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NFL INSIDER

WEEK 9 at a Glance

October 31, 1998|DAN POMPEI, The Sporting News

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at Detroit Lions (2-5), 1 p.m.

Two young, struggling quarterbacks square off as Arizona's Jake Plummer takes on Detroit's Charlie Batch. Perhaps the one who makes the fewest mistakes wins. Watch for Batch to make a concerted effort, for better or worse, to get the ball to Herman Moore. The Cardinals would have had a much better chance at an upset if Eric Swann was healthy, but he's out for a month with a knee injury. Without the defensive tackle, Barry Sanders should find considerably less resistance. The Cardinals were having trouble stopping the run even with Swann.

Edge: Lions.

*

Denver Broncos (7-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-5), 1 p.m.

Terrell Davis is a threat to break a few records in this one; the Bengals are pathetic against the run. Bengals wide receiver Carl Pickens could have a big day if the Bengals do a better job of throwing to him. The Broncos have to guard against a letdown and against taking the Bengals lightly. They've won seven consecutive against the Bengals.

Edge: Broncos.

*

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-5). 1 p.m.

The Jags are hurting, having lost two in a row and learning they clearly are not in the class of the mighty Broncos. Then again, the Ravens have lost three consecutive. Time to go back to Jim Harbaugh. The quarterback should give the Ravens sputtering offense a lift. The Ravens are a better team than they've been showing, and they are due to improve. But the Ravens never have beaten the Jaguars (including a 24-10 game earlier this year), and they probably won't start now.

Edge: Jaguars.

*

Miami Dolphins (5-2) at Buffalo Bills (4-3), 1 p.m.

Now let's see how good Doug Flutie is. He'll have a supreme challenge against the Dolphins' mighty defense, which ranks second in the league against the pass. The Bills are playing good football, having won four in a row. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are half a team. They're missing an offense. The Dolphins likely will have to get in the end zone to win this one. Are they capable? The Dolphins are 1-2 on the road.

Edge: Bills.

*

Minnesota Vikings (7-0) at Tampa Bay Bucs (3-4), 1 p.m.

Everyone keeps waiting for the Vikings to slip. This could be the week against a tough defense on the road. The Bucs will have to get their offense moving to keep pace with the Vikings, though. No team is going to shut out Minnesota's offense. The Vikings are not only winning, but they are winning big. They beat the Lions by 21, the Redskins by 34 and the Packers by 13. For the Bucs to have a chance, defensive tackle Warren Sapp must be seen more, heard less.

Edge: Vikings.

*

New England Patriots (4-3) at Indianapolis Colts (1-6), 1 p.m.

Now that the Patriots have lost to the Jets and Dolphins, and the Colts nearly beat the 49ers, this game looks a lot closer than their previous meeting, which was won by the Patriots, 29-6. The Colts hope Peyton Manning turned the corner against the 49ers. The Patriots are hurting at wide receiver, and may not be able to fully take advantage of the Colts' 27th ranked defense. But still they should prevail if Robert Edwards is on.

Edge: Patriots.

*

New Orleans Saints (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (0-7), 1 p.m.

The Saints have to be licking their chops looking at the Panthers run defense. Look for them to run the ball a ton, particularly if banged-up running back Lamar Smith can go. And Steve Beuerlein has to be licking his chops looking at the Saints pass defense. Look for him to get a lot of throws. The Saints will miss left tackle Willie Roaf, especially against the Panthers with Sean Gilbert at right end. But the Saints are a better team.

Edge: Saints.

*

New York Giants (3-4) at Washington Redskins (0-7), 1 p.m.

These teams were the preseason favorites to win the National Football Conference East. Now neither figures to get anywhere near the playoffs, although the Giants will be at .500 if they win this game. Perhaps the Giants finally will be able to run the ball, given the competition. The Redskins hope to get a jolt from reinstated quarterback Trent Green, but they need more than a jolt. The Redskins are the worst team in football.

Edge: Giants.

*

St. Louis Rams (2-5) at Atlanta Falcons (5-2), 1 p.m.

The Rams are beat up physically and mentally. Quarterback Tony Banks has to be a bad game away from being benched. Watch for the Falcons to put the pressure on him. Getting Chris Chandler back at quarterback makes the Falcons a different team. The Falcons have won 11 of 15 against the Rams, and are undefeated at home.

Edge: Falcons.

*

New York Jets (4-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3), 4:05 p.m.

These are two teams going in opposite directions, as the Jets have won four of five and the Chiefs have lost two in a row. But that can turn around in a hurry. A good matchup pits the Jets' prolific offense against the Chiefs' tough defense. For the Chiefs to win this game, they'll have to get something out of their passing game. Elvis Grbac has not been sharp since returning from injury, and he hasn't gotten much support.

Edge: Chiefs.

*

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