Nfl Week 13: Today's Games

November 29, 1998

BUFFALO (7-4) NEW ENGLAND (6-5)

Line: Patriots by 1.

Vs. spread: Bills 7-2; Patriots 4-5.

Outlook: Let us count the ways the Bills have won seven of their last eight: an excellent plus-seven turnover margin; the conference's No. 2 running attack; big plays from WR Eric Moulds; DE Bruce Smith, still sacking after all these years; and, of course, QB Doug Flutie, who conjures plays from thin air. The Patriots were about to go poof in the playoff race when QB Drew Bledsoe's four-fingered TD pass beat Miami and moved them within a game of first place. But what happens now? Bledsoe's finger is broken in two places, and though it isn't expected to need surgery, he's iffy at best for today. Another loss makes the playoffs a long shot.

Notable: Patriots are 3-0 when Bledsoe throws for at least 300 yards.

Injuries:

BILLS: Doubtful: LB John Holecek (knee); S Manny Martin (neck). Questionable: LB Joe Cummings (ankle).

PATRIOTS: Out: WR Vincent Brisby (hamstring-IR). Doubtful: WR Troy Brown (ankle); LB Todd Collins (groin); DE Willie McGinest (groin). Questionable: QB Drew Bledsoe (finger); G Heath Irwin (ankle); T Zefross Moss (knee); DT Mark Wheeler (knee). Probable: DT Henry Thomas (ankle).

ARIZONA (6-5) AT KANSAS CITY (4-7)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 3 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Cardinals 5-6; Chiefs 3-8.

Outlook: He struggled early in the year, but Cardinals QB Jake "The Snake" Plummer has finally grown into a 20-foot python. Sure, there are still lapses, but he can squeeze the life out of a defense with his arm and his legs. His team has confidence, a weak schedule down the stretch and a defense that has forced more turnovers than anyone in the NFL. Can you say playoffs? If the Chiefs hadn't already packed it in (which they had), last week's horrible collapse in San Diego would do it. There is talent there, but the Chiefs can't wait to get the season over with.

Notable: Chiefs have lost six straight, their longest slide since a nine-game skid in 1987.

Injuries:

CARDINALS: Out: G Matt Joyce (hand); DT Eric Swann (knee). Doubtful: CB Tom Knight (hamstring). Questionable: LB Mark Maddox (knee). Probable: S Tommy Bennett (hip); TE Johnny McWilliams (shoulder); WR Eric Metcalf (leg); DT Mark Smith (rib).

CHIEFS: Out: DE John Browning (ankle/back); RB Tony Richardson (knee); G Dave Szott (biceps). Questionable: CB Dale Carter (forearm); T Jeff Criswell (foot); DE Chester McGlockton (shoulder); DE Leslie O'Neal (ankle); T Marcus Spears (hand). Probable: C Tim Grunhard (foot); DE Pellom McDaniels (ankle); G Glenn Parker (back).

ATLANTA (9-2) AT ST. LOUIS (3-8)

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

Line: Falcons by 4 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Falcons 8-3; Rams 4-7.

Outlook: You want incentive? With a win today, the Falcons will clinch a playoff berth for only the sixth time in their 33-year history, and they aren't going to let St. Louis stand in the way of that moment, Chris Chandler or no Chris Chandler. Whether the banged-up quarterback plays or not, expect RB Jamal Anderson to get the ball a lot and to have a big day. You have to wonder if QB Tony Banks' sprained ankle isn't the best thing that could happen to the woeful Rams. After all, Banks has thrown just six TD passes to go with 13 interceptions, and his backup, Steve Bono, has decent ability and a lot more experience.

Notable: Last week's loss clinched the Rams' ninth straight non-winning season.

Injuries:

FALCONS: Doubtful: QB Chris Chandler (ankle/knee). Questionable: CB Ray Buchanan (leg); RB Bob Christian (shoulder); WR Tim Dwight (knee). Probable: S Chris Bayne (hamstring).

RAMS: Doubtful: WR Isaac Bruce (hamstring); S Toby Wright (knee). Questionable: QB Tony Banks (ankle); RB Gerald Moore (rib); LB Lorenzo Styles (shoulder). Probable: DE Grant Wistrom

(hamstring).

CAROLINA (2-9) AT N.Y. JETS (7-4)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Jets by 8 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Panthers 4-5; Jets 8-3.

Outlook: Three years ago, the expansion Panthers beat the Jets for the first win in franchise history. Much has changed since then. Now it is the Panthers who are floundering, and their troubles begin from the ground up. As in, they can't run -- 3.1 yards per carry -- and can't stop the run. And in the NFL, if you can't do either of them, you'll lose. The Jets finish their season with three huge games against Miami, Buffalo and New England, all of whom are battling with them for the AFC East title. With that stretch on the horizon, they had better win this week and against Seattle next week.

Notable: Four of the Panthers' five road losses have come by a combined 17 points.

Injuries:

PANTHERS: Out: WR Rae Carruth (foot); LB Tarek Saleh (neck); CB Tony Veland (leg). Doubtful: NT Tim Morabito (knee). Questionable: WR Michael Bates (hamstring); S Juran Bolden (ankle); T Blake Brockermeyer (shoulder); G Corbin Lacina (knee); CB Mike Minter (knee). Probable: QB Steve Beuerlein (shoulder); RB William Floyd (shoulder); DE Sean Gilbert (back); TE Wesley Walls (groin).

$ JETS: None reported.

JACKSONVILLE (8-3) AT CINCINNATI (2-9)

Time: 1: 01 p.m., Ch. 9.

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