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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Game Scout - Week 7
October 20, 2006

Carolina Panthers (4-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Synthetic
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 3rd meeting. Panthers lead series 2-0. The Panthers won both previous meetings with the Bengals, including the last one back in 2002 by the score of 52-31. That's the most points the Panthers have ever scored in a game. Steve Smith scored three touchdowns that afternoon, including two on punt returns.
2006 RANKINGS: Panthers: offense 18th (18th rush, 13th pass); defense 16th (19th rush, 17th pass). Bengals: offense 19th (22nd rush, 11th pass); defense 24th (25th rush, 14th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals' issues along the offensive line continue with rookie Andrew Whitworth starting in place of injured LT Levi Jones. That puts Eric Steinbach back at left guard, where Whitworth was last weekend, and Eric Ghiaciuc at center. Whatever the combination, Cincinnati must get the run game going after failing to produce 100 yards on the ground for three consecutive games. But Carolina has not allowed a 100-yard rusher during its four-game winning streak and will attempt to turn the Bengals one-dimensional and come after QB Carson Palmer. The Bengals can't give Whitworth too much help because Panthers DE Julius Peppers is having a career year attacking from the other side of the line. Carolina's offense is hitting its stride with WR Steve Smith healthy and stretching the field. That opens more holes for RB DeShaun Foster -- a scary proposition for the Bengals' struggling and injury-depleted defense.

FAST FACTS: Panthers: Are 8-2 all-time against AFC North teams, including victories each of the past two weeks. ... QB Jake Delhomme's eight 300-yard passing games is tied for the franchise record with Steve Beuerlein. Bengals: RB Rudi Johnson has eight rushing touchdowns in his past six home games. ... Are 8-1 in past nine games against the NFC.

Detroit Lions (1-5) at New York Jets (3-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
SERIES: 11th game in the series, with the Lions holding a 6-4 advantage. The Lions are 2-0 in games against the Jets played at the Meadowlands but the Jets won the most recent game between the two teams, 31-14, at Ford Field four years ago.
2006 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 15th (30th rush, 7th pass); defense 27th (11th rush, 30th pass). Jets: offense 22nd (21st rush, 21st pass); defense 30th (28th rush, 26th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: One of the Lions' few strengths has been their run defense, which is allowing just 94.3 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. But Detroit will be without suspended Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers and injured DT Shaun Cody, leaving the Jets' improving running game a reason to attack replacements Cory Redding and Marcus Bell. Lions defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson held the same position with the Jets the past two seasons, so he knows New York's personnel well. The Lions have lost seven of their past eight road games, but the Jets will struggle to knock Detroit out early -- New York hasn't scored a first-quarter touchdown in 20 games. The Lions have more injury concerns on offense, with RB Kevin Jones racing to heal a hip pointer well enough to play, backup Shawn Bryson out for the year and FB Cory Schlesinger battling a balky hamstring. Whoever gets the ball -- rookie RB Brian Calhoun could get significant snaps -- will be running behind a beat-up line that might be minus two starters. But the Jets don't rush the passer particularly well, so Lions QB Jon Kitna should have time to test the vulnerable secondary.

FAST FACTS: Lions: Kitna leads the NFL with 145 completions. ... Have won four of the past five meetings. Jets: QB Chad Pennington leads the NFL with a 68.5 completion percentage on third downs. ... Rookie WR/RB Brad Smith has converted all three of his carries on third-and-1.

Green Bay Packers (1-4) at Miami Dolphins (1-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson
SERIES: 12th meeting. The Dolphins lead the series 9-2. The Packers have never won on the road, losing all six games. Green Bay, though, has won two of the last three meetings, dating to 1997. The teams last met in 2002, a 24-10 Packers victory on "Monday Night Football" in Green Bay.
2006 RANKINGS: Packers: offense 9th (27th rush, 2nd pass); defense 31st (13th rush, 32nd pass). Dolphins: offense 21st (26th rush, 12th pass); defense 4th (10th rush, 6th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Packers have to fight the temptation to come out firing relentlessly against the Dolphins' beat-up secondary. Conditions in South Florida could be in the 90s with plenty of humidity, so the Packers will wear down if they don't attempt to control the clock a bit. RB Ahman Green is expected to start after missing two games, and QB Brett Favre has limited his mistakes this season with the Packers keeping the offense balanced and most of their games within reach. Green Bay is also very thin at receiver behind starters Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and TE Bubba Franks has been virtually invisible in the passing game. Dolphins QB Joey Harrington might have nightmare flashbacks to his struggles against the Packers while with Detroit, and although he's in a new city he's still playing behind a shaky offensive line. However, this has the potential to be a breakout game for him and WR Chris Chambers working against the league's worst pass defense allowing an average of 275.8 yards per game -- and Green Bay could be without CB Charles Woodson.

FAST FACTS: Packers: Are 0-6 in the series in Miami, but did win Super Bowl II at the Orange Bowl in 1968. ... Are 8-2 in their past 10 games immediately following a bye. Dolphins: Play four NFC North teams in their next five games. ... Harrington is 2-5 against Green Bay.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) at Houston Texans (1-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 9th meeting. The teams split the first eight games, but the Jaguars won both meetings last year by 21-14 and 36-20 margins although they trailed at halftime in the first one and after three quarters in the second game.
2006 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 16th (9th rush, 17th pass); defense 7th (9th rush, 9th pass). Texans: offense 30th (32nd rush, 22nd pass); defense 32nd (29th rush, 31st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Texans coach Gary Kubiak is desperate for a running back to take the reins and provide some balance for the offense (Reggie Bush, anyone?). Rookie Wali Lundy will get another chance with Ron Dayne's status uncertain and Samkon Gado not impressing. The lack of blocking up front hasn't helped, either, and QB David Carr likely has to make several big plays downfield to WRs Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds for the Texans to have a shot. The flip side is the Texans don't have much margin for error, so Carr can't afford turnovers. That's because Houston struggles to get off the field with the league's worst defense. The Texans don't stop the run or pass well, although they do hope CB Demarcus Faggins (foot) can play for the first time this season. The Jaguars just don't want to shoot themselves in the foot. Expect to see plenty of RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew early on, and a safer game plan downfield until the Texans prove they can threaten an upset.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars: Lead the league with an average starting field position of their own 35.3 yard line. ... QB Byron Leftwich has won seven of his past eight games against AFC teams. Texans: Four victories against Jacksonville are their most against any franchise. ... Moulds needs three receptions to reach 700 for his career.

New England Patriots (4-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: AstroPlay
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
SERIES: 94th meeting. The Patriots lead the all-time series 52-40-1. New England has dominated the Bills of late, winning 11 of the previous 12 meetings, including six in a row. The Patriots prevailed against their rivals back in Week 1, 19-17. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the team has an 11-2 record against the Bills. Dating back to 1994, New England owns an 18-6 record against their AFC East counterparts.
2006 RANKINGS: Patriots: offense 10th (6th rush, 18th pass); defense 13th (8th rush, 25th pass). Bills: offense 29th (19th rush, 29th pass); defense 18th (20th rush, 18th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The onus is on the Bills to make something happen to reverse recent history. Patriots QB Tom Brady is 10-1 in his career against Buffalo and New England has outscored opponents 128-58 in winning its past four road games. The biggest factor for the Bills to a chance at the upset is RB Willis McGahee. When he's running well, QB J.P. Losman is able to utilize the play-action pass and take shots downfield. But when McGahee is getting contained, the Bills usually fall behind and Losman is turnover prone while trying to force the ball downfield. Buffalo's run defense has been spotty at best since getting torched for a combined 159 yards on the ground by RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney in the first meeting of the season. The frightening prospect for the Bills is Brady is just now getting comfortable with his revamped receiving corps and is coming off a bye week in which New England was also able to begin working newly-signed Jabar Gaffney into the mix.

FAST FACTS: Patriots: Are 4-1 for the sixth time in franchise history. ... Their 52 wins against Buffalo are their most against any opponent. Bills: McGahee leads the AFC with 505 rushing yards. ... WR Peerless Price needs 30 receiving yards for 5,000 in his career.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Brad Sham, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 14th meeting. The Eagles lead the series, 7-6, but have lost the last two meetings, including one of the most crushing defeats in franchise history, a 27-10 home loss to the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game four years ago.
2006 RANKINGS: Eagles: offense 1st (13th rush, 1st pass); defense 26th (14th rush, 27th pass). Bucs: offense 27th (28th rush, 23rd pass); defense 19th (26th rush, 8th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles lead the league with 34 pass plays of 20 yards or longer and the Bucs are vulnerable in the secondary with CBs Brian Kelly and Juran Bolden battling injuries. Still, the Bucs' Cover-2 scheme is designed to limit big pass plays. That could lead to more runs from the Eagles, especially with the Bucs allowing 4.7 yards per carry and with Ellis Wyms starting in place of DT Anthony McFarland, who was traded to Indianapolis on Tuesday. Tampa Bay has to find a way to keep the score low to give rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski a fighting chance in just his third career start. Gradkowski is 1-1 in large part because RB Carnell Williams has snapped out of his early-season funk to produce 205 rushing yards over the past two games. If the Eagles can stop Williams on early downs, they will bring a variety of blitzes that Gradkowski and fellow rookies RT Jeremy Trueblood and RG Davin Joseph likely haven't seen before.

FAST FACTS: Eagles: McNabb has thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game this season. ... McNabb needs three touchdown passes to join Ron Jaworski (175) and Randall Cunningham (150) as the only players in franchise history with 150. Bucs: Are 7-0 when Williams has at least 20 touches. ... DE Simeon Rice has 13.0 sacks in his past 10 games against the Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (3-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: 14th meeting. The Steelers lead the series, 11-1-1, since it began in 1966. They are 6-1 in Atlanta. The Falcons have not won in the past 10 meetings and won their only game of the series in 1970. However, the last time these teams met, in Heinz field in 2002, Michael Vick led the Falcons to 17 points in the final eight minutes to forge a 34-34 tie and neither team scored in overtime.
2006 RANKINGS: Steelers: offense 17th (8th rush, 24th pass); defense 9th (7th rush, 20th pass). Falcons: offense 7th (1st rush, 32nd pass); defense 12th (15th rush, 13th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: While the Steelers are trying claw their way back to .500, the Falcons are trying to figure out how to help their franchise quarterback survive the season. QB Michael Vick has been sacked 17 times in the past four games, and a cheap shot along the sidelines last Sunday led to him sitting out Wednesday's practice to rest up. The good news for Atlanta is Steelers OLB Joey Porter is likely to miss his second consecutive game, but Pittsburgh still has a stout run defense that will test Atlanta's ground attack that averages a league-best 232.0 yards per game. The Falcons also have concerns along their defensive line, where each starter missed some practice this week and DT Rod Coleman is unlikely to play Sunday. The Steelers' running game is starting to wake up with RB Najeh Davenport emerging in a Jerome Bettis-like role spelling Willie Parker. There will also be a good battle downfield with Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall likely to spend a good portion of the game shadowing Steelers WR Hines Ward.

FAST FACTS: Steelers: Are 114-12-1 (.902) under coach Bill Cowher when leading at halftime, the third-best mark all-time behind George Halas (.918) and Vince Lombardi (.905). ... QB Ben Roethlisberger is 7-0 in his career against the NFC. Falcons: Are the only team not to have defeated Cowher (0-3-1). ... Vick is 6-0 at home against the AFC.

San Diego Chargers (4-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
SERIES: 93rd meeting. The Kansas City Chiefs lead the series, 48-43-1, and won nine of the last 11 meetings at Arrowhead Stadium. These teams usually play close games as 10 of the contests have been decided by one point -- the most of any series in the league since 1960. While these two AFL rivals have a long history, they've met but once in the playoffs when the Chargers prevailed, 17-0, in the 1992 AFC Wildcard game.
2006 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 3rd (2nd rush, 14th pass); defense 1st (3rd rush, 2nd pass). Chiefs: offense 26th (25th rush, 25th pass); defense 11th (24th rush, 4th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Chiefs RB Larry Johnson might believe he can be successful without a fullback, but he certainly needs more help from his passing game. The Chargers allow only 71.6 rushing yards per game and will stack the box in an effort to shut down Johnson until Chiefs QB Damon Huard proves he can hurt them downfield. Huard has thrown just one interception in 136 pass attempts, but the majority of those have been of the safe variety and haven't moved safeties off run support. With FB Ronnie Cruz out for the season TE Kris Wilson will be worked into the H-back role, but Johnson said he'll also be fine working without a lead blocker. San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer is often criticized for his conservative play calling, but he is clearly gaining confidence in first-year starting QB Philip Rivers. With defenses overplaying the run against RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Rivers is increasingly making them pay with TE Antonio Gates and WR Keenan McCardell becoming more involved in the offense the past two weeks.

FAST FACTS: Chargers: K Nate Kaeding has tied Rolf Benirsche's franchise record with 87 consecutive extra points made. ... Have the NFL's second-best point differential at plus-96. Chiefs: Have won the past six meetings at home. ... QB Damon Huard is 4-0 in his career at home as a starter.

Denver Broncos (4-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: 21st meeting. The Denver Broncos lead the regular-season series 15-5. The most famous meetings between the teams were a pair of playoff meetings in the 1980s. John Elway led "The Drive" in the AFC Championship Game at the end of the 1986 season to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game the following season, a fumble near the goal line by Cleveland clinched a 38-33 win and another Super Bowl appearance for the Broncos.
2006 RANKINGS: Broncos: offense 24th (5th rush, 30th pass); defense 10th (12th rush, 11th pass). Browns: offense 31st (29th rush, 26th pass); defense 23rd (27th rush, 12th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With QB Jake Plummer underwhelming this season, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has been uncharacteristically conservative offensively. So much so that WR Javon Walker voiced displeasure this week with his lack of opportunities downfield. While the Browns have issues in their secondary, the Broncos will still come out running the ball and attempt to grind out an early led. If successful, then Denver might open the offense a bit working off play-action. The Browns are minus-nine in the turnover department, so the onus is on them to protect the ball and prove they can produce against a Broncos defense that is the first since the 1934 Lions to allow fewer than two touchdowns through six games. QB Charlie Frye won't make a living trying to come from behind against Denver CBs Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams, so it's critical for the Browns to keep the game close and get RB Reuben Droughns untracked (3.3 yards per carry). He had the bye week to rest his ailing shoulder and Cleveland desperately needs him to produce on early downs.

FAST FACTS: Broncos: Have won 15 of the 18 previous meetings. ... Their .783 (185) winning percentage against Cleveland's is the franchise's best against any team. Browns: Frye leads the AFC with 373 passing yards in the fourth quarter. ... Droughns played for Denver from 2001-04 and faces his former team for the first time.

Arizona Cardinals (1-5) at Oakland Raiders (0-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Matt Devlin, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 7th meeting. The Oakland Raiders hold a 4-2 over the Arizona Cardinals, including wins in three of the past four meetings. In their last meeting, Nov. 24, 2002, Raiders QB Rich Gannon passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns as the Raiders rolled to 540 total yards in a 41-20 rout at Sun Devil Stadium on their way to the Super Bowl. In the last meeting in Oakland, on Dec. 2, 2001, the Cardinals pulled a 34-31 upset in overtime for their third straight win as QB Jake Plummer completed 29 of 45 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown.
2006 RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 23rd (31st rush, 10th pass); defense 21st (16th rush, 23rd pass). Raiders: offense 32nd (12th rush, 31st pass); defense 8th (30th rush, 1st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: For the Raiders, it's about withstanding the early barrage. The Cardinals lead the league with 59 first-quarter points and if winless Oakland falls behind early it could lose what little razor-thin confidence it's hanging onto. Arizona's early-game offensive prowess and QB Matt Leinart's impressive first two career starts weren't enough for offensive coordinator Keith Rowan to keep his job. Coach Dennis Green replaced him with quarterbacks coach Mike Kruczek, who vowed to remain aggressive after Arizona sat on and lost a big lead to Chicago on Monday. Kruczek said Leinart was "born with a football brain," and is comfortable trying to establish a balanced attack with the rookie at the controls. Arizona will put points on the board, so the Raiders need improvement from their own first-year starting quarterback, Andrew Walter. For Walter to have a fighting chance, Oakland must establish the running game early to set up play-action. The Cardinals had four interceptions Monday night and Walter must be especially aware of SS Adrian Wilson, who is a play-maker against the pass and as a blitzer.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals: WR Anquan Boldin's 17 career 100-yard receiving games is tied for fourth in franchise history with Mel Gray. ... RB Edgerrin James' teams are 43-6 when he rushes for at least 100 yards, which he has yet to do this season. Raiders: Have just one rushing touchdown in their past 15 games. ... Defense has allowed only 10 touchdowns in 23 opponents' trips inside the 20-yard line.

Minnesota Vikings (3-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Terry Donahue
SERIES: 10th meeting. The Seahawks lead the series 6-3. This will mark the sixth time in franchise history the Vikings have played at Seattle. Minnesota's only win in Seattle came in 1990 at the Kingdome. The teams met for the first time in 1976 when Seattle was an expansion team. The Vikings won that game 27-21 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. Seattle then won the next three meetings.
2006 RANKINGS: Vikings: offense 12th (17th rush, 9th pass); defense 5th (4th rush, 16th pass). Seahawks: offense 20th (15th rush, 19th pass); defense 15th (6th rush, 28th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Vikings' first priority has to be to survive the opening stanza. The Seahawks have outscored their opponents 56-6 through the first three quarters at home this season, with Seattle capitalizing on the penalties and errors opposing offenses routinely struggle from in deafening Qwest Field. The crowd should be especially pumped with the return of LG Steve Hutchinson, who signed a controversial offseason deal with the Vikings. But Minnesota can also take advantage of the hole Hutchinson left. The Vikings allow just 74.4 rushing yards per game while the Seahawks' offensive line has been shaky and doesn't have injured RB Shaun Alexander to block for. What Minnesota does have to account for is Seattle's three- and four-receiver sets with WR Deion Branch having a bigger impact on a weekly basis as he learns the complex offense. With the Vikings having scored only one more touchdown on offense (four) than on defense (three), Minnesota can't afford to get caught up in a shootout.

FAST FACTS: Vikings: Have won three of their past four games immediately following a bye week. ... Has not allowed 20 or more points in six consecutive games. Seahawks: Have outscored opponents 352-190 during 12-game home winning streak. ... Branch's teams are 13-2 when he catches at least one touchdown pass.

Washington Redskins (2-4) at Indianapolis Colts (5-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 28th meeting. The Colts lead 17-10. The teams, then located just 40 miles apart with the Colts in Baltimore, played every year from 1953-67 with Baltimore winning 12 times. If there was a memorable recent game, it was Redskins seventh-round QB Gus Frerotte's 41-27 victory over the Colts in Indianapolis in 1994.
2006 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 11th (7th rush, 20th pass); defense 22nd (17th rush, 24th pass). Colts: offense 4th (14th rush, 5th pass); defense 20th (32nd rush, 3rd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Preparing for a trip to Indianapolis is a bad time to have nearly half your starting defensive unit sitting out midweek practices. But that's the dilemma Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams faced this week, and his porous secondary will be without CB Carlos Rogers. Expect Williams to watch plenty of tape of how Tennessee limited the Colts to 14 points two weeks ago by limiting big plays and forcing QB Peyton Manning to engineer long drives. Washington also needs to control the clock and shorten the game, which is very doable against the league's worst run defense. The Colts acquired DT Anthony McFarland from Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and he's expected to see significant action Sunday. But the Bucs didn't stop the run well with McFarland, and if RB Clinton Portis is able to have success it sets up Washington's spread passing game.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: Joe Gibbs needs victory to become 12th coach in NFL history with 160 for his career. ... Have won six of their past nine games when QB Mark Brunell throws at least two touchdown passes. Colts: Seek to become the ninth team in league history to start consecutive seasons 6-0. ... WR Marvin Harrison needs two touchdown receptions to tie RB Lenny Moore (113) for the most in franchise history.

New York Giants (3-2) at Dallas Cowboys (3-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/23/06
SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass
TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 88th meeting. The Cowboys lead the regular season series 51-34-2. They split the season series last season, with each team winning at home.
2006 RANKINGS: Giants: offense 2nd (3rd rush, 3rd pass); defense 17th (18th rush, 19th pass). Cowboys: offense 6th (4th rush, 16th pass); defense 6th (1st rush, 21st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Cowboys WR Terrell Owens wants to be more involved in the game plan in the first half. He won't get sympathy from anyone on the Giants' offense, which has produced just seven first-quarter points through five games. RB Tiki Barber accounted for 13 first downs last Sunday, and the Giants will turn to him again early on in an effort to move the chains and keep the crowd out of the game. Owens is coming off a three-touchdown game and faces another shaky secondary this week. The Giants can't cover Owens and WR Terry Glenn for any length of time, so their goal will be to get to QB Drew Bledsoe before he can step into downfield passes. After producing just two sacks through three games, the Giants have exploded for 10 over the past two games. Dallas coach Bill Parcells has been relatively pleased with the play of his offensive line, but he has to be concerned after seeing Bledsoe get hit repeatedly and forced into making bad throws against Philadelphia's strong pass rush two weeks ago.

FAST FACTS: Giants: Are 16-29-1 on Monday nights. ... Barber needs 92 receiving yards to join Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with at least 9,000 yards rushing and 5,000 receiving. Cowboys: Parcells is 4-4 against the Giants. ... Seek NFL-best 40th win on Monday nights. ... Are 7-1 on Monday nights against the Giants.

   
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