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NFL game day

Compiled by Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 23, 2000

Patriots at Lions

OF NOTE: Holy Moeller, the Lions are back in the playoff hunt. New coach Gary Moeller has rejuvenated the team with his fresh approach. Just look at defensive end Robert Porcher: two sacks in the first nine games, three in the past two weeks. Protecting Drew Bledsoe has been a seasonlong dilemma for New England, and that's not likely to change in the Lions' Den (or should that be Din, considering the noise). Miami showed the value of taking an early lead on Detroit and taking out the crowd, but the Patriots will be successful only if running back Kevin Faulk can produce. That may not be likely, considering the Lions have won the past three on Thanksgiving Day and five of the past six.

KEY INJURIES: Patriots -- LB Matt Chatham (leg) is doubtful. QB John Friesz (knee), LB Ted Johnson (thigh), RB J.R. Redmond (ribs), T Grant Williams (leg) are questionable. QB Drew Bledsoe (thumb) is probable. Lions -- WR Germane Crowell (foot), T Aaron Gibson (shoulder) are out. S Kurt Schulz (ankle), RB James Stewart (knee) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PREDICTION: Lions 24, Patriots 17

Cowboys at Vikings

OF NOTE: The Vikings (4-1 on Thanksgiving Day) routed the Cowboys 46-36 two years ago on Turkey Day as Randy Moss (163 yards receiving, three TDs) walked away with one of John Madden's prized drumsticks. Lost in that performance was Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman's Thanksgiving Day-record 455 passing yards. But Aikman isn't the same, and the loss of receivers Raghib Ismail and Joey Galloway has haunted him all season. In a strategy that serves as a commentary about how far Aikman has fallen, the Vikings will focus on stopping running back Emmitt Smith and let Aikman have some shots in the passing game. Dallas is 7-3 in its past 10 Thanksgiving games.

KEY INJURIES: Vikings -- DE Bryce Paup (knee), S Orlando Thomas (shoulder) are out. FB Jimmy Kleinsasser (hamstring) is questionable. Cowboys -- P Micah Knorr (knee), DT Leon Lett (knee), C Mark Stepnoski (knee), S Darren Woodson (arm) are out

HOOPER'S PREDICTION: Vikings 31, Cowboys 17

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