Nfl Week 6

October 13, 2002|By Chicago Tribune

Buffalo (2-3) at Houston (1-3)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Bills by 7 1/2 .

Key stat: The Bills' defense has no interceptions.

Worth watching: In two road games (vs. Broncos and Vikings), the Bills' Drew Bledsoe has thrown five TD passes and no interceptions. Texans rookie David Carr has completed less than half of his passes (44 of 98).

Outlook: Although Houston has a decent, veteran secondary, the Texans don't have the pass rush to put pressure on Bledsoe, who's having a Pro Bowl year.

Carolina (3-2) at Dallas (2-3)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Cowboys by 2.

Key stat: Panthers have scored a total of 27 points in their past two games (both losses).

Worth watching: Emmitt Smith, coming off a season-high 70-yard game, needs 234 yards to break Walter Payton's NFL career rushing record. Lamar Smith leads the Panthers with 413 yards rushing (3.6 per carry).

Outlook: The Panthers have cooled off after a fast start and have been relying too much on their defense. The young Cowboys have shown some spark.

Green Bay (4-1) at New England (3-2)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

TV: Ch. 45.

Line: Patriots by 5 1/2 .

Key stat: It's Green Bay's No. 11 rushing offense vs. New England's No. 28 rushing defense.

Worth watching: The quarterbacks: New England's Tom Brady leads the NFL with 13 TD passes; the Packers' Brett Favre has thrown for 11.

Outlook: The way these defenses are playing, this could be a shootout. The Packers' secondary is decimated, and the Patriots are struggling to stop the run. The Packers' problems are bigger.

Atlanta (1-3) at N.Y. Giants (3-2)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Giants by 5 1/2 .

Key stat: Giants have won 36 of their past 40 games when leading after three quarters.

Worth watching: Doug Johnson replaces the injured Michael Vick (sprained right shoulder) at quarterback for the Falcons. Tiki Barber leads the Giants in rushing (308 yards, 3.6 per carry) and receiving (28 receptions, 7.3 yards per catch).

Outlook: With Vick nursing an injured shoulder, the Falcons are likely to have trouble scoring any points. The Giants won't need many to win.

Detroit (1-3) at Minnesota (0-4)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Vikings by 4 1/2 .

Key stat: Vikings have turnover differential of minus-10.

Worth watching: Rookie Joey Harrington, who threw for 267 yards and a touchdown as the Lions won his first start two weeks ago, goes for No. 2 after a bye week. The Vikings' Daunte Culpepper is having a poor year (five TD passes, eight interceptions).

Outlook: If Harrington is ready to be a difference-maker, the Lions may be a surprise team this year. Will Randy Moss, playing his first home game since his arrest, be a distraction for the Vikings?

Pittsburgh (1-3) at Cincinnati (0-5)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Steelers by 6.

Key stat: The Bengals have lost by an average of 20 points per game.

Worth watching: Can Tommy Maddox lead the Steelers to their second win in three games? Can Jon Kitna lead the Bengals to a win, period?

Outlook: The Steelers can get back in the AFC North race with a win against the NFL's worst franchise. The Bengals' quarterback roulette gives Kitna a second straight start.

Cleveland (2-3) at Tampa Bay (4-1)

Time: 1 p.m. today.

Line: Buccaneers by 7.

Key stat: Bucs' defense has scored as many TDs as it has allowed (four).

Worth watching: The Bucs' Derrick Brooks is first NFL linebacker to return three interceptions for TDs in one season. The Browns' Tim Couch has thrown four touchdown passes vs. five interceptions.

Outlook: Tampa Bay has a tradition of playing good defense, but now this might be a great defense. The Bucs have won four straight by allowing only 27 points, and the Browns don't have the talent to challenge.

Oakland (4-0) at St. Louis (0-5)

Time: 4:15 p.m. today.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Raiders by 9.

Key stat: Raiders lead the NFL with a turnover differential of plus-7.

Worth watching: The Raiders' Rich Gannon leads NFL with a passer rating of 104.0. The Rams' Marshall Faulk has rushed for 261 yards (4.0 per carry).

Outlook: The Raiders are averaging a stunning 40.5 points per game, the kind of production once expected of the Rams. These days, not much is expected of the Rams.

Jacksonville (3-1) at Tennessee (1-4)

Time: 4:15 p.m. today.

Line: Jaguars by 2.

Key stat: It's Jaguars' No. 9 offense vs. Titans' No. 27 defense.

Worth watching: The Titans' Steve McNair has completed 67 percent of his passes with nine TDs and no interceptions in his past four games vs. Jacksonville. The Jaguars' Jimmy Smith has 18 receptions for 288 yards.

Outlook: Shouldn't these teams' records be reversed? Not this year. The Titans' defense has been reeling and the Jaguars' offense has been one of the NFL's best.

Kansas City (3-2) at San Diego (4-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m. today.

Line: Chargers by 3.

Key stat: It's Chiefs' No. 2 offense vs. Chargers' No. 6 defense.

Worth watching: The Chiefs' Trent Green has thrown 12 TD passes, second in the NFL. The Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson is third in the league with 554 yards rushing (4.8 per carry).

Outlook: The Chiefs have put up some big offensive numbers but haven't faced a defense as solid as San Diego's. The Chiefs have one of the NFL's worst defenses, so the Chargers can control the ball with Tomlinson.

Miami (4-1) at Denver (4-1)

Time: 8:30 p.m. today.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Broncos by 3 1/2 .

Key stat: Dolphins have won three of four vs. Broncos since 1998.

Worth watching: Denver second-round pick Clint Portis leads NFL rookies with 306 yards rushing (5.6 per carry). The Dolphins' Ricky Williams is second in the NFL with 565 yards rushing (4.8 per carry).

Outlook: Another in a continuing series of big AFC games. The Broncos have won 15 of 17 at home, and their second-ranked rushing defense should slow down Williams.

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