NFL Week 7: Today's Games

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Chicago (3-3) at Tampa Bay (2-3) Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Buccaneers by 8.

Vs. spread: Bears 5-1; Buccaneers 2-1.

Last week: Bears lost to Eagles, 20-16. Buccaneers had a bye.

Series: Bears lead 30-12.

Last meeting: Buccaneers won, 31-17, on Oct. 29, 1998, at Chicago.

Outlook: The Buccaneers have won the past three games against the Bears, averaging 172.3 rushing yards during that streak. Trent Dilfer bashers beware: the Bears are one team he has owned. In his past five starts against the Bears, he is 4-1 with a passer rating of 107.8. The Bears counter with a defense that has forced 17 turnovers, tied for the league lead, and recorded an NFC-high 20 sacks. Tampa Bay had a week off to recover from close, painful road losses to the Vikings and Packers.

Notable: Buccaneers have won five of past seven at home vs. Bears.

Injuries:

BEARS: Out: RB James Allen (knee); WR Curtis Conway (ankle); LB Sean Harris (ankle); QB Shane Matthews (hamstring).

BUCCANEERS: Out: WR Bert Emanuel (hamstring). Questionable: DE John McLaughlin (shoulder). Probable: RB Warrick Dunn (knee); DT Warren Sapp (hand); DE Steve White (ankle); CB Floyd Young (hamstring).

Denver (2-4)

at New England (4-2)

Time: 1 p.m., chs. 13, 9.

Line: Patriots by 3 1/2.

Vs. spread: Broncos 2-3; Patriots 2-3.

Last week: Broncos beat Packers, 31-10. Patriots lost to Dolphins, 31-30.

Series: Broncos lead 20-12.

Last meeting: Broncos won, 27-21, on Sept. 7, 1998, at Denver.

Outlook: After an 0-4 start, the Broncos have won two straight. Don't be surprised if their resurgence continues today at Foxboro Stadium. The Broncos haven't lost to the Patriots since 1980. They've won 11 in a row, including one playoff game. After a 4-0 start, the Patriots have lost two in a row.

Notable: Broncos QB Brian Griese has posted a passer rating of 96.3 in his past two starts.

Injuries:

BRONCOS: Out: TE Desmond Clark (knee); TE Shannon Sharpe (clavicle). Questionable: QB Bubby Brister (hip); RB Howard Griffith (neck); RB Derek Loville (hamstring); CB Chris Watson (ankle). Probable: DT Cyron Brown (shoulder); LB Glenn Cadrez (shoulder); S George Coghill (knee); RB Olandis Gary (toe); QB Brian Griese (finger); CB Tory James (hamstring); C K.C. Jones (knee); QB Chris Miller (elbow); DT Trevor Pryce (toe); G Mark Schlereth (back); RB Detron Smith (shoulder); WR Rod Smith (groin); DE Maa Tanuvasa (concussion); LB Artie Ulmer (knee); LB Nate Wayne (knee); DE Alfred Williams (knee).

PATRIOTS: Out: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). Doubtful: RB Chris Floyd (knee); LB Bernard Russ (knee); RB Harold Shaw (quadriceps). Questionable: WR Troy Brown (ankle); LB Tedy Bruschi (knee). Probable: WR Shawn Jefferson (knee); CB Tebucky Jones (hamstring); DT Henry Thomas (foot).

Green Bay (3-2) at San Diego (4-1)

Time: 4: 05 p.m.

Line: Packers by 3.

Vs. spread: Packers 1-4; Chargers 4-1.

Last week: Packers lost to Broncos, 31-10. Chargers beat Seahawks, 13-10.

Series: Packers lead 5-1.

Last meeting: Packers beat Chargers, 42-10, on Sept. 15, 1996, at Green Bay.

Outlook: The Packers had better hope last week's loss to the Broncos was an aberration. QB Brett Favre, a three-time league MVP, turned in one of the worst games of his career. San Diego leads the AFC West and is turning into one of the league's biggest suprises.

Notable: Chargers have not allowed 100-yard rusher in 24 straight games, NFL's top active streak.

Injuries:

PACKERS: Out: WR Jahine Arnold (knee-injured reserve). Questionable: DT Santana Dotson (neck); DE Cletidus Hunt (ankle). Probable: DT Gilbert Brown (knee); T Eart Dotson (back); QB Brett Favre (thumb); WR Desmond Howard (finger).

CHARGERS: Out: QB Ryan Leaf (shoulder). Doubtful: CB Charles Dimry (knee); S Rodney Harrison (shoulder); LB Eric Hill (knee-foot); WR Charlie Jones (hip). Questionable: CB Darryll Lewis (hamstring); T Vaughn Parker (hamstring). Probable: LB Michael Hamilton (hamstring); CB Scott Turner (hamstring).

Cincinnati (1-5) at Indianapolis (3-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Colts by 10 1/2.

Vs. spread: Bengals 1-5; Colts 3-1.

Last week: Bengals lost to Steelers, 17-3. Colts beat Jets, 16-13.

Series: Colts lead 10-8.

Last meeting: Colts won, 39-26, on Dec. 13, 1998, at Indianapolis.

Outlook: As a rookie last year against the Bengals, Colts QB Peyton Manning completed 65.4 percent of his throws and posted a passer rating of 128.7. Those numbers should only go up this season. Manning already has thrown for 1,395 yards and has been sacked only twice. The Bengals will try to keep the ball out of Manning's hands. That means having rookie QB Akili Smith hand off to RB Corey Dillon, the NFL's leading rusher.

Notable: Five of past seven meetings have been decided by seven points or less.

Injuries:

BENGALS: Doubtful: TE Steve Bush (knee). Probable: RB Corey Dillon (foot); G Mike Goff (knee).

COLTS: Doubtful: WR Lake Dawson (ankle). Questionable: WR E.G. Green (knee); RB Darick Holmes (ankle). Probable: LB Michael Barber (thigh); CB Jason Belser (groin); DE Chad Bratzke (ankle); CB Chad Cota (ankle); RB Keith Elias (head); G Waverly Jackson (ankle); WR Jerome Pathon (knee); CB Tito Wooten (hamstring).

Detroit (3-2) at Carolina (2-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Panthers by 4 1/2.

Vs. spread: Lions 3-2; Panthers 4-1.

Last week: Lions beat Vikings, 25-23. Panthers beat 49ers, 31-29.

Series: First meeting.

Outlook: Although these two teams never have met, Panthers coach George Seifert owns a 5-1 career mark over Lions coach Bobby Ross. Both teams are coming off huge victories. The team that stopped celebrating sooner should have the edge. Job No. 1 for the Lions will be containing a Panthers offense that ranks fifth in the NFC. The Panthers have averaged 28.5 points over their past four games. In three of his past four games, Carolina's Muhsin Muhammad has had more than 100 yards receiving.

Notable: Lions are 20-6 when Jason Hanson kicks two or more field goals and 9-0 when he kicks three or more.

Injuries:

LIONS: Out: DE Jared DeVries (foot). Doubtful: LB Stephen Boyd (foot); WR Herman Moore (knee); G Tony Semple (elbow). Questionable: G Jeff Hardings (ribs); RB Sedrick Irvin (hamstring); S Ryan Stewart (groin); CB Bryant Westbrook (hamstring). Probable: QB Charlie Batch (arm-back).

PANTHERS: Out: G Matt Campbell (knee); WR Rae Carruth (ankle); DE Jason Peter (shoulder). Doubtful: LB Hannibal Navies (knee). Probable: LB Michael Barrow (chest); RB Tshimanga Biakabutuka (hip); WR Muhsin Muhammad (quadriceps); P Ken Walter (ankle).

Philadelphia at Miami (4-1)

Time: 1 p.m., ch. 43.

Line: Dolphins by 9.

Vs. spread: Eagles 4-2; Dolphins 3-2.

Last week: Eagles beat Bears, 20-16. Dolphins beat Patriots, 31-30.

Series: Dolphins lead 6-3.

Last meeting: Eagles won, 35-28, on Oct. 20, 1996, at Philadelphia.

Outlook: The Eagles' hard-hitting, nasty defense has sparked back-to-back victories and held its past three opponents to 16 or fewer points. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they lost DE Hugh Douglas to a season-ending biceps injury last week. Backup QB Damon Huard is likely to start for the Dolphins in place of injured Dan Marino, but the Eagles still appear headed for trouble. The Dolphins are 4-0 against Philadelphia at home.

Notable: Eagles have intercepted an NFL-best 13 passes.

Injuries:

EAGLES: Out: DE Hugh Douglas (biceps-injured reserve). Doubtful: CB Troy Vincent (groin). Questionable: LB Mike Caldwell (hamstring); WR Dietrich Jells (knee); DT Bill Johnson (ankle). Probable: WR Dameane Douglas (quadriceps); WR Charles Johnson (knee); T Jermane Mayberry (hamstring); T Lonnie Palelei (shoulder); RB Kevin Turner (neck).

DOLPHINS: Out: DE Kenny Mixon (multiple abrasions and contusions). Doubtful: WR Yatil Green (hamstring); LB Anthony Harris (groin). Questionable: G Mark Dixon (groin); RB Rob Konrad (quadriceps); QB Dan Marino (trapezius). Probable: DE Trace Armstrong (knee); T James Brown (elbow); CB Terrell Buckley (ankle); T Richmond Webb (knee); S Shawn Wooden (thumb).

Buffalo (4-2) at Seattle (3-2)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., chs. 13, 9.

Line: Seahawks by 2 1/2.

Vs. spread: Bills 3-3; Seahawks 1-4.

Last week: Bills lost to Raiders, 20-14. Seahawks lost to Chargers, 13-10.

Series: Seahawks lead 4-2.

Last meeting: Seahawks won, 26-18, on Dec. 8, 1996, at Seattle.

Outlook: Bills QB Doug Flutie will try to rebound from one of his worst games since returning to the NFL last year from Canada. He was 19-of-41 for 210 yards with three interceptions against the Raiders. What's more, he lost his favorite target, as WR Eric Moulds is out with a hamstring injury. Seahawks QB Jon Kitna didn't do much better last week. He was 17-for-29 for 151 yards with one interception. Also, running back Ricky Watters is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry this season.

Notable: Bills coach Wade Phillips has a 4-0 record vs. Seahawks, tops against any team.

Injuries:

BILLS: Out: LB John Holecek (knee); WR Eric Moulds (hamstring); G Joe Panos (neck); RB Thurman Thomas (liver contusion). Questionable: G Ruben Brown (hamstring); DE Phil Hansen (leg); TE Jay Riemersma (groin); DT Ted Washington (chest). Probable: QB Rob Johnson (head).

SEAHAWKS: Out: T Todd Weiner (ankle). Doubtful: S Darryl Williams (hamstring). Questionable: WR Charles Jordan (hamstring); WR Mike Pritchard (knee).

Cleveland (0-6) at St. Louis (5-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 19.

Vs. spread: Browns 3-2; Rams 5-0.

Last week: Browns lost to Jaguars, 24-7. Rams beat Falcons, 41-13.

Series: Browns lead 8-7.

Last meeting: Browns won, 42-14, on Dec. 26, 1993, at Anaheim.

Outlook: The league is still waiting for the Rams to fall. They will have to keep waiting at least one more week. If this were a boxing match instead of a football game, it would end in the first round. The Browns traded with the Dolphins for RB Karim Abdul-Jabbar on Tuesday. Too bad for the Browns that Abdul-Jabbar can't play defense. The Browns have allowed an average of 400.8 yards per game. Now they'll face the league's top-rated passer, Kurt Warner, and a Rams team that has scored a league-high 183 points.

Notable: Rams have scored 40-plus points in two straight games for first time since 1958.

Injuries:

BROWNS: Questionable: DE Derrick Alexander (shoulder). Probable: RB Terry Kirby (ankle); DE Hurvin McCormack (knee); G Scott Rehberg (knee); WR Leslie Shepherd (hamstring); S Marquis Smith (head); G Steve Zahursky (knee).

RAMS: Probable: LB Todd Collins (concussion); RB Amp Lee (knee); G Tom Nutten (back); WR Az-Zahir Hakim (groin).

New Orleans (1-4) at N.Y. Giants (3-3), Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 3.

Vs. spread: Saints 2-2; Giants 3-3.

Last week: Saints lost to Titans, 24-21. Giants beat Cowboys, 13-10.

Series: Giants lead 11-8.

Last meeting: Giants won, 14-9, on Sept. 28, 1997, at New York.

Outlook: The game should be low-scoring and boring, but the sideline interaction between Saints coach Mike Ditka and Giants fans should offer plenty of entertainment. Last week Ditka made obscene gestures to a few hecklers at the Superdome, drawing a $20,000 fine from the Saints. No doubt Giants fans will try to provoke Ditka into flashing some more curious hand signals. Of course nothing they say could make him madder than if the Saints blow their fifth consecutive fourth-quarter lead.

Notable: Giants have allowed 27.5 yards rushing a game over past two weeks.

Injuries:

SAINTS: Out: TE Scott Slutzker (knee). Questionable: TE Cam Cleeland (knee); CB Tyronne Drakeford (groin); QB Billy Joe Hobert (neck); WR Keith Poole (shoulder). Probable: LB Mark Fields (back); RB Josh Wilcox (shoulder).

GIANTS: Out: RB Gary Brown (knee); K Brad Daluiso (knee-injured reserve). Doubtful: CB Conrad Hamilton (knee). Questionable: RB Sean Bennett (knee); G Luke Petitgout (ankle); S Lyle West (hamstring). Probable: RB Tiki Barber (toe); Charles Way (knee).

San Francisco at Minnesota (2-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 7.

Vs. spread: 49ers 2-2; Vikings 0-5.

Last week: 49ers lost to Panthers, 31-29. Vikings lost to Lions, 25-23.

Series: 49ers lead 17-16-1.

Last meeting: 49ers won, 28-17, on Dec. 7, 1997, at San Francisco.

Outlook: QB Jeff George gets his first start for the Vikings, just in time to attack the height-challenged 49ers secondary. George won't have 5-foot-7 Mark McMillian to pick on -- he was waived Tuesday. But 5-8 Darnell Walker and 5-9 R. W. McQuarters are still available small targets. George will spend the day throwing jump balls to his trio of tall receivers: 6-4 Randy Moss, 6-3 Cris Carter and 6-3 Jake Reed. The 49ers' pass defense ranks 29th. Unless San Francisco can find a way to pressure George, it could be in for another long day.

Notable: 49ers have won nine of past 11 vs. Vikings.

Injuries: 49ERS: Out: G Tyrone Hopson (shoulder-injured reserve); QB Steve Young (concussion). Doubtful: LB Anthony Peterson (groin). Questionable: WR Terrell Owens (ankle). Probable: T Dave Fiore (knee); RB Charlie Garner (ribs); DE Charles Haley (back-knee).

VIKINGS: Out: DE John Burrough (ankle); RB Robert Smith (abdomen). Doubtful: TE Jim Kleinsasser (shoulder). Questionable: TE Carlester Crumpler (ribs); WR Chris Walsh (calf). Probable: DT Jerry Ball (hamstring); WR Cris Carter (hamstring); WR Matthew Hatchette (ankle); DT Joe Phillips (toe).

N.Y. Jets (1-5) at Oakland (3-3)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Raiders by 6 1/2.

Vs. spread: Jets 1-3; Raiders 4-2.

Last week: Jets lost to Colts, 16-13. Raiders beat Bills, 20-14.

Series: Raiders lead 16-10-2.

Last meeting: Jets won, 23-22, on Sept. 21, 1997, at New York.

Outlook: This game has danger written all over it for the Raiders, a team that has played its best when facing long odds and worst when favored to win. But the Jets are a disaster and coach Bill Parcells is partially to blame. By trading for QB Rick Mirer, he made a major tactical error. One week after being dropped to third string, Mirer returns to the starting lineup in place of an injured Ray Lucas.

Notable: Raiders have AFC-high 12 red-zone touchdowns.

Injuries:

JETS: Out: S Kevin Williams (throat-reserve, non-football illness). Doubtful: QB Ray Lucas (ankle). Questionable: S Steve Atwater (hamstring). Probable: DE Anthony Pleasant (ankle).

RAIDERS: Out: WR Kenny Shedd (knee). Questionable: T Mo Collins (knee); TE Derrick Walker (excused-personal absence). Probable: QB Rich Gannon (hip); DE James Harris (gastrointestinal illness); RB Napoleon Kaufman (hand); RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder).

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