ATLANTA (7-9)

AT CAROLINA (7-9)

11 p.m. (TV: Ch. 13)

SERIES RECORD - Panthers lead 4-2.

LAST TIME MET - Panthers beat Falcons 21-12 on Oct. 26, 1997, in Carolina.

FALCONS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 19), PASS (No. 22), OVERALL (No. 23)

PANTHERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 15), PASS (No. 26), OVERALL (No. 26)

FALCONS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 8), PASS (No. 20), OVERALL (No. 20)

PANTHERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 22), PASS (No. 9), OVERALL (No. 15)

THE LOWDOWN - Panthers open with the Falcons for the third time in four-year history. Off-season acquisitions of linebackers Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene improve a sound Carolina defense.

PANTHERS 21, FALCONS 13

JACKSONVILLE (11-5)

AT CHICAGO (4-12)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Bears lead 1-0.

LAST TIME MET - Bears beat Jaguars 30-27 on Oct. 15, 1995, in Jacksonville.

JAGUARS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 18), PASS (No. 4), OVERALL (No. 7)

BEARS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 16), PASS (No. 15), OVERALL (No. 17)

JAGUARS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 13), PASS (No. 24), OVERALL (No. 23)

BEARS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 19), PASS (No. 11), OVERALL (No. 12)

THE LOWDOWN - Jaguars can score, Bears can't. It gets worse for Chicago if quarterback Erik Kramer can't play because of a sprained toe. He's the only chance Chicago has of competing.

JAGUARS 28, BEARS 7

NEW ORLEANS (6-10)

AT ST. LOUIS (5-11)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Rams lead 32-24.

LAST TIME MET - Rams beat Saints 34-27 on Dec. 7, 1997 in New Orleans.

SAINTS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 27), PASS (No. 27), OVERALL (No. 30)

RAMS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 24), PASS (No. 17), OVERALL (No. 21)

SAINTS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 14), PASS (No. 6), OVERALL (No. 4)

RAMS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 9), PASS (No. 17), OVERALL (No. 17)

THE LOWDOWN - Saints led NFL last season with 59 sacks and could take advantage of Rams QB Tony Banks, who is fumble-prone. Banks was solid against Saints last year, however, throwing for 493 yards and five touchdowns and keeps it going.

RAMS 20, SAINTS 10

PITTSBURGH (11-5)

AT BALTIMORE (6-9-1)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Steelers lead 3-1.

LAST TIME MET - Steelers beat Ravens 37-0 on Nov. 9, 1997, in Pittsburgh.

STEELERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 1), PASS (No. 23), OVERALL (No. 6)

RAVENS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 22), PASS (No. 5), OVERALL (No. 9)

STEELERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 1), PASS (No. 18), OVERALL (No. 6)

RAVENS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 10), PASS (No. 28), OVERALL (No. 25)

THE LOWDOWN - Ravens would love to christen their new stadium with a victory against their Central Division rivals. Defense played well during 4-0 preseason, although now it'll be put to the test by Kordell Stewart.

STEELERS 27, RAVENS 17

SEATTLE (8-8) AT

PHILADELPHIA (6-9-1)

11 a.m. (TV: Ch. 2)

SERIES RECORD - Eagles lead 4-2.

LAST TIME MET - Seahawks beat Eagles 26-14 on Dec. 3, 1995 in Seattle.

SEAHAWKS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 13), PASS (No. 1), OVERALL (No. 3)

EAGLES OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 10), PASS (No. 6), OVERALL (No. 5)

SEAHAWKS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 12), PASS (No. 14), OVERALL (No. 8)

EAGLES DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 25), PASS (No. 7), OVERALL (No. 13)

THE LOWDOWN: Cincinnati had a strong finish last year and have a new quarterback taking over the reins in Neil O'Donnell. The Bengals have struggled early in the season over past few years though, and tough early schedule makes another bad start likely.

OILERS 30, BENGALS 27

TAMPA BAY (10-6)

AT MINNESOTA (9-7)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Vikings lead 27-13.

LAST TIME MET - Vikings beat Buccaneers 10-6 on Oct. 26, 1997.

BUCCANEERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 11), PASS (No. 30), OVERALL (No. 29)

VIKINGS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 6), PASS (No. 14), OVERALL (No. 8)

BUCCANEERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 6), PASS (No. 10), OVERALL (No. 3)

VIKINGS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 23), PASS (No. 29), OVERALL (No. 29)

THE LOWDOWN - Buccaneers won't be able to sneak up on people like last year. Vikings had a tremendous preseason as the NFC's only unbeaten at 4-0 and keep the momentum going in the opener.

VIKINGS 20, BUCCANEERS 14

TENNESSEE (8-8)

AT CINCINNATI (7-9)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Oilers lead 29-28-1.

LAST TIME MET - Bengals beat Oilers 41-14 on Dec. 4, 1997, in Cincinnati.

OILERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 3), PASS (No. 29), OVERALL (No. 18)

BENGALS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 9), PASS (No. 13), OVERALL (No. 10)

OILERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 4), PASS (No. 27), OVERALL (No. 22)

BENGALS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 29), PASS (No. 21), OVERALL (No. 28)

THE LOWDOWN - Sorry Bengals, but your season doesn't really start until, oh, about November.

OILERS 24, BENGALS 20

WASHINGTON (8-7-1) AT NY GIANTS (10-5-1)

11 a.m.

SERIES RECORD - Giants lead 74-52-4.

LAST TIME MET - Giants beat Redskins 30-10 on Dec. 13, 1997, at New York.

REDSKINS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 21), PASS (No. 11), OVERALL (No. 16)

GIANTS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 7), PASS (No. 28), OVERALL (No. 27)

REDSKINS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 28), PASS (No. 3), OVERALL (No. 16)

GIANTS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 3), PASS (No. 26), OVERALL (No. 18)

THE LOWDOWN - Matchup of the two teams expected to battle for NFC East crown. Home field and solid defense gives Giants the edge, especially against a suspect quarterback like Gus Frerotte.

GIANTS 16, REDSKINS 10

ARIZONA (4-12)

AT DALLAS (6-10)

2 p.m.

SERIES RECORD - Cowboys lead 47-23-1.

LAST TIME MET - Cowboys beat Cardinals 24-5 on Nov. 9, 1997, at Dallas.

CARDINALS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 30), PASS (No. 10), OVERALL (No. 24)

COWBOYS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 20), PASS (No. 20), OVERALL (No. 20)

CARDINALS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 27), PASS (No. 15), OVERALL (No. 27)

COWBOYS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 24), PASS (No. 1), OVERALL (No. 2)

THE LOWDOWN - Dallas went NFL-worst 0-5 in preseason. Cardinals should be one of the more improved teams in league as QB Jake Plummer has a full year under his belt. Improvement starts in the opener.

CARDINALS 17, COWBOYS 13

BUFFALO (6-10)

AT SAN DIEGO (4-12)

2 p.m.

SERIES RECORD - Chargers lead 16-7-2.

LAST TIME MET - Chargers beat Bills 40-7 on Dec. 1, 1985, at San Diego.

BILLS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 14), PASS (No. 25), OVERALL (No. 25)

CHARGERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 28), PASS (No. 21), OVERALL (No. 28)

BILLS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 15), PASS (No. 12), OVERALL (No. 9)

CHARGERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 11), PASS (No. 22), OVERALL (No. 21)

THE LOWDOWN - Both teams made off-sea-son trades to acquire franchise quarterbacks, with the Chargers trading up to draft Ryan Leaf and the Bills picking up Rob Johnson. Leaf gets the better of this meeting to pick up the win in his NFL debut.

CHARGERS 24, BILLS 21

MIAMI (9-7) AT

INDIANAPOLIS (3-13)

2 p.m.

SERIES RECORD - Dolphins lead 37-19.

LAST TIME MET - Colts beat Dolphins 41-0 on Dec. 14, 1997, in Indianapolis.

DOLPHINS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 29), PASS (No. 2), OVERALL (No. 11)

COLTS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 17), PASS (No. 19), OVERALL (No. 19)

DOLPHINS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 17), PASS (No. 25), OVERALL (No. 26)

COLTS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 26), PASS (No. 4), OVERALL (No. 10)

THE LOWDOWN - The Peyton Manning era begins with a matchup against the legendary Dan Marino, although the focus here will be on the running games. Dolphins were embarrassed by Colts 41-0 late last season and will be out for revenge.

DOLPHINS 23, COLTS 14

N.Y. JETS (9-7) AT

SAN FRAN. (13-3)

2 p.m. (TV: Ch. 2)

SERIES RECORD - 49ers lead 6-1.

LAST TIME MET - 49ers beat Jets 31-14 on Sept. 20, 1992, at New York.

JETS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 25), PASS (No. 16), OVERALL (No. 22)

49ERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 8), PASS (No. 18), OVERALL (No. 12)

JETS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 21), PASS (No. 19), OVERALL (No. 24)

49ERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 2), PASS (No. 2), OVERALL (No. 1)

THE LOWDOWN - 49ers' Jerry Rice makes his 1998 debut after sitting out the preseason. Glenn Foley gets his first opening day start as Jets quarterback and should find things rough against the NFL's top defense in 1997.

49ERS 24, JETS 10

OAKLAND (4-12) AT

KANSAS CITY (13-3)

6 p.m. (TV: ESPN)

SERIES RECORD - Chiefs lead 37-36-2.

LAST TIME MET - Chiefs beat Raiders 30-0 on Dec. 7, 1997, in Kansas City.

RAIDERS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 23), PASS (No. 8), OVERALL (No. 13)

CHIEFS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 5), PASS (No. 24), OVERALL (No. 14)

RAIDERS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 30), PASS (No. 30), OVERALL (No. 30)

CHIEFS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 7), PASS (No. 16), OVERALL (No. 11)

THE LOWDOWN - Chiefs have dominated this AFC West rivalry in the 1990s, winning 15 of 17 games, including 10 straight at Arrowhead. Raiders' new West Coast offense sputters against Chiefs' aggressive defense, sending Jon Gruden to his first loss.

CHIEFS 31, RAIDERS 17

Monday's game

NEW ENGLAND (10-6)

AT DENVER (12-4)

6 p.m.

SERIES RECORD - Broncos lead 19-12.

LAST TIME MET - Broncos beat Patriots 34-13 on Oct. 6, 1997, in Denver.

PATRIOTS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 26), PASS (No. 7), OVERALL (No. 15)

BRONCOS OFFENSE - RUSH (No. 4), PASS (No. 9), OVERALL (No. 1)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 5), PASS (No. 23), OVERALL (No. 19)

BRONCOS DEFENSE - RUSH (No. 16), PASS (No. 5), OVERALL (No. 5)

THE LOWDOWN - The Broncos begin defense of their Super Bowl title against a team they've beaten 10 straight times, including a 34-13 home victory last season in a Monday night game that was a battle of unbeatens. Without Curtis Martin, Pats are going to have to prove they can establish a running game. John Elway starts his last season on a winning note.

BRONCOS 28, PATRIOTS 13