Dallas (2-5) at Atlanta (3-4) Time: 1 p.m. today...

November 11, 2001|By Los Angeles Times

Dallas (2-5) at Atlanta (3-4)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Falcons by 5 1/2 .

Outlook: Ryan Leaf gets his first start for the Cowboys after entering in relief against the Giants last week. Unstable as he is, Leaf has more upside than Clint Stoerner. It will be the fourth starting quarterback in eight Cowboys games. Chris Chandler will start for the Falcons, provided his sore ribs are sufficiently healed. Families of Falcons players bickered last Sunday, proving when things are bad, they're really bad.

The pick: Dallas. Cowboys are improving; Falcons are starting to crack.

Miami (5-2) at Indianapolis (4-3)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Colts by 3.

Outlook: Indianapolis has won two consecutive games but is still 1-2 at home. Edgerrin James sat out last week because of a hyperextended knee, and is not expected back today, which is not good news for the Colts. He's vital to their offense, and they need him to take some heat off Peyton Manning. Jay Fiedler is getting increasingly comfortable in the Dolphins' offense and will get minimal pressure from the Colts' defensive line.

The pick: Miami. No James spells doom for the Colts.

Carolina (1-7) at St. Louis (6-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Rams by 19.

Outlook: Things look hopeless for the Panthers, who have lost seven in a row and could be without rookie quarterback Chris Weinke. They might have to turn to third-stringer Matt Lytle. Good luck stopping St. Louis. Kurt Warner leads the league with a 67.9 completion percentage, and few corners can keep up with receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Not only that, but the Rams get Marshall Faulk back this week. And if Faulk's knee is still tender, Trung Canidate is a reliable option.

The pick: St. Louis. Warner will be signing autographs by the third quarter.

Green Bay (5-2) at Chicago (6-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today, chs. 45, 5.

Line: Packers by 2 1/2 .

Outlook: No NFL team had won consecutive games in overtime with a touchdown -- until these Bears. The Packers have won seven in a row at Soldier Field. Brett Favre has thrown 36 touchdown passes against the Bears, his highest total against any team. Watch for Packers running back Ahman Green to have some big collisions with Brian Urlacher, one of the best middle linebackers in the game.

The pick: Chicago. The Bears have proved they are clutch performers.

Kansas City (2-6) at N.Y. Jets (5-3)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Jets by 4.

Outlook: The Chiefs were remarkably effective with their ground game against the Chargers last Sunday, running draws in obvious passing situations and catching the Chargers on their heels. But can they do that again? Kansas City has not beaten an AFC East team on the road since 1992, a streak of 12 losses. The Jets' Curtis Martin (NFL-best 804 yards rushing) could have a big day against a soft defense.

The pick: New York. For most of Sunday's game at San Diego, the Chiefs' offense couldn't get anything done.

Buffalo (1-6) at New England (4-4)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Patriots by 6.

Outlook: The Bills cut Antowain Smith after four productive seasons, and New England snapped him up. He has rushed for 474 yards with four touchdowns. The Patriots have won four of six since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe. The Bills have problems scoring; their only offensive touchdown last week came with 3:39 to play.

The pick: New England. Brady is extremely poised and has a good feel for escaping pressure.

Tampa Bay (3-4) at Detroit (0-7)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Buccaneers by 5.

Outlook: The Buccaneers are 1-3 on the road, but the Lions can't run, can't figure out their quarterback situation and have little hope of pulling out of their tailspin. About all they can do now is groom rookie quarterback Mike McMahon, who is talented but raw. The Buccaneers have overcome slow starts to make the playoffs the past two seasons.

The pick: Detroit. Lions have beaten Tampa Bay 10 times in 13 games. And they can't be that lousy, can they?

Cincinnati (4-3) at Jacksonville (2-5)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Jaguars by 4.

Outlook: The Jaguars have beaten Cincinnati five consecutive times at home, but that streak is in serious jeopardy. After winning its first two games, Jacksonville has lost five in a row, although the past three have been by a combined eight points. The Bengals are one victory away from their first five-win season since 1997, and they are fresh off a bye week.

The pick: Jacksonville. The Jaguars will stop their slide with help from Mark Brunell, who has a 99.5 passer rating in his past five games against the Bengals.

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Cleveland (4-3)

Time: 1 p.m. today, chs. 13, 9.

Line: Steelers by 3.

Outlook: This game would have meant so much more had both teams won last week. Still, it pits two of the best -- and most surprising -- teams in the AFC. The Steelers are in first place in the AFC Central but can't seem to make a field goal. Their defense has given up only 78 points. The upstart Browns are finding a way to win despite an offense ranked 31st in the league.

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