Nfl Week 9

October 26, 1997

Cincinnati (1-6) at N.Y. Giants (5-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 5 1/2

Vs. spread: Bengals 0-7; Giants 4-3.

Last week: Bengals lost to Steelers, 26-10. Giants beat Lions in OT, 26-20.

Worth watching: Danny Kanell has established himself as the Giants' No. 1 quarterback with efficient work and some big plays. The Bengals need their offense, particularly QB Jeff Blake (five TD passes), to start showing up.

Outlook: The Giants have won three straight to take over first place in the NFC East. They shouldn't get much of a challenge from the Bengals, who have been outscored 179-74 during their six-game skid.

Notable: Bengals have allowed opponents to open the third quarter with a touchdown in five games.

Injuries:

BENGALS: Out: DT Brentson Buckner (knee); S Tremain Mack (foot); DE Ramondo Stallings (groin). Questionable: DE John Copeland (thigh); RB Corey Dillon (knee). Probable: G Ken Blackman (knee); LB Billy Granville (knee).

GIANTS: Out: QB Dave Brown (pectoral); C Derek Engler (ankle); WR Thomas Lewis (toe); C Brian Williams (eye). Doubtful: RB Rodney Hampton (knee). Questionable: RB Tiki Barber (knee). Probable: RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder).

Kansas City (5-2) at St. Louis (2-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 5 1/2

Vs. spread: Chiefs 4-2; Rams 2-5.

Last week: Chiefs beat Chargers, 31-3. Rams lost to Seahawks, 17-9.

Worth watching: Can Rams WR Isaac Bruce, finally healthy, improve on last week's six-catch, 68-yard performance? The Chiefs are getting a big year out of WR Andre Rison (41 catches, five TDs).

Outlook: The Rams' offense is ranked 29th, but coach Dick Vermeil is sticking with slumping QB Tony Banks. The Chiefs have no such problems with QB Elvis Grbac (10 TD passes vs. five interceptions). He continues to direct an efficient offense and should be able to handle the Rams, who haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 10 quarters.

Notable: Rams have at least one interception in each game this season.

Injuries:

CHIEFS: Doubtful: T Steve Wallace (knee). Probable: CB Dale Carter (shoulder); DT Joe Phillips (elbow); LB Derrick Thomas (arm); S Jerome Woods (knee).

RAMS: Questionable: WR Eddie Kennison (groin); RB Amp Lee (sternum). Probable: LB Lawrence Phillips (toe); WR Torrance Small (groin); G Zach Wiegert (shoulder).

Minnesota (5-2) at Tampa Bay (5-2)

Time: 4 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Line: Bucs by 3

Vs. spread: Vikings 6-1; Bucs 5-2.

Last week: Both teams had a bye.

Worth watching: Minnesota QB Brad Johnson is third in the NFL and first in the NFC with 15 TD passes. Bucs rookie Warrick Dunn has four TD runs of at least 50 yards.

Outlook: The winner is assured a share of first place in the NFC Central at midseason and could be in sole possession if Green Bay loses tomorrow night. The Bucs have lost two straight division games (Green Bay, Detroit) and struggled the previous week against Arizona. They need to get QB Trent Dilfer playing the way he was early in the season. The Vikings, meanwhile, are on a roll, having won three straight, with big RB Robert Smith (745 yards, 5.8 per carry) leading the way.

Notable: Bucs have won six straight games when leading at halftime.

Injuries:

VIKINGS: Probable: RB Leroy Hoard (shoulder); S Orlando Thomas (knee); WR Chris Walsh (thigh).

BUCS: Probable: WR Reidel Anthony (foot); WR Horace Copeland (knee); RB Warrick Dunn (hamstring); LB Jeff Gooch (hand).

Jacksonville (5-2) at Pittsburgh (5-2)

Time: 4 p.m., Ch. 11

Line: Steelers by 3

Vs. spread: Jaguars 4-2; Steelers 3-4.

Last week: Jaguars lost to Cowboys, 26-22. Steelers beat Bengals, 26-10.

Worth watching: WR Jimmy Smith had a career-high 10 catches in Jacksonville's September victory over the Steelers. Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis is tied for the AFC lead with five TDs and is coming off a 135-yard game.

Outlook: First place in the AFC Central is at stake, and the Steelers seem to have the edge. They are averaging 32.3 points in their four-game win streak, and the Jaguars will go without LB Kevin Hardy.

Notable: Jaguars are tied with Packers and 49ers for best record in the past 12 regular-season games (10-2).

Injuries:

JAGUARS: Out: CB Aaron Beasley (hip); LB Kevin Hardy (knee). Questionable: RB Natrone Means (ankle). Probable: RB Ty Hallock (ankle); S Mike Logan (hand); DE Clyde Simmons (wrist).

STEELERS: Out: WR Mike Adams (knee); WR Will Blackwell (ankle); S Lethon Flowers (knee); WR Charles Johnson (knee). Questionable: CB Randy Fuller (groin); DE Mike Vrabel (ankle). Probable: C Dermontti Dawson (foot); CB-S Carnell Lake (hamstring); RB Tim Lester (groin); CB Chad Scott (ankle).

Dallas (4-3) at Philadelphia (3-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Pick

Vs. spread: Cowboys 2-4; Eagles 3-4.

Last week: Cowboys beat Jaguars, 26-22. Eagles beat Cardinals in OT, 13-10.

Worth watching: The Cowboys' Deion Sanders may be NFL's top coverage cornerback. This week, he gets to face the Eagles' top receiver, Irving Fryar (40 catches, four TDs).

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