we had the opportunity to have more. You know, you're never satisfied."

The offense also looked better than it did in Week 1, when the unit followed an effective first half with a scoreless second one. Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes against the Rams and the Giants got a combined 203 yards rushing from Brandon Jacobs (93), Derrick Ward (58) and Ahmad Bradshaw (52).

The Giants, seeking their first 3-0 start since 2000, appear determined to quiet critics who claim that last season's championship was simply a case of a team getting hot at the right time.

"2-0 is a good spot to be. But we have a tough contest this week," Manning said. "So our focus is on getting ready for Cincinnati. We know we will have to play extremely well to win."

Coach Tom Coughlin's club had little trouble finding motivation against a weak St. Louis team, and the Giants will have to maintain that focus again when they face the Bengals. Cincinnati didn't look much better than the Rams did last week, falling 24-7 to a Tennessee team led by backup quarterback Kerry Collins.

The Bengals' Carson Palmer struggled amid windy conditions in Paul Brown Stadium, throwing for just 134 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, and star receiver Chad Ocho Cinco was limited to four catches for 37 yards.

Cincinnati's offense has scored one touchdown in two games.

"It's not pretty," offensive lineman Bobbie Williams said. "I still feel like the pressure is on us. Everything is on heightened alert. We're 0-2. We're not getting it done."

The Bengals could have a tough time against the formidable Giants ground attack. Cincinnati gave up 177 rushing yards to Tennessee and is 30th in the NFL with 203.0 allowed per game.

New York's biggest challenge may be getting to Palmer. While the Bengals have struggled offensively, they've allowed their quarterback to be sacked only three times - tied for the fewest in the league.

"Us three guys. Our two Pro Bowl receivers and myself have to pick it up," Palmer said of himself, Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Cincinnati leads the series with New York 5-2 and took the last meeting 23-22 on Dec. 26, 2004 at home. The Bengals won on Ocho Cinco's 4-yard touchdown catch from Jon Kitna with 44 seconds to play, dealing the Giants their eighth straight loss.

Manning, then a rookie, started and went 19-for-37 for 201 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

The Bengals lost their only two road games against the Giants in 1994 and '97.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

NY GIANTS is 2-1 against the spread versus CINCINNATI since 1992
NY GIANTS is 2-1 straight up against CINCINNATI since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
NY GIANTS is 1-1 against the spread versus CINCINNATI since 1992
NY GIANTS is 2-0 straight up against CINCINNATI since 1992
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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CARDINALS at REDSKINS

The Arizona Cardinals aren't ready to celebrate their undefeated start because they're only two games into the season.

The statistics, however, indicate that the long-suffering franchise has reason to be optimistic.

After winning their first two games for the first time in 17 years, the Cardinals look to make it their first 3-0 start since 1974 as they visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday in the first of consecutive games on the East Coast.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Redskins -3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Cardinals +3.

Arizona opened the season with a 23-13 win at San Francisco, then dominated Miami in a 31-10 victory last Sunday. The Cardinals, though, insist they're not letting their early success go to their heads.

"We haven't played nobody," said running back Edgerrin James, referencing the fact that Arizona's first two opponents are a combined 7-29 since the beginning of last season. "We've got to keep doing it. A lot of teams are 2-0."

That may be the case, but the Cardinals have reached that mark for the first time since 1991. They haven't had a longer undefeated start since opening 7-0 in 1974, when the team was based in St. Louis.

Dating to last year, Arizona has won four in a row for the first time since Nov. 14-Dec. 5, 1999. The Cardinals' 54 points in the two games are the most to open the season since they scored 68 in 1985, while the 23 points allowed are the franchise's fewest to open a season since 1977.

Though it's been a good start to what could be their first winning season since 1998, the Cardinals aren't patting themselves on the back just yet.

"When people are talking about prosperity at 2-0, it almost makes me laugh," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "... Hopefully we have the mindset in here that this is where we expected ourselves to be, so why are you getting excited about something you expect?"

Warner completed 19 of 24 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions last week. Warner, a 37-year-old veteran who beat out third-year pro Matt Leinart for the starting job, had a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the third time in his career, tying Peyton Manning for the NFL record.

The two-time league MVP and Super Bowl XXIV champion is 96-for-145 for 1,227 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions during Arizona's four-game winning streak.

"When you have one of those days when everything's clicking and you feel like you can't be stopped, it brings back a lot of memories of those great years," he said last Sunday.

Warner and the Cardinals put their streak on the line as they head east for two weeks. After playing in Washington on Sunday, they'll stay in the nearby suburbs and work out at Catholic University before visiting the New York Jets next Sunday.

"The one thing I know is it saves us a thousand miles of travel and it saves us 10 hours in an airplane, which to me is a big difference," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team lost all three of its East Coast games last year, including 21-19 to the Redskins.

"We're trying to put this team in the best position that we feel can give us a chance to win. We feel like this does that for us, staying on the East Coast."

The Cardinals could have their work cut out for them as they meet the Redskins (1-1), who bounced back from an ugly 16-7 loss to the New York Giants in Week 1 with a 29-24 victory over New Orleans in their home opener last Sunday.

After looking uncomfortable while going 15-for-27 for 133 yards and one touchdown in his first game under rookie coach Jim Zorn, Jason Campbell was 24-for-36 for 321 yards and a TD in the win. He completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss with 3:29 left for the winning score.

"We talked a lot during the week," Campbell said. "I said 'Coach, just trust me.' And he said, 'I've got to trust you more.' We do it together."

It was the first NFL win for Zorn, an assistant with Seattle for the last seven seasons.

"I don't really know how to act, but I am very excited," he said. "I wish I could enjoy it as much as I had to endure last week for four or five days, but I won't be able to."

Zorn hopes to get a second consecutive victory as Washington tries to continue its recent dominance of Arizona. The Redskins have won the last six games in the series, dating to a 16-15 road loss Nov. 5, 2000.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

ARIZONA is 12-11 against the spread versus WASHINGTON since 1992
WASHINGTON is 12-11 straight up against ARIZONA since 1992
12 of 23 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
ARIZONA is 1-0 against the spread versus WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
WASHINGTON is 1-0 straight up against ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 7-5 against the spread versus WASHINGTON since 1992
WASHINGTON is 8-4 straight up against ARIZONA since 1992
6 of 12 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
ARIZONA is 1-0 against the spread versus WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
WASHINGTON is 1-0 straight up against ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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BROWNS at RAVENS

With Hurricane Ike postponing their first road game of the season, the Baltimore Ravens got an unexpected early bye week after their season-opening win.

The Cleveland Browns look like they could use a week off to regroup.

The Ravens will look for their second division victory while trying to put the Browns in an early 0-3 hole when the AFC North rivals square off Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Ravens –1 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Browns +1.

Baltimore (1-0) lost nine of its final 10 games last season and was breaking in a rookie quarterback to start 2008. Joe Flacco, though, had a respectable NFL debut as he went 15-for-29 for 129 yards with no interceptions while running for a 38-yard touchdown, and the Ravens defense led the way to a 17-10 win over Cincinnati on Sept. 7.

Injuries played a major factor in Baltimore's 5-11 finish last season, with defensive standouts Samari Rolle, Chris McAllister and Ray Lewis all missing time and All-Pro safety Ed Reed playing injured for much of the season. All four were on the field against the Bengals, helping hold Cincinnati to 154 yards of offense and no touchdowns.

"It was a team game," first-year coach John Harbaugh told the Ravens' official Web site. "Through some adversity in the game, through some tough times (and) having each other's backs (we persevered). Defense supporting and picking up the offense, offense supporting and picking up the defense, and special teams kind of undergirding the whole thing."

Baltimore dealt with some unplanned adversity last week. The Ravens were set to play at Houston last Sunday, but with Hurricane Ike bearing down on the city, the game was moved to Monday night before eventually being rescheduled for Nov. 9 - Baltimore's original bye week.

That means starting with this game, the Ravens will play 15 straight weeks without rest.

"I don't think it changes anything right now, but when those weeks come up we'll come up with a plan to account for the fact that we don't have a bye week," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be a challenge. It's the one that's been presented to us."

The Browns (0-2), who figured their 10-win season in 2007 was the prelude to a playoff appearance in 2008, have a different challenge. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 234 teams have started a season with two losses, and only 27 have gone on to the playoffs.

Since 1990, three teams made the playoffs after starting 0-3, none since Buffalo in 1998.

"It's no hole," Browns defensive tackle Shaun Smith. "The Giants started out 0-2 and won the Super Bowl. We're that caliber-type of team."

Cleveland was the only team scheduled to open its season with two home games - the Ravens will now do the same following their postponement - but failed to take advantage. The Browns were held to 205 yards of offense on Sept. 7 in a 28-10 loss to Dallas, then produced 208 total yards Sunday night in a sloppy 10-6 loss to Pittsburgh.

Derek Anderson threw two interceptions, one of which came at the end of the first half following some questionable clock management by coach Romeo Crennel, who let time tick off before calling the team's last timeout with eight seconds remaining.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Crennel, who also was criticized for settling for a field goal late in the game with the Browns trailing 10-3.

"We screwed it up. The story of the game was turnovers and penalties and they took advantage."

The other bad news was another injury to its banged-up defense, losing lineman Robaire Smith for the season to a torn Achilles'.

The bigger concern for the Browns, though, is their struggling offense. Cleveland had four offensive Pro Bowlers a year ago, including Anderson, but he's looked nothing like the quarterback who threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdown passes last season.

Part of the problem is receiver Braylon Edwards, who has unofficially dropped five passes, equaling his number of receptions in the first two weeks. Edwards had 16 touchdowns in 2007, but hasn't caught one this season.

Running back Jamal Lewis, a former Raven, is averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Lewis finished last season with four 100-yard efforts in his final six games, but he'll find that tough to do against Baltimore. The Ravens have gone an NFL-best 20 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

The Browns won both meetings last season - including a 33-30 overtime thriller in Baltimore - and Lewis ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 45 carries in the two games.

Cleveland is 3-6 overall in Baltimore since the original Browns' franchise relocated there in 1996.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

CLEVELAND is 10-8 against the spread versus BALTIMORE since 1992
BALTIMORE is 11-7 straight up against CLEVELAND since 1992
9 of 17 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
CLEVELAND is 4-0 against the spread versus BALTIMORE over the last 3 seasons
BALTIMORE is 2-2 straight up against CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
CLEVELAND is 5-4 against the spread versus BALTIMORE since 1992
BALTIMORE is 6-3 straight up against CLEVELAND since 1992
6 of 9 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
CLEVELAND is 2-0 against the spread versus BALTIMORE over the last 3 seasons
BALTIMORE is 1-1 straight up against CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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COWBOYS at PACKERS

When the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys met in a much-hyped prime-time matchup last season, Aaron Rodgers wasn't expected to play, but he turned in a strong performance in defeat after an injured Brett Favre left the game.

Following Favre's departure from the Packers, Rodgers has been even better.

The first-year starter will look to build on his best game as a pro when the Cowboys and Packers try to continue their unbeaten starts Sunday night, with Dallas seeking its first win at Lambeau Field.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Cowboys -3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Cowboys -3.

Both teams were 10-1 when they met at Texas Stadium on Nov. 29, and the Cowboys seized control in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs with a 37-27 win.

That Thursday night game, though, was also memorable for the performance of Rodgers, who entered with the Packers trailing 27-10 after Favre suffered an injury to his throwing elbow. Rodgers went 18-of-26 for 201 yards and a touchdown without an interception as he helped keep Green Bay close.

Rodgers' poise in that high-pressure game may have made it easier for the Packers (2-0) to stick with him as the starter this summer when Favre announced plans to end a brief retirement. Green Bay traded the future Hall of Famer to the New York Jets, and Rodgers has made the decision look like the right one.

After an efficient performance against Minnesota in the Packers' opener, he threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-25 win at Detroit on Sunday.

He's completed 70 percent of his throws and doesn't have an interception, connecting with receiver Greg Jennings for 258 of his passing yards.

"I think the summer only made our character stronger," Rodgers said.

Rodgers' performance last week helped Green Bay overcome an ineffective game by top running back Ryan Grant, who had 20 yards on 15 carries as he struggled with a hamstring injury.

"He's making good decisions and he's being accurate with the football," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "He hasn't taken many chances, and that's all part of good quarterback play. He needs to continue to do that."

The Packers actually trailed the Lions 25-24 in the fourth quarter, but they took the lead on a field goal and scored three touchdowns in the final four minutes, including two interception returns for scores. Green Bay totaled five sacks, including two by linebacker A.J. Hawk and 1 1/2 by defensive end Aaron Kampman.

Cornerback Charles Woodson had two interceptions, including one of the returns for a TD, despite playing with a broken toe that has been hampering the four-time Pro Bowler.

A different toe injury kept Woodson out of last year's game against the Cowboys, when Dallas' Tony Romo threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns, but McCarthy said he expects Woodson to be active - and important - Sunday.

"The way we defend on our defense, he's a big part of our game plan," the coach said. "... Having him this year will definitely be to our advantage because of the experience that he brings and the ability to make big plays."

Green Bay will likely need its defense at full strength against the Cowboys (2-0), as Romo has thrown for 632 yards and four scores in two games. Dallas earned a 28-10 victory at Cleveland in Week 1 and won a shootout with Philadelphia 41-37 on Monday night.

Romo lost a fumble in the end zone and threw an interception, and Dallas trailed 37-34 midway through the fourth quarter against the Eagles. He recovered to throw a 32-yard pass to Jason Witten that set up Marion Barber's go-ahead touchdown run with under five minutes to play.

"We know that no game is going to be perfect," said receiver Terrell Owens, whose two touchdown catches moved him into second place all-time behind Jerry Rice in that category.

"There's going to be interceptions, fumbles, missed assignments by everyone," Owens said. "But as a team, we came to play tonight. Offensively, defensively, I think everyone stepped up when they needed to."

Sunday's game may have extra meaning for Romo, who grew up in Burlington, Wis., and will make his first start in his home state. It remains to be seen, though, how much meaning the contest will have down the line.

Last year's late-season showdown gave Dallas a clear path to the NFC's top seed, as both teams finished 13-3 and earned first-round byes in the playoffs. Both clubs also lost at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the postseason.

Now, Dallas and Green Bay will be looking for an early edge in this year's race, and the Cowboys will have to win for the first time at Lambeau to get it.

The Cowboys have beaten the Packers three times in Milwaukee, but they're 0-5 in Green Bay. They lost 41-20 at Lambeau in 2004 in the most recent meeting there, and each of the five losses have come by at least 18 points - except for the 21-17 defeat in the "Ice Bowl" NFL championship game in 1967.

Green Bay has won 10 of its last 11 at home in the regular season, while the Cowboys have lost just one of their last 12 road contests.

The Cowboys will be without a starting member of their secondary Sunday, as safety Roy Williams is expected to miss at least three games due to a fractured right forearm.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

DALLAS is 8-3 against the spread versus GREEN BAY since 1992
DALLAS is 9-2 straight up against GREEN BAY since 1992
10 of 11 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
DALLAS is 1-0 against the spread versus GREEN BAY over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 1-0 straight up against GREEN BAY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
GREEN BAY is 2-0 against the spread versus DALLAS since 1992
GREEN BAY is 2-0 straight up against DALLAS since 1992
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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BUCCANEERS at BEARS

The Chicago Bears have struggled to solidify the quarterback position for years. On Sunday, Brian Griese can make his case to the Bears that they let their best option to do so get away.

Griese is expected to go for his second straight win as the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they face the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Bears -3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Bears -3.

The only constant for the Bears (1-1) at the game's marquee position in recent years has been a lack of consistency. Since the start of the 1992 season, Chicago has used a league-high 21 different starting quarterbacks - a list which includes obscure players such as Henry Burris, Chad Hutchinson, Steve Stenstrom and Peter Tom Willis.

Griese made that list last season, when he split time with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. Griese was the most successful of the bunch, throwing 10 of Chicago's 18 touchdown passes while going 3-3 in six starts for a team that finished 7-9.

Despite that showing, the Bears dealt the 11-year veteran to Tampa Bay - where he played in 2004 and '05 - in March for a 2009 draft pick.

After watching Jeff Garcia quarterback the Buccaneers (1-1) during a 24-20 loss at New Orleans in Week 1, coach Jon Gruden inserted Griese into the lineup last Sunday against Atlanta. The result was a competent, if unspectacular, performance in a 24-9 victory.

"I wanted to come out and get the win. That was my goal,'' Griese said.

"Secondly, I wanted to knock the rust off myself and get a rhythm going. I think we did some good things that we can improve on. At the same time, I'm grateful for the opportunity to play.''

Griese went 18-for-31 for 160 yards and a touchdown, a 5-yard toss to tight end John Gilmore to open the scoring. The effort seemed to be good enough to earn Griese another start this week ahead of the struggling Garcia.

"I foresee Brian being the starter next week, but I'm not going to say it until I talk to both guys,'' Gruden said after the win.

"He managed the game. It's his first game back here as a starter, and to win is quite an accomplishment. He missed a couple of guys he would normally hit, but he managed the game and will get better and better.''

Griese benefited from a Tampa Bay defense that limited the Falcons to 234 yards, one week after giving up 438 to the Saints. Running backs Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn combined for 165 yards on the ground, highlighted by Graham's career-long 68-yard touchdown.

With Griese out of the picture in Chicago, Orton won a preseason competition with Grossman for the starting job. His results through the first two weeks of the regular season have been mixed.

While Orton has completed 60.4 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception, the fourth-year player out of Purdue doesn't have a touchdown pass. The Bears, Baltimore and Cincinnati are the NFL's only teams without a passing touchdown, and Chicago's 138.5 passing yards per game rank 27th in the league.

The lack of TDs reflects a career pattern for Orton. He has 12 touchdown passes in 501 attempts, giving him a 2.4 touchdown percentage - the lowest for any quarterback on an active roster with at least 20 career games played.

Orton overthrew several receivers Sunday, when the Bears squandered a two-touchdown lead and fell 20-17 at Carolina. The disheartening defeat followed an impressive season-opening victory at Indianapolis.

"A disappointing loss,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Whenever you have control of the football game like that, you've got to be able to finish.''

There were some positives for Chicago. Rookie running back Matt Forte followed up his 123-yard debut in the Bears' Week 1 win with a 92-yard effort, and the Bears scored on defense or special teams for the second straight week as Brandon Lloyd returned a blocked punt nine yards for a touchdown.

Chicago limited the Panthers to 216 yards of offense and stopped them on 13 of 15 third downs.

A similar defensive effort may be necessary this week, particularly if special teams star Devin Hester can't play. Hester, who returned a total of 11 kicks for touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons, suffered a rib injury against Carolina and may not be able to return to face the Bucs.

"Devin's done quite a bit for us,'' Smith said. "But we feel like we have some guys that can step in and that's what happens."

The Bears hold a 35-17 lead in the series between these teams, which were NFC Central rivals before the league realigned in 2002. They've split four meetings since then, with each club winning once on the other's home field.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

CHICAGO is 12-12 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY since 1992
CHICAGO is 13-11 straight up against TAMPA BAY since 1992
14 of 24 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
TAMPA BAY is 1-0 against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 1-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 7-5 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY since 1992
CHICAGO is 9-3 straight up against TAMPA BAY since 1992
7 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
TAMPA BAY is 1-0 against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
CHICAGO is 1-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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PANTHERS at VIKINGS

The Carolina Panthers are ecstatic to be 2-0 to start the season, and now they welcome star receiver Steve Smith back in the fold.

The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, have already switched quarterbacks in an attempt to turn their season around.

Two teams on the opposite side of the emotional scale meet on Sunday when the Vikings host the Panthers.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Vikings –3.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Panthers +3.5.

After Smith was suspended for the opening two games following his attack on teammate Ken Lucas during training camp, many felt the Panthers would be lucky to split their first two contests. Instead, Carolina pulled off a stunning 26-24 win at San Diego in the season opener by scoring a touchdown on the final play, then rallied to score the final 17 points to beat Chicago 20-17 last Sunday.

They now get to add three-time Pro Bowler Smith back to the passing game.

"I'm excited to have our rocket back," Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "I'm looking forward to having him back. I know the players are, too. He gives us that explosiveness."

Smith has three straight 1,000-yard seasons and is regarded as one of the NFL's top receivers.

"He's ready to roll," Panthers coach John Fox said. "Obviously he's excited to be back and excited that we're 2-0."

The Vikings (0-2) had expected to be in the same position, but so far, all they have is a winless record and growing frustrations. They also have a new starter at quarterback, as coach Brad Childress announced Wednesday that Gus Frerotte will take over for Tarvaris Jackson for the rest of the year.

"I'm just not seeing right now the aggressiveness from Tarvaris that I saw throughout the offseason, training camp, the two preseason games that he played in," Childress said. "And part of it may be experience. I know Gus will give us that. And I know his approach will also lend itself to that."

Frerotte is a 15-year veteran who Childress hopes can steady the team's offense, which has failed to muster much of an attack under Jackson in consecutive losses to Green Bay and Indianapolis. The Vikings got only five field goals from Ryan Longwell on Sunday and blew a 15-0 lead in an 18-15 loss to the Colts.

However, the switch to Frerotte surprised many Vikings and even a few Panthers.

"I've never been part of a team where a quarterback was benched that early on," Delhomme said. "But it can be a spark to a team."

There's no such turmoil for Carolina. The Panthers' fast start has raised hopes the team can get back to the playoffs after missing out the last two seasons. The last time the Panthers started 2-0 was 2003, when they advanced to their only Super Bowl.

"It's just a really good team right now," said receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who surpassed 10,000 yards receiving against Chicago, his former team. "We want to build on that every week and gain a little more trust."

A healthy Delhomme and a stout rushing attack have made a big difference for the team. The Panthers missed Delhomme's leadership after he sustained a season-ending elbow injury in the third game last year, and Carolina can also rely on a two-headed rushing game with DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart.

The pair has combined for 247 yards in the first two games, with Stewart scoring twice in the comeback against the Bears.

"We really think we're a different team this year," Panthers tackle Jordan Gross said. "We've had two close games, two nail-biters and we were able to win both of them. It just adds onto the belief that we've got what it takes to win a few games."

Perhaps Frerotte can give Minnesota what it takes to start winning games. Adrian Peterson has been as good as advertised in his second season, running for 160 yards against the Colts after gaining 103 against the Packers, but the team has struggled to score touchdowns.

"We know it's still early in the year, but we wanted to start out of the gates quick," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "You don't want to wait until the end of the season and say, 'Oh if we would have won that game, we would have made the playoffs.'

"We just have to get on a run right now."

Since 1990, only five teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3, a hole the Vikings don't want to fall into. But the road ahead is difficult, as the combined record of Minnesota's next three opponents is 5-1.

This is the eighth meeting between the teams and the seventh time they've played at the Metrodome. The Vikings lead the series 4-3, including a 16-13 overtime win two years ago.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

CAROLINA is 4-3 against the spread versus MINNESOTA since 1992
MINNESOTA is 4-3 straight up against CAROLINA since 1992
5 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
MINNESOTA is 1-0 against the spread versus CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 1-0 straight up against CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 3-3 against the spread versus CAROLINA since 1992
MINNESOTA is 4-2 straight up against CAROLINA since 1992
5 of 6 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
MINNESOTA is 1-0 against the spread versus CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 1-0 straight up against CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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JAGUARS at COLTS

Injuries on the offensive line have hindered both the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars early this season.

Now, Indianapolis may have an even bigger problem on defense.

The Colts will begin a prolonged stretch without safety Bob Sanders - the 2007 NFL defensive player of the year - when they host the AFC South rival Jaguars on Sunday, with Indianapolis looking for its first win at Lucas Oil Stadium and Jacksonville hoping to avoid an 0-3 start.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colts -5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Colts -5.

With four starting offensive linemen injured, the Colts' offense has sputtered this season, as the team with more points than any other since 2003 hasn't reached 20 in either of its first two games.

Indianapolis (1-1) needed a late rally at Minnesota on Sunday to avoid what would have been a shocking 0-2 start, as Peyton Manning led the Colts back from a 15-0 deficit and Adam Vinatieri hit a field goal in the closing seconds to clinch an 18-15 win.

They suffered a big loss during the game, though, as Sanders sprained his ankle and could miss up to six weeks. He may also undergo arthroscopic knee surgery while sidelined.

Even with the two-time Pro Bowler in the lineup, the Colts' run defense had struggled, allowing at least 180 yards in each of its first two games.

"With a guy like Bob, of course, there's going to be some dropoff," defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "Maybe you won't see someone make that spectacular play, but you've still got to make plays. When one guy goes down, another guy has to step up, and there have to be 11 guys swarming to the ball."

In addition to the knee injury that kept Manning out of the preseason, Indianapolis has played without Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, right guard Mike Pollak and left guard Ryan Lilja due to injuries, with tight end Dallas Clark and left tackle Tony Ugoh also missing time after getting banged up in the first two weeks.

Saturday and Clark could return this week, but Ugoh likely won't.

The absences have had disastrous results for the running game, as the Colts rank last in the NFL in both rushing yards per game (39.0) and yards per carry (2.3). Coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Joseph Addai has only 64 yards rushing in two games.

"Our running game is - it's hard to call it a running game right now," said Manning, whose 568 passing yards comprise the vast majority of the team's total offense. "We don't have much of that. We have a pretty one-dimensional team."

While the Jaguars' problems running the ball haven't been as bad statistically, they may be more critical given the team is built around the run. Jacksonville (0-2) rushed for nearly 150 yards per game last season, ranking second in the NFL in that category en route to an 11-5 record and a trip to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

With three starting offensive lineman out, the 2008 Jaguars haven't rushed for as many as 150 yards in two games, averaging 65.5 yards on the ground - 28th in the league - in losses to Tennessee and Buffalo.

"Is it perfect right now? No," Jaguars right tackle Tony Pashos said. "But the effort's there and we're going to get it right."

They're hoping to exploit the weakened Indianapolis defense, but Maurice Jones-Drew managed only 17 yards on seven carries in the 20-16 loss to the Bills on Sunday. Fred Taylor didn't do much more, carrying 14 times for 49 yards.

With the passing game missing a top receiver in free agent pickup Jerry Porter (hamstring), quarterback David Garrard hasn't been able to compensate, throwing for 380 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in the first two games.

"Losing two games isn't the end of the world," cornerback Drayton Florence said. "Obviously, you don't want to start out 0-2. But the swagger's not gone, the confidence isn't gone, the expectations aren't gone. We've just got to regroup and get this thing turned around before it gets ugly."

Losing a third game could be a problem for the Jaguars, considering only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after starting 0-3. Avoiding that fate could prove difficult, as the Colts swept the season series from Jacksonville last season and are 6-1 all-time at home in the series.

The Jaguars nearly pulled off an upset at Indianapolis last season, but lost 28-25 on Dec. 2, as Manning threw four touchdown passes and the defense held off a late Jacksonville charge.

The Colts are hoping to establish a similar home-field advantage at their new stadium, but they didn't have one in the opener, losing 29-13 to Chicago on Sept. 7.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

JACKSONVILLE is 7-6 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 11-3 straight up against JACKSONVILLE since 1992
8 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-2 against the spread versus JACKSONVILLE over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS is 3-1 straight up against JACKSONVILLE over the last 3 seasons
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
JACKSONVILLE is 4-3 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 6-1 straight up against JACKSONVILLE since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 1-1 against the spread versus JACKSONVILLE over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-0 straight up against JACKSONVILLE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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STEELERS at EAGLES

The Philadelphia Eagles know difference a healthy Donovan McNabb makes to their offense. The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger isn't going to hinder theirs.

Nursing a sprained shoulder, Roethlisberger tried to lead the Steelers to their first win in Philadelphia in 43 years on Sunday against McNabb and the high-scoring Eagles.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Eagles -3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 76% of bets for this game have been placed on Eagles -3.

Roethlisberger didn't have to work too hard in Pittsburgh's season-opening 38-17 win over Houston, where he completed 13-of-14 passes for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns in three quarters of action. However, he appeared shaken after landing on his shoulder during a sack.

He was limited in practice before the Steelers (2-0) went into Cleveland on Sunday night, but played well amid windy conditions and a shoulder a television reporter described as "separated." Roethlisberger went 12-for-19 for 186 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's 10-6 victory, and through two weeks is the NFL's highest-rated passer (136.3).

This week, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin denied his quarterback's shoulder was separated, explaining it was a sprain to his AC joint - which attaches the collarbone to the shoulder blade.

"I have no idea where that report came from,'' Tomlin said of the shoulder separation rumors. "It didn't come from me or my medical staff."

Tomlin says Roethlisberger will play against the Eagles (1-1), though he'll likely continue to miss some practice time.

"Some guys require a great number of snaps to get prepared to play," Tomlin said. "Some guys can learn visually, film room and so forth. Thankfully with Ben he's a pretty quick study and sharp guy. ... It doesn't take him a great number of reps to be prepared to play.

"Hopefully it won't be an issue this week. I know it won't be an excuse.''

If Roethlisberger is limited, he can at least find the AFC's leading rusher lined up behind him. Willie Parker has gone over 100 yards in each of his first two games and looks to be fully recovered from a broken leg he suffered last December.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is thankful it has an injury-free McNabb under center, something that hasn't happened for a full season since 2004. McNabb went on injured reserve in late November in both 2005 and 2006, the first time due to a sports hernia and the second thanks to a torn ACL.

He also missed two games last season because of an ankle injury, but he's been healthy to start 2008 and the Eagles' offense has been outstanding. McNabb is 46-for-70 for 642 yards, has thrown four touchdowns without an interception and has a 114.1 passer rating.

He threw for 281 yards and a touchdown Monday at Dallas, but a crucial turnover on a botched handoff between McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook led to a Cowboys touchdown and, eventually, a 41-37 loss.

"There are a lot of positives we can take from this game," said McNabb, who's leading the NFC's highest-scoring offense (37.5 points per game). "But that's not important right now. What we need to do is focus on the working on the negatives. That's going to make us a better team.''

One of those positives has been rookie receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson, who hauled in six catches for 106 yards in the opener, had six for 110 against Dallas to become the second player in NFL history to open his career with consecutive 100-yard games. The other was Don Looney in 1940, also for Philadelphia.

Jackson, though, would have had one more yard and a touchdown Monday if not for dropping the ball at the 1-yard-line and beginning a premature celebration after a 60-yard grab in the second quarter. Because the whistle was blown, the Eagles retained possession and Westbrook scored on the next play.

Despite that gaffe, with starting wideout Kevin Curtis sidelined and Reggie Brown still working his way back from a hamstring injury, McNabb seems to have a new favorite target.

"You have to trust him," McNabb said. "You show (young players) that you have trust in them, which, obviously, leads to them trusting me."

McNabb and Roethlisberger have met once, in 2004 at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to a 27-3 win in that game, while McNabb threw for just 109 yards and an interception.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are separated by 300 miles of turnpike, but the Pennsylvania rivals haven't played a regular-season game in Philadelphia since 1997. The Steelers haven't won there in the Super Bowl era, losing seven straight to the Eagles on the road since 1965.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

PHILADELPHIA is 2-2 against the spread versus PITTSBURGH since 1992
PHILADELPHIA is 2-2 straight up against PITTSBURGH since 1992
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
PHILADELPHIA is 1-0 against the spread versus PITTSBURGH since 1992
PHILADELPHIA is 1-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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SAINTS at BRONCOS

The Denver Broncos may have benefited from a blown call by official Ed Hochuli in the closing moments of their last game, but it was a call by coach Mike Shanahan that has the team brimming with confidence as it tries to open a season 3-0 for the first time in five years.

After a 2-point conversion with 24 seconds remaining gave them a one-point win last week, the Broncos look to keep momentum on their side as they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Broncos –5.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Broncos –5.5.

Much has been made of Hochuli's blown call on Denver's final drive last Sunday. The 19-year veteran ruled that Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler threw an incomplete pass deep in San Diego territory before replays showed that it was a fumble recovered by the Chargers. Though Hochuli's initial ruling was overturned, the officials couldn't give San Diego possession because Hochuli had blown his whistle.

That controversial call gave the Broncos another chance, and they took advantage when Cutler connected with Eddie Royal on a four-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left. Instead of opting to kick the extra point and head into overtime, Shanahan sent his offense back on the field for the 2-point conversion, and Cutler hit Royal again to give Denver a 39-38 victory.

It was the third successful 2-point attempt from a team going for the win instead of a tie in the waning seconds of a game since the 2-point conversion was added in 1994, and the first since Tampa Bay beat Washington 36-35 on Nov. 13, 2005.

"Sometimes you have to go with your gut," Shanahan said after the game. "I just felt like it was a chance for us to put them away. I didn't want to count on the coin flip. I wanted to do it then, and obviously it worked out.

"You've got a lot of confidence in your offense, you've got a lot of confidence in your offensive line, your receivers getting open, just kind of the tempo of the game," Shanahan added Monday. "We had a bunch of momentum going."

Shanahan has had every reason to trust his offense in the first two games of the season. The Broncos lead the NFL with 463.5 yards per game, thanks in part to Cutler's strong start.

The third-year quarterback out of Vanderbilt completed 36 of 50 passes last week for a career-best 350 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He leads the league with 650 passing yards and is tied for first with six TDs.

Cutler gives much of the credit to his corps of receivers, which includes Royal, Brandon Stokley and Brandon Marshall, who caught a team-record 18 passes for 166 yards and a TD in his season debut last week.

"There's a lot of dudes running free," Cutler said.

New Orleans (1-1) is accustomed to that kind of offense, having ranked first and fourth in total offense in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The Saints, however, fell to 10th in the league in 2008 after being held to 250 yards in a 29-24 road loss to Washington last Sunday.

Despite their struggles to move the ball, they took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter before giving up two touchdowns in the final six minutes.

"I thought we were fortunate to be up by nine going into the fourth quarter," said Saints coach Sean Payton, who signed a contract extension through the 2012 season before the game. "That teased us a little bit. But when it came time in the fourth quarter with some critical plays - offensively trying to make a yard, trying to convert a third-and-5, or defensively trying to keep the ball in front of us - they made those plays."

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 22-for-33 for 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and didn't get much help on the ground. New Orleans had 55 yards on 19 carries.

Brees is confident the team can bounce back as it did last year, when it went 7-5 after an 0-4 start.

"Any time early on in a season when you start playing games that count, you're still trying to find yourselves a little bit," Brees told the team's official Web site. "It's a new year. We just need to get back on track and get back to the point where every time we touch the ball we have that confidence level that we're going to go right down the field and score."

This is the first meeting between the Saints and Broncos since Denver's 34-13 win Nov. 21, 2004. Shanahan is 2-1 all-time against New Orleans.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

DENVER is 2-1 against the spread versus NEW ORLEANS since 1992
DENVER is 2-1 straight up against NEW ORLEANS since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
NEW ORLEANS is 1-0 against the spread versus DENVER since 1992
NEW ORLEANS is 1-0 straight up against DENVER since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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CHIEFS at FALCONS

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Matt Ryan and handed him the starting quarterback job, knowing he would make mistakes as he learned.

The Kansas City Chiefs only wish they had someone to put in such a scenario.

Two teams dealing with opposite situations at quarterback meet when the Falcons host the Chiefs on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Falcons -5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Falcons -5.

Ryan was superb in his first NFL start, throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first throw and leading Atlanta to a 34-21 win over Detroit in the season opener. Last week, he played more like a rookie, making several mistakes as the Falcons lost 24-9 to Tampa Bay.

"Obviously, you don't want to start 0-for-9 and throw two interceptions. But you've got to keep battling," said Ryan, who finished 13-of-33 for 158 yards. "Everybody on our team did that. You've got to love that."

The Falcons (1-1) knew there would be ups and downs for Ryan, but they gave the No. 3 overall pick the starting job so he could gain valuable experience.

"As a rookie, it's not going to be easy. There's going to be ups and downs. You've got to weather the storm," Ryan said. "You've got to learn from experiences like this, take what you can from the film and get better."

While Ryan is likely to be inconsistent as he grows into the job, the Chiefs (0-2) have been unable to find anyone to stabilize the quarterback position this season. With Brodie Croyle out two weeks with a separated shoulder, Kansas City tried three quarterbacks last week against Oakland, and none of them had much success in a 23-8 loss.

The Chiefs have lost 11 straight dating to last season, and their rebuilding effort has been held up by the uncertainty under center. After veteran Damon Huard started against the Raiders, Chiefs coach Herman Edwards made the decision Wednesday to go with second-year player Tyler Thigpen against the Falcons.

Thigpen, who played most of the game against the Raiders after Huard left with what was described as a stiff neck, threw a short touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez, but struggled to move the offense. Marques Hagans, a reserve wide receiver for most of his brief NFL career, also took some snaps.

Ryan and the Falcons appear to have a much more stable foundation to build upon. Atlanta leads the NFC in rushing, with Michael Turner running for 262 yards in his first two games with the team.

Ryan also has two solid receivers in Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, and both could have big days Sunday with the Chiefs starting rookie cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Flowers was given his starting job right after the draft while Carr will replace veteran Patrick Surtain, who injured his shoulder against Oakland.

"For the most part, I thought they did a good job against the Raiders," Edwards said. "We put them in a lot of man-to-man situations, they played a lot of bump-and-run. We got no problem playing man-to-man with these guys. They go up there and bump them and run with them and press them. No one gets nervous about it. They do pretty good."

Oakland ran for 300 yards against Kansas City last week, the third-highest total in Chiefs history, so Ryan may not need to throw the ball very much anyway. And that would be good news for Turner, who rushed for just 42 yards against Tampa Bay's stout defense after piling up 220 in Week 1.

Turner, who knows Kansas City well after spending his first four years in San Diego, made his first career start against the Chiefs in the last game of the 2004 season, rushing for 87 yards on 15 carries.

His counterpart on the Chiefs, Larry Johnson, is hoping to get his season turned around this week after a frustrating start. Johnson, who has 96 yards on 34 carries, voiced his concerns about his role with the team after the loss to the Raiders, but Edwards tried to downplay the comments this week.

"We just have different personnel groups," Edwards said. "I think for the most part, L.J. is very competitive, and rightly so. And our plans are always to get him the ball. He's going to touch the ball 20-25 times. But as the game played out when it got late in the third quarter, we went into a different mode of having to try to throw the ball."

Kansas City set a single-game NFL record with eight rushing touchdowns in a 56-10 win over Atlanta in 2004, the last meeting between the teams. The Falcons won 29-13 in the last matchup at Atlanta in 2000, the Falcons' only victory over the Chiefs in the six-game all-time series.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

KANSAS CITY is 2-1 against the spread versus ATLANTA since 1992
KANSAS CITY is 2-1 straight up against ATLANTA since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
ATLANTA is 1-1 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY since 1992
ATLANTA is 1-1 straight up against KANSAS CITY since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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LIONS at 49ERS

The Detroit Lions weren't satisfied with Mike Martz during his two-year tenure as the team's offensive coordinator. The San Francisco 49ers, however, have nothing but good things to say about him after two games.

Martz and the new-look 49ers look to continue their rebuilding on Sunday when they host the Lions, who haven't had much luck in their first season without the offensive mastermind.

After a seven-year stint with the St. Louis Rams that included a Super Bowl win as the offensive coordinator and another Super Bowl appearance as the head coach, Martz was hired to revamp Detroit's offense in 2006. The club went 3-13 in his first season, then collapsed after a 6-2 start last year to finish 7-9.

Martz was replaced by Jim Colletto in the offseason, a move that got mixed reviews from Lions players.

"You can keep changing coaches, but every time you change them, that's a new system," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "The reality is, the games that we lost, the majority, the time that things didn't go right, it was self-inflicted stuff. It wasn't a coaching thing where you were outcoached or they weren't putting you in a position to be successful."

Despite Kitna's misgivings, Martz left Detroit and joined a San Francisco team that finished last in the league in 2007 in points (219), scrimmage yards (4,162), touchdowns (24), first downs (218), sacks allowed (55) and third-down conversion rate (31.4 percent).

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made 49ers –4  point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on 49ers –4.

It's only been two games, but the 49ers (1-1) are raving about the possibilities after totaling 365 yards in a 33-30 overtime win on the road against Seattle last Sunday. They had more than 350 yards only once last season.

"It's a whole lot different now," said running back Frank Gore, who had 99 total yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. "Having a leader like Martz, knowing his past and knowing he's won games, it just makes me want to play even harder. You just want to let him know you're good."

Coach Mike Nolan, on the hot seat after last year's struggles, is just as excited about his new right-hand man.

"He's got a great command presence with the players," Nolan said. "They've got a lot of belief in what he does. They know that if they just do what he says, they've got a great chance to get the ball."

Perhaps Martz's biggest success early this season is the play of J.T. O'Sullivan, a journeyman quarterback who spent last season as a backup for the Lions. O'Sullivan, who's been a member of eight different NFL teams over the last seven seasons, completed 20 of 32 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown last week and has looked very comfortable in his first two career starts.

Martz, though, isn't taking the credit for O'Sullivan's breakout.

"I didn't know much about J.T.," Martz said. "In Detroit, he did a real nice job for us as a backup. What he's done so far (in San Francisco) is he's taken an opportunity and made the most of it. To say that I expected him to do this good, I'd be lying to you."

While the 49ers are optimistic about the direction they're heading, the Lions (0-2) continue to struggle as they try to adapt to Colletto's new system.

Wide receiver Roy Williams was vocal in his criticism of Colletto's run-first offense after Detroit rallied from a 21-point deficit to lead Green Bay midway through the fourth quarter only to lose 48-25 last Sunday.

"Last year, we would start the game in four wide and dictate the tempo," said Williams, who led the Lions with 2,148 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches during Martz's two years with the team. "Now, we only get into it in 2-minute situations - or if we're down 21-nothing. Why would you get in that when you're down? Why don't you just start it and get up?

"But I'm just a player."

The frustrated Lions are eager to get back on the field to put last week's collapse behind them.

"The next game can't come fast enough," center Dominic Raiola said. "We have no excuses and no answers right now."

Detroit hasn't had answers against San Francisco lately, losing 10 of 11 in the series since 1988. Gore ran for 159 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers won their last meeting with the Lions 19-13 on Nov. 12, 2006.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

SAN FRANCISCO is 6-2 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 8-1 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
6 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 1-0 against the spread versus DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
SAN FRANCISCO is 1-0 straight up against DETROIT over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
SAN FRANCISCO is 4-1 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 5-0 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
5 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992

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DOLPHINS at PATRIOTS

In their first game in seven years without Tom Brady starting under center, the New England Patriots certainly didn't look like the team that set an NFL record for points while going 16-0 last year.

Instead, they looked more like the team that won three Super Bowls earlier this decade.

The new-look Patriots will try to run the longest regular-season winning streak in NFL history to 22 on Sunday, when they host the winless Miami Dolphins.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Patriots -13 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Patriots -13.

After Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury eight minutes into New England's opener against Kansas City on Sept. 7, the league wondered how the Patriots (2-0) would react without the reigning NFL MVP, who threw a record 50 touchdown passes in an undefeated 2007 regular season.

Coach Bill Belichick's team responded last week with a workmanlike effort in a 19-10 victory at the New York Jets.

While quarterback Matt Cassel avoided risks and mistakes in his first start since high school, New England's defense allowed 10 points for the second straight game, stiffening at important moments to hold down Brett Favre and the Jets.

Cassel went 16-of-23 for 165 yards without a touchdown or an interception, sticking mostly to shorter passes and handoffs to the Patriots' four-pronged rushing attack.

"At the end of the day, you've got to have more points than the other team and that's what we did, so I'm satisfied," Cassel said. "I didn't have too many butterflies going out. I've been in the system for four years, so I'm confident I know I can run it."

Without Brady, the Patriots appear unlikely to rack up passing yards and blowouts as they did in 2007. However, even with Brady at quarterback, that wasn't the team's style in 2003-04, when they went 14-2 and won Super Bowls in back-to-back seasons despite averaging fewer than 220 passing yards per game.

They were even less prolific in 2001, when Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe and led the team to its first championship. Brady went 11-3 as a starter that season even though the team averaged 190 passing yards, instead minimizing errors and relying on strong defense.

"After all these years of playing against the Patriots, I wondered why they are so good," running back LaMont Jordan said. "Being a Patriot, I realize what it is; the total team effort. Just get your job done, and it comes from the head coach."

Jordan ran for 62 yards on 11 carries against the Jets, stepping up as a fourth option at running back. Laurence Maroney led the team with 835 yards rushing last year, while Patriots mainstay Kevin Faulk and former Dolphins back Sammy Morris have also played parts.

Despite the Patriots' success since Belichick took over in 2000, they're just 9-7 against the Dolphins over that span - their worst record against any AFC East opponent.

Miami (0-2) has fallen upon hard times, though, and under new coach Tony Sparano and new front office executive Bill Parcells, 2008 has not begun smoothly for the Dolphins.

Parcells was New England's head coach from 1993-96, and took the Patriots to the Super Bowl after the 1996 season. Belichick served on his staff for three different teams, winning a pair of Super Bowls with the New York Giants.

It may take a while for Parcells to bring similar success to South Florida. After starting 0-13 last year en route to a 1-15 season, Miami hasn't looked much better in 2008. The Dolphins gained only 236 total yards while allowing 445 in a 31-10 loss at Arizona on Sunday.

"You're always going to hit some adversity," Sparano said, "and we've hit some adversity right now."

In just his second game with Miami, quarterback Chad Pennington was lifted after going 10-of-20 for 112 yards, but Sparano said the veteran will remain the starter even though rookie Chad Henne directed the Dolphins' lone touchdown drive.

On the ground, running back Ricky Williams has only 52 rushing yards on 21 carries through two games. Ronnie Brown hasn't been any better, carrying 17 times for 48 yards.

Perhaps facing the Patriots will help Williams. In his last game against New England, he rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in Miami's 28-26 win in Foxborough on Jan. 1, 2006.

Cassel saw the bulk of the action in that game, which took place in Week 17 with the Patriots resting Brady in preparation for the playoffs. Cassel went 11-of-20 for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

That was Miami's last road win against an AFC opponent. The Dolphins have also lost 11 straight on the road overall since beating Detroit 27-10 on Thanksgiving Day 2006.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME


NEW ENGLAND is 17-15 against the spread versus MIAMI since 1992
MIAMI is 17-16 straight up against NEW ENGLAND since 1992
17 of 32 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
NEW ENGLAND is 2-2 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
NEW ENGLAND is 3-1 straight up against MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
3 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
NEW ENGLAND is 10-6 against the spread versus MIAMI since 1992
NEW ENGLAND is 11-6 straight up against MIAMI since 1992
8 of 16 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
NEW ENGLAND is 1-1 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
NEW ENGLAND is 2-0 straight up against MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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RAMS at SEAHAWKS

A rash of injuries to their wide receivers has forced the Seattle Seahawks to bring back a talented player with a checkered past.

They not only hope Koren Robinson has truly turned his life around this time, but that he can help them avoid their first 0-3 start in six years.

After apparently conquering his personal demons once again, Robinson leads the injury-wracked Seahawks against the inept St. Louis Rams on Sunday in a matchup pitting the NFL's two worst defenses.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Seahawks –9.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Rams +9.5.

Seattle has already lost six receivers due to injury, including Nate Burleson, Ben Obomanu and Logan Payne for the season. Veterans Deion Branch and Bobby Engram have yet to play, and are not expected to return until after the bye week later this month. Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace - pressed into service as a receiver - will miss the next month after injuring his calf last week during pre-game warmups.

To shore up the position, Seattle acquired Keary Colbert from Denver for a reported fifth-round draft pick on Tuesday. The Seahawks then agreed to a one-year contract with Robinson, who immediately becomes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's top target again.

From 2001-04, Robinson averaged 53 catches for almost 792 yards and three touchdowns per season.

Before rejoining the team that selected him ninth overall in 2001, Robinson had to prove he's changed since they released him in 2005 because of repeated alcohol issues.

"Just because of the terms and circumstances I left Seattle on, I never thought I'd be back,'' said the 28-year-old Robinson, who said he's been sober for 25 months thanks in large part to a new marriage and family. "I'm grateful for this chance. I think it can be a good story - for me and the team.''

Robinson said the final incident that caused him to change came just over two years ago. Police said Robinson, then with Minnesota, led them on a car chase at speeds more than 100 mph, and that his blood-alcohol content was found to be well above the legal limit of 0.08.

Robinson was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading down to a charge of fleeing police. He also was sentenced to three months in jail for violating probation on a separate drunken-driving case in Kirkland, Wash., in 2006.

He was reinstated in October, and played nine games with Green Bay last year, but this clearly is Robinson's last chance: If he violates the league's substance-abuse policy again, he faces a lifetime ban.

"I guess what I care about more is that he grew up and really matured and got his life turned around in the right direction. ... I'm proud of him," Hasselbeck said.

Apart from their roster issues, the Seahawks (0-2) also must tighten up on defense, which features 11 returning starters and four Pro Bowlers. After giving up 34 points in a Week 1 loss at Buffalo, the Seahawks returned home and allowed journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan to pass for 321 yards in a stunning 33-30 overtime loss to San Francisco last week.

"Look, we just have to regroup," coach Mike Holmgren told the Seahawks' official Web site. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves, fix the things we can fix, hopefully, and get ready for the Rams next week."

Given St. Louis' poor start to 2008, the Seahawks may not have to work that hard. Though the Rams have been outscored 79-16 in a pair of blowout losses, third-year coach Scott Linehan made a bold prediction.

"In my mind, we're going to beat Seattle,'' he said. "I'm not making any guarantees. In my mind we're going to beat Seattle and we're going to right this ship, OK, because we don't have a choice. I don't have a choice and neither does anybody else around here.''

The Rams followed a 38-3 loss to Philadelphia in their season opener with a 41-13 thrashing by the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants last week in which Marc Bulger was sacked six times.

Perhaps the only bright spot during last week's game was that defensive end Chris Long, selected second overall in the 2008 draft, recorded his first career sack.

St. Louis has given up nearly 1,000 yards of offense while managing less than 400 so far this season. The team has yet to run a play inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

"I think it's a fragile group and we've got to stay the course,'' offensive coordinator Al Saunders said. "I'm disappointed, certainly. I'm not discouraged about these guys, because I know what we can do down the road.''

Steven Jackson, a three-time, 1,000-yard rusher who ended a lengthy holdout last month by signing a long-term deal, has rushed just 27 times for 93 yards so far. He's found the end zone in each of his last three games versus the Seahawks, but has yet to have a 100-yard game in his career when facing them.

The Rams have lost six straight meetings with the Seahawks.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

SEATTLE is 8-7 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
SEATTLE is 9-6 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
7 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
SEATTLE is 2-2 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 4-0 straight up against ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 4-4 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
SEATTLE is 5-3 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
SEATTLE is 1-1 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 2-0 straight up against ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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JETS at CHARGERS

Had two plays gone differently in their first two games, the San Diego Chargers might be undefeated and alone atop the AFC West.

Instead, they need a victory over the team led by the most prolific passer in NFL history to avoid falling to 0-3.

After being on the wrong end of an officiating blunder that cost them a win, the Chargers will try to bounce back Monday night when they host Brett Favre and the New York Jets.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chargers –9.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game. Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Chargers –9.5.

San Diego (0-2) lost on the final play of their home opener against Carolina, falling 26-24 on Jake Delhomme's touchdown pass as time expired. That was a heartbreaking defeat, but it didn't compare to what happened last Sunday in the Chargers' first road game.

San Diego and Denver played a back-and-forth game that saw the Chargers come back from 18 points down in the second quarter to take a seven-point lead with 4:22 left to play. Jay Cutler led the Broncos down the field after that, but on a second-and-goal play, the ball clearly slipped out of Cutler's hand, bouncing off the grass and into linebacker Tim Dobbins' arms.

Referee Ed Hochuli, however, had blown his whistle inadvertently, ruling it an incomplete pass. Despite the error, instant replay rules don't allow a change of possession in such situations.

Instead of the Chargers having a chance to run out the clock, Cutler threw a touchdown pass two plays later and Denver converted a bold 2-point conversion attempt to win 39-38.

"It was clearly a fumble,'' Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "Ed came over, the official, and said he blew it. And that's not acceptable to me. This is a high-level performance game and that's not acceptable to have a game decided on that play."

Turner's team has to put the stunning defeats behind it quickly. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 234 teams have started a season with two losses, and only 27 have made the playoffs.

Since 1990, three teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3 - none since Buffalo in 1998.

If the Chargers want to avoid falling into that hole, they'll need to shore up a defense that's ranked 30th in the NFL. San Diego has allowed an average of 437.0 yards of offense in its first two games, and after ranking fifth in scoring defense last season at 17.8 points per game, is giving up 32.5 this year.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman is out for the season after having knee surgery last week, but he isn't the Chargers' only banged-up Pro Bowler. Star tailback LaDainian Tomlinson has been hobbled by a toe injury and hasn't scored a touchdown in two games. He ran for just 26 yards on 10 carries against Denver.

Tomlinson said Wednesday that his toe isn't as sore as it has been, but he didn't sound overly confident.

``Well, with another day of rest and treatment, it's feeling a little better today, so hopefully, I'm just going to play it by ear this week, see how it feels later in the week,'' he said. ``I'm hoping that it's going to make big progress this week and by Monday night hopefully I'll be as close to 100 percent as possible.''

While Tomlinson has struggled through two weeks, quarterback Phillip Rivers hasn't. He's thrown for 594 yards, has the league's third-highest passer rating (122.5) and is tied for first with six touchdowns.

Brett Favre has thrown an NFL-record 445 touchdown passes in his Hall of Fame career, but after a solid debut with the Jets, his second game didn't go nearly as well. After tossing a pair of touchdowns in a season-opening 20-14 win over Miami, Favre threw a crucial interception in his home debut last Sunday, leading to a third-quarter New England score that pushed New York's deficit from three to 10 points. The Patriots went on to win 19-10.

One particular sequence that drew the ire of Jets' fans occurred in the second quarter, when New York had a first-and-goal at the New England 3-yard line. The Jets gave the ball to Thomas Jones three times unsuccessfully before settling for a field goal.

"There's no guarantees throwing the ball would've worked,'' Favre said. "Do I like my chances? Absolutely. But I'm going to say that no matter what. You know, people can call it conservative or whatever. Had we run the ball in on one of those three, they're great calls.''

Even though the Jets couldn't hand New England its first regular season loss in 21 games, New York's defense played well. The Patriots didn't have Tom Brady, but the Jets held Randy Moss to two catches and limited the Patriots to 260 total yards.

New York is sixth in run defense (76.5 ypg) and eighth in total defense (268.5 ypg).

Linebacker Eric Barton, though, said it was what the defense didn't do that cost New York the chance to move to 2-0.

"When we needed to make big stops, we didn't make them,'' said Barton, who leads the Jets with 14 tackles. "It's as simple as that. We didn't force any turnovers, we didn't get the ball back in our offense's hands more. We didn't do that.''

Favre, 5-0 against the Chargers, hasn't played in San Diego since 2003.

This is the Jets' first visit to Qualcomm Stadium since they upset the Chargers 20-17 in overtime in a 2005 wild-card game.

BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME

NY JETS is 4-1 against the spread versus SAN DIEGO since 1992
NY JETS is 3-2 straight up against SAN DIEGO since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
NY JETS is 3-0 against the spread versus SAN DIEGO since 1992
NY JETS is 3-0 straight up against SAN DIEGO since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992

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