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NFL PICKS

Bucs (5-2)at Cowboys (4-3)

Time: 1 p.m., Ch. 13

Line, O/U: Cowboys by 2-1/2, 40-1/2 The Bucs meet former QB Brad Johnson, left, today under less-than-perfect circumstances for him and the Cowboys. Johnson filled in for Tony Romo (broken right pinkie) last week, making his first start since Dec. 17, 2006. It didn't go well. Against a previously putrid Rams defense, Johnson threw three picks and was sacked three times. If the Cowboys can't stretch the field, the Bucs will make it difficult on RB Marion Barber. The Bucs defense, led by LB Barrett Ruud, has been airtight since losing at New Orleans in Week 1, and it'll get the better of Dallas. Bucs 24, Cowboys 17

Chargers (3-4)at Saints (3-4)

Time: 1 p.m., in London

Line, O/U: Chargers by 3, 46 The NFL wanted oodles of offense from the teams playing overseas this season, and these two should meet that goal. Chargers QB Philip Rivers leads the league with 16 touchdown passes, and Saints QB Drew Brees is the league leader in passing yards (2,224). Given all that, the game could come down to defense. The edge goes to the Chargers because, without RB Reggie Bush (knee), left, the Saints will have some offensive challenges. Chargers 31, Saints 24

Raiders (2-4)at Ravens (3-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Ravens by 7-1/2, 35-1/2 The Ravens had better not let this one be close at the end. The Raiders were crazy enough to let K Sebastian Janikowski, left, attempt a 76-yard field goal a few weeks ago, and he beat the Jets in overtime with a 57-yarder last week. So the Ravens defense must keep the ball away from the Raiders. Or, perhaps DE Terrell Suggs should take a bounty out on Janikowski - as he admitted the Ravens did on Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall - thereby eliminating the problem. But this is still a tough assignment for the improving Raiders. Ravens 20, Raiders 10

Cardinals (4-2)at Panthers (5-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Panthers by 4, 42-1/2 The Panthers gave the high-octane Saints a big stiff-arm last week in a 30-7 win. So no reason to think the Cardinals will suddenly have the solution. The Panthers have the league's fifth-ranked defense, allowing 275.7 yards per game. It's not by chance that the team's resurgence on defense has coincided with the re-emergence of DE Julius Peppers, left. The Pro Bowl player has four sacks in five games despite all the double-teams. Panthers 24, Cardinals 20

Redskins (5-2)at Lions (0-6)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Redskins by 7-1/2, 42 The Lions are 0-6 and counting, and they could be counting for a while. It's the Redskins today, followed by tough games against the Bears, Jaguars, Panthers, Bucs and Titans. The Redskins, meanwhile, need to recharge their offense. Fortunately, QB Jason Campbell leads the team against the worst defense in the NFL. The Lions yield 418.7 yards per game - almost twice that of the league-leading Steelers (228). Look for Redskins RB Clinton Portis, left, to pad his league-leading rushing stats (818 yards). Redskins 29, Lions 17

Bills (5-1) at Dolphins (2-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Bills by 1, 42 Ask 10 people who the hottest quarterback in the league is and probably not one offers up the Bills' Trent Edwards, left. Coming off a concussion that caused him to miss a game, Edwards set a team record by completing 25 of 30 passes (83.3 percent) in an impressive win over the Chargers last week. As Edwards grows, the Bills appear to be getting better, too. And it's obvious the defense is for real. Take a peek at the their soft remaining schedule and the Bills look mighty good. Bills 24, Dolphins 17

Rams (2-4)at Patriots (4-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Patriots by 7-1/2, 42-1/2 The Rams have won two straight. They're no longer a punch line, and everything's great. Okay, maybe not that great. The key to this game: Rams RB Steven Jackson's ability to punish the New England defense. The problem with that plan is the Patriots still have a pretty formidable defense, one that has allowed just one 100-yard game (to Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown). Jackson has 239 yards the past two weeks, but DE Richard Seymour and rookie LB Jerod Mayo, left, will have something to say about that today. Patriots 23, Rams 14

Chiefs (1-5)at Jets (3-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Jets by 14, 39 RB Larry Johnson's legal troubles continue, meaning the Chiefs will make him inactive for a second straight game. His personal problems appear as deep-rooted as his team's issues. Where to start? Someone named Tyler Thigpen, left, is the starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the Jets have some work to do. Having QB Brett Favre hasn't been as much of a boon as expected, though they are in good position at .500. The good news: RB Thomas Jones is heating up (159 yards last week), and the Chiefs have the league's worst run defense. Jets 27, Chiefs 16

Falcons (4-2)at Eagles (3-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line, O/U: Eagles by 9, 45 The Eagles had a respite from their brutal schedule with a bye. But it doesn't get any easier today with the Falcons, who are coming off a bye, too. The Eagles have been reeling from injuries, but they must assert themselves to contend for the NFC East title. The heavy lifting will fall on QB Donovan McNabb, who should get some help from a blitz-heavy defense against Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan, left. Eagles 26, Falcons 20

Bengals (0-7)at Texans (2-4)

Time: 4 p.m.

Line, O/U: Texans by 9, 44-1/2 The Texans are quite good at home, going 6-1 in their past seven games. The only loss: a crushing 31-27 defeat against the Colts, who had a 21-point rally in the fourth quarter Oct. 5. If the Texans are to pull closer to .500, they must do it with offense. The Bengals, after all, are giving up 26 points per game and struggle to score. Houston QB Matt Schaub, left, has averaged 317.7 passing yards with six touchdowns overall in his past three appearances. For the Bengals, it's just more misery. Texans 27, Bengals 17

Browns (2-4)at Jaguars (3-3)

Time: 4 p.m., Ch. 10

Line, O/U: Jaguars by 7, 42 The most interesting thing happening in Cleveland centers on what's going on with TE Kellen Winslow. He has been suspended for a game by the team for critical comments stemming from a supposed staph infection. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are gearing up to run over the Browns. RB Fred Taylor has been struggling and took a blow to the head last time out. But Maurice Jones-Drew, left, stepped in and ran for 125 yards against the Broncos, whose run defense is poor - just like the Browns D. Jaguars 23, Browns 16

Giants (5-1)at Steelers (5-1)

Time: 4:15 p.m., Ch. 13

Line, O/U: Steelers by 3, 42 The Giants' 5-1 record is arguably a little artificial. They have faced just one team with a winning record now - the Redskins in Week 1. Now comes the stretch that will prove they are contenders or expose them. Today, it's the Steelers, followed by the Cowboys and Eagles. The top-ranked Pittsburgh defense will be fiercer than anything New York has seen. LBs James Harrison (81/2 sacks) and LaMarr Woodley (71/2 sacks), left, would love to take on QB Eli Manning. Don't forget, S Troy Polamalu already has three picks. Steelers 21, Giants 17

Seahawks (1-5)at 49ers (2-5)

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Line, O/U: 49ers by 5-1/2, 41-1/2 As Mike Singletary, left, takes the reins as the Niners' interim coach, the former linebacker probably wishes he could suit up against the wounded Seahawks. With QB Matt Hasselbeck missing his third straight game because of a back injury, the Seahawks again will turn to inexperienced Seneca Wallace, who struggled against the Bucs last week. The 49ers have lost four straight after a 2-1 start, but it hasn't been for a lack of offense. QB J.T. O'Sullivan put up decent numbers against the Giants last week with 256 yards. 49ers 20, Seahawks 17

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Colts (3-3)at Titans (6-0)

Time: 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Line, O/U: Titans by 4, 40 This has become quite the rivalry in the AFC South. But this time it's a much bigger game for the Colts than the undefeated Titans. Now would be a good time for the Colts to pick themselves up off the mat. Problem is, this matchup plays to the Titans' strengths. They want to play smashmouth with the 1-2 running back punch of LenDale White, left, and rookie Chris Johnson. The two combined for an astounding 317 yards last week against Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Colts rank 28th in run defense. Titans 24, Colts 20

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