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NFL previews

Today's games on tv t Vikings at Browns When: Noon. TV/radio: KBRR (GF Channel 10); The Fan (1440 AM). Line: MIN by 4; Cote's pick: MIN 35-17. Spotlight shines on the two QBs: Ancient Brett Favre in his Vikes debut, and young Brady Quinn taking o...

Today's games

on tv

t

Vikings at Browns

When: Noon.

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TV/radio: KBRR (GF Channel 10); The Fan (1440 AM).

Line: MIN by 4; Cote's pick: MIN 35-17.

Spotlight shines on the two QBs: Ancient Brett Favre in his Vikes debut, and young Brady Quinn taking over for Earthtones. But the result will turn on the ground, not in air. Adrian Peterson will run wild and thrill every fantasy owner who has him, because moribund Cleveland has nobody to stop him.

Jaguars at Colts

When: Noon.

TV: KXJB (GF Channel 4).

Line: IND by 7; Cote's pick: IND 30-14.

These teams split two close games last season. That and a vague sense Indy isn't quite as strong as in past years makes me tempted to take Jax getting seven points. Can't do it, though. Can't. Peyton Manning at home is still a fearsome thing, and Jaguars have sunk to the bottom third of NFL teams.

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Redskins at Giants

When: 3:15 p.m.

TV: KBRR (GF Channel 10).

Line: NYG by 6½; Cote's pick: NYG 19-10.

Skins made a nice addition in DT Albert Haynesworth, but did less to solve an offense that struggled mightily to score last season. Now that offense faces one of the two or three best defensive front-sevens around. Even lacking wideouts, Biggies' offense is still better than Washington's.

Bears at Packers

When: 7:20 p.m.

TV: KVLY (GF Channel 11).

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Line: GB by 3½; Cote's pick: CHI 31-28.

"AAAWWWK!" booms the Upset Bird, soaring with unearned triumphancy. "Chicaawwk!" This prime-timer could be best of Kickoff Weekend's seven division games. Certainly is most storied, a record 177th meeting. GeeBees likely better all-round, but Bears on 7-3 run in rivalry, and expect big numbers from Jay Cutler in his Chitown debut vs. still-evolving Pack D. "Until now, City of Broad Shoulders has been bereft of a decent arm, an anatomical quandary," notes U-Bird. "Jaawwk Cutlaawwk!"

Today's other games

t

Dolphins at Falcons

When: Noon.

Line: ATL by 4; Cote's pick: ATL 24-17.

Season opener will be instant read on Miami's playoff outlook, since Atlanta is very much one of the many strong-but-beatable opponents on imposing schedule that Dolphins must find way to overcome. Likewise, game will provide early referendum on Dolphins defense, because Matt Ryan has weapons all over field. If secondary is a Miami weakness, it'll be tough to hide here. Dolphs' first trip to Atlanta since 1998 is a meeting of last year's NFL comeback kids, with 'Lanta's Mike Smith edging Tony Sparano by a whisker (unfairly) for coach of year. Like to say Tony will enjoy his revenge here, but Falcons were 7-1 at home last year and look to me like an NFC power.

Chiefs at Ravens

When: Noon.

Line: BAL by 13; Cote's pick: BAL 34-0.

KC is fixin' to find itself under an avalanche, and that's even if QB Matt Cassel is able to play. Baltimore will dominate a Chiefs offense in chaos, and KC's defense will have all sorts of problems with Crows' Joe Flacco-led passing game. Ugly, ugly start for the good people of Kansas City, Misery.

Eagles at Panthers

When: Noon.

Line: PHI by 1; Cote's pick: CAR 19-17.

Closest thing to a pick-'em game in Week 1, and my Game of the Week runner-up. Plenty of sober, reasonable people think Philly could be best team in NFC, but Carols were 12-4 a year ago and 8-0 at home. Venue call for a mild upset. My over/under on TV shots of an inactive Michael Vick: six.

Broncos at Bengals

When: Noon.

Line: CIN by 4½; Cote's pick: CIN 28-13.

Always tough to pick Bengals to win, let alone cover. Old habits die hard. Cincy will be decent as long as Carson Palmer stays out of the infirmary, but call here is based more on Denver being bad and having neither a healthy QB nor a good one. Odds Chad Ochocinco scores TD and holds up sign that reads, "Tweet!": Even.

Jets at Texans

When: Noon.

Line: HOU by 4½; Cote's pick: HOU 27-16.

Planes are 3-0 in all-time series, but the growing pains start here for Mark Sanchez as he becomes first NYJ rookie to start at QB since 1977. Matt Schaub (109 passer rating in a 6-0 run in home starts), RB Steve Slaton and WR Andre Johnson will be too much offense for Sanchez to outscore.

Lions at Saints

When: Noon.

Line: NO by 13; Cote's pick: NO 38-20.

Someday, the Lions will win again. I promise you, Detroit! But not here. Saints beat Lions 42-7 late last year and this could be almost as ugly. Rookie Matthew Stafford has chance for decent numbers vs. iffy N'Awlins pass-D, but he won't outscore Drew Brees, who flat-out cooks at home.

Cowboys at Buccaneers

When: Noon.

Line: DAL by 6; Cote's pick: DAL 20-17.

Interesting matchup, actually. Not really sure if either Tony Romo or Dallas are better than second-tier and pretty good. I think Tampa will be really bad, but, again, today tells more than the entire preseason. Funny feeling that Bucs will cover here, with an outside shot at an outright upset.

49ers at Cardinals

When: 3:15 p.m.

Line: ARI by 6½; Cote's pick: ARI 28-21.

I think Niners are pretty good and will win this division, and think Redbirds will suffer a falloff because Super Bowl losers are ripe for that. But that's a season outlook. For one game, an opener, I'll take the home team, especially with 'Zona on a 6-2 series run and Kurt Warner 9-1 all-time vs. SF.

Rams at Seahawks

When: 3:15 p.m.

Line: SEA by 8½; Cote's pick: SEA 27-20.

Tough to hang a Dog collar on a game right out the gate, but who said life was fair? Rams figure to flat-out stink, performing as the Rammed. And Seahawks are a playoff team only in the sweetest dreams of Seattleites who are not precluded from sleeping (and dreaming) by too much caffeine. It's the Fragile QB Bowl, with Marc Bulger made of porcelain and Matt Hasselbeck of balsa wood. 'Hawks have won eight straight over Lous. Make it nine, although hunch the line feels fat.

Monday's games on tv

t

Bills at Patriots

When: 6 p.m.

TV: ESPN (GF Channel 25).

Line: NE by 11; Cote's pick: NE 38-13.

I think real Game of the Week was Thursday night, but I need to choose from a surprisingly lackluster Sunday/Monday menu, so I'll take Tom Brady's long-awaited return to real action for a Patriots squad broadly seen as Super Bowl fave. This also is season's first Monday nighter plus the Bills debut of Terrell "Me" Owens, so it fills a marquee pretty good. Don't expect a great game, though. English have won 11 straight in series, walking the Bison like dogs, and Pats are 7-0 in home openers at Shaving Razor Stadium. Expect a blowout declaration by the once and future kings. And expect to see NE back in Miami on Feb. 7, as long as Brady stays upright.

Chargers at Raiders

When: 9:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN (GF Channel 25).

Line: SD by 9½; Cote's pick: SD 34-20.

San Diego has owned this series, winning 11 in a row, and LaDainian Tomlinson (still good, despite rumors) has averaged 119 rushing yards a game in his career vs. Raiders. You like a home dog getting almost 10, but beware. Unless Philip Rivers misses the game after being punched by Tom Cable, don't give Oaks much chance.

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