October 19, 2008 in Sports

The matchups

By Terry Bannon Chicago Tribune
 

Chargers at Bills

Time: 10 a.m. TV: CBS

Line: Bills by 1

Records: Chargers (3-3); Bills (4-1)

Chargers: This begins a 10-day trip for the Chargers, who play in London next week. Keeping momentum going after big home win over Patriots will be challenging.

Bills: AFC East leaders back to work after week off, and quarterback Trent Edwards is healthy again. Bills 2-0 at home, beating Seahawks and Jaguars.

Fantasy outlook: Chargers’ Philip Rivers moving ball against everybody, with 14 TD passes and NFL-best 109.4 passer rating. Edwards has thrown 4 TD passes and 2 INT with 93.9 rating.

Injuries: Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel is dealing with foot injury … Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo (bicep) and safety Eric Weddle (shoulder) are both questionable.

Saints at Panthers

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Panthers by 3.

Records: Saints (3-3); Panthers (4-2)

Saints: Saints appear to be making strides toward being NFC contender they’re expected to be, thanks to Drew Brees and improving defense.

Panthers: A blowout loss to Buccaneers revealed Panthers may be less than sum of their parts – they can move ball, but not score enough.

Fantasy outlook: Saints’ Drew Brees tossed 4 TD passes in 2 games against Panthers last year. Panthers’ Steve Smith, who had 6 receptions last week, has scored 7 TDs in last 6 games vs. Saints.

Injuries: Panthers’ receiver Muhsin Muhammad has sore knee.

Vikings at Bears

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Bears by 3.

Records: Vikings (3-3); Bears (3-3)

Vikings: Vikings beat Bears in both ’07 meetings and have weapons to exploit Bears’ weaknesses. Ex-Bear Bernard Berrian goes for his 3rd straight 100-yard receiving game.

Bears: With 3 losses by total of 8 points, are Bears contender in hiding or does their record tell story? Games like this, with 1st place at stake, help answer that question.

Fantasy outlook: Adrian Peterson likes visiting Soldier Field, having burned Bears for 224 yards and 3 TDs year ago. Kyle Orton, with 8 TD passes and 4 INT, is beginning to make big-time plays.

Injuries: Bears secondary is in trouble with cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder) and safety Danieal Manning (hamstring) among ailing.

Steelers at Bengals

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Steelers by 91/2.

Records: Steelers (4-1); Bengals (0-6)

Steelers: Steelers return from week off healthier, with expected return of RB Willie Parker. Steelers have won last 3 vs. Bengals, and 7 straight in Cincinnati.

Bengals: After showing promise early in Marvin Lewis era, Bengals have hit bottom again. It doesn’t help that QB Carson Palmer is still out with elbow injury.

Fantasy outlook: RB Willie Parker has rushed for 100 yards in each of his last 3 games at Cincinnati, averaging 130.3. Steelers’ defense should have big day against offense led by Chris Perry, averaging 2.6 yards per carry.

Injuries: In addition to the return of Parker, Steelers expect nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) to return.

Titans at Chiefs

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Titans by 9.

Records: Titans (5-0); Chiefs (1-4)

Titans: The Titans, NFL’s only unbeaten team, go for their 9th straight regular-season win. They’ve mixed efficient offense with solid defense to get on inside road to 1st-round playoff bye.

Chiefs: Chiefs have not been able to establish anything significant on offense, averaging a mere 13 points per game. It might be different if defense could stop opponent consistently.

Fantasy outlook: Titans rookie RB Chris Johnson off to good start with 4.5 avg., 2 rushing TDs. Chiefs RB Larry Johnson, who leads AFC with 417 yards and has rushed for 3 TDs, will miss the game for violating team rules, coach Herm Edwards announced.

Injuries: Chiefs’ tackle Branden Albert (elbow) is questionable.

Ravens at Dolphins

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Dolphins by 3.

Records: Ravens (2-3); Dolphins (2-3)

Ravens: Ravens still looking for ways to score, and not finding them, especially on road. Defense will keep them in this one.

Dolphins: Dolphins’ “Wildcat” running formation making things interesting, but more consistency needed. Loss to Texans last week indicates work to be done.

Fantasy outlook: Le’Ron McClain leads Ravens with 4 TDs, all on ground. Dolphins’ Ronnie Brown leads NFL with 7 rushing TDs and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Injuries: Ravens’ guard Marshal Yanda (knee) is out for year.

49ers at Giants

Time: 10 a.m. TV: Fox 28

Line: Giants by 101/2.

Records: 49ers (2-4); Giants (4-1)

49ers: 49ers coach Mike Nolan has spent week dealing with questions about his suspect decision-making in loss to Eagles, and another poor start. It adds up to distractions.

Giants: Quarterback Eli Manning, who has started 60 straight games, dealing with chest injury. David Carr is on deck. Entire team hopes it learned lessons from Monday night loss at Cleveland.

Fantasy outlook: Running back Frank Gore is 49ers’ leading rusher and receiver, and has scored 5 touchdowns. Brandon Jacobs may get chance to improve his 5.7-yard average and add to his 4 rushing TDs.

Injuries: 49ers’ fullback Zak Keasey (biceps) is out for year, but LB Manny Lawson (hamstring) may return… . Giants center Shaun O’Hara (toe) is questionable.

Cowboys at Rams

Time: 10 a.m.

Line: Cowboys by 7.

Records: Cowboys (4-2); Rams (1-4)

Cowboys: QB Tony Romo now says he wants to play with the broken pinkie on his throwing hand. If he doesn’t, 40-year-old Brad Johnson would take over, so Cowboys’ passing game could be limited. Can receiver Roy Williams, acquired from Lions on Tuesday, help right away?

Rams: The Rams just beat the Redskins who had already beaten the Cowboys, who are now banged up, so … Rams will still need to find some offense to pull off another upset.

Fantasy outlook: Marion Barber, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 4 rushing TDs, may have a bigger role in the Cowboys’ running game, since RB Felix Jones also is hurt. Marc Bulger has thrown only 2 TD passes vs. 2 INT for Rams.

Injuries: RB Felix Jones is out 2-4 weeks with knee injury, punter Mat McBriar gone for year with broken foot. … Rams’ defensive back Ricky Manning Jr. (broken leg) is out for year.

Lions at Texans

Time: 1:05 p.m.

Line: Texans by 91/2.

Records: Lions (0-5); Texans (1-4)

Lions: Lions have cashed in year, trading Roy Williams to Cowboys and putting quarterback Jon Kitna on injured reserve. Focus is on developing young QBs Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton.

Texans: Texans got their 1st win last week and are relying more on defense – end Mario Williams, controversial No. 1 pick in ’07 draft, has 2 sacks in each of last 2 games.

Fantasy outlook: Calvin Johnson, with 23 catches and 3 TDs, becomes bell cow of Lions’ offense. Texans’ Matt Schaub has thrown for averaged of 343 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INT in his last 2 games.

Injuries: Lions’ QB Jon Kitna (back) and safety Gerald Alexander (neck) out for year. … Texans may get back CB Dunta Robinson, who has been out 11 months after hamstring/knee surgery.

Colts at Packers

Time: 1:15 p.m. TV: CBS

Line: Colts by 1.

Records: Colts (3-2); Packers (3-3)

Colts: Easy win over Ravens helps Colts’ confidence, but injuries and age have made Colts just another good team. They’re particularly thin at running back.

Packers: Packers have overcome injuries in secondary to stay around .500 and share first place in NFC North. Aaron Rodgers showing he can play through injuries.

Fantasy outlook: Peyton Manning has thrown 8 TD passes vs. 5 INT with 87.8 rating. Aaron Rodgers has 11 TD passes vs. 4 INT for 98.0 rating.

Injuries: Colts’ RB Joseph Addai (hamstring) is unlikely to play. … Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (triceps) is questionable.

Jets at Raiders

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Jets by 3.

Records: Jets (3-2); Raiders (1-4)

Jets: Brett Favre has settled in and made the Jets playoff contenders by beating teams they’re expected to beat. The Raiders fall into that category.

Raiders: Tom Cable’s debut as head coach went like so many other Raiders games recently – a big loss, in this case at New Orleans. Getting home can only help.

Fantasy outlook: Jets’ Laveranues Coles on hot streak, going for his 3rd straight game with 8 catches. Raiders’ JaMarcus Russell has thrown 4 TD passes vs. 2 INT in 3 career starts at home.

Injuries: Raiders’ defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps) is questionable.

Browns at Redskins

Time: 1:15 p.m.

Line: Redskins by 71/2.

Records: Browns (2-3); Redskins (4-2)

Browns: Big Monday night win over Giants saved Browns’ season, at least for now. Now, can their offense show any consistency?

Redskins: If Redskins were feeling too good about themselves, loss to lowly Rams ended that. It will be back-to-basics week.

Fantasy outlook: Browns Derek Anderson has thrown 5 TD passes vs. 6 INT. Redskins’ Clinton Portis leads NFL with 643 yards rushing and has run for 6 TDs.

Injuries: Browns’ defensive end Shaun Smith (hamstring) has knee injury.


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