Today's Games

Nfl Week 16

December 21, 2003|By Los Angeles Times

Miami (8-6) at Buffalo (6-8)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bills by 2.

Story line: This figures to be coach Dave Wannstedt's last stand with the Dolphins if they lose to the Bills and are eliminated from playoff contention.

Outlook: The Dolphins played one of their best offensive games of the season but lost at home to Philadelphia last Monday. Miami quarterbacks Jay Fiedler and Brian Griese have combined to throw 14 TD passes with 17 interceptions. The Dolphins' Ricky Williams has rushed for 1,188 yards but at only 3.8 yards a carry. Miami is 9-11 after November under Wannstedt. The Bills have won two of their past three games.

N.Y. Giants (4-10) at Dallas (9-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Cowboys by 10 1/2 .

Story line: The Cowboys are coming off an impressive victory over Washington and coach Bill Parcells would like nothing better than to add to the Giants' woes.

Outlook: With the playoffs approaching, Dallas turned to a methodical running game last week against the Redskins, with Troy Hambrick rushing for a career-high 189 yards in 33 carries. That's not good news for the Giants' defense, which has been giving up almost 340 yards a game. Giants coach Jim Fassel will not return next season but will coach the final two games. New York has lost six games in a row.

Detroit (4-10) at Carolina (9-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 9.

Story line: The playoff-bound Panthers have to get back to running the ball with Stephen Davis to jump-start their slumping offense.

Outlook: The Lions have lost 23 consecutive road games and can break the NFL record they share with the early-1980's Houston Oilers if they lose to the Panthers. Detroit QB Joey Harrington has thrown 21 interceptions and only 14 TD passes. RB Shawn Bryson leads the Lions with 52 receptions and is the team's top rusher with 580 yards. The Panthers have won seven games by three points or fewer.

Washington (5-9) at Chicago (6-8)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Line: Bears by 4 1/2 .

Story line: It may be a little late in the season, but the Bears have become a difficult team to play because of their improved defense and running game.

Outlook: Washington coach Steve Spurrier's team certainly has lost steam since opening the season 3-1. The Redskins have lost four of their past five games, including a 27-0 loss to Dallas at home last weekend. With Patrick Ramsey sidelined for the rest of the season, Tim Hasselbeck will get his fourth consecutive start at quarterback for the Redskins. The Bears have won five of their past eight games and are expected to give rookie QB Rex Grossman his second consecutive start.

Tennessee (10-4) at Houston (5-9)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Titans by 6.

Story line: The Titans' quarterback situation is up in the air because of injuries to starter Steve McNair and backup Billy Volek.

Outlook: Volek stepped in for McNair last week and suffered a season-ending spleen injury in a victory over Buffalo. If McNair is unable to play again because of an ankle injury, the Titans will turn to untested rookie Jason Gesser or recently signed veteran Neil O'Donnell. Houston QB David Carr, who has been having problems with a shoulder injury, is listed as probable. The Texans have lost two games in a row. Houston rookie Domanick Davis needs 119 yards to reach 1,000 yards rushing.

Cincinnati (8-6) at St. Louis (11-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 7.

Story line: The Bengals face a tough challenge against QB Marc Bulger and the Rams, who have won their past 13 games at home.

Outlook: Cincinnati is two games over .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1988, when the Bengals won the AFC title. QB Jon Kitna has thrown 20 TD passes, with only one interception, in the eight games won by the Bengals. Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson, who rushed for 174 yards against San Francisco last week, needs 125 yards to reach 1,000. St. Louis clinched the NFC West title with last weekend's victory over Seattle. Bulger is 17-3 as a starter and leads the NFC with 3,446 yards passing, to go along with 19 TD passes.

New Orleans (7-7) at Jacksonville (4-10)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Jaguars by 2.

Story line: New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks has quietly stepped up his play and kept the Saints' postseason hopes alive.

Outlook: Brooks has thrown 21 TD passes, including five last week against the Giants, with only eight interceptions. New Orleans RB Deuce McAllister has rushed for 1,542 yards and needs 132 more to surpass George Rogers' franchise single-season record. The Saints are 16-3 in games when WR Joe Horn has at least 100 yards receiving. Rookie QB Byron Leftwich has thrown or run for a TD in 11 of 13 games this season for the Jaguars.

San Diego (3-11) at Pittsburgh (5-9)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line: Steelers by 6.

Story line: The Chargers haven't quit on coach Marty Schottenheimer, but they are still having a rough time winning games.

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