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Week 8 Breakdown

October 25, 2002|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE AT DALLAS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Dallas by 2 1/2

Quick slant: Run, don't walk, Emmitt.

Plot: Cowboy fans haven't had much to cheer for since the 1996 Super Bowl, so let them have their day. Assuming Emmitt Smith holds up his end and gains the 93 yards he needs to break Walter Payton's career rushing record at Texas Stadium. It's anything but a sure thing -- Smith is averaging only 63.8 yards in his last 23 games. However, Smith had a season-high 82 yards last week, Seattle is giving up a league-high 190 yards rushing a game and the Cowboys are starting a new quarterback, rookie Chad Hutchinson.

Monday's headline: "Smith Finally Breaks Record; Fans Say, 'Great, Now Can We Start Hambrick?' "

*

DETROIT AT BUFFALO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Buffalo by 7

Quick slant: Can Lions win another for the Ripper?

Plot: Before last week, the word on Lion General Manager Matt Millen was that he couldn't win for losing. Then he got all riled up on Mike Ditka's radio show (imagine that) and slandered one of his fine young men in the powder blue and silver, calling him "a devout coward." Millen didn't name any names -- maybe there are two devout cowards in the Lion organization -- but from the players' perspective he didn't need to. Assuming Millen could have meant any one of them, the Lions bonded and banded together and beat the Bears, 23-20. Next up, Drew Bledsoe. Looks like Detroit could use a few more devout DBs.

Monday's headline: "Yellow Brick Road Ends Here for Cowardly Lions"

*

CLEVELAND AT N.Y. JETS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New York by 3

Quick slant: Psst. Jets also have a devout Cowart.

Plot: Speaking of devout Cowarts, the Jets have one playing weakside linebacker. Name is Sam Cowart, supposedly a major off-season free-agent acquisition from Buffalo, but marked down because of damaged goods: He missed 15 games in 2001 because of a torn Achilles' tendon. Since returning, Cowart has looked out of sorts, which makes him no stranger in the Jet defense, ranked 31st in the NFL in yards rushing allowed. The Browns would like to take advantage, but they rank 31st in yards rushing gained. What to do, what to do? Tim Couch, Chad Pennington: Throw deep, young men.

Monday's headline: "Pennington Joins Hutchinson; Chads Go 2-0"

*

OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2

The line: Oakland by 2 1/2

Quick slant: Third place versus last place. Big deal.

Plot: Oakland and Kansas City rank 1-2 in total offense, Rich Gannon is on pace to break Dan Marino's record for single-season yards passing (5,084) and Priest Holmes is on pace to break Marshall Faulk's record for single-season touchdowns (26). And the Raiders (4-2) and the Chiefs (3-4) are holding down the bottom of the AFC West. The Raiders also are last in the Teams That Abandoned L.A. standings, going 0-2 the last two weeks against the Rams and Chargers. Can they right the ship? Stat: Chiefs yield 38.3 points a game. So to answer the question: Yes they can.

Monday's headline: "Chiefs Run Out of Time in 56-54 Defeat"

*

TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Tampa Bay by 7

Quick slant: Will the last quarterback standing please take the snap?

Plot: Rodney Peete is out with a knee injury, Chris Weinke is questionable because of a concussion and Brad Johnson is doubtful because of a fractured rib. Is there an able-bodied quarterback in the house? Having thought it over, the Panthers and Buccaneers would like to make the following announcement: Randy Fasani and Rob Johnson are the best we can do. Fasani, a rookie from Stanford, went six for 18 subbing for Weinke in Carolina's 30-0 loss to Atlanta last week. Johnson is now the answer to a Buffalo trivia question: Who quarterbacked the Bills between Doug Flutie and Drew Bledsoe?

Monday's headline: "With Tampa Bay's Defense, Who Needs a QB?"

*

ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New Orleans by 4

Quick slant: Football in the family.

Plot: Second cousins and first-string NFL quarterbacks, New Orleans' Aaron Brooks and Atlanta's Michael Vick meet on the football field for the first time Sunday -- the first round in what should be a long and lively in-family rivalry. In an interview with ESPN magazine, Brooks said Vick "is the better athlete. But as far as being the pure quarterback, I'm better." Vick: "We're going to be dealing with this and having fun for a long time. And then, when we're retired and hopefully both in the Hall of Fame and living near each other again back in Virginia, we'll get to talk about these games."

Monday's headline: "Brooks Beats Vick; Thanksgiving Dinner in Jeopardy"

*

TENNESSEE AT CINCINNATI

Kickoff: Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

The line: Tennessee by 4 1/2

Quick slant: Sadly, Bengals' unbeaten streak comes to an end.

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