RATING THIS WEEK’S GAMES
**** Makings of a classic
*** Smash-mouth football
** Good for an end around
* Strictly fantasy fodder
* Cincinnati (1-7) at Baltimore (3-5), 10 a.m.: Raven quarterback Jeff Blake says of his days in Cincinnati: “We didn’t win a lot of games, but I have a lot of good memories.” At least he’s half telling the truth. LINE: Baltimore by 5 1/2.
** New Orleans (6-2) at Carolina (3-5), 10 a.m.: The Panthers’ touchdown drought has reached 11 quarters, but Rodney Peete is ready to ride to the rescue after recovering from knee surgery. LINE: New Orleans by 4 1/2.
** Detroit (3-5) at Green Bay (7-1), 10 a.m., Channel 11: The only real suspense in this one is whether Packer defenders take out any frustrations on former teammate Bill Schroeder, who didn’t make many friends in Green Bay. LINE: Green Bay by 10.
** New York Giants (4-4) at Minnesota (2-6), 10 a.m.: On debut of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, Viking Coach Mike Tice says: “We’ll make sure he’s in a position that enhances his rapid development as opposed to hinders it.” That Tice, always thinking. LINE: Pick.
*** Indianapolis (4-4) at Philadelphia (6-2), 10 a.m., KNX (1070): Last week the Colts held mobile quarterback Steve McNair to 82 yards passing, 13 yards rushing ... and lost. As a reward, they get to try the same defense on Donovan McNabb. LINE: Philadelphia by 9.
*** Atlanta (5-3) at Pittsburgh (5-3), 10 a.m.: Atlanta Coach Dan Reeves knows all about the potential of Tommy Maddox after drafting him in Denver 10 years ago. His payback? He gets to watch Maddox pick apart his defense. LINE: Pittsburgh by 5.
*** San Diego (6-2) at St. Louis (3-5), 10 a.m., Channel 2: Two games under .500 and Rams’ Dre’ Bly is feeling good: “Right now I’d hate to be the team on the schedule ahead of us.” Oddsmakers certainly agree despite the disparity in records. LINE: St. Louis by 5 1/2.
* Houston (2-6) at Tennessee (4-4), 10 a.m.: Los Angeles fans take note: If the area ever gets an expansion franchise, this is what it will be like for our team to go on the road for the first time to St. Louis or Oakland. Feel the intensity. LINE: Tennessee by 10.
** Seattle (2-6) at Arizona (4-4), 1 p.m.: The compelling matchup of the week will be banged-up Cardinal quarterback Jake Plummer (next to last in the NFC in passing) against the Seahawk secondary (no interceptions this season). LINE: Arizona by 3 1/2.
***Washington (4-4) at Jacksonville (3-5), 1 p.m., KLSX-FM (97.1), XTRA (690): At the University of Florida, Steve Spurrier became Jacksonville’s favorite son. Now he returns and the week’s biggest question is, will there be more fans rooting for Spurrier or for the Jaguars? LINE: Jacksonville by 3.
** New England (4-4) at Chicago (2-6), 1:15 p.m., KNX (1070): David Terrell and Anthony Thomas, former Michigan Wolverines turned Bears, rave about college teammate Tom Brady’s leadership. Mike and Carol couldn’t be prouder. LINE: New England by 3 1/2.
*** Kansas City (4-4) at San Francisco (6-2), 1:15 p.m., Channel 2: Sharpie plans to unveil advertising campaign this weekend inspired by Terrell Owens’ recent stunt. No word on whether Owens wants to be a larger part of their “offense.” LINE: San Francisco by 6 1/2.
** Miami (5-3) at New York Jets (3-5), 5:30 p.m., ESPN, KLSX-FM (97.1): The last time the Dolphins played the Jets on the road on national television, Miami let a 30-7 fourth-quarter lead get away in an overtime loss. LINE: New York by 2.
**** Oakland (4-4) at Denver (6-2), 6 p.m. Monday, Channel 7, KNX (1070): Since Mike Shanahan was fired by Al Davis in 1989, the Broncos are 12-2 against Oakland under the former Raider coach. Also, no ceremonies planned to honor former Bronco linebacker Bill Romanowski. LINE: Denver by 5.
Open date: Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Tampa Bay.
-- Jim Barrero