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Week 10 Breakdown

November 08, 2002|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

CINCINNATI AT BALTIMORE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Baltimore by 5 1/2.

Quick slant: Jeff Blake: He got out while the going was good.

Plot: The last time the Bengals had a non-losing season (1996; Cincinnati finished 8-8), Blake was their starting quarterback. The last time the Bengals scored a point in Baltimore (1998; touchdown pass to Carl Pickens), Blake was their starting quarterback. Since then, the Bengals have been shut out three times in Baltimore and the franchise has sunk deeper into the tank, 1-7 in 2002 after last week's upset of Houston. Blake, who starts for the Ravens against his old mates Sunday, told the Baltimore Sun, "I'm not going to laugh at their situation. I was there at one time, and it's not pretty."

Monday's headline: "Bengals Let Another One Get Away"

*

NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New Orleans by 4 1/2.

Quick slant: Rodney Peete, Dale Carter return. Will any of it matter?

Plot: Carolina football fans have been reminiscing about the good old days, September 2002, when Peete was at the helm and the Panthers were 3-0. Then Peete got hurt and the schedule turned tough and before they knew it, the Panthers were starting Randy Fasani and their record was 3-5. Peete returns Sunday, as does Saint cornerback Carter, back off suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Carter can use the payday. On Feb. 15, he filed for Chapter 7, claiming nearly $5 million in debts and about $1 million in assets. Sounds a lot like the Panther offense.

Monday's headline: "Panthers Lose Sixth; Chapter 7 Coming Next Week"

*

DETROIT AT GREEN BAY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11

The line: Green Bay by 10.

Quick slant: First place versus second place. No kidding.

Plot: Most Valuable Body Part, Detroit Lions? General Manager Matt Millen's mouth. Since Millen disparaged his team with his "devout coward" line, the Lions are 2-1 (thanks so much, Dallas Cowboys). MVBP, Green Bay Packers? Brett Favre's left knee, of course. Wrapped in a brace, Favre's sprained knee passed its first test, Monday's 24-10 victory over Miami, which improved the Packers' record to 7-1. Green Bay is four games ahead of 3-5 Detroit, the best of what's left in the NFC North, and soon to be five. Detroit has not beaten the Packers in Green Bay since 1990.

Monday's headline: "In NFC North Footrace, Favre Now Lapping the Field"

*

N.Y. GIANTS AT MINNESOTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New York by 1.

Quick slant: When we were kings, 22 months ago.

Plot: January 2000: The Giants play host to the Vikings in the NFC championship game. Lousy game -- Giants won, 41-0; Randy Moss took every play off after the first quarter; crazed Giant fans lulled into thinking Kerry Collins was the next Y.A. Tittle. Since that crystalline moment, the Giants are 11-14 (counting the ensuing Super Bowl embarrassment) and the Vikings are 7-17. Things are so bad in Minnesota, Coach Mike Tice is considering benching Daunte Culpepper in favor of, yes, Todd Bouman. In New York, a dire Amani Toomer has "guaranteed" the Giants will make the playoffs. Sad, sad times.

Monday's headline: "For Old Times' Sake, Vikings Say 'No Moss!' Again"

*

INDIANAPOLIS AT PHILADELPHIA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Philadelphia by 9.

Quick slant: Paging Norm Bulaich.

Plot: Tony Dungy returns to Philadelphia ... Tampa Bay fans can tell you which way this one's headed. Dungy went 0-2 in his last two trips to the Vet, both playoff games, getting outscored, 52-12. This is why Jon Gruden now coaches the Buccaneers and Dungy arrives in Philadelphia with an empty stable of Colt running backs. Edgerrin James and Ricky Williams are sidelined with hamstring injuries. Dominic Rhodes is out for the season. Dungy is down to fourth-string rookie James Mungro, who had 60 yards in an otherwise depressing loss to Tennessee. But that's nothing compared to Sunday's forecast.

Monday's headline: "All Things Considered, Dungy Would Rather Have Had an Open Date"

*

ATLANTA AT PITTSBURGH

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Pittsburgh by 5.

Quick slant: Tale of two 5-3 teams, tale of three quarterbacks.

Plot: Atlanta and Pittsburgh enter this one with identical records. No one would have called it back in September, but that was long before Tommy Maddox and the Steelers resurrected each another -- and before Kordell Stewart was playing the role of Michael Vick on the Steeler scout team. Vick has re-energized the Falcons, who are 4-0 after a 1-3 start. Pittsburgh is 4-1 since Maddox replaced Stewart, much to the chagrin of Stewart, who told reporters this week, "If this is the direction they want to go in, fine, so be it, but everybody ... knows what I can do." Indeed they do. Huddle's all yours, Tommy.

Monday's headline: "Given Their Druthers, 6-3 Steelers Prefer This Direction"

*

SAN DIEGO AT ST. LOUIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2

The line: St. Louis by 6.

Quick slant: You throw the records out the window when these two meet.

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