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Week 8

Compiled by Don Banks

Last week: 7-4

Year-to-date: 55-34

Upset special: 3-4

CAN'T MISS

Broncos at Chargers

4 p.m.

Line: Chargers 7

Records: Denver 1-5, San Diego 6-0.

Of note: A rematch from opening day, when San Diego started its remarkable run by rallying from a 17-0 hole to win at Mile High. The tone of the season was set for both teams in that game. Chargers haven't swept Denver since '82, but the Bolts are averaging a league-high 28 points per game. Denver has an NFL-low five sacks (on pace for 13), meaning 19 players have as many as Broncos.

Key injuries: Broncos _ LB Mike Croel (hamstring) is doubtful; CB Ray Crockett (ankle), QB John Elway (thigh), WR Derek Russell (knee) are probable. Chargers _ TE Deems May (foot) is out.

Banks' pick: San Diego 31-20.

Cowboys at Cards

4 p.m.

Line: Cowbotys 8 1/2

Records: Dallas 5-1, Arizona 2-4.

Of note: Dallas humbled Buddy's boys 38-3 two weeks ago in Irving. What's the point of proving it again so soon? Well, five interceptions helped the Cowboys' cause that day and Arizona still has loads of defensive talent, meaning things could be considerably more interesting today. But Dallas' No. 1-ranked defense isn't too shabby itself.

Key injuries: Cowboys _ C Mark Stepnoski (ankle) is doubtful; OT Mark Tuinei (toe) is questionable. Cardinals _ K Greg Davis (hamstring), S Lorenzo Lynch (foot) are out; WR Gary Clark (hamstring), QB Jay Schroeder (elbow) are probable.

Banks' pick: Dallas 17-7.

WORTH CHECKING OUT

Seahawks at Chiefs

1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs 6 1/2

Records: Seattle 3-3, Kansas City 4-2.

Of note: Mr. Montana pulled out another one at Mile High Monday night, but he's got to be a little arm-weary. For the first time in his career, he has thrown 50 or more passes in consecutive games. The Chiefs running game had better step up and help soon. Seattle is 0-5 after a bye and has lost 11 of its past 12 at Arrowhead. Still, the Seahawks defense makes this a dangerous game for Kansas City.

Key injuries: Seahawks _ LB Duane Bickett (back), CB Patrick Hunter (hamstring) are questionable. Chiefs: TE Keith Cash (knee) is out; OT John Alt (back), QB Joe Montana (ribs), DT Dan Saleaumua (knee) are questionable.

Banks' pick: Kansas City 20-13.

Steelers at Giants, 1 p.m., Ch. 8

Line: Giants 1

Records: Pittsburgh 4-2, N.Y. Giants 3-3.

Of note: With Dan Reeves making noise about replacing QB Dave Brown and the Giants on a three-game skid, this has all the makings of a make-it-or-break-it day for New York's season. Brown has tossed seven INTs and just two TDs in the past three games. Steelers' No. 1-ranked rushing game lost Barry Foster but got good production from rookie Bam Morris. Steelers have scored 114 points _ none in the third quarter.

Key injuries: Steelers _ RB Steve Avery (hamstring) is doubtful; TE Graig Keith (shoulder), WR Ernie Mills (thumb) are probable. Giants _ LB Corey Miller (knee) is doubtful; OT Doug Riesenberg (ankle) is probable.

Banks' pick: Pittsburgh 19-17.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Falcons at A. Raiders

4 p.m.

Line: 4 1/2

Records: Atlanta 4-3, L.A. Raiders 2-4.

Of note: Call this the Bad Mood Bowl. Falcons hyped last week's big game, then got humiliated by San Fran. The Raiders lost in OT in Miami, after Jeff Hostetler and Art Shell's publicized sideline spat. Atlanta already has won once in L.A. this season, beating the Rams. Falcons have been wacky, holding three opponents to 13 or less, and allowing three 30 or more. Raiders still winless at home.

Key injuries: Falcons _ OT Mike Kenn (back), RB Erric Pegram (groin-ribs), are questionable; WR Bert Emanuel (hip) is probable. Raiders _ WR Raghib Ismail (concussion), DT Chester McGlockton (shoulder) are probable.

Banks' pick: Los Angeles 24-18.

Rams at Saints, 1 p.m., Line Saints 3 1/2

Records: Los Angeles 3-4, New Orleans 2-5.

Of note: Former Rams quarterback Jim Everett gets his first shot at his ex-teammates, and fortunately for Everett, the Saints have not allowed a sack in their past five games against Los Angeles. Saints have had trouble stopping the run all season (No. 23) and figure to have their hands full with big Jerome Bettis. Rams defense has been tough, picking off 10 passes, one fewer than '93 season total.

Key injuries: Rams _ OT Jackie Slater (elbow), DT Sean Gilbert (shoulders) are out; RB David Lang (thigh) is questionable. Saints _ CB Carl Lee (hip), CB Tyrone Legette (ankle) are doubtful; LB Darion Conner (groin), RB Brad Muster (hamstring) are questionable.

Banks' pick: Upset special, L.A. 9-7.

Bears at Lions, 1 p.m., Ch. 28, Line: Lions 4

Records: Chicago 4-2, Detroit 2-4.

Of note: Another QB revenge subplot as Erik Kramer faces the Lions for the first time. Despite three straight wins by backup Steve Walsh, Kramer didn't lose his job to injury. The Lions, who haven't won since beating Dallas, are making changes, demoting LB Pat Swilling, tinkering with the shotgun, and going to the two-back more often. Detroit defense has just one INT, six total takeaways, and 10 sacks.

Key injuries: Bears _ WR Tom Waddle (hamstring) is questionable; QB Erik Kramer (shoulder) is probable. Lions: TE Ron Hall (knee) is questionable; S Bennie Blades (back) is probable.

Banks' pick: Detroit 27-23.

Bucs at 49ers, 4 p.m., Ch. 28, Line: 49ers by 15 Records: Tampa Bay 2-4, San Francisco 5-2.

Of note: Not to say it's been a while since the Bucs beat the 49ers, but when it last happened (1980), Sam Wyche was San Fran's QB coach and Garo Yepremian kicked for Tampa Bay. If the Bucs turn things over to Trent Dilfer as expected, the former Fresno State star will be making his starting debut on one heck of a stage. The 49ers were nearly perfect in Atlanta, but only fair will suffice today.

Key injuries: Bucs _ OT Tim Irwin (back-elbow); S Thomas Everett (shoulder), LB Hardy Nickerson (ankle) are questionable. 49ers _ OT Harris Barton (tricep) is doubtful; CB Deion Sanders (groin) is questionable.

Banks' pick: San Francisco 31-17.

IF YOU REALLY CARE

Bengals at Browns, 1 p.m., Line: Browns 10 1/2

Records: Cincinnati 0-6, Cleveland 5-1.

Of note: Things just keep looking worse for Cincy. The offense, despite the addition of coach Bruce Coslet, has just one TD in its past 12 quarters and none in its past seven. QB David Klingler is AFC's lowest-rated starter. Browns defense has given up four touchdowns and no FGs during four-game winning streak. Cleveland hasn't beaten anybody, but a 6-1 start would be its first since '63.

Key injuries: Bengals _ OT Eric Moore (leg) is doubtful; WR Carl Pickens (shoulder) is questionable; RB Derrick Fenner (knee), DE Ty Parten (ankle) are probable. Browns _ CB-S Reginald Jones (knee) is doubtful; WR Michael Jackson (hamstring) is questionable.

Banks' pick: Cleveland 16-10.

Redskins at Colts, 1 p.m., Line: Colts 7

Records: Washington 1-6, Indianapolis 3-4.

Of note: Figuring things can't get worse, Norv Turner turns to his third starter of the season at quarterback, rookie Gus Frerotte. John Friesz is healthy, Heath Shuler is not. A loss would give Washington its worst start since an 0-8 beginning in 1961, the year it drafted Norm Snead in the first round. The Colts' Jim Harbaugh might have saved his job with a win at Buffalo last week. Colts had not won a non-strike game there since 1980.

Key injuries: Redskins _ QB Heath Shuler (ankle) is doubtful; RB Reggie Brooks (ribs), OT Jim Lachey (knee-ankle) are probable. Colts _ TE Kerry Cash (ankle), QB Jim Harbaugh (wrist), WR Mark Jackson (hand) are probable.

Banks' pick: Indianapolis 29-11.

Oilers at Eagles, 9 p.m. Monday, Line: Eagles 11

Records: Houston 1-5, Philadelphia 4-2.

Of note: Eagles get the easier half of Texas' NFL duo this week. Philadelphia is starting to worry about Randall Cunningham again. After throwing one INT in his first 164 passes this season, he has six in his past 56. The Oilers are anemic, having scored just three TDs in first three quarters. Houston might start Billy Joe Tolliver, joining Cards and 'Skins among teams to start three quarterbacks.

Key injuries: Oilers _ RB Gary Brown (ankle), WR Reggie Brown (knee), QB Cody Carlson (shoulder), WR Travis Hannah (knee) are questionable. Eagles _ DE Burt Grossman (hamstring), CB Otis Smith (thigh), OT Broderick Thompson (groin) are questionable.

Banks' pick: Philadelphia 34-9.

THURSDAY'S RECAP

Minnesota 13, Green Bay 10 (OT)

Records: Minnesota 5-2, Green Bay 3-4.

Game summary: The Vikings and quarterback Warren Moon tied the score at the end of regulation and won in overtime, damaging the Packers' division title hopes. Minnesota has beaten Green Bay five out of six since old pals Dennis Green and Mike Holmgren were hired as head coaches. Minnesota, with Tampa Bay, New Orleans and New England coming up, is in strong shape for a third straight playoff berth. The Packers dropped their third straight heartbreaker on the road. That makes their Halloween date at Chicago even bigger.

Up next:IDLE TIME

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