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Nfl Matchups

Sun., Nov. 3, 1996

Arizona at N.Y. Giants

Line: Giants by 5-1/2.

Last meeting: Giants won 10-6 at Arizona on Nov. 30, 1995.

Key stats: Giants defense is sixth in the NFL.

Worth watching: Giants RB Rodney Hampton is seventh in the league with 501 yards rushing. Arizona RB Larry Centers has 53 receptions and is on schedule to break his own RB record of 101 set last year.

Outlook: Giants have averaged 28 points the last two weeks, and will try to run the ball with Hampton. Cardinals’ hopes may depend on a big game from RB LeShon Johnson, who has had some huge games, and some not-so-huge ones.

Carolina at Atlanta

Line: Panthers by 1-1/2.

Last meeting: Panthers won 29-6 at Carolina Sept. 1.

Key stats: Carolina is 1-3 on the road (victory at New Orleans, losses at Jacksonville, Minnesota and Philadelphia).

Worth watching: Carolina LB Lamar Lathon leads the NFC with 8 sacks. Atlanta QB Bobby Hebert playing well, coming off 24-of-36 effort versus good Pittsburgh defense.

Outlook: Falcons have been getting closer and closer to that first victory, and this should be it. Hebert is playing well, and RB Jamal Anderson is running well (4.9 yards a carry). And in a close game, it’s always good to have Morten Andersen kicking for you.

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Line: Ravens by 3-1/2.

Last meeting: Ravens (as Browns) won 26-10 at Cleveland last season.

Key stats: Strange stat of the year: Bengals lead AFC with plus-12 turnover differential, but have only two victories to show for it.

Worth watching: Ravens QB Vinny Testaverde tries to keep his hot streak (three or more TD passes in each of last four games) going against NFL’s No. 24 defense. With Garrison Hearst slowed by a sore ankle, can Ki-Jana Carter repeat his two-TD performance of last week?.

Outlook: Bengals try to move up to 2-0 under new coach Bruce Coslet. But Ravens’ offense, led by Testaverde and WRs Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander, will score enough.

Detroit at Green Bay

Line: Packers by 11.

Last meeting: Lions won 24-16 at Pontiac on Oct. 29, 1995.

Key stats: Green Bay leads the NFL with 29 takeaways.

Worth watching: Green Bay’s decimated receiver corps welcomes back ex-Bear Anthony Morgan, who has a big job in trying to pick up where injured Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman left off. Detroit QB Scott Mitchell is listed as doubtful with a rib injury.

Outlook: Lions have one of the game’s true stars in Barry Sanders, a fact they seem to have forgotten. He has gone six straight games without gaining 100 yards. He’s facing the NFL’s No. 1 defense against the rush. Packers’ offense may struggle because of injuries.

Kansas City at Minnesota

Line: Chiefs by 2.

Last meeting: Vikings won 30-10 at Minnesota on Dec. 26, 1993.

Key stats: Vikings are 10-6 versus AFC teams under coach Dennis Green.

Worth watching: Minnesota WR Jake Reed takes on a bigger role now that RB Robert Smith is out for the season. Chiefs’ Marcus Allen needs one TD to tie Walter Payton’s record of 110 rushing TDs.

Outlook: Unusual matchup: Two teams that played well early but have lost three of the last four. Vikings’ offense could be heading south without Smith, but backup QB Brad Johnson can fill in well for Warren Moon if an ankle injury keeps him out. Chiefs simply healthier.

Philadelphia at Dallas

Line: Cowboys by 8-1/2.

Last meeting: Cowboys won 23-19 at Philadelphia on Sept. 30.

Key stats: Dallas averaging 26 points in three games since Michael Irvin’s return from suspension, compared with 17.4 in five games without him.

Worth watching: WR Irvin is hitting his stride, as Miami learned with his 12-catch game last week. Eagles RB Ricky Watters leads NFC with 936 yards from scrimmage (782 rushing).

Outlook: Cowboys are done playing around. They’ve won four straight and are playing like a team planning on another Super Bowl trip. Cowboys won at Philly without Irvin, so they shouldn’t have much trouble winning at home with him.

St. Louis at Pittsburgh

Line: Steelers by 13.

Last meeting: Rams won 27-0 at Anaheim on Sept. 12, 1993.

Key stats: Steelers QB Mike Tomczak has won 11 of his last 14 starts.

Worth watching: Pittsburgh’s No. 4-ranked defense enjoying big seasons out of LBs Levon Kirkland (four interceptions) and Chad Brown (six sacks). Rams rookie QB Tony Banks is on pace to break team rookie record for passing yardage.

Outlook: Mismatch of the week. Steelers’ Jerome Bettis will run hard against the team that traded him in the off-season. The NFL’s worst defense will be fortunate to hold him under 100 yards.

San Diego at Indianapolis

Line: Colts by 6.

Last meeting: Chargers won 27-24 at Indianapolis on Dec. 17, 1995.

Key stats: San Diego defense has slipped to No. 29 in the NFL.

Worth watching: Indianapolis QB Jim Harbaugh, playing behind a struggling line, has only two TD passes in the last five games. Chargers want to get the ball to WR Tony Martin (nine TDs).

Outlook: Colts head into second game with new offensive tackles (Kipp Vickers, Tony Mandarich) in effort to give Harbaugh more protection. Injuries mounting for Chargers (Sean Salisbury starts at QB for injured Stan Humphries). San Diego has lost three straight.

Tampa Bay at Chicago

Line: Bears by 6.

Last meeting: Bears won 31-10 on Dec. 17, 1995.

Key stats: Bears have won four straight from Tampa Bay.

Worth watching: Bears LB Bryan Cox will play with a broken thumb, on which he plans to have surgery Monday. How well can he tackle? Bucs DT Warren Sapp has 5 sacks.

Outlook: Bucs slowly improving in Tony Dungy’s first season as coach. Their defense has held last three opponents to 13 points each, and the offense isn’t turning over the ball. If Bears don’t get some big plays early out of Dave Krieg and Curtis Conway, their lack of running game could make this one close.

Miami at New England

Line: Patriots by 4.

Last meeting: Dolphins won 24-10 at Miami on Sept. 1.

Key stats: Dolphins have won 13 of last 15 versus Patriots.

Worth watching: Dan Marino completed only 12 of 27 against Dallas in his first outing after recovering from ankle injury. He should be sharper against the NFL’s No. 29 pass defense.

Outlook: Patriots have won five of their last six and need a victory to hold onto a share of first place in the AFC East. Drew Bledsoe’s TD-INT ratio of 12-4 is among the best. Patriots are hot and Dolphins won’t cool them.

Washington at Buffalo

Line: Bills by 3.

Last meeting: Bills won 24-10 at Buffalo on Nov. 1, 1993.

Key stats: Redskins are 7-1 despite having the league’s No. 27 defense.

Worth watching: Washington RB Terry Allen has become a TD specialist. He has 13, which puts him on a pace to break Emmitt Smith’s NFL record of 25. Buffalo WR Andre Reed goes for his fourth 100-yard game.

Outlook: Washington coach Norv Turner a strong coach-of-the-year candidate in guiding a team of modest talent. Bills especially tough at home, and their red-zone defense among the league’s best. It might be enough to hold Allen to one TD, which might be enough.

San Francisco at New Orleans

Line: 49ers by 8-1/2.

Last meeting: 49ers won 27-11 in San Francisco on Sept. 1.

Key stats: San Francisco has plus-10 turnover differential; New Orleans is minus-12.

Worth watching: Steve Young expected to return to the starting lineup after missing a game with a groin injury. New Orleans relying more and more on RB Ray Zellars, who has 235 yards rushing and two TDs in last two games.

Outlook: Saints make their debut under interim coach Rick Venturi, who was 1-10 as Colts interim coach in 1991 and 1-31-1 as Northwestern’s coach in the early 1980s. He’s switching to a two-back attack that will showcase Zellars. Saints often play 49ers tough, but won’t if Young is healthy.

Denver at Oakland (Monday)

Line: Broncos by 1-1/2.

Last meeting: Broncos won 31-28 on Dec. 24, 1995.

Key stats: Raiders are 12-0 at home on “Monday Night Football.”

Worth watching: Denver QB John Elway guides the NFL’s No. 1 offense. Elway playing as well as he ever has, and has NFL’s No. 1 rusher, Terrell Davis, to help out. Raiders led by QB Jeff Hostetler (13 TD passes).

Outlook: Broncos have won four straight, averaging 36 points in the last three. Raiders have won three straight, averaging 31. So the defense that plays better could decide this one. Raiders need pass rush from Jerry Ball, Aundray Bruce and Chester McGlockton (all of whom have three sacks each).

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TODAY ON TV 10 a.m.: Chargers at Colts (NBC) 10 a.m.: Eagles at Cowboys (Fox) 1 p.m.: Oilers at Seahawks (NBC) 5 p.m.: 49ers at Saints (ESPN)

This sidebar appeared with the story: TODAY ON TV 10 a.m.: Chargers at Colts (NBC) 10 a.m.: Eagles at Cowboys (Fox) 1 p.m.: Oilers at Seahawks (NBC) 5 p.m.: 49ers at Saints (ESPN)

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