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SPORTS WEEKEND

Game Of The Week

The Key Games In The Nfl

November 08, 1996

DALLAS (5-4) at SAN FRANCISCO (7-2)

* KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 11.

* STORYLINE: The 49ers have won three in a row against the Cowboys, and, like the Eagles earlier this season when Dallas stood 1-3, have a chance to put away the defending Super Bowl champions. Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman lost last week's game against Philadelphia with an errant pass in the end zone, and in the last three meetings, the Cowboys have turned the ball over 12 times, to once for San Francisco.

* COWBOY UPDATE: Coach Barry Switzer is not sure defensive end Charles Haley will play again this season. Haley, the former 49er, has had two back operations and has been ineffective when forcing himself to play in pain.

* 49ER UPDATE: San Francisco played without injured tackle Harris Barton a week ago and got away with it. The 49ers have played all season without starting left tackle Kirk Scrafford, who might be ready to come back from a foot injury. Defensive end Roy Barker had three sacks against New Orleans last week and is tied for second in the conference. Since 1986, the 49ers are 64-18 at home.

* EDGE TO DALLAS: The Cowboys are desperate, and the defending champions don't appear ready yet to be buried.

* THE LINE: San Francisco by 3 1/2.

KEY GAMES

GREEN BAY (8-1) at KANSAS CITY (6-3)

* KICKOFF: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11.

* STORYLINE: The Packers haven't been all that impressive recently, but they continue to win and now play a team desperate to find itself after a glowing start. The Chiefs took advantage of a missing Warren Moon to defeat the Vikings last week, and now get the Packers minus Green Bay's starting wide receivers. But will that be enough to overcome quarterback Brett Favre?

* PACKER UPDATE: Green Bay is having injury problems at the tackle position, which does not bode well for Favre, who must keep an eye on the charging Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. The Packers have scored nine touchdowns of 50 or more yards this season, three short of the most since 1980. In its last 18 games against AFC opponents, Green Bay is 13-5.

* CHIEF UPDATE: The Packers have the No. 1 NFL pass defense and are on pace to match last year's sack total of 39. But the Chiefs have given up only two sacks in the last four games. Marcus Allen needs only 32 rushing yards to move past John Riggins into sixth place on the all-time list.

* EDGE TO KANSAS CITY: The Chiefs' cornerbacks should neutralize Packer reserves at wide receiver, forcing Favre to manufacture something. And in this environment, that might be too tough a task.

* THE LINE: Green Bay by 3.

*

BUFFALO (6-3) at PHILADELPHIA (7-2)

* KICKOFF: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 4.

* STORYLINE: A battle of first-place teams. The Eagles have gone undefeated since losing Rodney Peete as starting quarterback and replacing him with Ty Detmer. The Bills, with their running game back, thrashed the Redskins a week ago.

* BILL UPDATE: Buffalo took all the heat off quarterback Jim Kelly by getting 100-yard plus games from both Thurman Thomas and Darick Holmes.

* EAGLE UPDATE: Philadelphia is home, but ripe for a letdown after an emotional victory over Dallas. The Eagles were 7-2 in 1994 and then lost seven in a row. Of course, Rich Kotite was their coach.

* EDGE TO BUFFALO: Bills will spring the surprise by employing a defense capable of pounding Detmer into submission.

* THE LINE: Philadelphia by 3 1/2.

*

INDIANAPOLIS (5-4) at MIAMI (4-5)

* KICKOFF: Sunday, 10 a.m.

* STORYLINE: These teams are threatening to disappear in the AFC East Division race. The Colts have healed their injuries and in doing so appear to have lost their edge. The Dolphins have been pushed, prodded and beaten by Jimmy Johnson, and now look like a dead horse.

* COLT UPDATE: Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, the magic man early on, has been savaged by opponents' pass rush and a week ago he was so hurried that he threw four interceptions.

* DOLPHIN UPDATE: Johnson insists on Miami running the ball, but the team ranks 20th in rushing.

* EDGE TO MIAMI: The Dolphins are home and quarterback Dan Marino will be playing in the third game since his return from an ankle injury and should be sharp.

* THE LINE: Miami by 3 1/2.

*

DETROIT (4-5) at SAN DIEGO (5-4)

* KICKOFF: Monday, 6 p.m., Channel 7.

* STORYLINE: The Lions have been noted for their season-ending drives to save Coach Wayne Fontes' job, and this would be an excellent time for them to start if that's the plan once again. The Chargers were seemingly dead after losing three in a row but ripped the Colts last week, without quarterback Stan Humphries, and now are expected to have him back for the Lions.

* LION UPDATE: Quarterback Scott Mitchell sat out last week's game because of a rib injury and has been unable to practice, but Fontes says Mitchell will play if he's ready. Barry Sanders needs 203 yards rushing for a record eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Detroit is 3-0 on Monday night the last two seasons and is 3-1 in its last four games against AFC opponents.

* CHARGER UPDATE: San Diego got a boost with the return of linebacker Junior Seau last week. Seau had two sacks and one forced fumble. San Diego should enjoy the same lift from Humphries, who was injured two weeks ago in a Monday night game against the Raiders. Sean Salisbury, who started the last two games in place of Humphries, returns to the bench. Kick returner Andre Coleman has club-record 3,481 return yards, surpassing Speedy Duncan's 3,386. Wide receiver Tony Martin's career-high 10 touchdowns leads the NFL.

* EDGE TO SAN DIEGO: Especially if Don Majkowski has to play in place of Mitchell.

* THE LINE: San Diego by 4.

THE LINE ON THE REST

Oakland minus 5 at Tampa Bay

Pittsburgh minus 4 at Cincinnati

New England minus 6 1/2 at N.Y. Jets

Houston minus 3 1/2 at New Orleans

Arizona plus 10 1/2 at Washington

Chicago plus 10 1/2 at Denver

Minnesota plus 1 1/2 at Seattle

Baltimore plus 3 1/2 at Jacksonville

N.Y. Giants plus 4 1/2 at Carolina

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