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The matchups

Bears at Falcons

Time: 10 a.m. TV: Fox 28

Line: Bears by 3

Records: Bears (3-2); Falcons (3-2)

Bears: Kyle Orton’s improved passing grabs headlines, but Bears may be NFC North’s best because defense is carrying its share of load. Could dominate Falcons’ young offense and rookie QB Matt Ryan.

Falcons: Have won their 2 home games by combined score of 72-35 (Lions, Chiefs) but Bears pose bigger challenge. Big games needed from RB Michael Turner and pass-rusher John Abraham (NFL-leading 7 sacks).

Fantasy outlook: Bears’ Matt Forte leads rookies with 383 rushing yards (3.6 average). Falcons’ Roddy White having solid season with 26 catches, 2 for TDs.

Injury: Bears WR Brandon Lloyd (knee) may not play.

Dolphins at Texans

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Texans by 3

Records: Dolphins (2-2); Texans (0-4)

Dolphins: Is Bill Parcells’ magic touch working from front office? After beating last year’s AFC finalists (Patriots, Chargers) in last 2, there could be letdown.

Texans: Have to shake off blowing 17-point, 4th-quarter lead to Colts. Hard-luck team of NFL is due to snap out of it as QB Matt Schaub returns to lineup.

Fantasy outlook: Dolphins’ Ronnie Brown, who has rushed for 238 yards last 2 games, is tied for NFL lead with 6 rushing TDs. Texans’ Steve Slaton has 336 total yards and 4 TDs in last 3 games.

Injury: Texans safety Will Demps (hamstring) may not play.

Ravens at Colts

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Colts by 3 1/2 .

Redords: Ravens (2-2); Colts (2-2)

Ravens: Have a shot if they control ball with running game and don’t ask rookie Joe Flacco (only 1 TD pass vs. 4 INTs) to do too much.

Colts: Only few plays away from being 0-4. They have to figure out way to shore up their rushing defense, which is last in league (188.5 yards per game).

Fantasy outlook: Ravens FB Le’Ron McClain has 4 rushing TDs and is getting 4.2 yards per carry. Colts’ Joseph Addai rushed for 2 TDs in win over Ravens in December, and has 4 TDs this year.

Injuries: Colts CB Kelvin Hayden (knee) is out and WR Anthony Gonzalez may not play (concussion). … Ravens NT Kelly Gregg, who suffered a knee injury in training camp, had surgery this week and is out for year.

Lions at Vikings

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Vikings by 13

Records: Lions (0-4); Vikings (2-3)

Lions: Lions are losing by robust 20.3 points per game and they’re playing in building where they haven’t won since 1997 (10 straight losses). Hard to see recipe for upset.

Vikings: With 2 wins in last 3, Vikings have jumped into playoff race with Gus Frerotte at QB. They’ve been winning with mediocre production from Adrian Peterson (63-yard average in last 3 games).

Fantasy outlook: Lions need to control ball with RB Kevin Smith (3.6 yards per carry, 2 rushing TDs). Bernard Berrian, who had 33-yard TD catch last week, playing larger role for Vikes.

Injury: Vikings LB E. J. Henderson (foot) is out for season.

Raiders at Saints

Time: 10 a.m. TV: CBS

Line: Saints by 7

Records: Raiders (1-3); Saints (2-3)

Raiders: It’s 1st game under new coach Tom Cable, who inherits team that needs to win on defense. DE Kalimba Edwards has 3 sacks in last 3 games and must have big day.

Saints: Face early turning point, and can’t afford mistake-filled game like their loss to Minnesota on Monday night.

Fantasy outlook: Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell, returning to state where he was a star at LSU, has thrown 4 TDs and only 1 INT. Saints’ Reggie Bush keeps getting into end zone (6 TDs, 3 on punt returns).

Injuries: Saints put K Martin Gramatica (groin) on injured reserve. CB Tracy Porter (wrist surgery) also out for season. … Raiders RB Darren McFadden has sore toe.

Bengals at Jets

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Jets by 9 1/2

Records: Bengals (0-5); Jets (2-2)

Bengals: Bengals rank as one of NFL’s top disappointments, but coach Marvin Lewis is hanging in there. They can score points, at least.

Jets: Return from week off and hoping their offense didn’t get rusty during break. Jets have scored 85 points in their last 2 games as Brett Favre leads NFL in passer rating (110.8) and TD passes (12).

Fantasy outlook: Should be big day for WRs like Bengals’ T. J. Houshmandzadeh (31 catches, 3 TDs) and Jets’ Laveranues Coles (18 catches, 4 TDs).

Injuries: No major injuries reported.

Panthers at Bucs

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Bucs by 1 1/2

Records: Panthers (4-1); Bucs (3-2)

Panthers: Carolina, which has won 5 straight at Tampa, is off to best start since ’03 Super Bowl team and can make major move in NFC South race. Defense is growing in confidence, allowing only 46 points in last 4 games (3-1).

Bucs: Likely go back to QB Jeff Garcia with Brian Griese battling elbow injury. They’ll have to run ball with Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn to win.

Fantasy outlook: Panthers’ Jake Delhomme is 7-1 vs. Bucs, completing 62.4 percent with 13 TDs vs. 7 INTs. Bucs’ Graham, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, has rushing TD in 5 straight home games.

Injury: Panthers WR D.J. Hackett out with sprained knee.

Rams at Redskins

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Redskins by 13

Records: Rams (0-4); Redskins (4-1)

Rams: Return from week off for 1st game under new coach Jim Haslett, who replaced fired Scott Linehan. Rams haven’t scored more than 14 points in game or held anyone under 31, losing by 26 points per game.

Redskins: Offense has been a model of consistency, with Jason Campbell yet to throw INT (offense has not turned ball over) and Clinton Portis averaging 4.5 yards per carry with 4 rushing TDs.

Fantasy outlook: Haslett plans to make better use out of WRs Torry Holt and rookie Donnie Avery. Santana Moss has 27 catches, 3 TDs for Redskins.

Injury: Rams TE Randy McMichael (broken leg) is out for year.

Jaguars at Broncos

Time: 1:05 p.m.

Line: Broncos by 3 1/2

Records: Jaguars (2-3); Broncos (4-1)

Jaguars: Haven’t played game this season decided by more than 7 points, meaning they’re always within big play of winning. But firepower is lacking.

Broncos: Broncos are 3-0 at home, with victory margins of 1, 2 and 3 points. They can’t let Jaguars stay close, so they need some big passing plays.

Fantasy outlook: Jaguars’ Fred Taylor averaging 3.4 yards per carry but still looking for 1st rushing TD. Broncos’ Brandon Marshall leads AFC with 34 catches, and has 3 TD receptions.

Injuries: Broncos RB Selvin Young and TE Tony Scheffler are out with groin injuries.

Cowboys at Cardinals

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Cowboys by 4 1/2

Records: Cowboys (4-1); Cardinals (3-2)

Cowboys: Have learned they’re not invincible with close call vs. Bengals last week and loss to Redskins 2 weeks ago. Controlling ball will be key.

Cardinals: QB Kurt Warner, 37, is talking about retiring after season, just as he’s getting Arizona going in a winning direction. A few big pass plays would be key to upset.

Fantasy outlook: Cowboys’ Terrell Owens, who is complaining again, has 26 catches and 5 TDs in last 4 games vs. Cards. Larry Fitzgerald leads Arizona with 31 catches, 4 for TDs.

Injury: Cowboys CB Terence Newman (groin) is out.

Eagles at 49ers

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Eagles by 4 1/2

Records: Eagles (2-3); 49ers (2-3)

Eagles: Donovan McNabb stepped up this week and called Eagles’ performance in loss to Redskins “embarrassing.” Eagles can’t afford to fall further behind in NFC East, NFL’s best division.

49ers: J. T. O’Sullivan has thrown 5 TD passes vs. 4 INTs at home. He will need some big plays in this one.

Fantasy outlook: Eagles’ DeSean Jackson leads NFL rookies with 335 receiving yards (1 TD). Frank Gore remains 49ers’ best hope, leading NFL with 603 yards from scrimmage (4 TDs).

Injury: Eagles RB Brian Westbrook out with fractured ribs.

Patriots at Chargers

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

Line: Chargers by 5

Records: Patriots (3-1); Chargers (2-3)

Patriots: Stayed in California after Sunday’s win at San Francisco to get some extra rest. But winning 2 on this kind of trip is difficult.

Chargers: Lost twice to Pats last season, including AFC title game. They’re desperate for win, and they’re at home.

Fantasy outlook: Pats’ Matt Cassel has settled down, throwing 3 TD passes vs. 3 INTs. Chargers’ Philip Rivers is 2nd in NFL with 103.0 passer rating and 11 TD passes.

Injury: Chargers WR Chris Chambers (ankle) may not play.


 

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