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NFL games today

Compiled by Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000

Bucs at Falcons

OF NOTE: This game hinges on how well the Bucs listen to themselves. All week, they've been telling the media the Falcons can't be taken lightly. If they heed their words, Tampa Bay should walk away with the victory. If not, Atlanta could surprise. Defensively, the key will be clamping down on running back Jamal Anderson. Offensively, quarterback Shaun King needs time to beat press coverage. The Bucs' superior fronts on both sides should prevail.

KEY INJURIES: Bucs -- LB Shelton Quarles (groin) is out. CB Donnie Abraham (hip), DT Anthony McFarland (triceps), DT Warren Sapp (knee) are probable.

Falcons -- LB Keith Brooking (foot-injured reserve) is out. DE Patrick Kerney (ribs), T Ephraim Salaam (ribs), T Bob Whitfield (neck/shoulder) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Bucs 31, Falcons 14

Dolphins at Lions

OF NOTE: In their most recent game in a dome, the Dolphins offense was limited to seven points (vs. Minnesota, Sept. 10). The Dolphins need Lamar Smith to run well, but that's no easy task in the noisy Silverdome because linemen can't fire off the ball. If the offense struggles, the Miami defense will have to return to form after allowing 60 points in the past two weeks. Although Miami has more talent, Detroit may be more than the Dolphins can handle.

KEY INJURIES: Dolphins -- LB Zach Thomas (ankle) is out. WR Tony Martin (foot) is doubtful. DT Tim Bowens (foot), WR Bert Emanuel (wrist) are questionable. Lions -- WR Germane Crowell (foot), T Ray Roberts (Achilles') are out. DT Luther Elliss (neck), WR Desmond Howard (neck), WR Herman Moore (foot) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Dolphins 17, Lions 10

Bills at Patriots

OF NOTE: Buffalo is 1-4 in its past five games at Foxboro, but a lot of Chowder Heads still are endeared to Bills quarterback Doug Flutie because of his Boston College heroics. Flutie is likely to produce more magic today, even though Bill Belichick defenses have frustrated his scrambling ways. Even if Flutie struggles, the Bills defense will keep them in the game until the offense comes up with the required points. The Patriots will struggle to run the ball and protect quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who has been sacked 78 times in the past 20 games.

KEY INJURIES: Bills -- DE Phil Hansen (knee) is out. QB Rob Johnson (shoulder) is questionable. Patriots -- LB Andy Katzenmoyer (back) is doubtful. NT Chad Eaton (knee), DE Willie McGinest (back) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Bills 20, Patriots 14

Ravens at Bengals

OF NOTE: Even with T.D., the Ravens can't get a TD. Trent Dilfer took over from Tony Banks last week, but failed to play mistake-free. That will be critical today, because two more quarters without a touchdown and the Ravens will set a record for consecutive quarters without a TD at 22. If that happens, they'll be without T.D. next season and he'll likely be selling cars in California. With Bengals QBs going four games without a TD pass, Cincinnati has thrived with the running of Corey Dillon, but the Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 26 games. Look for Baltimore to get back on track.

KEY INJURIES: Ravens -- WR Travis Taylor (clavicle) is out. DT Tony Siragusa (lower leg) is questionable. Bengals -- LB Brian Simmons (knee), T John Jackson (hamstring) are out. S JoJuan Armour (foot) is questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Ravens 15, Bengals 7

Cowboys at Eagles

OF NOTE: Dallas will go with quarterback Randall Cunningham instead of Troy "Ache-man," and it's not just because of Troy's aching back. Cunningham gives the Cowboys a better chance to win because of his scrambling, but the Cowboys offense still faces a tough task. The question is: Can Dallas' defense keep them in the game? The answer is yes. You beat Dallas by running the ball, but Philly can't run without Duce Staley. The Eagles can hope to counter with quick passes and a mistake-free game from quarterback Donovan McNabb.

KEY INJURIES: Cowboys -- DT Chad Hennings (neck) is out. QB Troy Aikman (back) is questionable. DE Ebenezer Ekuban (toe), LB Dat Nguyen (neck) are probable. Eagles -- S Rashard Cook (concussion), DE Mike Mamula (foot) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Cowboys 13, Eagles 10

Colts at Bears

OF NOTE: The Bears had a bye week to prep quarterback Jim Miller, and he's likely to find some success because he makes quicker decisions than Cade McNown. But the Colts have too much offense for Chicago. Even with linebacker Brian Urlacher, the Bears' 27th-ranked defense is not prepared to handle quarterback Peyton Manning, receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Edgerrin James. Harrison has four 100-yard games in a row and James has 482 yards in the past three games. Plus, Indy is 9-2 in its past 11 road games and has six consecutive wins against NFC teams.

KEY INJURIES: Colts -- DT Ellis Johnson (knee) is doubtful. RB Kevin McDougal (neck) is questionable. Bears -- QB Cade McNown (shoulder) is out. DT Brad Culpepper (shoulder), C Olin Kreutz (toe) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Colts 24, Bears 14

Giants at Browns

OF NOTE: The Browns are spiraling out of control like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. The loss of Tim Couch seems to have devastated the offense and the defense never has figured out how to slow the run. That's a bad combination against the Giants, who are exceptional at running the ball against bad teams and ranked eighth on defense. Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne have combined for 1,019 yards in eight games, and the defense has not allowed more than 14 points in the past three games.

KEY INJURIES: Giants -- CB Jason Sehorn (rib), LB Brandon Short (ankle) are doubtful. CB Reggie Stephens (ankle), Andre Weathers (knee) are questionable. Browns -- WR Darrin Chiaverini (knee) is doubtful. DT Stalin Colinet (neck), LB Lenoy Jones (hamstring), WR David Patten (toe) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Giants 24, Browns 10

Steelers at Titans

OF NOTE: Everyone is looking at the Steelers as a bad team, but Pittsburgh has not allowed a touchdown in four games. This is a chance for legitimacy even though Tennessee is coming off a tough Monday night game against Washington and its injury list is longer than the Magna Carta. But in Adelphia Stadium, Titans law will rule the day.

KEY INJURIES: Steelers -- RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (foot) is out. C Dermontti Dawson (groin) is questionable. Titans -- DT Henry Ford (knee) is out. RB Eddie George (knee/toe), LB Randall Godfrey (foot), DE Kenny Holmes (shoulder), C Kevin Long (neck), QB Steve McNair (back), WR Derrick Mason (back/ankle), WR Carl Pickens (hamstring), WR Yancey Thigpen (hamstring/ankle) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Titans 17, Steelers 14

49ers at Saints

OF NOTE: The 'Niners are going to devote 100 percent of their defense to stopping 44.6 percent of the Saints offense. Yes, with 826 rushing yards and 364 receiving (including 92 last week), Ricky Williams means that much to New Orleans. You have to slow him to stop the Saints, but don't forget about Jeff Blake, who is capable of eating up the NFL's worst secondary like it was a shrimp po' boy. Blake has completed 61.4 percent of his passes in the past two games. These are not the 'Aints.

KEY INJURIES: 49ers -- S Zack Bronson (neck) is doubtful. T Derrick Deese (knee), LB Julian Peterson (knee), LB Jeff Posey (hamstring) are questionable. Saints -- WR Jake Reed (leg) is out. LB Donta Jones (knee), S Chris Oldham (knee), WR Robert Wilson (hip) are doubtful. WR Joe Horn (knee) is questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Saints 20, 49ers 13

Redskins at Cardinals

OF NOTE: Mighty Jeff George steps in for an injured Brad Johnson, but he'll still have the same receivers who struggle to break big plays downfield. With Johnson or George, the Redskins can beat Arizona, but it will be interesting to see if George can produce more points. The Cardinals, who showed signs of improvement for interim coach Dave McGinnis last week, are more concerned with ballots than blocking with a referendum for a new stadium two days away.

KEY INJURIES: Redskins -- LB Shawn Barber (knee), WR Irving Fryar (ribs), CB Darrell Green (calf), QB Brad Johnson (knee), G Keith Sims (Achilles') are questionable. Cardinals -- S Tommy Bennett (quadricep), DT Tony McCoy (knee) are out. LB Rob Fredrickson (shoulder), TE Chris Gedney (ribs) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Redskins 24, Cardinals 20

Broncos at Jets

OF NOTE: If Denver quarterback Brian Griese is on target and running back Terrell Davis makes a healthy return, this could be one of the highest-scoring games of the day. The Broncos can put up points on the Jets, and Denver's defense is probably still reeling after giving up an NFL-record 278 yards to Corey Dillon two weeks ago. Give the Jets the edge because Curtis Martin should find plenty of running room, and the team has outscored opponents 77-40 in the final quarter.

KEY INJURIES: Broncos -- LB Keith Burns (hamstring), WR Chris Cole (elbow), G Mark Schlereth (knee) are questionable. Jets -- LB John Abraham (groin), TE Anthony Becht (knee), WR Windrell Hayes (ankle) are doubtful. DT Jason Ferguson (ankle/knee), LB Dwayne Gordon (foot) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Jets 34, Broncos 30

Chargers at Seahawks

OF NOTE: In the race to rock bottom, the Chargers have the early lead but the Seahawks are not far behind. Talent-wise, Seattle has the better team and the label of the NFL's biggest underachievers. But in a pick totally devoid of reason, I'm going with San Diego. Granted, San Diego is 0-8 and has lost four road games in a row, but Seattle has lost five in a row overall and Jon Kitna hasn't scared anyone since the Bucs dismantled him a year ago. San Diego came close last week, and that has to boost confidence. Plus, the Chargers beat the Seahawks in Seattle last year.

KEY INJURIES: Chargers -- CB Reggie Rusk (knee) is out. RB Kenny Bynum (hamstring) is questionable. Seahawks -- QB Brock Huard (concussion) is doubtful. RB Ricky Watters (toe) is questionable.

HOOPER'S PICK: Chargers 15, Seahawks 13

Chiefs at Raiders

KEY INJURIES: Chiefs -- DE Eric Hicks (knee) is out. RB Donnell Bennett (foot), DT Dan Williams (foot), C Tim Grunhard (ankle), WR Sylvester Morris (shoulder) are questionable. Raiders -- DE Lance Johnstone (groin) is out. T Matt Stinchcomb (knee/shoulder) is doubtful. RB Jon Ritchie (calf), RB Tyrone Wheatley (ankle) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Raiders 20, Chiefs 18

Panthers at Rams

KEY INJURIES: Panthers -- T Clarence Jones (knee), G Bryan Stoltenberg (knee) are out. DE Reggie White (shoulder) is questionable. Rams -- QB Kurt Warner (finger), K Jeff Wilkins (quadricep) are out. CB Todd Lyght (hamstring/Achilles') is doubtful. RB Marshall Faulk (knee) is questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Rams 33, Panthers 14

Vikings at Packers

KEY INJURIES: Vikings -- DE Bryce Paup (knee), S Orlando Thomas (shoulder) are out. Packers -- S Gary Berry (neck-injured reserve), T Earl Dotson (back) are out. RB Dorsey Levens (knee), TE Ryan Wetnight (hamstring), DE David Bowens (ankle) are questionable

HOOPER'S PICK: Vikings 31, Packers 24

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