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Thursday, 18 September 2008 18:07
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 Green Bay was trailing Dallas 27-10 last Nov. 29 when Brett Favre injured his right elbow and separated his left shoulder early in the second quarter. In came Aaron Rodgers for his first significant action as a pro, and a little more than a quarter later, the Packers were within three points in a game Dallas finally won 37-27.
With Favre gone to the Jets, Rodgers starts Sunday night in Green Bay against the only team that's already had a good look at him. Just as it was last season, it's a marquee matchup - the teams were 10-1 when they met last season and each are 2-0 now.
ime time with little warning. Romo did do on a Monday night two years ago against the Giants when Drew Bledsoe was pulled.
After two games this month, Rodgers has completed 70 percent of his passes, hasn't thrown an interception in 42 attempts and has a superior passer rating of 117.8.
``He's making good decisions and he's being accurate with the football,'' coach Mike McCarthy says. ``He hasn't taken many chances, and that's all part of good quarterback play. He needs to continue to do that.''
Romo, who grew up in Wisconsin, has a lot of Favre in him. He can make big plays out of nothing, but he can also get himself into trouble, as he did Monday night in the 41-37 win over the Eagles, fumbling in his end zone to give Philadelphia a touchdown, in part because he tried to make a play instead of conceding a safety.
He's looking forward this week to performing in a historic venue.
``I'm a nostalgic person in a sense that I enjoy traditional things. I enjoy watching great players or great sporting events at a great atmosphere,'' Romo said. ``Lambeau Field obviously has great history and it's going to fun to go up there and be part of that a little bit.''
, yet got the advantage because Dallas lost the game that really counted, its opening playoff game.
But this is a chance to make a statement.
``You've got to play well in September to get to December,'' Dallas coach Wade Phillips says. ``You can look back at a lot of teams that didn't play well enough early and didn't make it. It's not only the last few games. It's the first games that count, too. They count them all.''
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In other games Sunday, Houston is at Tennessee; Oakland at Buffalo; Carolina at Minnesota; Kansas City at Atlanta; Tampa Bay at Chicago; Arizona at Washington; Miami at New England; Cincinnati at the New York Giants; St. Louis at Seattle; Detroit at San Francisco; New Orleans at Denver; Cleveland at Baltimore; Jacksonville at Indianapolis; and Pittsburgh at Philadelphia.
The New York Jets are at San Diego on Monday night.
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Jacksonville (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1)
The Jaguars were a chic pick to end the Colts' run of five straight AFC South titles. After losses to Tennessee and Buffalo, they just need a win. The problem is injuries on the offensive line. The Jags depend more than most teams on the run, but both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are averaging less than 3 yards per carry.
arly in last week's game, threw two late touchdown passes, then drove his team into range for Adam Vinatieri's field goal that gave it 18-15 win. Credit the defense, too, for holding Minnesota without a touchdown.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Philadelphia (1-1)
A 4-point loss in Dallas is no dishonor for the Eagles, especially since they outplayed the Cowboys for long stretches. They also have a deep threat in rookie DeSean Jackson, the first player since 1940 to start his career with two 100-yard receiving games. Although Andy Reid and his staff have to cure him of WSS (Wideout Showboat Syndrome) before it becomes a habit.
Pittsburgh already is in position for another AFC North title after winning in Cleveland. That was one of the weird weather games the Steelers often seem to play,although the forecast for Sunday in Philly is decent.

Carolina (2-0) at Minnesota (0-2)
Congratulations to John Fox for getting through two games against good opposition without Steve Smith, in part because Jonathan Stewart, one of a pack of good rookie running backs in the NFL, has averaged 5.4 yards per carry. And because Jake Delhomme is back in form after elbow surgery.
n for a team that spent millions elsewhere, but kept a youngster at QB. That was never going to happen.

New York Jets (1-1) at San Diego (0-2) (Monday night)
The Jets are up against it. Not only are the Chargers desperate to avoid an 0-3 start, but the officials owe them one after Ed Hochuli's acknowledged bad call cost them last week's game in Denver.
San Diego certainly shouldn't allow 486 yards this week, as it did in Denver. The Jets ran a conservative offense, running three times from the New England 3, then settling for a field goal despite Brett Favre's historic ability to throw short-range TD passes. The ESPN script calls for Tony Kornheiser to mention Favre on every first-half play before Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski manage to shut him up.

New Orleans (1-1) at Denver (2-0)
The Broncos are averaging 40 points a game. And the Saints have the offensive weapons, even with Marques Colston out, to make this another 39-38 game. Statistics after two weeks are usually skewed, but this may be relevant: Denver ranks 27th in the NFL in yards allowed and New Orleans is 29th.
ffrey are retired, so there are 80 numbers available.

Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (2-0)
The Texans' enforced week off was hardly a vacation, thanks to Hurricane Ike. ``I feel very lucky,'' said DE Mario Williams, Houston's top defensive player. ``My area is very bad. There's tons of trees that are down, lots of trees that fell through houses, but thank goodness no one was injured.''
The Titans have allowed just 17 points in wins over Jacksonville and Cincinnati and are efficient enough with Kerry Collins that he may remain the starter when Vince Young is ready. Collins, who needs 90 yards to become the 15th QB to reach 35,000 yards passing, is part of the '90s revival - Gus Frerotte and Kurt Warner also are starting.

Oakland (1-1) at Buffalo (2-0)
Darren McFadden and Michael Bush led the way in the Raiders' first 300-yard rushing game in 21 years in a 23-8 win over Kansas City. Still, rumors persist that Al Davis is about to fire coach Lane Kiffin. ``There are certain things I can control, there's certain things I can't,'' Kiffin said. ``He has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now.''
other young QBs stumbling, does anyone notice Trent Edwards, a third-round pick last year who has a passer rating of 107.7?

Miami (0-2) at New England (2-0)
Here's news: Bill Belichick, who always says every opponent is great, acknowledged this week that the 2007 1-15 Dolphins weren't very good. ``I think they are greatly improved from where they were last year,'' he said of this year's version.
Matt Cassel's first start was his first win, 19-10 over the Jets last week. One sign of Brady's absence: New England has 36 points in two wins this season after getting 38 in each of its first two last season. To Belichick, a win is a win.

Arizona (2-0) at Washington (1-1)
The historically challenged Cardinals last started 2-0 in 1991, and Warner had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 last week against Miami.
``There's reason to be proud of our accomplishment,'' says linebacker Chike Okeafor. ``But it's just two games. It's just a start. Football is a game of 'forget.' You forget about what you did last week or yesterday, and you just move on.''
The Redskins are probably the worst team in the NFC East, but might be the favorite if they were in the West, where the Cardinals reside. Warner turns the ball over under pressure, a problem if Jason Taylor is healthy.

ork Giants (2-0)
The Giants have been inconsistent on offense, but have outscored Washington and Cincinnati by a combined 57-20 and are getting back the respect they earned during their Super Bowl run. Eli Manning's passer rating of 131.4 against St. Louis was the second best of his career; he was a point higher in the playoff win in Dallas last January.
Carson Palmer is last in the NFL at 37.1, although to be fair, last week's loss to Tennessee was played in 50 mph winds. The wide receivers, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the guy who changed his name, have only 11 catches between them.

Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (1-0)
The Ravens were the party of the second part in the hurricane-forced postponement of last Sunday's game in Houston. It gave time off that allowed a few players to heal, but it means there will be no bye later, when more players are likely to be banged up.
The Browns are another of those 0-2 teams with high expectations that suddenly find themselves facing a turning point in the third week. They have scored just 16 points in home losses to Dallas and Pittsburgh after averaging 25 per game in a 10-6 season a year ago.

Tampa Bay (1-1) at Chicago (1-1)
o in Jon Gruden's always changeable stable of quarterbacks.
The Bears are silent about their best big-play threat, Devin Hester, who injured his ribs last week. Kyle Orton is the QB now and rookie Matt Forte is averaging 108 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.

St. Louis (0-2) at Seattle (0-2)
The Seahawks are winless in part because every experienced receiver has been hurt and Matt Hasselbeck has a bad back. The defense also has underachieved.
This could be the perfect time to get well against a team that has been outscored 79-16 and hasn't had a snap inside an opponent's 20-yard-line. The only TD came on a 45-yard pass in the 41-13 loss to the Giants that was deflected twice by New York's Kenny Phillips and fell to Torry Holt on the ground.

Detroit (0-2) at San Francisco (1-1)
The 49ers, who went straight from the top of the NFL to the bottom, may have a chance to be at least mediocre this year. New coordinator Mike Martz, with career third-stringer J.T. O'Sullivan at QB, seems to have invigorated an offense that scored an NFL-worst 219 points last season.
deficit to briefly lead 25-24.

Kansas City (0-2) at Atlanta (1-1)
Matt Ryan, who came back to earth last week against Tampa's difficult defense, is matched up against a QB with less experience and far less money: the Chiefs' Tyler Thigpen, forced to start by injuries to Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard.
Thigpen's presence could make it hard for Tony Gonzalez to reach a career milestone he'll eventually get of most career yards receiving by a tight end. He needs 85 yards to pass Shannon Sharpe, who leads with 10,060.
 

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