Nfl Week 1: Today's Games

September 06, 1998

Atlanta at Carolina

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 4 1/2

Vs. spread (1997): Falcons 7-5; Panthers 6-8.

Worth watching: After a disastrous 1997 season that featured 21 interceptions and only 11 touchdown passes, Carolina QB Kerry Collins tries to rebuild his career.

Outlook: Both of these teams figure to spend the season looking up at San Francisco in the NFC West. Will last year's trends continue? In 1997, the Falcons were out of contention when they won five of their last six.

Notable: The Falcons went 7-3 in games QB Chris Chandler started and finished, 0-6 in games he didn't. The Panthers had a turnover differential of minus-17 after a plus-13 in 1996.


FALCONS: Questionable: DE John Burrough (foot); S Devin Bush (knee); CB Randy Fuller (ankle). Probable: S Chris Bayne (shoulder); LB Henri Crockett (thigh).

PANTHERS: Out: C Frank Garcia (knee); CB Michael Swift (leg). Doubtful: WR Donald Hayes (shoulder); NT Les Miller (knee); S Damien Richardson (ankle). Questionable: TE Kris Mangum (concussion). Probable: CB Eric Davis (abdomen); DT Sean Gilbert (thumb); QB Shane Matthews (shoulder); S Mike Minter (knee).

New Orleans at St. Louis

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Rams by 4

Vs. spread (1997): Saints 6-9; Rams 6-9.

Worth watching: Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is one of the few bright spots for the Rams. In his last four games against the Saints, he has 28 catches for 488 yards and five touchdowns.

Outlook: Mike Ditka's offense turned the ball over a stunning, league-leading 55 times a year ago. Billy Joe Hobert takes over at QB for injured Heath Shuler. The Saints have too many deep questions to answer, and the Rams know how to beat them.

Notable: Former Seahawk Lamar Smith will start at running back for the Saints, who haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Dalton Hilliard in 1989. Rams QB Tony Banks threw for 488 yards and five TDs vs. Saints last year.


SAINTS: Out: QB Heath Shuler (toe). Questionable: WR Sean Dawkins (elbow); LB Mark Fields (eye); OL Keno Hills (knee). Probable: DT Julian Pittman (back); CB Fred Weary (abdomen).

RAMS: Out: WR Az-Zahir Hakim (hand); LB Roman Phifer (hamstring). Doubtful: C Mike Gruttadauria (knee); Questionable: S Toby Wright (knee).

Tennesse at Cincinnati

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Bengals by 1

Vs. spread (1997): Oilers 10-6; Bengals 7-9.

Worth watching: Former Jet Neil O'Donnell, who beat out incumbent Jeff Blake, makes his debut as the Bengals' starting quarterback. The Oilers' Eddie George (1,399 yards last year) is one of the game's best young running backs.

Outlook: Bengals hope they have a star in second-year running back Corey Dillon, who shredded the Oilers for NFL rookie-record 246 yards rushing last December.

Notable: Oilers QB Steve McNair threw for five TDs in two games vs. Bengals last season. Oilers G Bruce Matthews is making his 166th consecutive start, the NFL's longest active streak. O'Donnell has won five of his past seven starts vs. Oilers. The Bengals have won their past five games in which Dillon scored.


OILERS: Questionable: S Blaine Bishop (ankle); CB Steve Jackson (groin-finger); CB Darryll Lewis (knee); CB Samari Rolle (neck); C Mark Stepnoski (knee).

BENGALS: Out: WR James Hundon (ankle); RB Brian Milne (back); LB Brian Simmons (knee).

Miami at Indianapolis

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Dolphins by 3 1/2

Vs. spread (1997): Dolphins 7-7; Colts 7-8.

Worth watching: The quarterbacks are the stories here. Future Hall of Famer Dan Marino begins his 16th season as No. 1 overall draft pick Peyton Manning begins his first for the Colts.

Outlook: In addition to a new quarterback, the Colts have a new coach, former Saint Jim Mora, and 21 new players after the 3-13 debacle of '97. In Jimmy Johnson's third season as coach, the Dolphins are still trying to get the running game down pat.

Notable: The Dolphins' 3.1 yards per carry last season was the worst in franchise history. The Colts offensive line surrendered an AFC-high 62 sacks.


DOLPHINS: Doubtful: DE Lorenzo Bromell (knee). Questionable: LB Anthony Harris (knee); RB Jim Kitts (groin); DE Jason Taylor (calf). Probable: QB Craig Erickson (elbow); WR Charles Jordan (groin).

COLTS: Out: WR E.G. Green (elbow). Doubtful: DT Steve Martin (ankle); RB Lamont Warren (ankle). Questionable: RB Keith Elias (shoulder); DE Kendell Shello (ankle). Probable: DT Tony McCoy (knee); DT Bernard Whittington (knee); G Tom Myslinski (back); WR Jerome Pathon (hamstring).

Detroit at Green Bay

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Packers by 9 1/2

Vs. spread (1997): Lions 8-7; Packers 6-11.

Worth watching: Barry Sanders goes for his 15th consecutive 100-yard rushing game as he closes in on Walter Payton's all-time record. He has 13,778 and could catch Payton (16,726) next season.

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