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Rating The Games

November 03, 2002|Jim Barrero

**** Makings of a classic

*** Smash-mouth football

** Good for an end around

* Strictly fantasy fodder

*

** Baltimore (3-4) at Atlanta (4-3), 10 a.m.: Michael Vick has become such a dangerous weapon at quarterback, even Ray Lewis probably isn't that broken up over the shoulder injury that will keep him sidelined. LINE: Atlanta by 7 1/2.

*** New England (3-4) at Buffalo (5-3), 10 a.m., KNX (1070): Former Patriot quarterback Drew Bledsoe is next on the agenda for struggling New England. Can't imagine many in the Northeast will want to read the minutes after this meeting. LINE: Buffalo by 3.

** Philadelphia (5-2) at Chicago (2-5), 10 a.m., Channel 11: When Bears had best defense last season, Donovan McNabb led Eagles to 33 points, 299 yards passing and a playoff victory. These days, Chicago defense is weak and McNabb is better than ever. LINE: Philadelphia by 6 1/2.

*** Pittsburgh (4-3) at Cleveland (4-4), 10 a.m.: Browns still kicking themselves over Week 3 loss to Steelers, but Cleveland linebacker/philosopher Kenard Lang refuses to lament the defeat: "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas." LINE: Pittsburgh by 3.

* Dallas (3-5) at Detroit (2-5), 10 a.m.: Just think: If Barry Sanders hadn't retired three years ago, this might be a matchup of the Nos. 1 and 2 all-time leading rushers with Emmitt Smith playing second fiddle. LINE: Detroit by 3.

*** Cincinnati (0-7) at Houston (2-5), 10 a.m.: In light of Bengal Coach Dick LeBeau's victory guarantee and the fact that the oddsmakers actually favor the Texans, Houston Coach Dom Capers points to sign above locker room door: "Deeds, not words." LINE: Houston by 3.

** Tennessee (3-4) at Indianapolis (4-3), 10 a.m.: The bad news for the Colts: Eddie George has consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts. Worse news for the Colts: Four of their eight players listed as questionable or doubtful this week are defensive linemen. LINE: Indianapolis by 3.

** Minnesota (2-5) at Tampa Bay (6-2), 10 a.m.: By changing hotels and imposing an earlier curfew, Viking Coach Mike Tice is doing everything he can to minimize distractions. What he forgets is that he has a bad team. LINE: Tampa Bay by 7.

*** New York Jets (2-5) at San Diego (6-1), 1 p.m., Channel 2: Of the Chargers' bye week, Marcellus Wiley said: "A lot of guys ... ate a lot of good food and came back fat." In next breath he says, "A lot of guys are thirsty for another game." Thank goodness they aren't hungry. LINE: San Diego by 7 1/2.

** St. Louis (2-5) at Arizona (4-3), 1:15 p.m., KLAC (570), KLSX-FM (97.1): Cardinal defense gives up only 3.5 yards per rush. Marshall Faulk has rushed for 393 yards in 60 carries (6.6 yards per carry) in the last two games. Something has to give. LINE: St. Louis by 3.

**** San Francisco (5-2) at Oakland (4-3), 1:15 p.m., Channel 11, KMPC (1540), KNX (1070): In this Bay Area battle between the wine-and-cheese 49er fans and blue-collar Raider backers, wouldn't Barry Bonds be perfect to throw out the ceremonial sour grape? LINE: Oakland by 3.

** Washington (3-4) at Seattle (2-5), 1:15 p.m.: Quarterbacks will be the story one way or another. Matt Hasselbeck is back in the fold for Seahawks after injury to Trent Dilfer as Jeff George waits in wings. As for Redskins, Shane Matthews drew the short straw this week. LINE: Seattle by 3.

** Jacksonville (3-4) at New York Giants (3-4), 5:30 p.m., ESPN, KLSX-FM (97.1): Boy, think about all that's at stake in this one: The winner can still convince itself for another week that it actually has a chance to make a difference in the postseason. Wow. LINE: New York by 3.

**** Miami (5-2) at Green Bay (6-1), Monday, 6 p.m., Channel 7, KNX (1070): Will Brett Favre play? In his career, the Packer quarterback has been knocked out of a game three times and the next week he returned. His numbers in those games? 719 yards passing, eight touchdowns and a 3-0 record. LINE: Green Bay by 4.

Open date: Carolina, Denver, Kansas City, New Orleans.

-- Jim Barrero

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