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NFL Week 4: Today's Games

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Arizona (1-2) at Dallas (2-0) Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Cowboys by 7 1/2.

Vs. spread: Cardinals 1-2; Cowboys 2-0.

Last week: Cardinals lost to 49ers, 24-10. Cowboys had a bye.

Series: Cowboys lead 49-23-1.

Last meeting: Cardinals won, 20-7, on Jan. 2, 1999, in Dallas in NFC wild-card game.

Outlook: Dallas has won 16 of the past 17 regular-season meetings, but the Cardinals stunned the Cowboys in the playoffs last season. Can Arizona do it again? Not unless QB Jake Plummer recaptures his '98 magic. In his past two games vs. Dallas, Plummer passed for 678 yards and five TDs. CB Deion Sanders expects to make his '99 debut for the Cowboys, who are 8-2 after bye weeks.

Notable: Cardinals have limited Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith to 89.9 yards rushing a game, lowest of any NFC East team.

Injuries:

CARDINALS: Out: WR Rob Moore (hamstring). Doubtful: T James Dexter (triceps); DT Eric Swann (knee). Questionable: S Tommy Bennett (knee); CB Corey Chavous (knee); T Matt Joyce (back). Probable: WR David Boston (shoulder); LB Ronald McKinnon (ankle); DE Simeon Rice (heart); DT Mark Smith (knee).

COWBOYS: Questionable: CB Kevin Smith (back). G Everett McIver (hamstring). Probable: TE Mike Lucky (foot); CB Deion Sanders (toe); S Kenny Wheaton (hamstring); T Erik Williams (quadriceps).

Tampa Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (1-2) Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 7.

Vs. spread: Bucs 1-1; Vikings 0-3.

Last week: Bucs beat Broncos, 13-10. Vikings lost to Packers, 23-20.

Series: Vikings lead 28-14.

Last meeting: Bucs won, 27-24, on Nov. 1, 1998, in Tampa Bay.

Outlook: Minnesota already has lost one more game than it did the entire 1998 regular season. And now the Vikings will try to get their sputtering offense untracked against the team that handed them their lone regular-season loss last year. In that game, the Bucs rushed for a club record 246 yards, with FB Mike Alstott (128 yards) and RB Warrick Dunn (115) doing most of the damage. The teams have split their two-game series in each of the past six seasons. Two of the Bucs' victories during that span came at the Metrodome.

Notable: Bucs defense is No. 1 vs. run, No. 2 vs. pass and leads the league with 13 sacks.

Injuries:

BUCS: Out: CB Floyd Young (hamstring). Questionable: LB Don Davis (hamstring); WR Bert Emanuel (hamstring); LB Jeff Gooch (hamstring); T Jason Odom (back); DT Warren Sapp (hand); DE Steve White (ankle). Probable: DT Anthony McFarland (ankle); G Frank Middleton (knee).

VIKINGS: Out: DE Martin Harrison (knee). Questionable: RB Leroy Hoard (knee). Probable: LB Kailee Wong (hamstring).

N.Y. Jets (0-3) at Denver (0-3)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., Ch. 13.

Line: Broncos by 5 1/2.

Vs. spread: Jets 0-3; Broncos 0-3.

Last week: Jets lost to Redskins, 27-20. Broncos lost to Bucs, 13-10.

Series: Broncos lead 13-12-1.

Last meeting: Broncos won, 23-10, on Jan. 17, 1999, in Denver in AFC championship game.

Outlook: Last season, they met in the AFC championship game. This year, the Jets and Broncos meet in the Loser Bowl. The two teams already have combined for as many losses as they had last year. Whichever team loses today won't be able to find a ladder long enough to climb out of its 0-4 hole. It doesn't get easier for Jets QB Rick Mirer. In eight games against Mirer, Denver's defense has intercepted nine passes and allowed only two touchdown throws.

Notable: Broncos K Jason Elam needs two points to pass Jim Turner for first on club's career scoring list.

Injuries:

JETS: Out: TE Fred Baxter (hip); WR Wayne Chrebet (foot). Doubtful: DT Jason Ferguson (ankle).

BRONCOS: Out: S George Coghill (knee); C K.C. Jones (knee). Probable: LB Glenn Cadrez (neck); QB Brian Griese (finger); T Tony Jones (toe); RB Derek Loville (ankle); WR Ed McCaffrey (head); QB Chris Miller (elbow); LB Bill Romanowski (head); G Mark Schlereth (back-knee); DE Neil Smith (thigh); WR Rod Smith (groin); LB Nate Wayne (knee); DE Alfred Williams (back).

Jacksonville (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 9.

Line: Jaguars by 3.

Vs. spread: Jaguars 1-2; Steelers 1-1.

Last week: Jaguars lost to Titans, 20-19. Steelers lost to Seahawks, 29-10.

Series: Tied 4-4.

Last meeting: Jaguars won, 21-3, on Dec. 28, 1998, in Jacksonville.

Outlook: The clubs have met eight times in the past four seasons, and the home team has won every game. Steelers QB Kordell Stewart reverted to his '98 form last week, passing for only 61 yards with three interceptions before being benched for Mike Tomczak. Nothing like a good, old-fashioned quarterback controversy to keep coach Bill Cowher's blood boiling. The game also matches the AFC's top two defenses, No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 2 Jacksonville.

Notable: Steelers RB Jerome Bettis has 429 rushing yards in his past four games vs. the Jaguars.

Injuries:

JAGUARS: Out: LB Tom McManus (foot-IR); DE Renaldo Wynn (ankle). Probable: WR Reggie Barlow (concussion); RB Chris Howard (leg); LB Bryan Schwartz (hamstring); RB Fred Taylor (hamstring); CB Dave Thomas (quadriceps).

STEELERS: Out: DE Nolan Harrison (pectoral); LB Mike Vrabel (arm). Questionable: T Chris Conrad (knee); S Lee Flowers (ankle); RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (knee). Probable: WR Will Blackwell (hamstring); S Travis Davis (knee); WR Troy Edwards (quadriceps); G Alan Faneca (ankle); WR Hines Ward (hamstring).

New Orleans (1-1) at Chicago (1-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 1.

Vs. spread: Saints 2-0; Bears 3-0.

Last week: Saints had a bye. Bears lost to Raiders, 24-17.

Series: Bears lead 9-8.

Last meeting: Saints won, 20-17, on Oct. 5, 1997, in Chicago.

Outlook: Former Bears coach Mike Ditka returns to Soldier Field for the second time since taking the New Orleans job in 1997. That year, Ditka's Saints gave him a victory. The Saints, coming off a bye, have had an extra week to prepare for Chicago's high-speed, diversified offense, which is averaging 310.3 yards a game. The Saints have played only two games, but they're tied for second in the league with 12 sacks. The Bears have forced a league-high eight fumbles, five coming last week against the Raiders. Chicago QB Shane Matthews has thrown 110 passes with only one interception.

Notable: Saints opponents are 4-for-23 on third downs, second-lowest rate in the NFC.

Injuries:

SAINTS: Out: RB Ricky Williams (elbow). Questionable: WR Brett Bech (abdomen).

BEARS: Questionable: RB Ty Hallock (quadriceps). Probable: RB Curtis Enis (foot); G Greg Huntington (ankle); S Frankie Smith (shoulder); T James Williams (ankle).

St. Louis (2-0) at Cincinnati (0-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 3 1/2.

Vs. spread: Rams 2-0; Bengals 1-2.

Last week: Rams beat Falcons, 35-7. Bengals beat Panthers, 27-3.

Series: Bengals lead 5-3.

Last meeting: Rams won, 26-16, on Sept. 1, 1996, in St. Louis.

Outlook: Willie Jackson of the Bengals leads the AFC in kickoff return average. That's about it for Cincinnati. It is off to another woeful start and meets a team that is excited about its play. The Rams are averaging nearly 400 yards of offense and their quarterback, Kurt Warner, is one of only two in the league in the last 50 years with three touchdown passes in his first two starts (Dan Marino in 1983 is the other). Warner wasn't even supposed to be playing: the Rams invested big free-agent dollars in Trent Green during the off-season to be their quarterback. But Warner and a team full of optimism for the first time in a long time should continue their winning ways. The Bengals? There's always Willie Jackson.

Notable: Rams defense has 28 sacks in its past five games vs. the AFC.

Injuries:

RAMS: Questionable: RB Amp Lee (knee).

BENGALS: Out: RB Ki-Jana Carter (knee-IR). Questionable: RB Nick Williams (ankle). Probable: G Brian DeMarco (back); LB Takeo Spikes (wrist).

Tennessee (3-0) at San Francisco (2-1)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: 49ers by 1 1/2.

Vs. spread: Titans 2-1; 49ers 1-2.

Last week: Titans beat Jaguars, 20-19. 49ers beat Cardinals, 24-10.

Series: 49ers lead 6-3.

Last meeting: 49ers won, 10-9, on Oct. 27, 1996, in Houston.

Outlook: Call this the battle of the backups. Instead of a duel between San Francisco's Steve Young and Tennessee's Steve McNair, we'll have Jeff Garcia vs. Neil O'Donnell, two fill-in quarterbacks. Garcia, a CFL veteran, makes his first NFL start in place of Young, out after suffering a concussion Monday night against Arizona. O'Donnell is 2-0 as a starter since replacing McNair, who is recovering from back surgery. The Titans are vying for their first 4-0 start against a 49ers team that has won a team-record 18 consecutive regular-season home games.

Notable: Titans have eight red-zone TDs, tops in the AFC.

Injuries:

TITANS: Out: QB Steve McNair (back). Questionable: LB Joe Bowden (quadriceps); TE Jackie Harris (hamstring); DE Kenny Holmes (ankle); CB Steve Jackson (hamstring); DT Mike Jones (triceps); T Jason Mathews (back); DT Joe Salave'a (calf). 49ERS: Out: LB Anthony Peterson (groin); QB Steve Young (concussion). Questionable: T Tyrone Hopson (shoulder); RB Travis Jervey (ankle). Probable: TE Shonn Bell (shoulder); TE Greg Clark (ribs); C Chris Dalman (knee); LB Reggie Givens (back); CB Darnell Walker (hamstring).

New England (3-0) at Cleveland (0-3) Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Patriots by 12.

Vs. spread: Patriots 1-2; Browns 1-2.

Last week: Patriots beat Giants, 16-14. Browns lost to Ravens, 17-10.

Series: Browns lead 10-4.

Last meeting: Patriots beat Browns, 17-14, on Sept. 3, 1995, in New England.

Outlook: Cover your eyes. This one could get ugly. New England has rolled up 77 points in its three victories, Cleveland 19 points in its three losses. Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe, the top overall choice in the 1993 draft, is off to one of the best starts of his career. He has completed 66 percent of his passes and has thrown for 872 yards. His 104.5 passer rating tops the AFC. Browns QB Tim Couch, this year's No. 1 draft pick, counters with a 52.7 rating.

Notable: Browns have fewest penalties (eight) and penalty yards (50) in the NFL.

Injuries:

PATRIOTS: Out: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). Doubtful: RB Harold Shaw (quadriceps). Questionable: RB Kevin Faulk (ankle); RB Chris Floyd (ankle); CB Tebucky Jones (hamstring); LB Bernard Russ (ankle). Probable: T Zefross Moss (ankle).

BROWNS: Out: S Tim McTyer (arm); TE Irv Smith (knee); G Steve Zahursky (knee). Questionable: CB Antonio Langham (arm); WR Leslie Gardocki (back). Probable: P Chris Gardocki (back); DT John Jurkovic (shoulder).

Philadelphia (0-3) at N.Y. Giants (1-2) Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 9 1/2.

Vs. spread: Eagles 1-2; Giants 2-1.

Last week: Eagles lost to Bills, 26-0. Giants lost to Patriots, 16-14.

Series: Giants lead 68-58-2.

Last meeting: Giants won, 20-10, on Dec. 27, 1998, in Philadelphia.

Outlook: The Eagles show little signs of life but get to play against a team struggling on offense, particularly in the running game. Joe Montgomery gets a crack at running back for the Giants, and he could be a surprise. He has excellent quickness and shows determination at the end of his runs. The Giants, like many NFL teams, are slow to put the ball in the hands of rookies, but Montgomery could show why this is often an ill-advised philosophy and why experience matters little if a player can, indeed, play. The Giants' offense will emerge and the Eagles will continue to sink.

Notable: Giants WR Ike Hilliard has 14 catches, nine of them for first downs.

Injuries:

EAGLES: Out: T Jermane Mayberry (quadriceps); RB Kevin Turner (neck). Doubtful: DE Hugh Douglas (knee). Probable: TE Luther Broughton (hamstring); QB Koy Detmer (back); DT Bill Johnson (ankle); WR Charles Johnson (ribs); WR Torrance Small (ribs).

GIANTS: Out: RB Sean Bennett (knee); CB Conrad Hamilton (knee). Probable: RB Gary Brown (knee).

Kansas City (2-1) at San Diego (1-1) Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Chargers by 1.

Vs. spread: Chiefs 2-1; Chargers 1-1.

Last week: Chiefs beat Lions, 31-21. Chargers lost to Colts, 27-19.

Series: Chiefs lead 40-36-1.

Last meeting: Chargers won, 38-37, on Nov. 22, 1998, in San Diego.

Outlook: Not only does the Chargers' defense allow the fewest average rushing yards a carry, but its also has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 21 consecutive games. On offense, the Chargers have turned the ball over only once. They could be 2-0 but wilted against the Colts last week at home. Kansas City has won two straight and has beaten San Diego in three of the past four meetings.

Notable: Chargers RB Natrone Means has TDs in six of his past seven games against the Chiefs.

Injuries:

CHIEFS: Out: G Dave Szott (knee). Questionable: RB Bam Morris (hamstring); DE Dan Williams (hand); S Jerome Woods (thigh). Probable: LB Donnie Edwards (ankle); QB Elvis Grbac (ankle); DT Chester McGlockton (shoulder).

CHARGERS: Out: WR Charlie Jones (hip); QB Ryan Leaf (shoulder). Doubtful: LB Michael Hamilton (hamstring); CB Terrance Shaw (ankle); LB Tracy Simien (hamstring). Questionable: S Rodney Harrison (hamstring); CB Scott Turner (hamstring). Probable: C David Binn (quadriceps); T John Jackson (back); DE Raylee Johnson (hamstring); CB Darryll Lewis (concussion); RB Natrone Means (ankle); G Aaron Taylor (ankle).

Oakland (2-1) at Seattle (2-1) Time: 8: 20 p.m., ESPN.

Line: Seahawks by 3 1/2.

Vs. spread: Raiders 2-1; Seahawks 1-2.

Last week: Raiders beat Bears, 24-17. Seahawks beat Steelers, 29-10.

Series: Raiders lead 23-19.

Last meeting: Raiders won, 20-17, on Nov. 15, 1998, in Oakland.

Outlook: Oakland and Seattle battle for first place in the AFC West under bright lights and scrutiny. Are the Raiders for real? Can coach Mike Holmgren work similar magic with Seattle as he did in Green Bay? Oakland trails only Indianapolis in AFC offensive yards gained, as the Raiders have gained a boost in Tyrone Wheatley's power running. But Seattle is a team full of stars who have underachieved. Playing in prime time often brings out the best in underachievers.

Notable: Raiders have won two in a row and seven of their past nine games at the Kingdome.

Injuries:

RAIDERS: Out: T Matt Stinchcomb (shoulder). Questionable: RB Zack Crockett (foot); RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder). Probable: T Mo Collins (back); QB Scott Dreisbach (leg); TE Rickey Dudley (toe); DT Darrell Russell (ankle).

SEAHAWKS: Out: T Todd Weiner (ankle); WR Charles Jordan (hamstring). Questionable: WR Fabien Bownes (hamstring); S Merton Hanks (hamstring). Probable: P Jeff Feagles (elbow).

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