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NFL capsules

Jets (6-5) at Redskins (4-7)

1 p.m.

Jets by 3, 38½

The Jets don't seem like a team that's playing with a sense of urgency, but they better start doing so. Things could get very sticky in the playoff race with remaining games against the Eagles, Giants and resurgent Dolphins, who always play them tough. Maybe QB Mark Sanchez, above, can pull it together after completing just 48 percent of his passes against the Bills last week. Then again, even if he doesn't, he still might outplay Washington QB Rex Grossman.

Jets 20, Redskins 16

Ravens (8-3) at Browns (4-7)

4 p.m.

Ravens by 6½, 38

A big win for the Ravens in the Brother Bowl on Thanksgiving. That's the kind of game John Harbaugh, above, likes to play, a grind-it-out, 16-6 victory over the Jim Harbaugh-coached 49ers. The Ravens have gotten off the tracks with losses to the likes of Jacksonville and Seattle. But they remain a solid 8-3 and on pace for a first-round playoff bye if they finish strong. If you're looking for a trend, RB Ray Rice has averaged 111.7 yards in his three games at Cleveland.

Ravens 24, Browns 13

Cowboys (7-4) at Cardinals (4-7)

4:15 p.m.

Cowboys by 4½, 47

The Cowboys have won four straight and five of six, and they need to find a way to make it five in a row with this favorable matchup. Dallas hasn't been winning in spectacular fashion — QB Tony Romo, above, hasn't had a 300-yard game since October — but it has found offensive balance. Rookie RB DeMarco Murray is largely responsible for that with 761 yards over the past six games. Right now, the Dallas offense is among the league's most efficient.

Cowboys 28, Cardinals 17

Packers (11-0) at Giants (6-5)

4:15 p.m., Ch. 13

Packers by 6, 54

An unfortunate — for them — scheduling quirk has the Giants playing the two most breathtaking offenses in consecutive games. Less than a week after Monday's massacre in New Orleans, the Giants take on the Green Bay juggernaut. And judging by how little resistance New York offered last week, is there any reason to believe Aaron Rodgers, above, won't gut it, too? Doesn't it feel like that Giants' win over the Patriots last month might as well have been last year?

Packers 33, Giants 23

Rams (2-9) at 49ers (9-2)

4:15 p.m.

49ers by 13½, 38

The 49ers likely will be favored — in some cases, heavily — to win their remaining games. They draw the hapless Rams today before playing the Cardinals, Steelers (at home), Seahawks and Rams (again). Couple that with the likelihood of getting a first-round bye, and they could be ready for a serious playoff run when all is said and done. But first, the offensive line has work to do. Alex Smith, above, was sacked nine times by Baltimore last week.

49ers 27, Rams 13

Chargers (4-7) at Jaguars (3-8)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Chargers by 3, 39

Can someone please explain how in the world the Jaguars are making their second Monday Night Football appearance this season? Is it because their last Monday night game (a mind-numbing 12-7 victory over the Ravens) was so entertaining? Anyhow, with Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio getting fired last week, San Diego coach Norv Turner, above, better find a way to eke out a win here, or he might soon join Del Rio in the ranks of the unemployed.

Chargers 24, Jaguars 16

Lions (7-4) at Saints (8-3)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Saints by 9, 53½

From an entertainment standpoint, this is made for prime time. Saints QB Drew Brees, above right, rarely disappoints. QB Matthew Stafford, who hasn't been sharp for the Lions, catches a break going against New Orleans' defense. Both teams likely will make plays. But the Lions (as was the case against the Packers on Thanksgiving) don't yet have the firepower to keep up with the elite offenses. If it comes down to one quarterback making more plays, the choice is easy.

Saints 31, Lions 26

Titans (6-5) at Bills (5-6)

1 p.m.

Bills by 1½, 43

As Bucs fans can attest, Titans RB Chris Johnson, above, appears to have come out of his slump in a very big way. With his 190 yards last week and considering the suddenness of the Bills' collapse, there's reason to believe Johnson finally could put together consecutive impressive outings. The Bills defense began the season formidably but faded quickly. Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has five touchdowns and seven interceptions over his past four games.

Titans 23, Bills 21

Chiefs (4-7) at Bears (7-4)

1 p.m.

Bears by 7, 37

In a battle of backup quarterbacks, you have to look at the supporting casts, not the players under center. For the Chiefs, it's not Tyler Palko or recently acquired Kyle Orton who will make the difference. It's the likes of LB Tamba Hali and WR Dwayne Bowe. For Chicago, it's not Caleb Hanie who likely determines the outcome, but RB Matt Forte, above, and DE Julius Peppers. We believe the Bears have more talent around their bad quarterback.

Bears 24, Chiefs 17

Falcons (7-4) at Texans (8-3)

1 p.m.

Falcons by 2½, 38

Bummer for Houston QB Matt Leinart, suffering a season-ending broken collarbone last week and missing a chance to save the season. Instead, the Texans will try to keep their heads above water with a third starting quarterback, Atlanta-area native T.J. Yates. This is a tough first start for a young passer, and the Falcons have too much at stake to lose to a third-stringer. Still, this is a fairly tall order for Matt Ryan, above, against the top-ranked defense.

Falcons 24, Texans 20

Raiders (7-4) at Dolphins (3-8)

1 p.m.

Dolphins by 3, 43

While teams such as the Bucs and Bills have faded in the second half, the Dolphins have gone the other way, going 3-1 with a near-upset at Dallas on Thanksgiving. What changed? For one, QB Matt Moore, above, has been more reliable than anyone would have predicted. The offense has consistently reached the end zone with Moore at the helm, averaging 26.3 points over the past four games. The Raiders are trying to win four straight for the first time in 10 seasons.

Dolphins 27, Raiders 24

Broncos (6-5) at Vikings (2-9)

1 p.m.

Vikings by 1½, 37½

No truth to the rumor that several teams are adding some Tim Tebow-like elements to their offense — at least not yet. In what continues to be one of the best stories in sports, Tebow has helped the Broncos win four straight. But there has been a disservice done to the defense because of the Tebow hype. LB Von Miller — putting up near-historic rookie numbers with 10½ sacks — and the defense have limited the past three opponents to 12 points per game.

Broncos 20, Vikings 17

Bengals (7-4) at Steelers (8-3)

1 p.m., Ch. 10

Steelers by 7, 42½

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger last week called QB Andy Dalton his choice for rookie of the year, and maybe he has a point. Dalton, above, continues to show why the Bengals made a brilliant second-round choice. And rookie WR A.J. Green has given Dalton a game-breaking target. But Roethlisberger and the Steelers know they'll leave the Bengals staggering if they can deliver a punch to the gut here. Dalton will make plays. Roethlisberger will make more.

Steelers 27, Bengals 23

Colts (0-11) at Patriots (8-3)

1 p.m.

Patriots by 20½, 47½

Remember when this game mattered? A better question: Remember when this game determined AFC superiority? This is a near-certain loss for the Peyton Manning-less Colts, which would bring them to within four games of 0-16. Might as well go ahead and map out the remaining schedule for Indy: at Baltimore, vs. Tennessee, vs. Houston and at Jacksonville. Meanwhile, coach Bill Belichick, above, and the Patriots look to add to their two-game AFC East lead.

Patriots 34, Colts 14

NFL capsules 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 6:55pm]
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  1. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  2. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  3. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

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  4. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]