Nfl Week 8: Today's Games

October 25, 1998

ATLANTA (5-1) AT N.Y. JETS (3-3)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Jets by 6 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Falcons 5-1; Jets 4-2.

Outlook: The only other time the Falcons began a season 5-1, they lost five of the next six and missed the playoffs. The chances of repeating the past go up exponentially if QB Chris Chandler can't play due to injury. With Chandler, the Falcons are a playoff team. Without him, they're stuck with ancient Steve DeBerg, who didn't play in the AFL but probably could have. The Jets are .500, but QB Vinny Testaverde is undefeated, not to mention the AFC's No. 1 passer with a 108.8 rating. Still, the key to the Jets is RB Curtis Martin. When he doesn't run effectively, well, the AFC's 13th-ranked defense isn't going to win many games for you.

Notable: Falcons have outscored foes 110-46 in the second half.

Injuries:

FALCONS: Out: LB Henri Crockett (wrist). Questionable: QB Chris Chandler (shoulder); CB Randy Fuller (hamstring); DT Travis Hall (ankle-knee); DE Chuck Smith (quadriceps). Probable: Ronnie Bradford (abdomen); DT Shane Dronett (knee); LB Craig Sauer (knee).

JETS: Out: TE Fred Baxter (knee). Doubtful: LB Chad Cascadden (hamstring). Questionable: S Chris Hayes (leg).

JACKSONVILLE (5-1) AT DENVER (6-0)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., chs. 13, 9.

Line: Broncos by 8.

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

Outlook: Jacksonville is the AFC's second-best team, with a terrific array of offensive talent, especially up front. But the defense isn't anywhere near as stout, ranking 12th among the 15 AFC teams. Against most teams, the offense is enough to carry the Jaguars to victory. Against a team that can score like Denver, which averages almost 34 points a game, that may not be enough. QB John Elway returned for the Broncos two weeks ago and looked a bit rusty in a win over Seattle. Given the bye week to get back into full-scale practice, Elway should be sharper than ever. RB Terrell Davis is already sharp -- he's on pace for a record 2,300-yard season and is averaging 6.0 yards a carry.

Notable: Broncos have outscored foes 87-7 in the first quarter.

Injuries:

JAGUARS: Out: RB Tavian Banks (foot); DT Seth Payne (shoulder). Doubtful: RB Chris Howard (ankle). Probable: LB Brant Boyer (ankle); LB Bryce Paup (knee); DT Kelvin Pritchett (ankle); LB Bryan Schwartz (knee); RB Fred Taylor (shoulder); CB Dave Thomas (groin).

BRONCOS: Probable: G David Diaz-Infante (knee); G Mark Schlereth (knee); DE Alfred Williams (triceps).

MINNESOTA (6-0) AT DETROIT (2-4)

Time: 1: 01 p.m., Ch. 5.

Line: Vikings by 5 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Vikings 4-2; Lions 2-4.

Outlook: The Vikings can beat you in every way possible, even with defense -- they've picked off a league-high 12 passes. Not that Minnesota needs defense the way QB Randall Cunningham is playing. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions for a phenomenal 121.3 rating. The Lions have Barry Sanders in the backfield and big-play threat Herman Moore at wide receiver. They're going to need all the offense they can get in the back end of a rugged two-game stretch against the NFC Central's two best teams. The Lions passed the first test with a win over Green Bay on Oct. 15 and had three extra days to prepare for the Vikings. Sense an upset here?

Notable: Sanders needs one rushing touchdown to become the sixth NFL player with 100.

Injuries:

VIKINGS: Out: QB Brad Johnson (ankle). Questionable: DT Tony Williams (groin). Probable: LB Dwayne Rudd (shoulder).

LIONS: Out: G Jeff Hartings (knee). Doubtful: RB Brock Olivo (back). Questionable: S Mark Carrier (hip); P John Jett (rib).

SAN FRANCISCO (5-1) AT ST. LOUIS (2-4)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: 49ers by 9 1/2 .

Vs. spread: 49ers 2-4; Rams 3-3.

Outlook: The 49ers have rung up 2,883 yards, an average of 480.5 per game. For those of you without a calculator, that projects to 7,688 yards in a 16-game season. The record for total offense in a season is 6,936, set by Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in 1984. But not all is terrific in San Francisco. In two of their past three games, the 49ers have fallen behind far less talented teams and once didn't make it all the way back. The Rams rank a solid second in the NFC in total defense and third against the pass. But given the 49ers' recent struggles, there's a bit of hope for the Rams, who have one of the most talented receivers in the game in Isaac Bruce, yet one of the most erratic quarterbacks in Tony Banks.

Notable: The Rams have lost 15 straight against the 49ers.

Injuries:

49ERS: Out: T Dave Fiore (knee). Questionable: CB Antonio Langham (ankle). Probable: DE Roy Barker (knee); CB Darnell Walker (rib).

RAMS: Out: S Toby Wright (knee). Doubtful: C Ryan Tucker (neck). Questionable: G Zach Wiegert (knee).

CHICAGO (2-5) AT TENNESEE (3-3)

Time: 4: 05 p.m., Ch. 45.

Line: Oilers by 6.

Vs. spread: Bears 5-2; Oilers 3-3.

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