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AROUND THE NFC

East

CARDINALS: Jake Plummer is the sixth rookie to start at QB for the franchise since George Izo in 1960. The others: Gary Keithley (1973), Steve Pisarkiewicz (1978), Neil Lomax (1981) and Timm Rosenbach (1989). Only Izo and Keithley won their starts. The team allowed more than 400 yards in consecutive games for the first time in two seasons _ 426 to the Giants and 407 to the Eagles last week. The Oilers had 283 yards from scrimmage in Sunday's win and got another 82 on four INT returns.

COWBOYS: They moved their best offensive lineman, G Larry Allen, to left tackle on passing downs to deal with Eagles DE Mike Mamula, who did not have a sack in Philadelphia's win and still is looking for his first. They have lost five straight on the road to East foes, four this season. The offensive line, which allowed an NFL-low 19 sacks last season, has allowed 20 this season. Six games have been decided by a total of 17 points.

EAGLES: They have won six straight at Veterans Stadium and 16 of their past 19 at home. Coach Ray Rhodes is 9-2 at home against the East. Under Rhodes, the Eagles are 10-1 in October, 7-0 in home games. Rhett Hall, who had 3{ sacks against the Cowboys, has sacks in each of the past four games. Irving Fryar's 13-yard reception in the first quarter moved him past former New England teammate Stanley Morgan into 10th place on the career reception yardage list. Fryar has 10,749 yards receiving in his 14-year career.

GIANTS: Their five-game winning streak, which puts them atop the East at 6-3, is their longest since they won seven at the end of 1994. They have made the playoffs once since winning their second Super Bowl on Jan. 27, 1991. Former FSU star Danny Kanell completed 18 of 31 passes for 214 yards against Cincinnati in winning his third straight start.

REDSKINS: Henry Ellard caught three passes, leaving him eight short of becoming the fifth NFL player with 800 receptions. They entered Sunday with a league-best 48 percent success rate on third down but went 3-for-11 (27 percent) in losing to Baltimore. Brian Mitchell returned one punt for 9 yards and is three short of Mike Nelms' team record of 208 returns. His 140 yards in kickoff returns left him 11 yards short of Ron Smith (6,922) for second place in career kickoff-return yardage.

Central

BEARS: Their Monday night game against Miami was the first between the teams since Chicago's 1985 Super Bowl year. That year, the Monday night matchup also was unusual; the Dolphins won and were the only team to beat Chicago all season.

LIONS: Their roller-coaster season took the week off because of a bye. Their first eight games: W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L. Their next opponent _ Green Bay _ could be in trouble. WR Herman Moore not only leads the NFC in receiving (57 catches, 804 yards, 4 TDs), he also leads in third-down receptions (20 catches, 270 yards).

PACKERS: After Monday night, only two of their last eight games are against teams over .500. Before the game against New England, the had just one rushing TD and only one win by more than six points.

VIKINGS: Coach Dennis Green improved to 2-2 against former defensive coordinator Tony Dungy. Since losing to the Bucs on Sept. 14, the Vikings are 4-1. They improved to 6-1 in games following a bye week under Green. The lone loss was to the Bucs in 1996. Green is 53-35 as coach, which puts him ahead of Jerry Burns into second place on the team's all-time wins list.

West

FALCONS: They extended their string of consecutive games with at least one sack to 20 in the loss to Carolina. They have a league-leading 35 sacks. Chuck Smith is the league leader with nine. WR Bert Emanuel failed in his bid to tie the club record by scoring a TD in his fifth consecutive game. Eric Metcalf scored in five straight in 1995. Dan Stryzinski has 322 straight punts without a block.

PANTHERS: Michael Bates, a Pro Bowl return specialist last year, tried to bring a kickoff out from 9 yards deep against Atlanta. He was gang tackled at the 7 and got his helmet knocked off. QB Kerry Collins has thrown at least one TD pass in eight straight games. K John Kasay had a reunion with Atlanta DE Chuck Smith. The two were teammates at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Ga., in the mid-1980s.

RAMS: Before Isaac Bruce's first-quarter TD in the loss to Kansas City, they had not scored an offensive touchdown since the second quarter at Oakland on Sept. 28. Since the 1996 season opener, they have forced a league-leading 57 turnovers. Former Tampa Jefferson High standout Torrance Small returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two games with a groin injury.

SAINTS: Their No. 3-ranked defense was giving up an average of 282.1 yards per game before the loss to San Francisco. It allowed the 49ers 347 yards.

49ERS: They have scored in an NFL-record 314 consecutive games. They set the mark against New Orleans in 1995 at the Superdome. They held the ball for 37 minutes, 41 seconds against the Saints, who had it for 22:19.

_ TIMES WIRES

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