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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Game Scout - Week 13
December 1, 2006

Baltimore Ravens (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/30/06
SURFACE: Synthetic
TV: NFL Network, Bryant Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth
SERIES: 22nd meeting. The Ravens lead the series, 13-8, and are 10-5 under coach Brian Billick. The Ravens ended a three-game losing streak to the Bengals on Nov. 5, beating Cincinnati 26-20 in Baltimore. The Ravens jumped out to a 17-0 lead when Jamal Lewis scored a 2-yard touchdown and Ed Reed took a lateral off a Samari Rolle interception to score another touchdown. Cornerback Chris McAlister sealed the victory, picking off Palmer's desperation throw.
2006 RANKINGS: Ravens: offense 25th (22nd rush, 17th pass); defense 2nd (2nd rush, 6th pass). Bengals: offense 8th (20th rush, 9th pass); defense 31st (19th rush, 32nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals have to win to keep any hope alive of tracking down the Ravens for the AFC North title. Both teams enter the game coming off shutout victories and with red-hot offenses. The Bengals have scored 102 points and produced 1,318 yards over the past three games, but they still have to be concerned about some of the youth along their line. Cincinnati allowed just two sacks against Baltimore three weeks ago, but the Ravens are coming off a nine-sack game against Pittsburgh and each week attempt to feature new schemes and blitz packages to confuse blocking assignments. Baltimore has averaged 27.8 points the past five games and the Ravens lead the league with a plus-15 turnover margin. With the Bengals 31st in total defense, they must find a way to stop the run, turn the Ravens one-dimensional and produce a few turnovers -- not an easy task.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: Win would make Baltimore second-quickest team to clinch a division title since eight-division format began in 2002 (Eagles, Nov. 28, 2004). ... Have multiple shutouts in same season for the first time since their Super Bowl year in 2000. Bengals: Are 8-2 in their past 10 games against AFC North rivals. ... WR Chad Johnson (1,055) is the only NFL receiver with more than 1,000 receiving yards.

Arizona Cardinals (2-9) at St. Louis Rams (5-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Pat Summerall, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 56th meeting. Rams lead the series, 30-23-2, including a win in Week 3 at Arizona. The Cardinals won in St. Louis last season, 38-28.
2006 RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 26th (32nd rush, 10th pass); defense 30th (22nd rush, 26th pass). Rams: offense 10th (25th rush, 8th pass); defense 24th (32nd rush, 10th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Rams QB Marc Bulger has had a difficult time getting the ball to WR Torry Holt the past several games, but he could be in for a breakout game against the Cardinals' shaky secondary. Holt had eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting, and if Arizona double-covers him Bulger has plenty of other weapons. RB Steven Jackson has been playing well and St. Louis would like to establish balance to help a beat-up offensive line and protect its own defense. Arizona abandoned the run against Minnesota's top-ranked run defense last Sunday, but will likely give RB Edgerrin James plenty of opportunities to attack the Rams' smallish front seven. With both offenses capable of moving the ball up and down the field, the game could turn on which team is most productive inside the red zone.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals: Are 3-18 on the road under coach Dennis Green. ... WR Anquan Boldin is tied with Rob Moore for a franchise-record 18 100-yard receiving games. Rams: Holt's 10,282 career receiving yards tops Jerry Rice's 10,273 for the most through a player's first eight seasons. ... Bulger is 7-1 as a starter against Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons (5-6) at Washington Redskins (4-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
SERIES: 20th meeting. Redskins lead 14-4-1. The 'Skins have won 10 of the 11 contests played in the nation's Capital. The Redskins won the last meeting 33-31 in 2003 at the Georgia Dome.
2006 RANKINGS: Falcons: offense 9th (1st rush, 31st pass); defense 22nd (9th rush, 30th pass). Redskins: offense 21st (12th rush, 23rd pass); defense 28th (20th rush, 27th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Which offense can best establish its running game? Washington was able to run for 143 yards last Sunday, and a similar output would help QB Jason Campbell get settled in just his third career start. TE Chris Cooley is clearly Campbell's most comfortable target, but the Redskins need more out of WR Santana Moss, who has just six catches for 29 yards in two games since returning from a strained hamstring. Atlanta's game plan is similar, with the Falcons trying to get RB Warrick Dunn back to being the focus of the attack. Like all teams, the Redskins want to contain QB Michael Vick on the ground and force him to throw the ball to a receiving corps dropping entirely too many catchable balls. The Redskins' secondary has been porous all season, although it didn't allow a completion of at least 20 yards for the first time last Sunday.

FAST FACTS: Falcons: PK Morten Andersen needs 13 points to break Gary Anderson's all-time NFL scoring record of 2,434 points. ... Vick needs 99 rushing yards to break Bobby Douglass' single-season record for a quarterback (968 for Chicago, 1972). Redskins: Have six players who weren't born when Andersen made his NFL debut in 1982. ... Campbell is only the fourth player in NFL history to pass for two touchdowns in each of his first two career games.

Detroit Lions (2-9) at New England Patriots (8-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson
SERIES: 9th meeting. The series currently stands at 4-4, with the Patriots winning the last game, 20-12, on Thanksgiving Day four years ago.
2006 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 18th (31st rush, 7th pass); defense 26th (23rd rush, 19th pass). Patriots: offense 7th (11th rush, 11th pass); defense 6th (3rd rush, 15th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With LB Junior Seau out for the season, the Patriots will move Mike Vrabel inside and start OLB Tully Banta-Cain. The Lions hope they can take advantage of the shuffling with RB Kevin Jones, who is expected to return after missing a game with a sprained ankle. As a runner and receiver, Jones is the critical component in Detroit's attempt to sustain drives and help protect its woeful defense. The Lions can't hope to stop QB Tom Brady & Co. for four quarter -- not with a defense that has produced just 19 sacks and is on pace to set an NFL record for futility by allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.0 of their passes. DT Shaun Rogers is expect to miss another game recovering from knee surgery, so the Lions also are without their lone difference-maker up front to combat RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney.

FAST FACTS: Lions: Are 5-40 on the road since 2001. ... WR Roy Williams has averaged 105.3 receiving yards in three games against the AFC this season. Patriots: Brady has become the franchise's all-time leading quarterback with 76 career victories. ... RB Kevin Faulk is the team's all-time receptions leader among running backs with 262, breaking Tony Collins' mark of 261.

Indianapolis Colts (10-1) at Tennessee Titans (4-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
SERIES: 25th meeting. Colts lead series 14-10 and have won seven in a row including a 14-13 win on Oct. 8.
2006 RANKINGS: Colts: offense 3rd (14th rush, 2nd pass); defense 13th (31st rush, 3rd pass). Titans: offense 28th (9th rush, 28th pass); defense 32nd (30th rush, 24th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans nearly shocked the Colts in the first meeting by limiting Indianapolis' big plays in the passing game and attempting to control the tempo with their own run game. RB Travis Henry averaged 6.5 yards per carry in the first meeting and the Colts have struggled against the run all season, although the addition of DT Anthony McFarland is finally starting to pay some dividends. QB Vince Young is viewed as a project by most, but he has not thrown an interception in nine quarters. Defensively, the Titans' secondary is playing the best it has all season. The Colts will be without TE Dallas Clark, but Indianapolis' emerging running game will make it difficult for the Titans to contain QB Peyton Manning for four quarters.

FAST FACTS: Colts: Can clinch fourth consecutive AFC South title with a victory. ... Have a 12-game winning streak against the AFC South. Titans: Defense's 10 interceptions tops teams' entire 2005 total. ... WR Drew Bennett needs 111 receiving yards to pass Curtis Duncan (3,935) for eighth place in franchise history.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-8)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: 20th meeting. The Chiefs lead the series 9-8-2. The Browns have a distinct home field advantage with a 6-2-1 record, but it might not mean much this time because the Browns are 1-5 at home this year.
2006 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 15th (6th rush, 21st pass); defense 12th (13th rush, 12th pass). Browns: offense 31st (30th rush, 25th pass); defense 19th (24th rush, 13th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns need to find some way to force the Chiefs to respect the downfield passing attack. QB Charlie Frye is completing 62.6 percent of his passes, but he's not stretching the field often enough. Part of that is due to playing behind a poor offensive line, but Frye has to recognize chances to push the ball down the field and give his receivers a chance to make big plays. Otherwise, the Chiefs can stuff the box and sit on the running and short passing games. Kansas City's main goal offensively is not doing the Browns any favors in the way of penalties and turnovers. RB Larry Johnson will carry the workload until Cleveland proves it can stop the ground game. The Chiefs need to get QB Trent Green back playing at a high level, but they won't force the passing game any more than they have to.

FAST FACTS: Chiefs: WR Dante Hall has become just the sixth player in NFL history to top 10,000 yards in combined kick return yardage. ... Johnson has scored in nine consecutive games, the second-longest streak in franchise history. Browns: Loss would secure seventh losing season in eight years. ... TE Kellen Winslow leads all NFL tight ends with 66 receptions and seeks to become first Browns tight end to lead the team in receptions since Ozzie Newsome in 1985.

Minnesota Vikings (5-6) at Chicago Bears (9-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 92nd meeting. The Vikings lead the all-time series 48-41-2. The Bears rallied for a 19-16 victory over the Vikings in Week 3, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown after Brad Johnson and Chester Taylor had a mix up on a handoff exchange that resulted in a fumble.
2006 RANKINGS: Vikings: offense 14th (16th rush, 14th pass); defense 10th (1st rush, 31st pass). Bears: offense 13th (15th rush, 15th pass); defense 1st (8th rush, 2nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Vikings don't have the offensive firepower to make mistakes and still win games. In their five victories they have a plus-eight turnover margin; in their six losses they are minus-nine. Translation? QB Brad Johnson has to manage the game flawlessly and get plenty of help from RB Chester Taylor, who has lost three fumbles in the past two weeks and was held to 74 rushing yards in the first meeting. The Vikings' defense keeps them in most games, but opponents are starting to simply abandon the run, spread the field and attack Minnesota's far inferior secondary. But with QB Rex Grossman throwing 11 interceptions in his past six games, expect the Bears to attempt to get RB Thomas Jones involved in the offense. If Chicago does spread the field, Minnesota will counter with a scheme featuring three linemen, five linebackers and five defensive backs that still keeps LB Ben Leber on the field.

FAST FACTS: Vikings: Taylor needs one rushing yard for his first 1,000-yard season. ... DT Kevin Williams has 7.0 sacks in the past six meetings. Bears: Clinch division title with victory. ... Have won the past five meetings at home. ... Have outscored opponents 268-92 in winning 10 of their past 11 home games.

New York Jets (6-5) at Green Bay Packers (4-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: 10th meeting. Jets lead series, 7-2. In the last meeting in 2002, Chad Pennington threw four touchdowns as the Jets drubbed the Packers, 42-17, in the regular-season finale. That win, coupled with New England's comeback victory over Miami, gave the Jets the AFC East title. In their last visit to Lambeau Field, the Jets won the 2000 season-opener, 20-16. It was the first game of coach Al Groh's short-lived tenure.
2006 RANKINGS: Jets: offense 27th (19th rush, 22nd pass); defense 29th (26th rush, 20th pass). Packers: offense 11th (23rd rush, 9th pass); defense 25th (16th rush, 29th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Packers gave up 235 rushing yards on Monday night, but MLB Nick Barnett could return this Sunday and the Jets might not have the running game to get anywhere near that production. The trio of Kevan Barlow, Cedric Houston and rookie Leon Washington has been inconsistent, but the Jets will see if someone can get the hot hand to help set up play-action for QB Chad Pennington. With the Jets lacking big vertical threats in the passing game, look for the Packers to stack the box and attempt to put consistent pressure on Pennington. Green Bay's own running game has struggled without RT Mark Tauscher, who is expected to miss his third consecutive game. The Jets know if they can contain RB Ahman Green, they can force QB Brett Favre into mistakes in long passing situations. But the Jets are allowing 135.2 rushing yards per game, so that game plan is easier said than executed.

FAST FACTS: Jets: Remaining opponents are a combined 13 games under .500. ... Will play just their fourth game in Lambeau Field. ... Have held five of past six opponents to 20 points or less. Packers: Are 22-7 (.759) in games after Dec. 1 since 2000. ... WR Donald Driver needs 98 receiving yards for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

San Diego Chargers (9-2) at Buffalo Bills (5-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: AstroPlay
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
SERIES: 34th meeting. The Chargers lead the series over the Bills, 20-11-2. The Chargers return to Buffalo for the first time since 2002, when they lost, 20-13. The most recent pairing of these teams came last year when the Chargers prevailed in San Diego, 48-10. The Chargers have won five of their last seven games with Buffalo.
2006 RANKINGS: Chargers: offense 5th (2nd rush, 13th pass); defense 9th (7th rush, 14th pass). Bills: offense 29th (26th rush, 30th pass); defense 21st (26th rush, 16th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills have allowed a combined 395 rushing yards the past two games and an average of 172 over the past four games -- a frightening figure with red-hot Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson coming to town. Tomlinson has 14 touchdowns while averaging 172 rushing yards the past five games. Part of his success is due to the fact opposing defenses must respect the passing game now that QB Philip Rivers has proven he can hurt teams with his arm. Buffalo knows it will give up yards -- the hope is the defense can clamp down on third down and in the red zone. The Bills could receive a boost if predicted snow showers provide poor conditions. RB Willis McGahee played a big role in his return last Sunday, but the Chargers are a difficult team to run against consistently. They also get OLB Shawne Merriman back from suspension and if San Diego can stick Buffalo in long passing situations, the Chargers' vaunted pass rush could have a field day against Buffalo's offensive line.

FAST FACTS: Chargers: Coach Marty Schottenheimer needs one victory to tie Dan Reeves (201) for sixth-most all-time. ... Rivers has a 102.2 passer rating in posting a 4-2 road record. Bills: McGahee (3,017) is the seventh Bill to pass 3,000 career rushing yards. ... K Rian Lindell's 82.08 field-goal accuracy percentage is the best in franchise history. ... Final five opponents have a combined 33-22 (.600) record.

San Francisco 49ers (5-6) at New Orleans Saints (7-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Sportexe Momentum
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Bill Maas, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 68th meeting. The 49ers lead the series 45-20-2, but the Saints have won both meetings since realignment moved the Saints out of the NFC West after the 2001 season.
2006 RANKINGS: 49ers: offense 23rd (4th rush, 27th pass); defense 20th (17th rush, 25th pass). Saints: offense 1st (28th rush, 1st pass); defense 17th (29th rush, 6th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Even if they stack the box with eight defenders, can the Saints slow down 49ers RB Frank Gore? He has averaged 168.3 rushing yards the past three games despite every opponent game-planning to stop him. New Orleans has to figure out some way to cope with the massive left side of San Francisco's offensive line and force QB Alex Smith to make plays in long passing situations. Meanwhile, the 49ers need to be able to control the clock to help protect their defense. No one is hotter than Saints QB Drew Brees, who is on pace to challenge Dan Marino's single-season passing record. The 49ers could be without CB Shawntae Spencer for a second consecutive game, while the Saints are monitoring injuries to WRs Joe Horn and Marques Colston. San Francisco will be in deep trouble if its front seven isn't able to contain the ground game.

FAST FACTS: 49ers: Have not won more than one road game in the past four seasons. ... Gore leads the NFL with 12 carries of at least 20 yards. Saints: Brees' 1,954 yards over the past five games is the most in NFL history for a five-game stretch. ... Brees is the sixth quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in five consecutive games.

Houston Texans (3-8) at Oakland Raiders (2-9)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Bill Macatee, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 2nd meeting. The Texans lead the series 1-0. The last meeting came in 2004 when Houston was seeking its first back-to-back victories in franchise history. The Texans defense took center stage, forcing five turnovers. Rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson recorded his first two career interceptions. Running back Jonathan Wells rushed for 105 yards and a score while WR Andre Johnson had 115 receiving yards and a touchdown.
2006 RANKINGS: Texans: offense 20th (26th rush, 16th pass); defense 27th (17th rush, 28th pass). Raiders: offense 32nd (20th rush, 32nd pass); defense 7th (25th rush, 1st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: It will be interesting to see if new Raiders offensive coordinator John Shoop makes an increased effort to get the ball to WR Randy Moss, who has just four receptions for 34 yards and no touchdowns the past three games. To deal with Oakland's vertical passing threat, Houston needs to be able to stop the run and provide extra help to a secondary that has taken a step back the past two games. The Texans are also in an offensive funk, with QB David Carr throwing just one touchdown pass the past five games after throwing nine through the first six. The strength of Oakland's defense is its secondary, but Houston never knows what it will get from its ground game from week to week. However, expect coach Gary Kubiak to stick with the ground game as long as the score is close after admitting the Texans abandoned the run too early last Sunday.

FAST FACTS: Texans: WR Andre Johnson leads the NFL and has already set a franchise single-season record with 84 receptions. ... WR Eric Moulds needs one touchdown reception to reach 50 for his career. Raiders: Defense's 14 interceptions equal its combined total the past two seasons. ... Have not allowed more than 21 points in the past seven games.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) at Miami Dolphins (5-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
SERIES: 3rd meeting. The teams split their two regular season meetings with the Dolphins winning, 24-10, at Alltel Stadium in Del Rio's first season in 2003. But the teams play in the preseason every year and the Jaguars posted a 31-26 preseason win in Miami on Aug. 12. They also played in one postseason game, which the Jaguars won, 62-7, to end the careers of both Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson. The Jaguars haven't won a postseason game since.
2006 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 17th (3rd rush, 24th pass); defense 3rd (5th rush, 5th pass). Dolphins: offense 16th (24th rush, 12th pass); defense 5th (6th rush, 7th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: This is an opportunity for Dolphins QB Joey Harrington to prove he truly has emerged into a quality NFL starter. During the team's four-game winning streak, Miami has relied heavily on the run. But RB Ronnie Brown is out and the Jaguars are extremely difficult to run on with DTs John Henderson and Marcus Stroud plugging the interior. Harrington will be asked to make more plays on his own and likely will have a difficult time selling too much play-action. The Jaguars also know running the ball will be difficult against the Dolphins' front seven, but will still attempt to establish RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars' receivers enjoy a big height advantage against the Dolphins' smallish secondary, but Jacksonville has received extremely inconsistent performances from their wideouts the past two months.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars: Have never played in Dolphin Stadium. ... Are 17-2 under coach Jack Del Rio when leading after the first quarter. Dolphins: DE Jason Taylor needs one sack to tie Jim Jeffcoat (102.5) for 19th most all-time. ... Have a five-game winning streak in December and January.

Dallas Cowboys (7-4) at New York Giants (6-5)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 89th meeting. The Cowboys lead the series 51-35-2. New York has won four of the last five meetings, including the last three. The Cowboys have faced only two teams -- Philadelphia and Washington -- more than the Giants.
2006 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 4th (5th rush, 6th pass); defense 4th (4th rush, 11th pass). Giants: offense 12th (7th rush, 18th pass); defense 14th (12th rush, 18th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: First, the Giants have to put last Sunday's collapse and the ensuing locker room turmoil aside. Then they have to quickly remedy their on-field woes to compete with arguably the league's hottest team. Cowboys QB Tony Romo's mobility has been a boon to the offensive line, and WRs Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn could have a field day against the Giants' depleted secondary. The Giants would receive a big boost if DE Osi Umenyiora is able to play for the first time in six games and help increase the pass rush. But none of the defensive efforts will matter if QB Eli Manning doesn't pick up his play. He has six interceptions over the past three games while completing just 50.1 percent of his passes. Expect to see plenty of RB Tiki Barber out of the gate as the Giants attempt take the spotlight off Manning in the early going.

FAST FACTS: Cowboys: RB Marion Barber, Julius Jones' backup, leads the NFC with nine touchdown runs. ... LB DeMarcus Ware has 10.0 sacks in his past 13 games. Giants: P Jeff Feagles will become just the fifth player in NFL history to play in 300 career games. ... Barber has led the Giants in rushing for 75 consecutive games, the longest streak in franchise history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Jesse Palmer
SERIES: 8th meeting. The Steelers lead the series 6-1 and have won the last two games. Pittsburgh won 17-7 in their last meeting in Tampa in 2002, one of only four losses the Bucs suffered en route to a Super Bowl championship.
2006 RANKINGS: Bucs: offense 30th (29th rush, 29th pass); defense 23rd (21st rush, 22nd pass). Steelers: offense 6th (17th rush, 5th pass); defense 11th (10th rush, 17th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers have struggled in pass protection all season -- from the offensive line to blitz pickups by running backs to QB Ben Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long waiting for receivers to get open -- but they get a break against a Bucs defense with just 13 sacks. Pittsburgh can also attack Tampa Bay's injury-depleted defensive line on the ground with RB Willie Parker averaging 128 rushing yards at home. The Bucs need a big effort from their own ground game to give rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski a legitimate shot to be successful. He doesn't have the arm strength to consistently beat the Steelers deep, so RB Carnell Williams must be productive on first and second down to set up manageable passing downs. Look for Pittsburgh to bring pressure with complex blitz packages in an effort to rush Gradkowski into mistakes.

FAST FACTS: Bucs: Are 11-0 against the AFC when RB Mike Alstott has a rushing touchdown. ... CB Ronde Barber is tied with Donnie Abraham for the franchise record with 31 career interceptions. Steelers: Roethlisberger has been sacked 36 times. The franchise record is Cliff Stoudt, who was sacked 51 times in 1983. ... Have a league-low 49 penalties.

Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at Denver Broncos (7-4)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/03/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: NBC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer
SERIES: 51st meeting. Denver leads the series, 33-17. That includes a 19-4 record in Denver. The teams were AFC West rivals from 1977 through the 2001 season. Seattle is 0-3 in Denver under coach Mike Holmgren, including 0-1 with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Seattle has not won in Denver since 1995.
2006 RANKINGS: Seahawks: offense 19th (13th rush, 20th pass); defense 18th (15th rush, 21st pass). Broncos: offense 22nd (8th rush, 26th pass); defense 16th (11th rush, 23rd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With rookie QB Jay Cutler making his first career start, the Broncos want to get their fledgling running game back on track. RB Tatum Bell is expected to return after missing two games with turf toe issues on both feet, and Denver needs to keep Cutler out of third-and-long situations. The Seahawks have limited the big pass plays that hurt them during the first half of the season and lead the NFC with 37.0 sacks, which is a concern with Denver getting inconsistent play from both tackle spots. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is expected to play despite a broken finger on his left (non-throwing) hand. But the key for Seattle's offense could be whether the offensive line can continue to improve with RB Shaun Alexander coming off a 201-yard game.

FAST FACTS: Seahawks: Have allowed an average of 30.0 points in their past four road games. ... Mike Holmgren has joined Don Shula as the only coaches to win at least 70 regular season games with two different teams. Broncos: C Tom Nalen will start his 179th game with the team, second-most in franchise history. ... Are 18-4 at home against the NFC under coach Mike Shanahan.

Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/04/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 6th meeting. Eagles lead series 3-2. The Eagles crushed the Panthers 30-8 at Lincoln Financial Field back on Oct. 17, 2004, a game in which Jake Delhomme threw four interceptions. That game came just 10 months after the Panthers beat the Eagles 14-3 in Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game to secure a spot in the Super Bowl.
2006 RANKINGS: Panthers: offense 24th (18th rush, 19th pass); defense 8th (14th rush, 8th pass). Eagles: offense 2nd (10th rush, 3rd pass); defense 15th (28th rush, 4th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With inconsistency plaguing the Panthers' offense all season, the main priority for Carolina's defense is pretty straightforward. When the Panthers hold their opponent under 100 rushing yards, they are 6-0; when they don't, they're 0-5. That statistic should be a good indicator again with the Eagles leaning more on RB Brian Westbrook following the season-ending injury to QB Donovan McNabb. Westbrook has a career-high three-game streak with at least 100 rushing yards, but to prevent the Panthers from loading the box Philadelphia needs QB Jeff Garcia to find a better rhythm in his second start. Offensively, the Panthers hope to get RB DeShaun Foster back in the lineup. The ground game has been sputtering, allowing defenses to focus on WRs Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson, but the Eagles are struggling to stop the run with small linemen and a front seven that isn't tackling well.

FAST FACTS: Panthers: Johnson needs three receptions to reach 800 for his career. ... QB Jake Delhomme has six TDs and two INTs with a 98.7 passer rating in three career Monday night games. Eagles: Westbrook is fifth on franchise history with eight career 100-yard rushing games. ... Have a league-best 55 plays of at least 20 yards.

   
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