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Week 11 Breakdown

November 15, 2002|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

ARIZONA AT PHILADELPHIA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Philadelphia by 11

Quick slant: The root of all evil.

Plot: The Eagles were looking quite the juggernaut in September, coming off 37-7 and 44-13 wins over Washington and Dallas, when owner Jeffrey Lurie had to ruin it all and give quarterback Donovan McNabb his 12-year, $115-million deal. Before the contract, McNabb was completing 61.2% of his passes for 263 yards a game. Post-windfall, McNabb's numbers are 54.6% and 207 yards a game -- and there have been losses to Jacksonville and Indianapolis, dropping the Eagles to 1-3 against AFC South teams. Which is bad news for both the Eagles and the Cardinals, who play in the NFC West.

Monday's headline: "Cardinals in Wrong Place at Wrong Time"

*

NEW ORLEANS AT ATLANTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Atlanta by 3

Quick slant: The loudest Horn in New Orleans.

Plot: The Saints have only lost two games this year, but one was to Atlanta, 37-35, three weeks ago. Saint receiver Joe Horn wasn't impressed then, saying the Falcons "ain't good enough to be no rival." And he hasn't changed his mind, telling reporters this week, "This isn't like the St. Louis Rams or anything ... Everybody on that team and organization is riding on Michael Vick. Michael Vick can't make them a Super Bowl contender. Maybe down the road, yeah. But not right now." Vick and the Falcons haven't lost since Week 6. One way or another, this will be an interesting stop along that road.

Monday's headline: "Saints Win in Overtime; Horn: 'OK, It's a Rivalry' "

*

BUFFALO AT KANSAS CITY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2

The line: Kansas City by 3 1/2

Quick slant: DEE-fense! DEE ... aw, let's not kid ourselves.

Plot: The NFL's two greatest half-teams meet in Arrowhead Sunday. It's the Buffalo Bills and Drew Bledsoe against the 32nd-ranked defense in the league -- Kansas City's bend-and-usually-break backpedal brigade, yielding an average of 425 yards a game. And it's Trent Green, Priest Holmes and the Kansas City Chiefs against a defense that has surrendered more points than any other team in the league in 2002. Buffalo allows 29.9 points a game. Kansas City allows 28.6. This one should be fun to watch, provided you don't draw your paycheck drawing up "defensive schemes" for the Bills and Chiefs.

Monday's headline: "Kansas City 30, Buffalo 29"

*

WASHINGTON AT N.Y. GIANTS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New York Giants by 3 1/2

Quick slant: More postgraduate study for Steve Spurrier.

Plot: Since Jim Fassel took over his team's play-calling chores, the Giants are actually moving the ball on the ground again, even producing a modern-day miracle: a 30-yard touchdown run last week by Ron Dayne. Spurrier might not have noticed, as he was busy abandoning the ground game that produced consecutive Redskin victories and ordering up 50 passes and 16 running plays in last Sunday's 26-7 loss to Jacksonville. "Obviously, we passed too much," Spurrier said afterward. What's this, a sign of personal growth by the Ball Coach? Nah. The doctors just cleared Stephen Davis to play.

Monday's headline: "Another Pass-Happy Loss For Spurrier: 'I Just Can't Help Myself'' "

*

CLEVELAND AT CINCINNATI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Cleveland by 3 1/2

Quick slant: Weekend undercard for Ohio State-Illinois.

Plot: Ohio is football country. At least on Friday nights and Saturdays. Sunday is a reminder that Ohio is known for other things, such as exciting Columbus Blue Jacket ice hockey and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, at Paul Brown Stadium, the Browns try to figure out what happened to their running game, along with their season, and the Bengals do what they do, which is provide a bedrock foundation to an otherwise recklessly unpredictable league. This is a rare home sellout for the Bengals, thanks to a rush of tickets purchased by Brown fans hopeful of witnessing a rare road victory.

Monday's headline: "Browns Rout Bengals; Buckeyes Say, 'We Got Next!' "

*

DALLAS AT INDIANAPOLIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 6 1/2.

Quick slant: A pretty good matchup, 31 years ago.

Plot: The Cowboys and the Colts once played for the NFL championship, in early 1971, in Super Bowl V. (The preceding announcement was sponsored by the Coalition of Dallas Cowboy Fans Demanding Something Positive to Read in the Newspaper This Season.) More recently, the Cowboys have lost 28 of 41 games under Coach Dave Campo, who has noted that his next opponent is coming off a 35-13 victory in Philadelphia. Says Campo, "It's a tough business. It's a tough business for tough people." The Cowboys have seven games left, and already Campo has written off the season.

Monday's headline: "When Going Gets Tough, Cowboys Go to 3-7"

*

PITTSBURGH AT TENNESSEE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Pittsburgh by 3

Quick slant: There is life after being in the tank.

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