The New York Jets and Washington Redskins have met only seven times. Yet their season-opener Thursday night has all the makings of a grudge match.
That's because of the Redskins' free-agent raid on New York: Laveranues Coles, Randy Thomas, Chad Morton and John Hall were snatched away from the Jets' training base at Hofstra University and deposited in Ashburn, Va., courtesy of Dan ''The Fan'' Snyder's wallet.
''That's how Washington wanted to do their business,'' Jets coach Herman Edwards said. ''They were going out to get good players and they did.''
Washington is favored by three points, the home-field advantage.
That doesn't seem like much, especially with Jets quarterback Chad Pennington out for much of the season with a broken wrist. Pennington and Coles were a lot of the offense last year as New York rallied to win seven of its last nine games, win the AFC East and make it to the second round of the playoffs.
Now Vinny Testaverde is back at quarterback, 39 years old in a West Coast offense that never seemed to fit him.
But the Skins have problems, too.
Second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey is very promising but still a work in progress. Their running back is Trung Canidate, whose best (only?) career game for the Rams came against the Jets in 2001, when he ran for 195 yards.
And who's the coach?
Steve Spurrier is supposed to be. But he wanted to keep Danny Wuerffel as Ramsey's backup and was overruled by Snyder.
Snyder, the NFL's most intrusive owner since Jerry Jones backed off, is the difference.
Oakland (plus 3) at Tennessee
Since beating the Titans 41-24 in the AFC title game last season, the Raiders have been pretty bad losing 52-13 to the Cowboys in their exhibition finale. The Titans are primed.
Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Philadelphia (Monday night)
Their sixth game this century, the most recent last January's NFC title game that sent the Bucs on to their Super Bowl victory.
The Eagles ride the emotion of the opening of ''The Linc.'' The Bucs ride a defense that won them a title.
New England (pick 'em) at Buffalo
Drew Bledsoe played his worst two games of last season against his old team, throwing five interceptions in losses by a combined score of 65-24.
St. Louis (pick 'em) at New York Giants
Matchup to watch: Leonard Little, who led the Rams with 12 sacks last season, against Ian Allen, the Giants' very green offensive right tackle. The Giants tend to play the Rams well.
Baltimore (plus 5) at Pittsburgh
It's one thing for Kyle Boller to look good in exhibitions, another to look good against the Pittsburgh defense even without Joey Porter.
Indianapolis (plus 1) at Cleveland
Kelly Holcomb spent most of his career backing up Peyton Manning. Holcomb beat out Tim Couch, but the Colts win this one against the troubled Cleveland defense.
San Diego (plus 5 1/2) at Kansas City
Priest Holmes is healthy enough, the Chiefs' defense is improved ...
Denver (minus 6) at Cincinnati
Same old Bengals in Week 1 of the Marvin Lewis era ...
Atlanta (plus 2 1/2) at Dallas
Combine an injury to Michael Vick with a Tuna and you get ...
New Orleans (plus 3) at Seattle
Jacksonville (plus 4) at Carolina
Don't expect points.
Arizona (plus 4) at Detroit
The winner of this game could still finish 1-15.
Minnesota (plus 5 1/2) at Green Bay
The Vikings may be better than people think.
Chicago (plus 7) at San Francisco
The 49ers have some problems. The Bears have more.
Houston (plus 14) at Miami
Miami has won 11 straight openers and ALWAYS wins at home in September.
LAST SEASON: 128-123-5 (spread), 159-96-1 (straight up)
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