NFL WEEK 12: TODAY'S GAMES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

New England (6-4) at Buffalo (7-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bills by 4 1/2.

Vs. spread: Patriots 3-6; Bills 5-6.

Last week: Patriots lost to Dolphins, 27-17. Bills lost to Jets, 17-7.

Series: Patriots lead 40-36-1.

Last meeting: Patriots won, 25-21, on Nov. 29, 1998, at New England.

Outlook: The loser of this game can all but count itself out of the AFC East title race. The Patriots have won four of their past five games against the Bills, but their one loss came the last time they visited Ralph Wilson Stadium in 1998. New England is coming off back-to-back losses to the Jets and Dolphins, and QB Drew Bledsoe is in a huge slump. Last week he was intercepted a career-high five times.

Notable: Bledsoe is 7-2 with 2,191 yards passing, 16 TDs and five interceptions in past nine starts vs. Bills.

Injuries:

PATRIOTS: Out: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). Questionable: LB Vernon Crawford (knee). Probable: DE Ferric Collons (shoulder); RB Kevin Faulk (shoulder); RB Harold Shaw (quadriceps).

BILLS: Out: G Joe Panos (neck); RB Thurman Thomas (liver contusion); G Dusty Zeigler (excused-personal absence). Questionable: TE Sheldon Jackson (ankle); DB Daryl Porter (foot); DT Shawn Price (lower back); TE Jay Riemersma (groin); RB Antowain Smith (toe).

Tampa Bay (6-4) at Seattle (8-2)

Time: 4: 05 p.m., Ch. 45.

Line: Seahawks by 5 1/2.

Vs. spread: Buccaneers 5-3; Seahawks 5-5.

Last week: Buccaneers beat Falcons, 19-10. Seahawks beat Chiefs, 31-19.

Series: Seahawks lead 4-0.

Last meeting: Seahawks won, 17-13, on Sept. 22, 1996, at Tampa Bay.

Outlook: Seahawks have won five in row and lead the Raiders and Chiefs by three games in the AFC West. Seattle is threatening to run away with the division title, but it will face a streaking Bucs team that has won three in a row and is tied for first in the NFC Central. Seattle coach Mike Holmgren is no stranger to Tampa Bay. While at Green Bay he was 6-1 against the Bucs, including a playoff victory.

Notable: Buccaneers have allowed 20 or fewer points in five consecutive games.

Injuries:

BUCCANEERS: Out: G Ken Blackman (knee); T Jason Odom (back). Doubtful: G Todd Washington (quadriceps); CB Floyd Young (shoulder). Questionable: C Tony Mayberry (back); QB Eric Zeier (rib). Probable: RB Mike Alstott (rib); LB Derrick Brooks (ankle); DT Brad Culpepper (foot); LB Jamie Duncan (flu); T Paul Gruber (abdomen); DT Warren Sapp (flu).

SEAHAWKS: Out: LB DeShone Myles (knee). Doubtful: S Brian Walker (hamstring). Questionable: DT Sam Adams (knee); LB Darrin Smith (groin); RB Mack Strong (neck); CB Willie Williams (concussion).

Arizona (4-6) at N.Y. Giants (5-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 6.

Vs. spread: Cardinals 5-5; Giants 5-5.

Last week: Cardinals beat Cowboys, 13-9. Giants lost to Redskins, 23-13.

Series: Giants lead 73-38-2.

Last meeting: Cardinals won, 14-3, on Oct. 10, at Arizona.

Outlook: After back-to-back victories over Lions and Cowboys, Cardinals now will try to sweep the Giants, who have lost two in a row. Cardinals DT Eric Swann has had two sacks in each of those victories, and he'll take aim today at New York QB Kerry Collins, who replaced Kent Graham in the starting lineup. Cardinals rookie WR David Boston caught eight passes for 101 yards and a TD in win over Giants last month.

Notable: Cardinals QB Jake Plummer, who broke his finger Oct. 17, has been cleared to play, but Dave Brown is expected to start today.

Injuries:

CARDINALS: Out: DE Andre Wadsworth (knee). Doubtful: RB Michael Pittman (toe). Questionable: T-G James Dexter (triceps). Probable: RB Mario Bates (hamstring); S Tommy Bennett (hip); QB Dave Brown (shoulder); QB Jake Plummer (finger); WR Frank Sanders (knee).

GIANTS: Out: CB Conrad Hamilton (knee); CB Andre Weathers (knee); S Shaun Williams (hamstring). Doubtful: LB Marcus Buckley (leg/concussion); CB Bashir Levingston (concussion). Questionable: QB Kent Graham (concussion); RB Joe Montgomery (foot).

New Orleans (2-8) at St. Louis (8-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 14.

Vs. spread: Saints 3-6; Rams 8-2.

Last week: Saints lost to Jaguars, 41-23. Rams beat 49ers, 23-7.

Series: Rams lead 32-26.

Last meeting: Saints won, 24-3, on Nov. 15, 1998, at New Orleans.

Outlook: How's this for strange but true: the Rams can win the NFC West title today if they beat the Saints and the Panthers lose to the Falcons. The Rams haven't won the West since 1985. They can tie the 1985 Bears and 1997 49ers for the earliest clinching (11 games) since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Saints rookie RB Ricky Williams has rushed for 524 yards in his past five games, but turf toe will sideline him today, coach Mike Ditka said.

Notable: Rams have won six games by 20 points or more this season.

Injuries:

SAINTS: Out: LB Ink Aleaga (knee); WR Brett Bech (abdomen); QB Billy Joe Tolliver (knee). Doubtful: DE Jared Tomich (ankle); RB Ricky Williams (toe). Questionable: LB Chris Bordano (ankle); CB Tyronne Drakeford (shoulder); TE Josh Wilcox (shoulder). Probable: LB Mark Fields (back); S Chris Hewitt (knee); RB Marvin Powell (neck).

RAMS: Out: S Keith Lyle (shoulder); WR Ricky Proehl (shoulder). Questionable: TE Ernie Conwell (knee); RB Amp Lee (knee). Probable: DT Ray Agnew (groin).

Tennessee (8-2) at Cleveland (2-9)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Titans by 10 1/2.

Vs. spread: Titans 5-4; Browns 5-5.

Last week: Titans beat Steelers, 16-10. Browns lost to Panthers, 31-17.

Series: Browns lead 30-22.

Last meeting: Titans won, 26-9, on Sept. 19, at Tennessee.

Outlook: Titans have won a record 12 consecutive AFC Central games and should make it 13 straight today against the overmatched Browns. In his past five games, Tennessee RB Eddie George has rushed for 494 yards. Titans trail Jacksonville by one game in the Central, and if they hope to win the division, they can't afford to lose any more ground until their Dec. 26 showdown against the Jaguars.

Notable: Titans are 4-0 this season when QB Steve McNair has a TD rushing.

Injuries:

TITANS: Questionable: S Blaine Bishop (calf); DE Henry Ford (calf); RB Spencer George (groin); T Brad Hopkins (ankle); S Steve Jackson (hamstring); G Zach Piller (shoulder); TE Mike Roan (neck); WR Yancey Thigpen (ankle).

BROWNS: Out: T Lomas Brown (knee); DT John Jurkovic (hamstring); WR Leslie Shepherd (calf); DT Marcus Spriggs (shoulder). Doubtful: DE Arnold Miller (knee). Probable: T Orlando Brown (foot); WR Darrin Chiaverini (toe); K Phil Dawson (calf).

N.Y. Jets (4-6) at Indianapolis (8-2)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., Ch. 9.

Line: Colts by 7.

Vs. spread: Jets 4-5; Colts 8-1.

Last week: Jets beat Bills, 17-7. Colts beat Eagles, 44-17.

Series: Colts lead 35-23.

Last meeting: Colts won, 16-13, on Oct. 17, at New York.

Outlook: Colts have won six straight, but they will face a Jets team that is on an impressive three-game roll. Jets QB Ray Lucas completed 66.7 of his passes the past two weeks since returning to the starting lineup. Despite their record, the Jets say they still can make the playoffs. Indianapolis boasts the NFL's No. 1 offense, averaging 378.1 yards a game. This matchup features the AFC's top two runners, Indianapolis rookie Edgerrin James (1,006 yards) vs. the Jets' Curtis Martin (959).

Notable: Martin has rushed for 960 yards, including six 100-yard games, in nine games against the Colts.

Injuries:

JETS: Questionable: TE Eric Green (knee); T Ryan Young (knee).

COLTS: Doubtful: G Steve McKinney (appendectomy); WR Jerome Pathon (shoulder). Questionable: DE Mark Thomas (ankle). Probable: TE Ken Dilger (head); WR E.G. Green (knee); DT Ellis Johnson (knee).

Cincinnati (1-10) at Pittsburgh (5-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Steelers by 10.

Vs. spread: Bengals 2-9; Steelers 4-5.

Last week: Bengals lost to Ravens, 34-31. Steelers lost to Titans, 16-10.

Series: Steelers lead 33-25.

Last meeting: Steelers won, 17-3, on Oct. 17, at Cincinnati.

Outlook: Based on the records, the Steelers should beat the Bengals. But based on the Steelers' shocking 16-15 loss at home to the Browns two weeks ago, anything is possible. Pittsburgh has lost two in a row and has scored more than 17 points in only one of its past five games. In his past seven games against Pittsburgh, Bengals QB Jeff Blake has completed 65.4 percent of his passes and passed for 1,699 yards.

Notable: Bengals have a return TD in each of their past two games (one kickoff, one punt).

Injuries:

BENGALS: Out: QB Akili Smith (toe). Doubtful: CB Roosevelt Blackmon (ankle). Questionable: G Brian DeMarco (elbow); DE Jevon Langford (knee); LB Reinard Wilson (hamstring). Probable: T Willie Anderson (foot); LB Canute Curtis (thigh).

STEELERS: Doubtful: C Dermontti Dawson (hamstring); DE Nolan Harrison (pectoral); CB Chad Scott (knee). Probable: RB Jerome Bettis (ankle); WR Will Blackwell (foot); WR Troy Edwards (stomach); WR Courtney Hawkins (ankle); DT Joel Steed (knee).

San Diego (4-6) at Minnesota (6-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Vikings by 14.

Vs. spread: Chargers 4-6; Vikings 2-6.

Last week: Chargers lost to Bears, 23-20 in OT. Vikings had bye.

Series: Chargers lead 4-3.

Last meeting: Chargers won, 30-17, on Nov. 7, 1993, at Minnesota.

Outlook: After an official week off, the Vikings get an unofficial bye against the reeling Chargers. San Diego has lost five consecutive games, scoring no more than 20 points in any of those losses. Since Jeff George replaced Randall Cunningham at QB, Minnesota has scored an average of 29.3 points a game and has gone 4-0. With three of their last five on the road and home games against the Packers and Lions left, the Vikings can't afford to mess up here.

Notable: The Vikings are 8-2 after bye weeks.

Injuries:

CHARGERS: Out: DT Norman Hand (hamstring); S Greg Jackson (knee); QB Erik Kramer (neck-injured reserve); CB Terrance Shaw (knee). Questionable: S Rodney Harrison (shoulder); RB Natrone Means (knee). Probable: TE Reggie Davis (ankle); S Michael Dumas (groin); LB Junior Seau (abdomen); RB Terrell Fletcher (shoulder).

VIKINGS: Out: RB David Palmer (knee). Probable: G Matt Birk (thumb); DE John Burrough (ankle); CB Jimmy Hitchcock (knee); RB Leroy Hoard (knee); WR Jake Reed (back).

Kansas City (5-5) at Oakland (5-5)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

Line: Raiders by 3 1/2.

Vs. spread: Chiefs 4-6; Raiders 5-5.

Last week: Chiefs lost to Seahawks, 31-19. Raiders lost to Broncos, 27-21 in OT.

Series: Chiefs lead 39-36-2.

Last meeting: Chiefs won, 31-24, on Dec. 26, 1998, at Oakland.

Outlook: The Raiders are coming off a devastating loss Monday night to Denver. But if they don't put that loss and their post-game snowball fight behind them quickly, they'll be in trouble. Both teams are tied for second place in the AFC West. Neither team can afford many more losses if it hopes to make the playoffs. The Chiefs are coming off a tough loss, too, but they have defeated the Raiders four straight times. The Chiefs lead the league with a plus-17 turnover margin and have scored 80 points off turnovers.

Notable: Chiefs QB Elvis Grbac is 3-0 as a starter vs. Raiders.

Injuries:

CHIEFS: Questionable: RB Rashaan Shehee (knee/ankle). Probable: CB Juran Bolden (ankle); CB Cris Dishman (shoulder); C Tim Grunhard (knee/elbow); CB James Hasty (calf); LB Mike Maslowski (head); DT Chester McGlockton (knee); T Glenn Parker (back); K Pete Stoyanovich (back); T John Tait (ankle).

RAIDERS: Out: S Eric Turner (calf). Probable: G Gennaro DiNapoli (ribs); DT Grady Jackson (shoulder); T Lincoln Kennedy (groin).

Atlanta (2-8) at Carolina (4-6)

Time: 8: 20 p.m., ESPN.

Line: Panthers by 4 1/2.

Vs. spread: Falcons 4-6; Panthers 6-4.

Last week: Falcons lost to Buccaneers, 19-10. Panthers beat Browns, 31-17.

Series: Falcons lead 5-4.

Last meeting: Falcons won, 27-20, on Oct. 31, at Atlanta.

Outlook: Here's a Sunday night game that's not ready for prime time. One season after reaching the Super Bowl, the Falcons are already and making vacation plans. The Panthers' playoff hopes aren't dead yet, but Carolina has yet to win two games in a row, and it's running out of time to get hot. The Falcons beat the Panthers last month when Tim Dwight caught two TD passes and Chuck Smith had three sacks.

Notable: Falcons held Panthers to 63 yards rushing and intercepted three passes in Week 8.

Injuries:

FALCONS: Questionable: WR Jammi German (hamstring); DE Chuck Smith (knee/calf). Probable: CB Michael Booker (quadriceps); DT Travis Hall (shoulder); C Robbie Tobeck (hip).

PANTHERS: Out: WR Rae Carruth (personal). Doubtful: DE Jason Peter (neck). Questionable: G Nate Newton (elbow). Probable: RB Tshimanga Biakabutuka (ankle); G Matt Campbell (knee); RB Fred Lane (groin); S Mike Scurlock (back); TE Wesley Walls (back).

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
52°