Nfl Week 5

October 06, 2002|By Chicago Tribune

N.Y. Giants (2-2) at Dallas (2-2)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Giants by 1.

Key stat: It's Giants' No. 2 defense vs. Cowboys' No. 24 offense.

Worth watching: Cowboys defensive end Shaun Ellis is second in NFL with 5 1/2 sacks and has at least one in each game. Michael Strahan, who set an NFL record with 22 1/2 last season, leads the Giants with two.

Outlook: Two of the most unpredictable teams with two of the most unpredictable offenses. Big defensive plays may make the difference, so the Giants get the edge.

Oakland (3-0) at Buffalo (2-2)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Raiders by 3.

Key stat: Raiders have won their three games by an average score of 38-20.

Worth watching: Bills' Eric Moulds leads the NFL with 33 receptions (three for TDs).

Outlook: Under Bill Callahan, Raiders have remained one of the NFL's top teams. They can run and they can pass, which always helps. Can Drew Bledsoe outscore the Raiders?

Tampa Bay (3-1) at Atlanta (1-2)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Buccaneers by 1.

Key stat: It's Falcons No. 6 rushing offense vs. Bucs' No. 6 rushing defense.

Worth watching: Falcons' Michael Vick leads the NFC in passing mainly because he has not been intercepted in 77 passes.

Outlook: A Falcons win could signal a season-long, three-way race in the surprisingly good NFC South. The Bucs' running game has been shaky.

Arizona (2-2) at Carolina (3-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Panthers by 4.

Key stat: It's Panthers' No. 1-ranked defense vs. Cardinals' No. 25-ranked offense.

Worth watching: Rookie end Julius Peppers has sparked a resurgent Carolina pass rush.

Outlook: Carolina's near-miss at Green Bay last week got more attention than its 3-0 start against a weak schedule. A tough defense and efficient quarterback play from Rodney Peete means they win games like this.

Cincinnati (0-4) at Indianapolis (2-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Colts by 13 1/2 .

Key stat: Bengals have scored one touchdown on offense.

Worth watching: Jon Kitna gets yet another chance to be the Bengals' starting quarterback..

Outlook: Two weeks ago, the Colts pounded the expansion Texans. Last week, they were off. This week may be the easiest of the three. The Bengals are losing by 26.5 points per game. Can anyone say 0-16?

New England (3-1) at Miami (3-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Dolphins by 3.

Key stat: Dolphins have won five of past six vs. Patriots.

Worth watching: Miami's Ricky Williams is second in NFL with 460 yards and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Antowain Smith leads Patriots with 296 yards (4.6 average).

Outlook: Patriots' weakness - rushing defense - has been exposed by Kansas City's Priest Holmes and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson the past two weeks. Now Williams gets his chance. An old-fashioned, control-the-ball game plan for the Dolphins should keep Tom Brady off the field.

Pittsburgh (1-2) at New Orleans (3-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

TV: Channel 13.

Line: Saints by 3.

Key stat: Steelers haven't scored more than 17 points in a game.

Worth watching: Steelers trying a new QB, as Tommy Maddox gets his first NFL start in a decade.

Outlook: The smell of desperation is in the air in Pittsburgh. A year ago, Kordell Stewart was the toast of the town. Now he has lost his job to a failed former No. 1 draft choice who did more in the Arena Football League and the XFL than he ever did in the NFL.

Kansas City (2-2) at N.Y. Jets (1-3)

Time: 4:05 p.m. today.

TV: Ch. 9.

Line: Chiefs by 3.

Key stat: It's Chiefs' No. 3 offense vs. Jets' No. 31 defense.

Worth watching: Jets finally give QB Chad Pennington, their first-round pick in 2000, a start.

Outlook: Jets have scored 13 points during their three-game losing streak, so they have nothing to lose by giving Pennington a shot. Chiefs QB Trent Green is having a solid season.

San Diego (4-0) at Denver (3-1)

Time: 4:05 p.m. today.

Line: Broncos by 5 1/2 .

Key stat: Broncos have won eight of past 10 vs. Chargers.

Worth watching: San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson has taken over the NFL's rushing lead (506 yards, 5.0 average). Rookie Clinton Portis leads Broncos with 204 yards (5.8 average).

Outlook: Resurgence of Chargers has been one of the top stories of the season, but this is their first tough road assignment (wins at Arizona and Cincinnati don't count for much). Broncos have had enough time to recover from the their shocking of the loss in Baltimore. Besides, they have a run defense that might slow down Tomlinson.

Philadelphia (3-1) at Jacksonville (2-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m. today.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Line: Eagles by 3.

Key stat: It's Jaguars' No. 5 offense vs. Eagles' No. 3 defense.

Worth watching: Two hot quarterbacks: Eagles' Donovan McNabb has thrown nine TD passes vs. three interceptions; Jaguars' Mark Brunell is third in league with a passer rating of 101.7.

Outlook: If running back Fred Taylor stays healthy and Brunell continues to play this way, Jaguars can beat almost anyone, including the Eagles, possibly the NFC's best team.

St. Louis (0-4) at San Francisco (2-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m. today.

Line: 49ers by 6 1/2 .

Key stat: Rams have beaten 49ers six straight.

Worth watching: Rams quarterback Jamie Martin makes only the second start of his 10-year career. Jeff Garcia is off to a slow start with only two TD passes and three interceptions for 49ers.

Outlook: The Rams have collapsed and Kurt Warner is out until December with a broken finger. Unless Martin is the next Warner, the 49ers will have their way.

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