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NFL capsules

Bucs (2-4) at Giants (4-2)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 13

Line: Giants by 9

Statistically, the Giants are the better team, but something about this game smells like a trap for the NFC East leader. New York is coming off consecutive road wins and had a short work week after a Monday night game in Dallas. Tampa Bay and rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski might not grab the Giants' full attention. Can't you hear tight end Jeremy Shockey, left, ranting about the lousy game plan? If the Bucs climb to 3-4, it's okay to talk out loud about the playoffs.

Bucs 20, Giants 17

49ers (2-4) at Bears (6-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bears by 16

The Bears and quarterback Rex Grossman, right, have had nearly two weeks to expunge their offensive debacle against the Cardinals. Having used the bye week to refocus, Chicago can get back on track with consecutive home games, against San Francisco and Miami. The Bears have scored at least 34 points in all three of their home games. Former Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary is a 49ers assistant. Quarterback Alex Smith's next touchdown pass will be his eighth, surpassing the 49ers' total in 2005.

Bears 31, 49ers 10

Falcons (4-2) at Bengals (4-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Bengals by 3

The Falcons lead the league with 222.2 rushing yards per game and are the only team with two players among the top 20 rushers: running back Warrick Dunn (580 yards) and quarterback Michael Vick (441). Each has five runs of 20-plus yards, tied for the league lead. The Bengals seek their fifth straight win against the Falcons and are 7-0 at home against the NFC under coach Marvin Lewis. Ends Justin Smith, far left, and Robert Geathers, left, are the only NFL tandem with six sacks each.

Falcons 21, Bengals 20

Cardinals (1-6) at Packers (2-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Packers by 4

Less than two weeks ago, the Cardinals were on the verge of one of their most significant victories since moving from St. Louis in 1988. Then they blew a 23-3 second-half lead to the Bears on Monday Night Football and last week were manhandled by the previously winless Raiders. A loss in Green Bay could signal the end of coach Dennis Green, right, in the desert. But the Packers have only three wins in their past 13 home games, including the playoffs.

Packers 17,Cardinals 14

Seahawks (4-2) at Chiefs (3-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Chiefs by 4

What would happen if the NFC champion Seahawks lost three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and three-time Pro Bowl running back and league MVP Shaun Alexander? We're about to find out. Arrowhead Stadium plays host to the Backup Bowl. Seneca Wallace, left, makes his first career start for Seattle. Chiefs backup Damon Huard, who replaced Trent Green, has hamstring issues. If he can't go, it's rookie Brodie Croyle. It seems a Super Bowl contender should have a more reliable backup than Wallace.

Chiefs 20, Seahawks 17

Ravens (4-2) at Saints (5-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 1

Ravens quarterback Steve McNair had the bye week to recover from the mild concussion sustained two weeks ago against the Panthers and hopes to play. Coach Brian Billick will call plays after firing coordinator and friend Jim Fassel. The Saints are 3-0 in the renovated Superdome, looking for their first 4-0 start at home since 1991. The Ravens defense needs to find answers for Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Joe Horn, right, and Marques Colston.

Saints 17, Ravens 13

Jaguars (3-3) at Eagles (4-3)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 10

Line: Eagles by 7

This is the Wounded Pride Bowl. The Jags are a mess after last week's loss to the lowly Texans. Quarterback Byron Leftwich has been ineffective and battling an ankle injury, and indications are backup David Garrard, left, will start. The formerly fierce defense is decimated by injuries. Top receiver Matt Jones is hurt. The Eagles, suddenly prone to turnovers, are reeling from consecutive road losses to the Saints and Bucs on last-second field goals.

Eagles 28, Jaguars 14

Texans (2-4) at Titans (1-5)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Titans by 3

Titans quarterback Vince Young faces his hometown team, claiming not to hold a grudge that the Texans passed on him with the No. 1 overall pick. Watch for a Young touchdown run. Still, Texans fans should keep in mind the 97.9 passer rating of David Carr, right, which is 42.4 higher than Young's. It would help if No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams were to sack Young a time or two. Suddenly, Houston is seeking its third win in four games.

Titans 21, Texans 20

Rams (4-2) at Chargers (4-2)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line: Chargers by 9

Leave it to the Chargers to run from success. Not only did they come out flat last week at noisy Arrowhead Stadium, but linebacker Shawne Merriman was hit with a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Merriman will play while awaiting an appeal. It might be time to call on LaDainian Tomlinson. The Rams offense is less explosive but just as effective under first-year coach Scott Linehan, and their plus-11 turnover margin leads the league.

Chargers 27, Rams 26

Jets (4-3) at Browns (1-5)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Browns by 2

The Browns offense no longer must overcome its own play-caller. Embattled coordinator Maurice Carthon resigned (wink, wink), so look for playmakers Reuben Droughns, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius to actually be involved in the game plan. Second-year coach Romeo Crennel already is on the hot seat. The Jets have equaled their 2005 win total under rookie coach Eric Mangini but remain inconsistent.

Browns 27, Jets 23

Colts (6-0) at Broncos (5-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m., Ch. 10

Line: Broncos by 3

The Colts and Broncos renew their rivalry with a stampede of contrasts. Indy has a prolific offense led by quarterback Peyton Manning with a league-best 103.2 passer rating. Denver has a defense that has allowed two touchdowns in six games. Something has to give. After embarrassing postseason losses to the Colts after the 2003 and 2004 regular seasons, the Broncos invested money and draft picks into improving the defense, especially the secondary. Maybe it's their turn to win a meaningful game.

Broncos 21, Colts 20

Steelers (2-4) at Raiders (1-5)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line: Steelers by 9

The defending Super Bowl champion is among unfamiliar company at 2-4 but have not yet stooped to the depths of the Raiders. With or without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh is plenty capable of winning at Oakland, where every week is Halloween. The Raiders won for the first time last week against the Cardinals, but the Steelers will put up a much stronger fight knowing they cannot afford to lose an AFC game. Pittsburgh's defense will feast on turnovers.

Steelers 28, Raiders 10

Cowboys (3-3) at Panthers (4-3)

Time: 8:15 p.m., Ch. 8

Line: Panthers by 5

Welcome to the starting lineup, Tony Romo, left. Meet Julius Peppers, the NFL's sack leader. The guy coming up behind you? That's Mike Rucker. Over there is Keyshawn Johnson, the receiver your owner gave up for the guy who drops your passes on fourth and 2. Hey, just relax. Don't give a second thought to making your first career start in a nationally televised, prime-time game against a team many predicted to go to the Super Bowl. At least you're mobile.

Panthers 27, Cowboys 17


Bills, Dolphins, Lions, Redskins


No one saw all those upsets coming last wee, thought let that be a lesson never to underestimate the power of homefield advantage. Eighteen times this season the winning teamtook the lead in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime.









Monday Night Football

The matchup: Patriots (5-1) at Vikings (4-2)

The story: At 5-1 and with a three-game win streak, the Patriots look scary again. The Vikings likely need to win to stay within striking distance of the Bears.

Line: Patriots by 2

Time/TV: 8:30, ESPN