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Week 9 Capsules

Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND AT DETROIT

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

The line: Oakland by 2 1/2.

Introduction: With Marques Tuiasosopo starting at quarterback in place of Rich Gannon, the Raiders will try to salvage their season, beginning with the Lions.

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Plot: Under first-year Coach Steve Mariucci, Detroit has been inconsistent, with starting quarterback Joey Harrington throwing 12 interceptions and eight touchdown passes. Tuiasosopo looked good in the Raiders’ last game against Kansas City when he rallied Oakland in the second half, only to fall a yard short of sending the game to overtime. Jerry Rice leads Oakland in receiving, but he has yet to score a touchdown.

Bottom line: It’s time for Oakland’s defense to step up and carry the Raiders while Tuiasosopo gets used to being a starter.

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SAN DIEGO AT CHICAGO

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Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Chicago by 2 1/2.

Introduction: The Chargers and the Bears. It doesn’t get much better than this if you like losing football. Between them, these teams have won three games.

Plot: San Diego quarterback Drew Brees played one of his worst games with three interceptions in the Chargers’ loss to Miami on Monday night. San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson is third in the AFC in rushing with 719 yards. Chicago rookie running back Brock Forsey rushed for a team-high 56 yards and a touchdown in the Bears’ 24-16 victory over Detroit last week.

Bottom line: With receiver David Boston having a big game, look for the Chargers to finally have a bright spot in an already forgettable season under Coach Marty Schottenheimer.

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N.Y. GIANTS AT N.Y. JETS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

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The line: Giants by 2.

Introduction: After knocking off previously undefeated Minnesota last weekend, the Giants will try to dampen any hopes the Jets have of making a push for the playoffs.

Plot: Quarterback Kerry Collins led the Giants to a season-high 450 total yards against the Vikings. Defensive end Michael Strahan has had two sacks in his last three games for the Giants. Quarterback Chad Pennington is expected to play more for the Jets after getting his first action of the season last week in a loss at Philadelphia.

Bottom line: The Jets have the NFL’s top pass defense, but they will be without injured end John Abraham and that may be the difference for Collins, who should have a big game.

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CAROLINA AT HOUSTON

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Carolina by 6 1/2.

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Introduction: The Texans are expected to be without injured starting quarterback David Carr, who suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss at Indianapolis.

Plot: With veteran backup Tony Banks starting at quarterback, Houston faces a difficult battle against the Panthers. The Texans’ Domanick Davis leads NFL rookies with 409 yards rushing. The Panthers scored a come-from-behind victory at New Orleans last weekend. Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme has thrown only five interceptions in 189 passes this season.

Bottom line: As long as the Panthers give the Texans a heavy dose of running back Stephen Davis, Carolina should be able to win its second consecutive road game.

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INDIANAPOLIS AT MIAMI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Miami by 3.

Introduction: Quarterback Brian Griese looked strong in his debut with the Dolphins, and he may be the missing piece of the puzzle for Coach Dave Wannstedt.

Plot: Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning leads the league in touchdown passes with 15. But Manning will need Edgerrin James and the Colts’ running game to be effective against the Dolphins’ defense. Miami has the NFL’s best scoring defense in limiting opponents to 12.4 points a game. Miami has won five of the last six meetings between the teams.

Bottom line: The Colts’ run defense will get a workout, trying to slow Miami running back Ricky Williams, who will provide the edge for the Dolphins in a close game.

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JACKSONVILLE AT BALTIMORE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Baltimore by 7.

Introduction: In a battle of rookie quarterbacks, Jacksonville’s Byron Leftwich will face Baltimore’s Kyle Boller.

Plot: Despite Boller’s mediocre numbers, the Ravens lead the AFC North. Boller has thrown five touchdown passes with seven interceptions. Baltimore has been winning with running back Jamal Lewis, who has 987 yards rushing, and defense. The Ravens have given up only 132 points all season. Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor leads the team in rushing and receiving. The Jaguars’ defense is second in the NFL in limiting teams to 3.21 yards per rush.

Bottom line: Expect Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis to have a special greeting for Leftwich, who continues to improve with each start.

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NEW ORLEANS AT TAMPA BAY

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

The line: Tampa Bay by 8.

Introduction: Fresh off a convincing victory over Dallas, the Buccaneers will be trying for two in a row as they try to keep pace with Carolina in the NFC South.

Plot: New Orleans Coach Jim Haslett’s team suffered a tough loss last week in overtime to the Panthers. Running back Deuce McAllister leads the Saints in rushing and is second in the NFC with 761 yards. Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice is tied for the NFC lead in sacks with eight. Quarterback Brad Johnson has thrown 14 touchdown passes, with six interceptions, for the Buccaneers.

Bottom line: Defense will win the game for the Buccaneers, who will get a boost with the return of safety John Lynch, who had a shoulder injury.

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PITTSBURGH AT SEATTLE

Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m.

The line: Seattle by 4.

Introduction: Coach Bill Cowher’s Steelers can’t afford to lose many more games, and the Seahawks will be looking to bounce back after losing at Cincinnati last week.

Plot: Seattle defensive tackle John Randle has 134 sacks, sixth-most in NFL history, and needs 3 1/2 more to tie Richard Dent for fifth. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander has gained 583 yards this season. Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox has thrown 11 interceptions and only seven touchdown passes. The Steelers have the AFC’s second-best defense in yards allowed.

Bottom line: Starting Jerome Bettis didn’t help the Steelers’ ground game in last week’s loss against St. Louis and that will be a problem again against the Seahawks.

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CINCINNATI AT ARIZONA

Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m.

The line: Cincinnati by 3.

Introduction: Thanks to the steady play of quarterback Jon Kitna and Coach Marvin Lewis’ stingy defense, the Bengals are favorites on the road for the first time this season.

Plot: Kitna has thrown a touchdown pass in six of seven games this season for the Bengals, who have won their last two and are challenging for first place in the AFC North. Last week, running back Rudi Johnson rushed for 101 yards in Cincinnati’s victory over Seattle. Marcel Shipp leads the Cardinals in rushing with 306 yards. Arizona quarterback Jeff Blake has thrown nine interceptions and only seven touchdown passes.

Bottom line: The Bengals are starting to gain respect around the league, but don’t be shocked to see the Cardinals pull an upset.

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WASHINGTON AT DALLAS

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

The line: Dallas by 4.

Introduction: After a strong start, the Redskins are fighting to stay together as a team, and the Cowboys are looking to rebound from last week’s shutout loss at Tampa Bay.

Plot: Washington quarterback Patrick Ramsey has passed for 1,633 yards and eight touchdowns. Receiver Laveranues Coles has caught at least five passes in 19 of his last 20 games for the Redskins. Jessie Armstead’s 3.5 sacks lead Washington’s weak pass rush. Running back Troy Hambrick leads the Cowboys in rushing with 444 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas has the NFL’s top defense, giving up 244.7 yards a game.

Bottom line: Expect the Cowboys to exploit the Redskins’ secondary with play-action passes and add to Coach Steve Spurrier’s woes.

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PHILADELPHIA AT ATLANTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

The line: Philadelphia by 4 1/2.

Introduction: Quarterback Donovan McNabb’s play has improved and so has the Eagles’. Philadelphia will be looking to move two games above .500 for the first time this season.

Plot: McNabb should be excited about playing against a revamped Atlanta secondary. This week, Falcon Coach Dan Reeves benched cornerbacks Ray Buchanan and Tyrone Williams, and safeties Keion Carpenter and Gerald McBurrows. The Eagles will be without injured running back Brian Westbrook. Philadelphia is 10-1 when James Thrash catches a touchdown pass from McNabb.

Bottom line: Coach Andy Reid’s steady leadership is starting to pay off for the Eagles, who are getting injured defensive starters back in the lineup every week.

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ST. LOUIS AT SAN FRANCISCO

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 11.

The line: St. Louis by 3.

Introduction: The streaking Rams are playing their best football of the season. The 49ers will play without starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has a partially torn ligament around his left ankle.

Plot: The up-and-down 49ers are coming off a bad loss at Arizona last week. Backup quarterback Tim Rattay will make his first NFL start against the Rams. St. Louis’ Marc Bulger is third in the NFC with a 97.2 passer rating. Rookie running back Arlen Harris scored three touchdowns last week for the Rams in their victory at Pittsburgh.

Bottom line: The 49ers’ secondary will have a difficult time slowing St. Louis receiver Torry Holt, who has averaged 134 yards in catches over his last four games.

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GREEN BAY AT MINNESOTA

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

The line: Minnesota by 4 1/2.

Introduction: Quarterback Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings will look to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season last week against the New York Giants.

Plot: Minnesota’s Randy Moss has had at least 150 yards receiving in three of seven games. Culpepper has thrown nine touchdown passes with only two interceptions. Running back Michael Bennett may play for the Vikings after missing the first half of the season. Running back Ahman Green leads the Packers in rushing and receiving. Green Bay defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has recorded a sack in three consecutive games.

Bottom line: With quarterback Brett Favre, the Packers always have a chance and the Vikings may be a little shaky after finally losing a game.

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NEW ENGLAND AT DENVER

Kickoff: Monday, 6 p.m., Ch. 7.

The line: Denver by 2.

Introduction: Denver Coach Mike Shanahan may be great with football schemes, but he can’t heal the injured, and his two top quarterbacks are sidelined.

Plot: New England quarterback Tom Brady has thrown for 1,721 yards and eight touchdowns, with seven interceptions. Running back Kevin Faulk leads the Patriots with 397 yards rushing and wide receiver Troy Brown has a team-high 27 receptions. Third-string quarterback Danny Kanell will get his second consecutive start for the Broncos, who will be without injured veterans Jake Plummer and Steve Beuerlein.

Bottom line: Look for Denver running back Clinton Portis to give the Patriots fits, catching the ball out of the backfield.


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