Today's playoff games

January 16, 2000

NFC divisional

Time: 12: 35 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Line: Rams by 7.

Vs. spread: Vikings 4-10. Rams 13-3.

Vs. common opponents: Vikings 5-2. Rams 6-1.

Last week: Vikings beat Cowboys, 27-10, in wild-card game. Rams had a bye.

Series: Vikings lead 21-12-2.

Last meeting: Vikings won, 38-31, on Sept. 13, 1998, at St. Louis.

Worth watching: Rams QB Kurt Warner, a backup at the beginning of training camp but now the NFL's Most Valuable Player starts his first playoff game. It's the third career playoff start for the Vikings' Jeff George.

Outlook: The Rams built their big season partly on a weak schedule, so a quick start by the Vikings could make this a close game. The Vikings have the offensive firepower to keep up, but their defense will have a hard time containing the NFL's top all-purpose running back, Marshall Faulk. The key matchup could be Rams CB Todd Lyght against Vikings WRs Cris Carter and Randy Moss.

Notable: Vikings RB Robert Smith has 383 yards rushing and two TDs in his past three games. Lyght was third in the NFC and set a career high with six interceptions.

Injuries:

VIKINGS: Questionable: RB Harold Morrow (ankle). Probable: RB Jim Kleinsasser (shoulder); WR Jake Reed (knee); CB Robert Tate (shoulder); WR Chris Walsh (back).

RAMS: Questionable: LB Leonard Little (hamstring); S Keith Lyle (shoulder).

AFC divisional

Time: 4: 05 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Colts by 5 1/2.

Vs. spread: Titans 11-5. Colts 9-5.

Vs. common opponents: Titans 4-1. Colts 3-1.

Last week: Titans beat Bills, 22-16, in wild-card game. Colts had a bye.

Series: Tied 7-7.

Last meeting: Colts won, 45-21, on Sept. 4, 1994, at Indianapolis.

Worth watching: Colts QB Peyton Manning (26 TD passes vs. 15 interceptions) makes his playoff debut. Indianapolis must keep DE Jevon Kearse, the Defensive Rookie of the Year, away from him. Kearse wreaked havoc on the Bills last week.

Outlook: If Titans RB Eddie George doesn't rush for 100 yards, QB Steve McNair will have to make some big plays out of the passing game, something he doesn't do consistently. Manning is 23, but don't expect him to be bothered by playoff pressure. The Colts' offense -- they're the second team ever with a 4,000-yard passer (Manning) and 1,500-yard receiver (Marvin Harrison) and 1,500-yard rusher (Edgerrin James) -- should carry the day.

Notable: Titans are 8-0 when McNair has a rushing TD and 6-0 when George has 100 yards rushing. Harrison is the first Colt since 1976 to lead the NFL in receiving yards (1,663).

Injuries:

TITANS: Questionable: RB Eddie George (ankle); P Craig Hentrich (neck); T Brad Hopkins (toe); WR Derrick Mason (concussion); T Jason Mathews (back); QB Steve McNair (toe); TE Mike Roan (neck); TE Frank Wycheck (knee).

COLTS: Out: LB Cornelius Bennett (knee). Probable: LB Michael Barber (leg); G Waverly Jackson (knee); DT Ellis Johnson (leg); LB Spencer Reid (knee).

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