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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Game Scout - Week 10
November 10, 2006

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES: 15th meeting. The series is tied, 7-7. The Ravens have won two of the past three meetings, but they lost last year in Tennessee, 25-10. The Ravens didn't gain a first down in the first half, which defined their troublesome day. Punter Dave Zastudil had a punt blocked in the end zone for a safety, and quarterback Anthony Wright had an interception returned for a touchdown.
2006 rankings: Ravens: offense 25th (20th rush, 22nd pass); defense 3rd (2nd rush, 13th pass). Titans: offense 28th (12th rush, 29th pass); defense 32nd (31st rush, 14th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Ravens haven't become more exotic with coach Brian Billick calling the plays the past two games. In fact, they've become more consistent on the ground with RB Jamal Lewis averaging 22.5 carries compared to 16 under deposed offensive coordinator Jim Fassel. The Titans can expect more of the same until their offense proves it can move the ball. Titans rookie QB Vince Young suffered through his worst outing last weekend, and the Ravens have the ability to bring the most complex blitz packages he has seen to date. Baltimore leads the league with 25 takeaways, and Young can't afford to contribute more to the cause with the Titans facing a very small margin for error in order just to be competitive Sunday.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: Face only two more teams that currently have winning records. ... QB Steve McNair has won 21 of his past 32 November starts. Titans: Jeff Fisher will coach his 200th game for the team. ... WR Drew Bennett needs nine receptions to tie RB Eddie George (259) for ninth place in franchise history.

Buffalo Bills (3-5) at Indianapolis Colts (8-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: 65th meeting. Buffalo Bills lead the series, 34-29-1. The series originated during the 1970 (with the game ending 17-17 tie at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium) season when both franchises were members of the AFC East. The teams met twice a season from 1970 until the Colts left for the AFC South prior to the 2002 season. Indianapolis has won the past five meetings.
2006 rankings: Bills: offense 30th (22nd rush, 31st pass); defense 18th (19th rush, 19th pass). Colts: offense 2nd (21st rush, 1st pass); defense 20th (32nd rush, 3rd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Without RB Willis McGahee and third WR Josh Reed, the Bills have to find a way to keep the game competitive. With the Colts ranked last in run defense and 31st in third-down defense, the onus falls on RB Anthony Thomas to move the chains and keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands as long as possible. The Bills must also get an efficient game from QB J.P. Losman, and it will be interesting to see how the offensive line that was jumbled two weeks ago holds up against a Colts defense that hasn't generated the same pass rush as recent seasons. The first quarter has been the lowest scoring one for Indianapolis, so it's critical for the Bills to keep it close and give themselves a chance going into the fourth quarter, where the Colts have scored 74 points in eight games.

FAST FACTS: Bills: DE Aaron Schobel is third in franchise history with 53.5 career sacks. ... Losman has eight touchdown passes in his last six road games. Colts: Seek to become first team in NFL history to begin consecutive seasons 9-0. ... WR Reggie Wayne has 23 receptions for 350 yards and four touchdowns the past three games.

Cleveland Browns (2-6) at Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
SERIES: 12th meeting. The Browns lead the series 9-2. The Browns and Falcons have met only one time since 1993 in a game won by the Browns 24-16 in 2002.
2006 rankings: Browns: offense 29th (31st rush, 25th pass); defense 17th (29th rush, 6th pass). Falcons: offense 9th (1st rush, 30th pass); defense 22nd (12th rush, 31st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: It's no secret that the Falcons will attempt to pound away at the Browns, who are allowing 142.9 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Cleveland was torched for 190 yards by the league's No. 2 rushing attack in San Diego last weekend and must do a better job of plugging the gaps against the Falcons' top-ranked running game averaging 205.1 yards per game. SS Sean Jones will have to help in run support, meaning FS Brian Russell will often be the last line of defense when QB Michael Vick attempts to burn the Browns over-playing the run. Offensively, the Browns are still seeking improved line play to help keep QB Charlie Frye upright. The Falcons have had coverage issues, but Frye can't exploit them unless given time, and he has to get rid of the ball before taking unnecessary sacks that kill drives.

FAST FACTS: Browns: Rookie LB Kamerion Wimbley leads the team with 4.5 sacks. ... Have won seven of the past eight meetings. Falcons: Are 8-2 against the AFC under coach Jim Mora. ... Rookie RB Jerious Norwood leads the NFL with 268 fourth-quarter rushing yards.

Green Bay Packers (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (4-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 91st meeting. The Vikings lead the series 45-44-1. The teams are actually at a 44-44-1 stalemate in the regular season, but Minnesota won the NFC North rivals' lone postseason encounter, 31-17 at Green Bay in the NFC wild-card round during the 2004 season. The Vikings have won the last three meetings, earning their first series sweep last season since 1998. The Packers, though, have won two of the last three games at the Metrodome.
2006 rankings: Packers: offense 10th (11th rush, 7th pass); defense 21st (10th rush, 32nd pass). Vikings: offense 19th (14th rush, 18th pass); defense 6th (1st rush, 18th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: If the Vikings are ever going to get their moribund passing attack going, it should be at home against the league's No. 32-ranked pass defense. The Packers are much stronger against the run, but the Vikings will still attempt to establish RB Chester Taylor early on because QB Brad Johnson has six turnovers in the past two games. Plus, Green Bay's own running game has improved with RB Ahman Green rushing for a combined 346 yards on 5.6 yards per carry the past three games. Still, the Vikings are extremely difficult to run against and QB Brett Favre will have to make plays in the passing game for the Packers to win. Vikings rookie CB Cedric Griffin will start if Fred Smoot (death in the family) doesn't make it back in time for the game.

FAST FACTS: The past four regular-season meetings have been decided by a field goal as time expired. Packers: DE Aaron Kampman leads the NFL with 9.5 sacks and has at least one in five consecutive games. ... Rookie OLB A.J. Hawk leads the team with 73 tackles, and has at least six in every game. Vikings: Outscoring opponents 59-19 in the fourth quarter. ... Taylor is averaging 102.5 rushing yards over the past four games.

Houston Texans (2-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Craig Bolerjack, Rich Baldinger
SERIES: 10th meeting. The Houston Texans lead the series 5-4, but they haven't won a road game in their past 12 tries. Their last victory in Jacksonville was when they pitched their only shutout 21-0 on the day after Christmas 2004.
2006 rankings: Texans: offense 24th (28th rush, 15th pass); defense 28th (25th rush, 23rd pass). Jaguars: offense 21st (6th rush, 26th pass); defense 7th (11th rush, 7th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Texans won the first meeting, 27-7, on Oct. 22, but that was in Houston and against Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich. The rematch is on the road, where Houston has lost a team-record 12 consecutive games, and the more mobile David Garrard has taken over for Leftwich. Still, the Jaguars' receivers are inconsistent and this remains a run-first offense. The Texans' first priority is to keep the game close with the Jaguars having won their past two home games by a combined score of 78-7. To do that, Houston must get a strong effort from rookie RB Wali Lundy and cannot afford to lose the turnover battle. QB David Carr did a good job of using his feet when pressured last weekend, but the Texans are still lacking an attack that can keep the team in high-scoring games.

FAST FACTS: Texans: Have won four of the past seven meetings. ... WR Andre Johnson has had at least eight receptions in six consecutive games. Jaguars: Are 4-0 at home. ... Garrard has won his past five starts.

Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) at Miami Dolphins (2-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
SERIES: 5th regular-season meeting. Series tied 2-2. Last year, the Chiefs and Dolphins played in Miami on a Friday night because of a potential hurricane over the weekend, with the Chiefs winning 30-20.
2006 rankings: Chiefs: offense 14th (9th rush, 17th pass); defense 13th (16th rush, 12th pass). Dolphins: offense 16th (24th rush, 10th pass); defense 4th (14th rush, 4th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Dolphins have to continue to feature the running game that showed signs of life with RB Ronnie Brown rushing for 157 yards in Chicago last weekend because they know the Chiefs' offense will attempt to ram it down their throats. Chiefs QB Damon Huard has 11 touchdowns and just one interception, but that's in large part because RB Larry Johnson has made his job easier by averaging 106.9 rushing yards in Huard's seven starts -- and a combined 449 the past three games. If Johnson is rumbling freely early on, it sets up the play-action to TE Tony Gonzalez that has been so effective in recent games. The key for Miami is to establish a good run-pass balance offensively, keep the game close and hope to steal the victory in the fourth quarter.

FAST FACTS: Chiefs: Are 14-4 when Johnson rushes for at least 100 yards. ... Gonzalez's 59 touchdown receptions are a franchise record. Dolphins: WR Chris Chambers has a combined 10 catches for 73 yards in the first halves of games and 23 for 284 yards and all four of his touchdowns in the second halves. ... TE Randy McMichael needs four receptions to break Bruce Hardy's franchise record of 256 catches by a tight end.

New York Jets (4-4) at New England Patriots (6-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: 92nd meeting. Jets lead, 47-44-1. The Jets hold a slim three-game lead in the all-time regular-season series but that margin is shrinking every time the teams have met recently. The Patriots have beaten their AFC East foes seven times in a row, including a 24-17 victory in Week 2 this season.
2006 rankings: Jets: offense 22nd (13th rush, 23rd pass); defense 31st (30th rush, 22nd pass). Patriots: offense 11th (7th rush, 13th pass); defense 12th (3rd rush, 28th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: To snap a seven-game losing streak in the series, the Jets have to turn the tide in the running game on both sides of the ball. They fell behind 24-0 in the first meeting and the Patriots were able to hold onto the victory by out-rushing the Jets 147-51. The Jets haven't rushed for more than 55 yards in the past four meetings, but rookie RB Leon Washington has emerged as a factor in recent weeks. If he can be productive on early downs, it will set QB Chad Pennington up for shots downfield off play-action against a secondary minus injured S Rodney Harrison. New England's offensive game plan has been pass-heavy the past two weeks, but expect the Patriots to lean on RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney until the Jets' 30th-ranked run defense proves it can stop the ground game.

FAST FACTS: Jets: Coach Eric Mangini was an assistant for New England from 2000-05. ... Pennington is 7-3 (.700) in November as a starter. Patriots: Have won 15 of their last 17 games against the AFC East. ... Are 4-0 all-time in games immediately following a game in which QB Tom Brady has thrown three or more interceptions.

San Diego Chargers (6-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Synthetic
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
SERIES: 29th meeting. The Chargers lead the series, 17-11, which includes them losing their only postseason matchup with the Bengals that cost them a trip to their first Super Bowl. One week after beating the Dolphins in overtime in that epic playoff game in humid Miami Beach, they fell to the Bengals in the Freezer Bowl in the 1981 AFC title game. The wind-chill was 59-below and the Bolts lost, 27-7.
2006 rankings: Chargers: offense 3rd (2nd rush, 14th pass); defense 2nd (4th rush, 8th pass). Bengals: offense 18th (25th rush, 11th pass); defense 24th (24th rush, 21st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals have to improve in two key areas: third-down offense and rushing defense. They are converting just 31.7 percent on third downs while giving up 129.2 rushing yards per game, which has led to an average disparity of 5:12 in time of possession. The Chargers will attempt to exploit that with RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who has rushed for 355 yards on 8.3 yards per carry with five touchdowns in his past two games. That includes nine runs of 10 yards or longer, so the Bengals have to find a way to eliminate the big plays on the ground. The Bengals will go no-huddle during the course of the game, but QB Carson Palmer must keep RB Rudi Johnson involved in the game plan. It's in his own best interest to do so against the Chargers, who have 20 sacks in their past five games.

FAST FACTS: Chargers: Have a seven-game winning streak in November. ... Offense has scored on 30 of 31 red-zone possessions (18 TDs, 12 FGs). Bengals: Past three losses have been by a combined nine points. ... Johnson needs one rushing touchdown to join Pete Johnson (64) and Corey Dillon (45) as only Bengals with 40.

San Francisco 49ers (3-5) at Detroit Lions (2-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Bill Maas
SERIES: 61st meeting. The 49ers lead 32-27-1, including victories in the past four meetings.
2006 rankings: 49ers: offense 26th (15th rush, 24th pass); defense 29th (23rd rush, 26th pass). Lions: offense 12th (29th rush, 6th pass); defense 26th (20th rush, 27th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The 49ers aren't going to hold the Lions to three points like they did to Minnesota last Sunday. San Francisco has lost its past two road games by a combined score of 82-10, having fallen behind 41-0 in both contests, so the first goal is simply being competitive against a Detroit team quickly gaining confidence. The offense is starting to roll in coordinator Mike Martz's system, and RB Kevin Jones' versatility will keep the 49ers from being overly aggressive in attacking the line. Offensively, San Francisco must get a strong effort from RB Frank Gore in order to control time of possession and protect the defense. If the ground game is successful, QB Alex Smith can attack the Lions' mediocre secondary and needs to get WR Antonio Bryant and his 17.9 per-catch average involved downfield.

FAST FACTS: 49ers: First regular-season game at Ford Field. ... Are 3-0 when Gore has at least 20 carries. Lions: TE Dan Campbell has 10 receptions, five which have gone for at least 20 yards. His 16.9-yard average leads the team. ... Have a league-leading 63 penalties.

Washington Redskins (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 143rd meeting. Redskins lead 75-62-5 (1-0 postseason). Washington won both meetings last year after Philadelphia had won the previous seven dating to 2001. Eagles coach Andy Reid is 9-5 against Washington. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is 19-11 against Philadelphia.
2006 rankings: Redskins: offense 15th (8th rush, 21st pass); defense 30th (15th rush, 30th pass). Eagles: offense 1st (10th rush, 2nd pass); defense 14th (18th rush, 11th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has a 41.3 first-half passer rating in the team's past three games, but he has also been the victim of a high number of dropped passes. Philadelphia has come under fire for being too pass-happy, but the temptation will be there again with McNabb working against a secondary that has allowed a league-high 35 completions of 20 yards or longer. However, with RB Brian Westbrook coming off a week to rest his sore knee, he could get a bump from the 19.5 touches he has averaged the past seven games. Washington desperately needs to attack the Eagles' undersized run defense, but the Redskins' success could hinge on WR Santana Moss' hamstring. If their best big-play threat is out, the Eagles can load up against RB Clinton Portis.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: QB Mark Brunell is 4-0 in his career against Philadelphia with 715 yards, three TDs and just one interception. ... Are the first team in NFL history to score 22 points in three consecutive games. Eagles: Coach Andy Reid is 7-0 in games immediately following a bye week. ... McNabb is 8-4 against Washington.

Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 93rd meeting. The Oakland Raiders have a 53-37-2 record against the Denver Broncos, but the recent history is one-sided in Denver's favor. Since the start of the 1995 season, when once-fired Raiders coach Mike Shanahan took over in Denver, the Broncos are 18-5 against the Raiders and have swept them seven times. The Broncos won the first meeting this season, a dull 13-3 win in which there was only three second-half points combined.
2006 rankings: Broncos: offense 17th (3rd rush, 28th pass); defense 15th (6th rush, 29th pass). Raiders: offense 32nd (18th rush, 32nd pass); defense 9th (27th rush, 2nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: If the Raiders don't protect QB Andrew Walter better, they'll have a difficult time being competitive in any game. He was dropped nine times Monday night, and Oakland must get back to relying on the running game because they won't beat the Broncos by asking Walter to force the ball downfield. For his part, Walter has to have a quicker internal clock and get rid of the ball knowing the line won't hold for long. Oakland's defense is playing well enough to win most games, so Denver would love to build an early lead and try to simply grind out the victory like they did in the first meeting. Turnovers are the one thing that can keep the Raiders within shouting distance, so Broncos QB Jake Plummer can't do Oakland any favors.

FAST FACTS: Broncos: WR Rod Smith has 100 career receptions against Oakland. ... Coach Mike Shanahan is 18-5 against Oakland. Raiders: With the next sack allowed, the Raiders will equal last season's total of 45. ... Have not allowed a touchdown pass in the past two meetings.

Dallas Cowboys (4-4) at Arizona Cardinals (1-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
SERIES: 84th meeting. The Cowboys lead the series 54-28-1. The Cowboys have won 21 of the last 27 meetings. Dallas had a 13-game win streak over Arizona (1990-96), the longest win streak against an opponent in club history. The Cowboys have faced the Cardinals just three times since Arizona moved from the NFC East to the NFC West.
2006 rankings: Cowboys: offense 5th (5th rush, 8th pass); defense 4th (5th rush, 10th pass). Cardinals: offense 27th (32nd rush, 16th pass); defense 24th (22nd rush, 24th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: After a tumultuous bye week that included a team meeting, the Cardinals appear to be on the brink of total collapse riding a seven-game losing streak. But if they were able to shore up their offensive line a bit during the break, they are rested and can keep this matchup interesting. Dallas should be able to run the ball, so the Cardinals must be able to follow suit when they're on offense. RB Edgerrin James is yet to produce a 100-yard game, but if he can be effective it will take pressure off rookie QB Matt Leinart. The Cardinals should also get a boost with the return of WR Larry Fitzgerald, who can help test a Dallas secondary that has allowed far too many big plays due to a lack of strong cover skills at safety. Still, if Cowboys QB Tony Romo is efficient and avoids critical mistakes, Dallas should earn a methodical victory.

FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Coach Bill Parcells is 11-4-1 against Arizona. ... Of WR Terrell Owens' 30 receptions, 15 have come on third down. Cardinals: Coach Dennis Green is 11-2 over and 2-0 with Arizona in games following a bye week. ... Former Cardinals SS Pat Tillman, who died while serving in Afghanistan, will be inducted in the Cardinals Ring of Honor.

New Orleans Saints (6-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 13th meeting. The series is tied, 6-6, after the Saints claimed three of the last five meetings of the two teams. The Saints won the last matchup, 32-29, in the Superdome. This will be their first appearance in Heinz Field and first trip to Pittsburgh since dropping a 37-14 decision to the Steelers in 1993 in Three Rivers Stadium.
2006 rankings: Saints: offense 7th (27th rush, 3rd pass); defense 10th (17th rush, 5th pass). Steelers: offense 6th (16th rush, 5th pass); defense 8th (9th rush, 9th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Ben Roethlisberger proved last week he can rack up passing yards, but the Steelers need him to make better decisions to have a chance to win. Four of his league-high 14 interceptions have come near the goal line, and the Saints will attempt to force more mistakes with pressure DEs Will Smith and Charles Grant. That makes running the ball imperative for the Steelers, and the Saints haven't shown they can stop a strong ground game consistently. New Orleans has found balance offensively, but that will be tested against Pittsburgh, which has allowed just one 100-yard rusher in its past 42 games. If stuck in third-and-long, the Saints' offensive line will be under pressure to protect QB Drew Brees from the Steelers' complex blitz packages.

FAST FACTS: Saints: WR Marques Colston has 700 receiving yards, just the third player in NFL history with 700 or more through the first eight games of his career. ... Brees is the first player in franchise history with at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games. Steelers: Must win the remainder of their regular-season games to reach 500 franchise victories this year.

St. Louis Rams (4-4) at Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson
SERIES: 17th meeting. Rams lead 9-7, but the Seahawks have won three straight in the series, including a 30-28 victory in St. Louis on Oct. 15. Prior to this stretch, the Rams had won four in a row over the Seahawks, including a 2004 playoff win in Seattle.
2006 rankings: Rams: offense 4th (23rd rush, 4th pass); defense 27th (28th rush, 15th pass). Seahawks: offense 20th (17th rush, 20th pass); defense 16th (13th rush, 25th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said RB Maurice Morris can't continually handle the 30 carries he received Monday night, but Seattle does need to attack a Rams defense allowing 141.2 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. That would also help QB Seneca Wallace, whose two big pass plays in his two starts have come off pump-fakes. Wallace is also more mobile than injured Matt Hasselbeck, so the Rams need to be wary of over-pursuing. St. Louis WR Torry Holt has averaged 6.5 catches for 108 yards the past four regular-season meetings and routinely abuses CB Marcus Trufant, who must have good communication with FS Ken Hamlin to avoid back-breaking big plays. To that end, Seattle's front seven needs to be able to handle the running game so the safeties can focus on helping over the top.

FAST FACTS: Rams: QB Marc Bulger has just one interception this season in 290 attempts, and has not thrown on in the first half. ... Have allowed a combined 402 rushing yards the past two games. Seahawks: Have dropped 22 passes, equaling the team's total for all of last season. ... Are 25-4 in their past 29 home games.

Chicago Bears (7-1) at New York Giants (6-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer
SERIES: 54th meeting, including eight in the postseason. The Bears lead the series, 31-20-2, but only two of the games have been played in the past 10 years, with each team winning as the visitor.
2006 rankings: Bears: offense 13th (19th rush, 9th pass); defense 1st (7th rush, 1st pass). Giants: offense 8th (4th rush, 12th pass); defense 11th (8th rush, 16th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With QB Rex Grossman committing a combined six turnovers in two of his past three games and the propensity for high winds at Giants stadium, this is the time for the Bears' running game to step up. RB Thomas Jones has just one carry for longer than 17 yards all season, but he and Cedric Benson will get a chance to lead the charge. The Giants will be without DE Michael Strahan and likely Osi Umenyiora, and need rookie Mathias Kiwanuka to continue his strong play because many of Grossman's mistakes have come while throwing off his back foot. Offensively, the Giants lost WR Amani Toomer for the season although Plaxico Burress should return, and with Bears MLB Brian Urlacher's status uncertain, RB Tiki Barber should be an even bigger focus of the game plan than normal. TE Jeremy Shockey also becomes QB Eli Manning's No. 2 option.

FAST FACTS: Bears: WR Muhsin Muhammad has been limited to a combined 10 catches for 119 yards the past four games. ... Seek first 8-1 start since 1990. Giants: Are 7-1 under coach Tom Coughlin when scoring a touchdown on their first possession. ... Seek first 7-2 start since 2000, when the team reached Super Bowl XXXV.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) at Carolina Panthers (4-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/13/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 13th meeting. Carolina leads the series 7-5. The Panthers took the earlier meeting 26-24 in Tampa after building a 17-0 lead.
2006 rankings: Bucs: offense 31st (30th rush, 27th pass); defense 22nd (26th rush, 17th pass). Panthers: offense 23rd (26th rush, 19th pass); defense 19th (21st rush, 20th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bucs have issues in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Their secondary has come under fire, but DE Simeon Rice has only 2.0 sacks and the front four as a unit isn't generating much pressure. If Panthers QB Jake Delhomme has time in the pocket, he knows WRs Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson will find the holes in the Cover-2 defense. With rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski learning the ropes, the Bucs' offense ideally wants to feature RB Carnell Williams, but he has struggled behind a young offensive line. If Tampa Bay stalls on first and second down, Gradkowski will face tremendous pressure on third-and-long. Panthers DE Julius Pepper has been held without a sack for two games, but will be working against rookie RT Jeremy Trueblood.

FAST FACTS: Bucs: Williams has just one 100-yard rushing game after producing five as a rookie. ... Gradkowski has thrown just one interception in 186 pass attempts. Panthers: Have lead entering the fourth quarter in seven of their eight games, but have blown three of those leads. ... Have been shutout in the second half of their past two games.
TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya

   
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