Today's Games

Nfl Week 7

October 19, 2003|By Chicago Tribune

Denver (4-1) at Minnesota (5-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 3 1/2 .

Key stat: Vikings winning by an average of 13.4 points per game.

Players to watch: QB Daunte Culpepper, who returns from a back injury that forced him to miss two games, has thrown five TD passes and no interceptions in 69 attempts. RB Clinton Portis is averaging 5.7 yards per carry for the Broncos.

The buzz: QB Jake Plummer's broken foot and LB Ian Gold's season-ending knee injury take some of the glitter off this matchup. Veteran backup Steve Beuerlein is capable, but the Broncos need big plays to pull off an upset. The Vikings built a complete team quickly.

New Orleans (2-4) at Atlanta (1-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 2.

Key stat: Falcons have won three of past four vs. Saints.

Players to watch: QB Kurt Kittner gets his first NFL start for the Falcons. Saints QB Aaron Brooks has thrown seven TD passes vs. four interceptions.

The buzz: As Michael Vick continues to heal, the Falcons are scrambling for answers. Kittner gets his chance to show everyone he should have been drafted before the fifth round last year. But that won't help stop Saints RB Deuce McAllister.

Tennessee (4-2) at Carolina (5-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 1 1/2 .

Key stat: Panthers trying to match franchise record with seventh straight win.

Players to watch: Titans QB Steve McNair is the NFL's top passer (11 TDs, two interceptions, 107.8 rating). QB Jake Delhomme is off to a modest start for the Panthers (five TDs, five interceptions, 71.8 rating).

The buzz: After an emotional victory at Indianapolis, Carolina has to guard against a letdown and shut down the McNair-to-Derrick Mason combination. The Panthers also have to generate a better passing game.

San Diego (0-5) at Cleveland (3-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Browns by 5.

Key stat: Chargers haven't held anybody under 24 points.

Players to watch: Browns DE Courtney Brown already has a career-high five sacks. Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

The buzz: The Chargers haven't been able to stop anybody, so why should they start now? The Browns know RB William Green is the key to their offense.

Dallas (4-1) at Detroit (1-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Cowboys by 3.

Key stat: Lions have averaged 10.5 points in past four games.

Players to watch: Cowboys QB Quincy Carter has thrown only four TD passes, but his development is one of the stories of the season. Lions QB Joey Harrington has thrown seven TD passes vs. eight interceptions.

The buzz: Under Bill Parcells, the Cowboys have learned how to win, at least against the soft schedule they've played so far. After this game, the Cowboys face mostly contenders, but they're on their way to their first 5-1 start since 1995.

New England (4-2) at Miami (4-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Dolphins by 5 1/2 .

Key stat: Dolphins have won past five meetings in Miami.

Players to watch: Miami RB Ricky Williams is carrying the ball a stunning 27 times a game, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. New England RB Kevin Faulk is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

The buzz: Since losing their opener to the Texans, the Dolphins have been amazingly consistent, winning by 11, 10, 13 and 14 points -- and not allowing more than 10. The Patriots will make it interesting.

Philadelphia (2-3) at N.Y. Giants (2-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Line: Giants by 3.

Key stat: Eagles have won 19 of their past 26 games on the road (1-1 this year).

Players to watch: The struggling quarterbacks: Eagles' Donovan McNabb has thrown two TD passes vs. five interceptions; Giants' Kerry Collins has six TD passes vs. nine interceptions.

The buzz: It's still early, but the loser of this game will have trouble climbing back into the playoff race. The Giants have scored just 16 points in two losses since their bye week, and their special teams are a mess.

Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 4.

Key stat: Rams have won nine straight home games.

Players to watch: QB Marc Bulger, 9-2 as the Rams' starter, has thrown seven TD passes vs. five interceptions. In the past three games, Packers QB Brett Favre has completed 72 percent of his passes, with seven TDs and two interceptions.

The buzz: Will the Packers still be reeling from blowing that 17-point lead to the Chiefs? Given Favre's 11-19 regular-season record in games in domes, will it matter? The Rams are climbing back into contention.

Washington (3-3) at Buffalo (3-3)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Line: Bills by 3.

Key stat: Bills have averaged 11.3 points in past four games (1-3).

Players to watch: The quarterbacks: Bills' Drew Bledsoe has thrown five TDs vs. four interceptions; Redskins' Patrick Ramsey has thrown seven TDs vs. six interceptions.

The buzz: If Redskins RB Trung Canidate can match his season average of 4.8 yards per carry, Washington should be able to control the ball and the game. The Bills' offense is in trouble.

N.Y. Jets (1-4) at Houston (2-3)

Time: 4:05 p.m.

Line: Jets by 3.

Key stat: Texans have allowed at least 20 points in every game.

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