Today's Games

Nfl Week 17

December 28, 2003|By Los Angeles Times

Cleveland (4-11) at Cincinnati (8-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Bengals by 7 1/2 .

Story line: The Bengals need to win, then hope the Steelers defeat the Ravens tonight.

Outlook: Coach Marvin Lewis' Bengals have lost two of three games to drop into second place in the AFC North. QB Jon Kitna has thrown 20 TD passes with one interception in games the Bengals have won, and six TD passes with 13 interceptions in losses. Cleveland has lost five games in a row, including a 35-0 trouncing by the Ravens last week. The Browns have the NFL's 28th-ranked offense and 15th-ranked defense.

St. Louis (12-3) at Detroit (4-11)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 10.

Story line: The Rams look to lock up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Outlook: The Rams have emerged as the NFC's top team with QB Marc Bulger passing for 3,675 yards and 21 TDs. Torry Holt leads all NFL receivers with 112 catches for 1,642 yards and 12 TDs. In last week's 20-14 loss at Carolina, the Lions were held to eight first downs and 106 yards of total offense.

N.Y. Jets (6-9) at Miami (9-6)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Dolphins by 4.

Story line: With the Dolphins eliminated from the playoff picture, coach Dave Wannstedt's job security is shaky.

Outlook: Miami RB Ricky Williams has rushed for 1,299 yards and eight TDs but is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. WR Chris Chambers leads the Dolphins in receptions with 55, including 10 for TDs. No other Miami player has more than two TD catches. RB Curtis Martin has rushed for 1,216 yards and has 42 catches, but he has scored only one TD for the Jets, who are 2-5 on the road this season.

Chicago (7-8) at Kansas City (12-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 7 1/2 .

Story line: After ripping through the league for nearly three months, Kansas City has lost two of its past three games.

Outlook: Chiefs RB Priest Holmes needs one more TD to tie Marshall Faulk's NFL single-season record of 26 combined scores. The Chiefs are 7-0 at home. The Bears have won two games in a row and four of their past five. Chicago rookie QB Rex Grossman is 2-0 as a starter. The Bears' Anthony Thomas needs 37 yards to reach 1,000.

Jacksonville (5-10) at Atlanta (4-11)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Falcons by 3.

Story line: Based on the teams' recent play, this could be one of the day's best games.

Outlook: Since QB Michael Vick has returned to the lineup, Atlanta has a 2-1 record that includes last week's victory over Tampa Bay. RB T.J. Duckett leads the Falcons in rushing with 683 yards and has 10 TDs. Atlanta has the NFL's 31st-ranked offense and 32nd-ranked defense. The Jaguars have won three of their past four games, including a wild victory over New Orleans last week. Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor has rushed for 1,451 yards.

Indianapolis (11-4) at Houston (5-10)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Colts by 7 1/2 .

Story line: Coach Tony Dungy and the Colts can clinch the AFC South title with a victory over the Texans or a Tennessee loss or tie.

Outlook: The Colts' Peyton Manning, the first quarterback to pass for more than 4,000 yards in five consecutive seasons, has thrown for a league-high 28 TDs with only nine interceptions. DE Dwight Freeney leads the Colts with 11 sacks. Indianapolis K Mike Vanderjagt has not missed a kick this season, making 35 field goals and 44 extra points. The Texans are coming off a disappointing 27-24 loss to Tennessee. Houston RB Domanick Davis needs 68 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

Tampa Bay (7-8) at Tennessee (11-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 45.

Line: Titans by 7.

Story line: Tennessee QB Steve McNair continues to show why he gets so much respect for his ability to play hurt.

Outlook: The Titans have clinched a playoff berth, but to win the AFC South, they will need Indianapolis to lose at Houston. Tennessee's Eddie George needs 56 yards to reach 1,000 for the seventh time in his career, but he's been averaging only 3.3 yards per carry. The Titans' Derrick Mason is fourth in the AFC in receptions with 89 for 1,213 yards. The Buccaneers will not return to the playoffs after losing last week to Atlanta.

Dallas (10-5) at New Orleans (7-8)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5.

Line: Cowboys by 1 1/2 .

Story line: After three straight 5-11 seasons, the Cowboys could finish 11-5.

Outlook: The Cowboys' defense has stepped up over the past two weeks, giving up three points. Cowboys RB Troy Hambrick is 54 rushing yards away from reaching 1,000 for the season. New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks has passed for 3,303 yards and 23 TDs with only eight interceptions. Saints RB Deuce McAllister is second in the NFC in rushing but suffered an ankle injury last week and is questionable.

Carolina (10-5) at N.Y. Giants (4-11)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 4 1/2 .

Story line: The Giants' final game of the Jim Fassel era will be against former New York assistant John Fox and the playoff-bound Panthers.

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