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NFL games

By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


Ernest Hooper's record: last week 10-4 overall (69-45 overall), 6-6-2 vs. spread (58-49-7)

Vikings at Bucs

OF NOTE: Stop me if you've heard this before: The Bucs are desperate for a win and need it more than the Vikings. The same thing has been said during the last three weeks as Tampa Bay has remained mired in a slump. A different kind of history repeats itself this time, however. Desperate Bucs have always found a way to beat the Vikings in Tampa. If they re-establish the running game, success will follow. Look for Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn to respond to the challenge, and the defense to step up.

KEY INJURIES: Vikings -- DE Bryce Paup (knee) is out. G Dave Dixon (hand), LB Dwayne Rudd (thumb) are probable. Buccaneers -- DT Booger McFarland (tricep) is questionable. LB Jeff Gooch (shoulder), G Randall McDaniel (quadriceps), LB Shelton Quarles (groin) are probable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Bucs 24, Vikings 22

Packers at Dolphins

OF NOTE: Here's the question: Did the Jets expose the Dolphins' weakness with their stunning comeback, or was the 30-point fourth quarter an aberration? I suspect Miami will make the necessary corrections. It better. Green Bay comes off the bye with WR Corey Bradford finally healthy, and Brett Favre can throw it just as well as Vinny Testaverde. But on the road, the Pack is suspect.

KEY INJURIES: Packers -- T Earl Dotson (back) is out. DE David Bowens (ankle), DE Vonnie Holliday (hamstring) are questionable. Bradford (ankle) is probable. Dolphins -- G-C John Bock (shoulder-injured reserve), WR Tony Martin (foot) are out. WR Bert Emanuel (wrist) is doubtful. G Mark Dixon (elbow), DT Daryl Gardener (back), LB Zach Thomas (ankle) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Dolphins 20, Packers 17

Jaguars at Ravens

OF NOTE: Can it get any worse for the Jaguars? Yes. The Cowboys are not the most talented team, but Dallas' defense should play a pivotal role against a unit that lost another lineman (T Zach Wiegert). The Cowboys already have allowed two backs (Duce Staley, Charlie Garner) to rush for 201 yards in separate games, but the run defense has improved in recent weeks with Barron Wortham playing in the middle. As long as Dallas contains Fred Taylor, the Cowboys should be victorious.

KEY INJURIES: Jaguars -- T Leon Searcy (leg), Wiegert (knee-injured reserve), DE Renaldo Wynn (knee) are out. LB Lonnie Marts (groin) is doubtful. LB Hardy Nickerson (hamstring), WR Jimmy Smith (knee) are probable. Cowboys -- DE Ebenezer Ekuban (toe), LB Dat Nguyen (neck) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Cowboys 14, Jaguars 13

Panthers at Falcons

OF NOTE: The Panthers have been one of the league's most inconsistent teams, but Atlanta's equally mediocre efforts have resulted in similar results. The Falcons haven't won since Sept. 17 against Carolina, and it appears their losing streak will hit six games. Veteran Jesse Tuggle is out for the season, the eighth Atlanta linebacker to miss at least one game this season. The banged-up defense will struggle to slow the Panthers, especially if Carolina can produce a semblance of a running game.

KEY INJURIES: Panthers -- T Clarence Jones (knee) is out. DT Alvin McKinley (knee) is doubtful. S Rashard Anderson (knee), T James Dexter (triceps) are questionable. Falcons -- LB Keith Brooking (foot) is out. LB Henri Crockett (ankle), LB Jeff Kelly (knee), LB Mark Simoneau (ankle) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Panthers 21, Falcons 20

Bengals at Browns

KEY INJURIES: Bengals -- LB Brian Simmons (knee) is out. C Rich Braham (knee) is doubtful. S JoJuan Armour (toe) is questionable. Browns -- LB Doug Colman (hamstring), LB Lenoy Jones (hamstring), WR David Patten (toe) are doubtful. LB Rahim Abdullah (groin), DT Stalin Colinet (knee) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Bengals 20, Browns 14

Lions at Colts

KEY INJURIES: Lions -- WR Germane Crowell (foot) is out. WR Herman Moore (hamstring), S Kurt Schulz (neck) are questionable. Colts -- DT Ellis Johnson (knee), LB Rob Morris (thigh) are out. DB Jason Belser (head), RB Kevin McDougal (neck), LB Marcus Washington (knee) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Colts 28, Lions 17

Jets at Bills

KEY INJURIES: Jets -- LB John Abraham (stomach) is out. TE Anthony Becht (knee), RB Bernie Parmalee (hamstring) are doubtful. Bills -- QB Rob Johnson (shoulder), LB Corey Moore (ankle), T Jamie Nails (knee), DE Shawn Price (knee), TE Jay Riemersma (knee) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Bills 18, Jets 14

Steelers at Ravens

KEY INJURIES: Steelers -- RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (hamstring) is out. G-T Shar Pourdanesh (knee), WR Bobby Shaw (back), RB Amos Zereoue (toe) are questionable. Ravens -- RB Obafemi Ayanbadejo (foot), TE Frank Wainright (back-injured reserve) are out. C Jeff Mitchell (ankle), DT Tony Siragusa (neck/leg) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Ravens 10, Steelers 0

Rams at 49ers

KEY INJURIES: Rams -- QB Kurt Warner (finger), K Jeff Wilkins (quadricep) are out. DT Gaylon Hyder (knee) is doubtful. DT Ray Agnew (knee), G Cameron Spikes (ankle) is questionable. 49ers -- S Zack Bronson (neck), LB Edward Thomas (left calf) are doubtful. LB Julian Peterson (knee), LB Winfred Tubbs (hamstring) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: 49ers 35, Rams 31

Saints at Cardinals

HOOPER'S PICK: Saints 17, Cardinals 1

Eagles at Giants

KEY INJURIES: Eagles -- DE Mike Mamula (foot) is doubtful. S Rashard Cook (concussion), DT Corey Simon (knee) are questionable. Giants -- Sehorn (rib) is out. LB Brandon Short (ankle) is questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Giants 20, Eagles 17

Chiefs at Seahawks

KEY INJURIES: Chiefs -- DE Eric Hicks (knee) is out. QB Elvis Grbac (elbow), RB Donnell Bennett (foot), DT Chester McGlockton (shoulder), DT Dan Williams (foot) are questionable. Seahawks -- QB Brock Huard (concussion) is questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Chiefs 24, Seahawks 17

Raiders at Chargers

KEY INJURIES: Raiders -- S Marquez Pope (groin), WR Jerry Porter (hamstring) are questionable. Chargers -- CB Reggie Rusk (knee) is out. TE Steve Heiden (knee), QB Ryan Leaf (wrist) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Raiders 21, Chargers 14

Titans at Redskins

KEY INJURIES: Titans -- DT Henry Ford (knee) is out. DE Byron Frisch (ankle), RB Eddie George (knee), WR Carl Pickens (hamstring), CB Samari Rolle (ankle) are questionable. Redskins -- LB Shawn Barber (knee), CB Darrell Green (calf), G Keith Sims (Achilles') are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Titans 20, Redskins 16

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