Nfl Week 17 : Today's Games

December 27, 1998

BUFFALO (9-6) AT NEW ORLEANS (6-9)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Bills by 3.

Vs. spread: Bills 9-4; Saints 10-5.

Outlook: QB Doug Flutie and the Bills clinched a playoff berth despite their loss to the Jets last week and will be the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC, traveling to Jacksonville, Miami or New England next week. Today they'll be playing for pride and stats. For example, WR Eric Moulds needs only 35 receiving yards to break Andre Reed's club season mark of 1,312 in 1989. With the Saints giving up an NFC-worst 251.7 passing yards, his chances should be pretty good. Out of the playoff hunt, Mike Ditka will let his team just mail this one in, right? Wrong. The Saints played a possible playoff team, the Cardinals, close last week and shouldn't let up this week.

Notable: Saints defense has scored nine TDs, most in the NFL.

Injuries:

BILLS: Out: DE Phil Hansen (knee); CB Thomas Smith (knee). Doubtful: G Ruben Brown (pectoral). Questionable: QB Doug Flutie (leg), WR Andre Reed (hamstring).

SAINTS: Doubtful: C-G Tom Ackerman (ankle); CB Je'Rod Cherry (ankle). Questionable: WR Brett Bech (groin); LB Kevin Mitchell (knee), Fred Weary (groin). Probable: LB Keith Mitchell (groin); RB Wilmont Perry (ankle); RB Lamar Smith (chest).

SAN DIEGO (5-10) AT ARIZONA (8-7)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Cardinals by 7 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Chargers 4-8; Cardinals 5-9.

Outlook: Arizona can clinch a playoff berth with a victory, earning the right to open at Dallas in next week's wild-card round of the NFC playoffs. QB Jake Plummer fueled the Cardinals' critical, last-second victory over New Orleans last week, marking the eighth time in just 25 career games the second-year pro has engineered a fourth-quarter comeback. He then was rewarded with a four-year, nearly $30 million contract extension. This is the end for interim San Diego coach June Jones, who'll be leaving for the University of Hawaii. He won't miss QB Ryan Leaf, the No. 2 overall pick who has been a disaster on and off the field.

Notable: San Diego has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year.

Injuries:

CHARGERS: Out: LB Lew Bush (knee); RB Natrone Means (foot). Questionable: TE John Burke (shoulder); TE Wendell Davis (hamstring); LB Kurt Gouveia (hand); G Kendyl Jacox (foot).

CARDINALS: Questionable: DT Mark Smith (ankle). Probable: S Tommy Bennett (ankle); T Lomas Brown (thigh); RB Larry Centers (knee); TE Chris Gedney (thigh); CB Tom Knight (hand); CB Tom Knight (hand); S Kwamie Lassiter (knee); LB Ronald McKinnon (knee); WR Eric Metcalf (ankle).

CAROLINA (3-12) AT INDIANAPOLIS (3-12)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Colts by 5.

Vs. spread: Panthers 6-7; Colts 7-8.

Outlook: A loss would have put the Panthers on track for the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, but Dom Capers, who could be coaching his last game, traded it to the Redskins in the Sean Gilbert deal. So long, Ricky Williams. It has been a rough year in Indianapolis, but is Peyton Manning the next John Unitas? The early returns look good. He has thrown 25 TD passes, tied for the lead in the AFC, and has four 300-yard passing games, most ever by an NFL rookie. He's a keeper.

Notable: Manning has taken every snap this season and could become only the eighth quarterback to do that since 1970.

Injuries:

PANTHERS: Out: CB Juran Bolden (ankle); G Corbin Lacina (knee); NT Tim Morabito (knee); DE Jason Peter (neck). Doubtful: TE Wesley Walls (foot). Questionable: WR Muhsin Muhammad (hamstring). Probable: LB Michael Barrow (shoulder); LB Greg Lloyd (shoulder); C Bryan Stoltenberg (knee); LB Kinnon Tatum (thigh).

COLTS: Out: LB Andre Royal (knee), DE Kendel Shello (back). Questionable: RB Keith Elias (ankle). WR Aaron Bailey (knee); S Robert Blackmon (thigh); T Adam Meadows (shoulder). Probable: Ellis Johnson (shoulder); DE Mark Thomas (elbow).

MIAMI (10-5) AT ATLANTA (13-2)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Falcons by 3.

Vs. spread: Dolphins 9-4; Falcons 10-4.

Outlook: The Dolphins are riding high. They knocked off the Broncos on Monday and clinched a playoff berth with a brilliant, four-TD-pass performance by QB Dan Marino. The defense continues to play tough, having held Denver RB Terrell Davis to ** 29 yards, but the team is banged up and might rest starters as much as possible. The Dolphins need a win, however, to secure a wild-card home game, so there is some incentive. Don't look for the Falcons' starters to play much today, either. Their eyes are on the playoffs.

Notable: Falcons RB Jamal Anderson leads the NFC with 1,743 rushing yards, just 87 shy of Denver's Davis for the NFL lead.

Injuries:

DOLPHINS: Out: LB Larry Izzo (knee); T Richmond Webb (triceps). Questionable: RB Karim Abdul-Jabbar (concussion); G Kevin Donnalley (knee). Probable: RB John Avery (ankle); WR Nate Jacquet (concussion); LB Robert Jones (quadriceps); CB Sam Madison (hip).

FALCONS: Probable: DE Lester Archambeau (thumb); LB Cornelius Bennett (knee); CB Randy Fuller (shoulder), S Eugene Robinson (leg), DE Chuck Smith (back).

TAMPA BAY (7-8) AT CINCINNATI (3-12)

Time: 1: 01 p.m.

Line: Bucs by 6 1/2 .

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