Division rivals set for Monday night doubleheader
The NFL's regular season explodes into action Sunday with 13 games. Then Monday, as is the new tradition, the NFL gives us a pair of games to play with - this time a couple of divisional battles. Here's a quick look at the two Monday night matchups that will finish off Week 1.
On one coast the Baltimore Ravens, who got within a botched field goal of pushing the AFC championship game into overtime last January, host the Cincinnati Bengals, who surprised many last year by making the playoffs despite starting a rookie at quarterback.
After that, out on the left coast, the San Diego Chargers - one of the bigger disappointments in the league last year - begin their quest for a return to the playoffs when they visit the Oakland Raiders.
Baltimore went 12-4 last year, won the AFC North and had the mighty Patriots on the ropes in the AFC championship game. But Billy Cundiff, since released, pulled a short field goal in the final seconds and the Ravens fell 23-20.
Cincy, meanwhile, went 9-7 with rookie Andy Dalton at QB last year which was quite an improvement over going 4-12 the previous season. The Bengals' season ended last January with a Wild Card loss at Houston, but they believe they've got a good core to build around.
As of Friday morning Baltimore, which swept its two games with Cincy last year, is favored by six points for Monday night over the Bengals.
As for Monday's other matchup, the Chargers stumbled to 8-8 last year and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. Many were surprised when San Diego retained the services of head coach Norv Turner for this season.
Meanwhile, Oakland also went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs, then surprised many by canning coach Hue Jackson. So the Raiders are now working under their sixth head coach of the last seven years.
As of Friday morning Oakland, which split its two games with the Chargers last year, is a one-point favorite for Monday's game over San Diego.