TODAY'S GAMES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

New England (9-2) at Indianapolis (9-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 9.

Line: Colts by 4.

Key stat: The Patriots have not allowed a first-quarter TD in eight of their past nine games.

Players to watch: The quarterbacks. The Colts' Peyton Manning has thrown 19 TD passes vs. eight interceptions; the Patriots' Tom Brady has tossed 13 TD passes vs. 10 interceptions.

The buzz: These division leaders already are thinking playoffs, and a victory in this one could lead to a first-round bye. Manning felt a twinge in his throwing arm Wednesday, but a magnetic resonance imaging test Thursday showed no damage. He has more weapons to work with in RB Edgerrin James and WR Marvin Harrison.

Arizona (3-8) at Chicago (4-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bears by 4 1/2 .

Key stat: The Cardinals have a minus-14 turnover differential, worst in the NFL.

Players to watch: Cardinals rookie WR Anquan Boldin has 66 catches for 15.1-yard average and six TDs. The Bears' leading receiver is Dez White (40 catches, 11.5 average, two TDs).

The buzz: The Bears' defense is playing with a lot of confidence and should dominate, but their offense is in disarray. Kordell Stewart starts at quarterback in place of injured Chris Chandler, and running back Anthony Thomas is sidelined with viral pneumonia.

Atlanta (2-9) at Houston (4-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Texans by 3.

Key stat: Six of the Texans' past eight games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

Players to watch: Texans WR Andre Johnson, the third pick in the 2003 draft, leads AFC rookies with 50 catches, including four for TDs. T.J. Duckett (4.2 yards a carry) is set to start at running back for Falcons.

The buzz: The Falcons still don't have Michael Vick, though he'll dress as the backup quarterback, and have lost RB Warrick Dunn for the season. QB Tony Banks is in one of his hot streaks for the Texans.

Buffalo (4-7) at N.Y. Giants (4-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Giants by 3.

Key stat: The Bills have lost four straight on the road, scoring a total of 21 points.

Players to watch: Giants TE Jeremy Shockey (48 catches, two TDs) might be back from a knee injury. Bills RB Travis Henry averages 4.0 yards a carry.

The buzz: The Bills actually scored two touchdowns last week - and still lost. This time they hit the road and get to face one of the NFL's toughest pass rushers in Giants DE Michael Strahan (11 sacks).

Minnesota (7-4) at St. Louis (8-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Rams by 6.

Key stat: The Rams have won 11 straight at home, two short of the franchise record.

Players to watch: Rams WR Torry Holt leads the NFL in catches with 84. Vikings WR Randy Moss is second with 72. They share the league lead with 10 TD receptions.

The buzz: The Vikings' defense was struggling before last week, when it produced two touchdowns against the Lions, but facing the Rams is another question. RB Marshall Faulk has rushed for 100 yards the past two games, and if QB Marc Bulger continues to struggle, there's always Kurt Warner.

Cincinnati (6-5) at Pittsburgh (4-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Steelers by 3.

Key stat: The Bengals have won three straight by a total of 19 points.

Players to watch: RB Jerome Bettis, averaging 3.2 yards a carry, has rushed for 100 yards in 10 of 15 games against Cincinnati. Rudi Johnson gets 4.4 yards a carry for the Bengals.

The buzz: It looks like the Bengals and Ravens will fight for the AFC North title, but this is a tough road assignment for Cincinnati and coach Marvin Lewis. The Steelers are desperate and still have a chance in the mediocre division.

Philadelphia (8-3) at Carolina (8-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 43.

Line: Panthers by 1 1/2 .

Key stat: The Eagles have won six straight games, four of them by seven points or fewer.

Players to watch: In the past four games, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has completed 63.9 percent of his passes and thrown for five TDs with no interceptions. Panthers WR Steve Smith has three 100-yard receiving games and 60 catches, including five for TDs.

The buzz: The Eagles have shown they can win in tough places (Green Bay), and their defense can make things tough on Jake Delhomme.

New Orleans (5-6) at Washington (4-7)

Time: 4:05 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5.

Line: Redskins by 1.

Key stat: The Saints lead the NFL in third-down conversion percentage at .465.

Players to watch: Saints QB Aaron Brooks is having a good year, with 14 TD passes vs. eight interceptions. Trung Canidate is averaging 3.9 yards a carry for the Redskins.

The buzz: Can the Redskins recover from blowing a 13-point lead Sunday night in Miami? Players have begun going straight to owner Daniel Snyder with their complaints. This isn't working.

Cleveland (4-7) at Seattle (7-4)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 13.

Line: Seahawks by 5 1/2 .

Key stat: Seattle is 6-0 at home, winning by an average of 10 points.

Players to watch: Bobby Engram has 37 catches for a 12.3-yard average and five TDs for the Seahawks. Browns QB Kelly Holcomb has thrown nine TD passes and nine interceptions.

The buzz: Last week's loss to the Steelers was dispiriting for the Browns. The Seahawks need this one to stay on the Rams' heels in the NFC West.

Denver (6-5) at Oakland (3-8)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Broncos by 3.

Key stat: The Broncos have won 13 of the past 17 meetings.

Players to watch: In the past five games against the Raiders, Rod Smith has 37 catches, including three for TDs. Raiders RB Tyrone Wheatley has rushed for 261 yards (3.5 a carry) in the past three games.

The buzz: Did Sunday's loss to the Bears reveal serious problems with the Broncos' offense? If it happens against the Raiders, too, the answer is yes.

Kansas City (10-1) at San Diego (2-9)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 7.

Key stat: The Chiefs have scored TDs on a league-leading 71.9 percent of trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Players to watch: Chargers QB Doug Flutie has thrown five TD passes vs. one interception in 98 pass plays. The Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez leads NFL tight ends with 603 receiving yards (44 catches, six TDs).

The buzz: The Chiefs' offense gets to fatten its statistics against the fading Chargers. Flutie gives San Diego some life, but it's not enough.

Tampa Bay (5-6) at Jacksonville (2-9)

Time: 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Buccaneers by 3 1/2 .

Key stat: The Jaguars have been outscored 61-17 in the first quarter.

Players to watch: Buccaneers DE Simeon Rice leads the NFL with 12 sacks. Jaguars rookie QB Byron Leftwich has thrown eight TD passes and 12 interceptions.

The buzz: Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio thought about benching Leftwich, then decided to stick with him. The Jaguars have nothing to lose but another game.

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