Week 10 Capsules

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11.

The line: Tampa Bay by 3.

Introduction: The Buccaneers already have learned that it is very difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and now they have to play the Panthers on the road.

Plot: The Panthers' Stephen Davis, listed as questionable because of an ankle injury, is the NFL's second-leading rusher with 992 yards. Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson is having a solid season, having thrown for 2,058 yards and 16 touchdowns. Johnson could have a big game against the Panthers' secondary.

Bottom line: If Tampa Bay can limit Carolina's production on first down and force Jake Delhomme into early-down passing situations, the Buccaneers will avenge their Week 2 loss to the Panthers.

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HOUSTON AT CINCINNATI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Cincinnati by 5 1/2.

Introduction: Sign of progress: Last week, the Bengals were favored but lost at Arizona. This week, they are favored again. When was the last time that happened?

Plot: The Bengals took one on the chin last week against the Cardinals. If Cincinnati wants to be considered a contender in the weak AFC North, it has to beat teams like the Texans. Houston played a strong game last week in defeating Carolina. David Carr, who had been hampered by an ankle injury, is expected to return at quarterback.

Bottom line: After getting burned by Arizona quarterback Jeff Blake's running last week, the Bengals will welcome a chance to go after either of Houston's stationary quarterbacks, Carr and Tony Banks.

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CHICAGO AT DETROIT

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Detroit by 2.

Introduction: Old-school football with the Bears and Lions. This should be a good game between traditional division rivals who are coming off rare decisive victories.

Plot: The Bears are not a bad team when they can stick to their running game with Anthony Thomas, who is averaging 4.9 yards a carry. Chicago quarterback Chris Chandler has a 3-1 record, with five touchdown passes, in four starts against Detroit. With 13 interceptions and eight touchdown passes, Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington is still prone to mistakes, but he played well in last week's victory over Oakland.

Bottom line: The Bears have not played too well on the road, and the Lions should have plenty of confidence after defeating the Raiders.

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INDIANAPOLIS AT JACKSONVILLE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 6.

Introduction: After last week's big victory at Miami, the Colts can't afford to take the improving Jaguars and quarterback Byron Leftwich lightly.

Plot: Quarterback Peyton Manning keeps getting the job done, and the Colts have shown plenty of heart in winning seven of their first eight games. The Colts have not lost to the Jaguars in five meetings. The best move Jacksonville Coach Jack Del Rio made was going with Leftwich early this season. The rookie quarterback has either run or passed for a touchdown in seven consecutive games.

Bottom line: Jacksonville has lost three games by a touchdown or less, so expect the Jaguars to give Coach Tony Dungy and his Colts a good test.

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CLEVELAND AT KANSAS CITY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2.

The line: Kansas City by 9 1/2.

Introduction: The undefeated Chiefs will be looking for their ninth victory this season, and they have their home-field advantage going for them. They have not lost at Arrowhead Stadium since Oct. 20, 2002.

Plot: The Browns will start Kelly Holcomb at quarterback but will be without suspended running back William Green. Cleveland has the sixth-best defense in the league. Kansas City running back Priest Holmes has accounted for 1,103 total yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Trent Green has thrown for 11 touchdowns.

Bottom line: The Chiefs simply have too many weapons and too much balance to lose at home to the Browns, but Kansas City could be a little flat after a bye week.

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ATLANTA AT N.Y. GIANTS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Giants by 10 1/2.

Introduction: With Michael Vick expected to be sidelined at least two more weeks, Coach Dan Reeves will start Kurt Kittner at quarterback.

Plot: The Giants squeezed out an overtime victory over the Jets last week and are in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. Quarterback Kerry Collins leads the NFL with 2,185 yards passing. The Giants' Tiki Barber has rushed for 687 yards but has scored only one touchdown. The Falcons are giving up 418 yards a game. Atlanta wide receiver Peerless Price has caught a pass in 58 consecutive games. Reeves needs one more victory to reach 200 in his career.

Bottom line: Both teams give up a lot of points, but the Giants have the better offense and are playing at home.

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ARIZONA AT PITTSBURGH

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Pittsburgh by 7 1/2.

Introduction: If the Steelers are to make a push to win the AFC North, they have to start by defeating the Cardinals, who have played solid football the last two weeks.

Plot: Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox has been shaky, with 11 interceptions and eight touchdown passes, but he has gotten the ball to receiver Hines Ward, who is second in the AFC in catches with 54. The Steeler running game has been inconsistent with Amos Zereoue and Jerome Bettis. Marcel Shipp has rushed for more than 300 yards in Arizona's last two games.

Bottom line: The Cardinals haven't been a good road team, but if they're able to shut down the Steeler running game, this could be an upset special.

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MIAMI AT TENNESSEE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Tennessee by 5.

Introduction: You have to love regular-season games like this one. The Titans are 27-8 at home since 1999, and the Dolphins are undefeated on the road this season. Something has to give.

Plot: Titan quarterback Steve McNair leads the NFL with a 105.1 rating, the highest ever for this point of the season, and his 1,978 yards passing and 13 touchdowns rank second in the AFC. Tennessee has the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense. Miami lost last week to Indianapolis. The Dolphins will start Brian Griese at quarterback.

Bottom line: The Dolphins will need Ricky Williams to dominate in order to win. That's not the case for Eddie George and the Titans because of McNair.

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SEATTLE AT WASHINGTON

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Seattle by 3.

Introduction: After a strong start, the Redskins have forgotten how to win. Meanwhile, the Seahawks seem to have figured out how to be successful under Coach Mike Holmgren.

Plot: Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has won 10 of his last 14 starts, and his steady leadership has carried the Seahawks' offense. Running back Shaun Alexander leads the Seahawks in rushing with 631 yards. Washington quarterback Patrick Ramsey has been at his best in the fourth quarter with 529 yards passing and four touchdowns, with only one interception.

Bottom line: The Redskins' fade under Coach Steve Spurrier has been dramatic, but they can turn things around with a win over the Seahawks, who have had problems on the road.

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MINNESOTA AT SAN DIEGO

Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m.

The line: Minnesota by 5 1/2.

Introduction: The Vikings have lost two consecutive games and will be looking to bounce back against the Chargers, who have won once all season.

Plot: Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper has thrown 11 touchdown passes, with only two interceptions. Culpepper's main target, Randy Moss, has 52 catches for 878 yards and nine touchdowns. San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed for a team-high 780 yards and also leads the Chargers in receptions with 47. San Diego receiver David Boston has 25 catches in his last four games.

Bottom line: If San Diego can slow Moss, the Vikings may have some problems, but they should still have enough to beat the Chargers.

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BUFFALO AT DALLAS

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

The line: Dallas by 4.

Introduction: The combination of the NFL's top-rated defense and quarterback Quincy Carter's big-play passing has the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East.

Plot: Carter has thrown for 1,703 yards and eight touchdowns, and ranks third at 7.3 yards per attempt in the NFC. Dallas running back Troy Hambrick is coming off a two-touchdown, 100-yard effort against Washington. Buffalo quarterback Drew Bledsoe is not having a great season, with eight interceptions and only six touchdown passes. Receiver Eric Moulds has 23 catches in his last three games.

Bottom line: The Cowboys have played well at home since their opening-day loss and figure to defeat Buffalo.

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N.Y. JETS AT OAKLAND

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2.

The line: Jets by 3.

Introduction: Quarterback Chad Pennington and the Jets will try to avenge last season's playoff loss to the Raiders, who have not won in more than a month.

Plot: Veteran running back Curtis Martin has lifted his game over the last couple of weeks, and his running opens up the Jet passing game. New York's Santana Moss has 21 catches for 328 yards in his last three games. The Raiders will start Rick Mirer because of injuries to Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo. Look for Charlie Garner to have a big game against the Jets' weak run defense.

Bottom line: The Raider defense has to step up and play well against the Jets, who have improved in recent weeks.

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BALTIMORE AT ST. LOUIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.

The line: St. Louis by 7.

Introduction: Quarterback Marc Bulger and the Rams' high-powered offense versus middle linebacker Ray Lewis and the Raven defense.

Plot: With running back Marshall Faulk expected to return to the starting lineup, the Rams will be almost at full strength. Wide receiver Torry Holt has an NFL-leading 63 catches. Bulger has passed for 2,086 yards and 12 touchdowns. Baltimore rookie Kyle Boller doesn't have great passing numbers, but he's playing well enough to give the Ravens a chance. Running back Jamal Lewis leads the NFL in rushing with 1,045 yards.

Bottom line: Unless the Ravens can dominate the game running the ball with Lewis, the Rams have too many big-play athletes to lose at home.

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PHILADELPHIA AT GREEN BAY

Kickoff: Monday, 6 p.m.,

Channel 7.

The line: Green Bay by 4 1/2.

Introduction: After a poor start, the Eagles are back in the playoff mix. But they face a difficult challenge against the Packers, who are coming off a big win at Minnesota.

Plot: Green Bay's Ahman Green has rushed for 871 yards and has a team-high 35 catches. Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb has rushed for 213 yards, and the Eagles' 12 rushing touchdowns are third-most in the NFL. Look for Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter to have big games running the ball against the Packers.

Bottom line: If the Packers can give Brett Favre time to throw, they should be able to score enough points to defeat the Eagles, who do not have an explosive offense.

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