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Falcons (4-1) at Rams (4-1)


Time: 8 p.m., TNT

Line: Rams by 3

Outlook: The Rams (4-12 last season) and Falcons (7-9) play tonight for first place in the NFC West. Atlanta has won three straight for only the 11th time in franchise history, but the wins have come against teams a combined 2-19. The Falcons' Jeff George is the NFC's second-ranked passer; Eric Metcalf leads the NFL with 42 catches. Kicker Morten Andersen, who leads the NFL with 51 points, has a strained calf and may be replaced by former Ram Tony Zendejas. St. Louis leads the NFL in turnover ratio with a plus-13. Chris Miller, the NFC's fourth-rated passer, looks to beat his team from 1987 to 1993; he goes against the NFL's 28th-ranked pass defense. This could be the final NFL game at Busch Stadium; the Rams expect to learn this week whether the Trans World Dome will be ready for their next game, Oct. 22.

Vito Stellino's pick: Rams 28, Falcons 21. Nobody dreamed six weeks ago that the winner of this Thursday-night special would be tied for the NFL's best record at 5-1.

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