Nfl Week 3

September 14, 1997

Tampa Bay (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 4

Vs. spread: Bucs 2-0; Vikings 2-0.

Last week: Bucs beat Lions, 24-17. Vikings beat Bears, 27-24.

Worth watching: Tampa Bay rookie RB Warrick Dunn has been a surprise with 167 yards rushing in two games. The duel between Bucs DT Warren Sapp (NFL-high 3 1/2 sacks) and Vikings G Randall McDaniel, who has started the past eight Pro Bowls, could be a classic.

Outlook: The Bucs are continuing their momentum from the second half of 1996 and are one of the NFL's best early stories, but a 3-0 start? They're not ready for that. The Vikings have plenty of weapons, including the NFL's No. 2 rusher (Robert Smith, 254 yards) and No. 2 receiver (Cris Carter, 17 catches, two TDs).

Notable: The Bucs haven't been 3-0 since the 1979 season.

Injuries:

BUCS: Out: DE Eric Curry (knee). Questionable: G Frank Middleton (turf toe); WR Karl Williams (knee). Probable: DE Chidi Ahanotu (knee); DT Warren Sapp (finger-ankle); T Jerry Wunsch (elbow).

VIKINGS: Out: G David Dixon (knee). Questionable: P Mitch Berger (hip).

St. Louis (1-1) at Denver (2-0)

Time: 4 p.m., Ch. 45

Line: Broncos by 14

Vs. spread: Rams 1-1; Broncos 2-0.

Last week: Rams lost to 49ers, 15-12. Broncos beat Seahawks, 35-14.

Worth watching: Lawrence Phillips has rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams are 3-0 in games in which he has rushed for more than 100 yards.

Outlook: New coach Dick Vermeil has the Rams playing hard, but that's not enough against the Broncos, particularly at Mile High Stadium. Denver has picked up where it left off last Dec. 1, when it beat Seattle, 34-7, to clinch home field in the AFC playoffs. This season, the Broncos hope to carry their momentum far beyond that and now have unretired OT Gary Zimmerman to help.

Notable: The Rams' six interceptions and nine take-aways are both NFL highs.

Injuries:

RAMS: Out: RB Jerald Moore (elbow). Doubtful: C Mike Gruttadauria (ankle). Questionable: RB Lawrence Phillips (toe); G Zach Wiegert (thigh); S Toby Wright (hamstring). Probable: WR Isaac Bruce (hamstring).

BRONCOS: Questionable: DT Michael Dean Perry (knee).

Buffalo (1-1) at Kansas City (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 4

Vs. spread: Bills 1-1; Chiefs 1-1.

Last week: Bills beat Jets, 28-22. Chiefs beat Raiders, 28-27.

Worth watching: QB Elvis Grbac, who guided the Chiefs to a last-second, come-from-behind victory Monday night at Oakland. Buffalo's defense, which had eight sacks against the Jets, including three by LB Bryce Paup.

Outlook: These aren't the teams that met in the 1993 AFC title game. That was Jim Kelly vs. Joe Montana rather than Todd Collins vs. Grbac. The common denominator is the coaches, Buffalo's Marv Levy and Marty Schottenheimer, who always seem to keep their teams above .500.

Notable: The Bills are an NFL-best 23-6 in September in the 1990's.

Injuries:

BILLS: Out: C-G Dusty Zeigler (knee). Questionable: DE Phil Hansen (knee); RB Tim Tindale (knee). Probable: LB Damien Covington (knee); WR Andre Reed (hamstring); S Henry Jones (toe).

CHIEFS: Questionable: WR Lake Dawson (knee). Probable: RB Donnell Bennett (knee); CB Dale Carter (ankle); T Jeff Criswell (foot); LB Troy Dumas (hamstring); LB Donnie Edwards (thigh); S Kevin Ross (knee); LB Derrick Thomas (arm).

Miami (2-0) at Green Bay (1-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Packers by 13

Vs. spread: Dolphins 0-1; Packers 0-2.

Last week: Dolphins beat Oilers in OT, 16-13. Packers lost to Eagles, 10-9.

Worth watching: Is Miami QB Dan Marino heading toward a down season? He has completed less than half of his passes (34 of 69).

Outlook: Forget about the Packers' loss in Philadelphia last week, because they can be vulnerable in road games on artificial turf. They've won 16 straight at home. The Dolphins are improving, but they're not ready to ruin a Sunday for a whole state.

Notable: The Packers were held under 10 points last week for only the third time in the past four years.

Injuries:

DOLPHINS: Out: RB Stanley Pritchett (knee). Doubtful: S George Teague (ankle). Questionable: P John Kidd (hamstring). Probable: P John Kidd (hamstring); TE Frank Wainright (shoulder); C Tim Ruddy (ankle); S Shawn Wooden (thumb).

PACKERS: Doubtful: LB Seth Joyner (knee); C Frank Winters (foot). Questionable: G Joe Andruzzi (knee); TE Mark Chmura (knee); TE Tyrone Davis (hamstring); T Earl Dotson (turf toe); TE Jeff Thomason (ankle).

Carolina (1-1) at San Diego (1-1)

Line: Pick

Vs. spread: Panthers 0-1; Chargers 1-1.

Last week: Panthers beat Falcons, 9-6. Chargers beat Saints, 20-6.

Worth watching: Carolina RB Anthony Johnson continues to impress, averaging 5 yards a carry. San Diego is weak offensively (20 points in two games) and needs a solid game at quarterback from Jim Everett or Stan Humphries, who is probable with a shoulder injury.

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