Today's Games

Nfl Week 15

December 14, 2003|By Los Angeles Times

Buffalo (6-7) at Tennessee (9-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 9.

Line: Off the board.

Story line: Titans QB Steve McNair is hurt again, and his injured ankle may keep him out of the lineup against the Bills. But based on his injury record, don't count on it.

Outlook: After losing at home to Indianapolis last week, the Titans find themselves playing for a wild-card berth in the AFC. If McNair does not play, Tennessee will turn to Billy Volek, who has completed 18 of 28 passes this season for two TDs. The Bills have won two in a row and still have an outside chance to make the playoffs.

Minnesota (8-5) at Chicago (5-8)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 3.

Story line: With QB Daunte Culpepper and WR Randy Moss, the Vikings will always have a dangerous offense. But playing outside on the road will make things interesting.

Outlook: The Bears are 4-2 at home. QB Rex Grossman, the team's first-round pick this year, will make his first NFL start. Culpepper has passed for 2,800 yards and 20 TDs with eight interceptions. The Vikings have lost their past three road games by an average of 18 points.

Atlanta (3-10) at Indianapolis (10-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Colts by 7 1/2 .

Story line: Now that QB Michael Vick is back and Dan Reeves is gone as coach, the Falcons will be interesting to watch over the final three weeks.

Outlook: With their win over Tennessee last week, the Colts took control of the AFC South. QB Peyton Manning continues to have his best season as a pro with an NFL-best 3,312 yards passing and 23 TDs. In his first start of the season, Vick passed for 179 yards and ran for 141 more in the Falcons' overtime victory over Carolina.

Seattle (8-5) at St. Louis (10-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5.

Line: Rams by 7.

Story line: With the playoffs right around the corner, the Rams are playing their best football, with RB Marshall Faulk having provided the spark.

Outlook: QB Marc Bulger is 16-3 as a starter for St. Louis, which can clinch the NFC West title with a victory. Faulk has scored 127 TDs and needs four more to tie Cris Carter for fourth on the NFL's all-time list. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has thrown at least two TD passes in seven of his past 13 games.

Pittsburgh (5-8) at N.Y. Jets (5-8)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Jets by 3.

Story line: Because the Jets and Steelers are playing for next season, look for plenty of passes from QBs Chad Pennington and Tommy Maddox.

Outlook: The Steelers are coming off a victory over Oakland that featured RB Jerome Bettis' first 100-yard rushing game of the season. WR Hines Ward leads the AFC with 82 catches. The Jets' Pennington is 11-7 as a starter with 4,159 passing yards and 34 TDs.

Detroit (4-9) at Kansas City (11-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 14.

Story line: The Chiefs suffered their worst defeat of the season last week in Denver and will be looking to get back on track against the struggling Lions.

Outlook: Coach Dick Vermeil will be looking for a better defensive effort from the Chiefs, who gave up more than 500 yards against the Broncos. Kansas City's defense has given up 137 points in the past five games. The Lions are coming off a dismal 14-7 loss to San Diego. Detroit QB Joey Harrington has thrown 20 interceptions.

Houston (5-8) at Tampa Bay (6-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Off the board.

Story line: If the Texans upset the Bucs, they'll will have the same record as the defending Super Bowl champions.

Outlook: QB David Carr's status is questionable, so the Texans may start Dave Ragone for the second consecutive week. Tampa Bay QB Brad Johnson leads the NFL with eight fourth-quarter TD passes.

San Francisco (6-7) at Cincinnati (7-6)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 45.

Line: Bengals by 3.

Story line: After losing last weekend in Baltimore, the Bengals have to win their final three games to retain a shot at the playoffs.

Outlook: Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna struggled against the Ravens with three fumbles and two interceptions, but he still has thrown for 3,025 yards and 23 TDs. The Bengals need RBs Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson to have big games to help open things for Kitna and WR Chad Johnson. 49ers QB Jeff Garcia had a career day last week against Arizona, throwing for four TDs and running for two more.

Jacksonville (4-9) at New England (11-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Patriots by 6 1/2 .

Story line: The Patriots have moved into a tie with Kansas City for the league's best record.

Outlook: Patriots QB Tom Brady has passed for 3,050 yards and 15 TDs with 12 interceptions. Jacksonville rookie QB Byron Leftwich has passed for 2,233 yards and 11 TDs. DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson provide great strength for the Jaguars' run defense, which leads the league.

Cleveland (4-9) at Denver (8-5)

Time: 4:05 p.m.

Line: Broncos by 10 1/2 .

Story line: The Broncos have won two straight and three of their past four since QB Jake Plummer returned to the lineup.

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