December 23, 2007 in Sports

The matchups

Terry Bannon Chicago Tribune
 

Packers at Bears

Time: 10 a.m. TV: Fox 28

Line: Packers by 8 1/2.

Records: Packers (12-2), Bears (5-9)

Last meeting: Bears won 27-20 at Green Bay on Oct. 7.

Key stat: The run-first Bears have attempted 6 more passes than the Packers.

Fantasy factor: Packers rookie Ryan Grant has averaged 110.5 yards from scrimmage (96.5 rushing) in the last 8 games. Bears TE Desmond Clark had 1 of his 3 TDs in 1st meeting.

The Buzz: Brett Favre has beaten Bears 22 times in his career, and he’s not stopping now. Third-string QB Kyle Orton gets another chance to generate offense surrounded by second-stringers.

Giants at Bills

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Giants by 2 1/2.

Records: Giants (9-5), Bills (7-7)

Last meeting: Bills won 24-7 at New York on Nov. 30, 2003.

Key stat: Giants haven’t scored more than 21 in last 7 games.

Fantasy factor: Giants’ Brandon Jacobs should improve on his 4.9 yards-per-carry average, 2 rushing TDs; same for Bills’ Marshawn Lynch (3.9, 6 TDs).

The Buzz: It should be day for running backs, and those who try to stop them. Giants on track for NFC wild-card berth and should get it done.

Browns at Bengals

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Browns by 3.

Records: Browns (9-5), Bengals (5-9)

Last meeting: Browns won 51-45 at Cleveland on Sept. 16.

Key stat: Bengals have won last 3 home games vs. Browns.

Fantasy factor: Browns’ Derek Anderson threw 5 of his 26 TD passes in 1st meeting. Bengals’ T.J. Houshmandzadeh leads NFL with 101 catches and has 11 TDs.

The Buzz: Browns tied with Steelers for AFC North lead and have won 4 of 5. They should be able to throw and Bengals’ offense is stagnant.

Chiefs at Lions

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Lions by 4 1/2.

Records: Chiefs (4-10), Lions (6-8)

Last meeting: Chiefs won 45-17 at Kansas City on Dec. 14, 2003.

Key stat: Chiefs have lost 7 straight, Lions 6 in row.

Fantasy factor: Chiefs’ Brodie Croyle has completed 58.2 percent with 4 TD passes and 4 INTs in 4 starts. Lions rookie WR Calvin Johnson goes for 2nd straight 100-yard receiving game.

The Buzz: A losing streak has to end, unless these 2 somehow stumble to tie.

Texans at Colts

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Colts by 7.

Records: Texans (7-7), Colts (12-2)

Last meeting: Colts won 30-24 at Houston on Sept. 23.

Key stat: Colts 3rd in NFL with plus-15 turnover differential.

Fantasy factor: Will Colts’ Joseph Addai get enough work to add to total of 11 rushing TDs? Sage Rosenfels has thrown 5 TD passes vs. 2 INTs as starter, leading Texans to 3-0 mark.

The Buzz: Colts are locked into No. 2 spot in AFC playoffs, and Texans have been eliminated from playoff consideration. Colts’ regulars may see limited action.

Raiders at Jaguars

Time: 10 a.m. TV: CBS

Line: Jaguars by 13.

Records: Raiders (4-10), Jaguars (10-4)

Last meeting: Jaguars won 13-6 at Oakland on Jan. 2, 2005.

Key stat: Jags have scored at least 24 in 8 straight games.

Fantasy factor: Ronald Curry leads Raiders with 52 catches, 4 for TDs. Jaguars’ Fred Taylor going for 5th straight 100-yard game.

The Buzz: Jaguars can clinch No. 5 seed in AFC playoffs with win, and they’re one of hottest teams in league with 5 wins in last 6 (only loss to Colts).

Eagles at Saints

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Saints by 3.

Records: Eagles (6-8), Saints (7-7)

Last meeting: Saints won 27-24 at New Orleans in NFC divisional round on Jan. 13.

Key stat: Saints have scored at least 31 in 3 of last 4 games (3 wins).

Fantasy factor: Aaron Stecker has emerged as major Saints contributor with 195 rushing yards and 2 TDs in last 2 games. Eagles’ Kevin Curtis having big year with 64 catches, 5 TDs.

The Buzz: Saints are playing good football late in season and still have shot at playoffs. Incentive makes difference.

Falcons at Cardinals

Time: 1:05 p.m.

Line: Cardinals by 10.

Records: Falcons (3-11), Cardinals (6-8)

Last meeting: Falcons won 32-10 at Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2006.

Key stat: Falcons have scored more than 20 only once (26-16 win over Texans).

Fantasy factor: Two big-name running backs having so-so years: Falcons’ Warrick Dunn averaging 3.1 yards per carry with 3 rushing TDs; Cardinals’ Edgerrin James at 3.8 and 6.

The Buzz: Falcons lacking in offense, Cardinals in defense. At least Cardinals can believe they’re on upswing, while Falcons know they’re starting over after Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino debacles.

Bucs at 49ers

Time: 1:05 p.m.

Line: Bucs by 5 1/2.

Records: Buccaneers (9-5), 49ers (4-10)

Last meeting: 49ers won 15-10 at San Francisco on Oct. 30, 2005.

Key stat: Bucs lead NFC with plus-14 turnover differential.

Fantasy factor: Bucs’ Earnest Graham, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, may play long enough to add to 10 rushing TDs. 49ers’ Shaun Hill passed for TD, ran for another in his 1st NFL start last week.

The Buzz: Bucs locked into No. 3 or 4 seed in NFC, which means home game but no chance for bye. They won’t take many risks. Unless Hill gets hot, they won’t have to.

Dolphins at Patriots

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Patriots by 22.

Records: Dolphins (1-13), Patriots (14-0)

Last meeting: Patriots won 49-28 at Miami on Oct. 21.

Key stat: Patriots trying to tie own NFL record of 18 straight regular-season wins set in ‘03-‘04.

Fantasy factor: Dolphins’ Cleo Lemon has thrown 4 TD passes in 5 games as starter. Tom Brady has 45 TD passes vs. only 6 INTs for Patriots.

The Buzz: Hard to see how Patriots won’t easily go to 15-0, leaving only Dec. 29 season finale at Giants in way of NFL’s 1st perfect regular season since ‘72 Dolphins.

Jets at Titans

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Titans by 8 1/2.

Records: Jets (3-11), Titans (8-6)

Last meeting: Jets won 23-16 at Tennessee on Sept. 10, 2006.

Key stat: Titans 4-3 at home, losing to Colts, Jaguars and Chargers.

Fantasy factor: Jets’ Laveranues Coles, who had 8 catches and 1 TD vs. Titans last season, has 55 catches and 6 TDs. Titans’ LenDale White, who has rushed for 206 yards in last 2 games, has 7 rushing TDs for season.

The Buzz: Titans have lost only to AFC powers at home, and Jets don’t meet that description. Titans trying to stay in running for wild-card berth, and White will let them do that.

Redskins at Vikings

Time: 5:15 p.m. TV: NBC

Line: Vikings by 6 1/2.

Records: Redskins (7-7), Vikings (8-6)

Last meeting: Vikings won 19-16 at Washington on Sept. 11, 2006.

Key stat: Vikings have won 5 straight by average of 18 points.

Fantasy factor: Todd Collins has guided Redskins to 2 straight wins and has thrown 2 TDs and zero INTs in 45 throws. Ex-Bear Bobby Wade leads Vikings with career-high 46 catches but has only 1 TD.

The Buzz: Should be good show between 2 teams battling Giants and Saints for last 2 NFC playoff spots. Vikings are hot, averaging 31.8 points during winning streak.

Broncos at Chargers

Time: 5 p.m. Monday TV: ESPN

Line: Chargers by 8 1/2.

Records: Broncos (6-8), Chargers (9-5)

Last meeting: Chargers won 41-3 at Denver on Oct. 7.

Key stat: Chargers have won 4 of last 6 meetings.

Fantasy factor: Broncos’ Jay Cutler has 18 TD passes vs. 12 INTs and will have to come up with some big plays. Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson, getting 4.7 yards per carry and leading NFL with 14 rushing TDs, could have big day against soft rushing defense.

The Buzz: Chargers have won 4 straight to wrap up AFC West and best they can do now is No. 3 seed. They should be able to move ball enough early to rest LT late.


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