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Week 3 Capsules

September 20, 2002|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Miami by 6

Quick slant: All absolutely logic-defying and inexplicably amazing things must come to an end some time.

Plot: With apologies to the 2-0 Panthers and the 0-2 Rams, this week's most mind-fogging NFL stat belongs to the Jets (and the Dolphins are sick and tired of reading it/hearing it/being asked after every practice about it): The Jets are 8-0 against the Dolphins since 1997. Despite the fact Miami has made the playoffs every season since 1997. To put it another way, the last time the Dolphins beat the Jets, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells were matching wits on the sidelines instead of quips on dueling pregame shows, Dan Marino was quarterbacking the Dolphins and Neil O'Donnell was, well, Neil O'Donnell.

Monday's headline: "Eight Is Enough"

*

CLEVELAND AT TENNESSEE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Tennessee by 4

Quick slant: Eddie George looks to get healthy.

Plot: George has carried the load for the Titans for so long, they were still in Houston and he still had the knees of a young man when he began. That was 1996, this is now. George turns 29 on Tuesday, two days after his consecutive-starts streak is expected to hit 97. But clearly all is not well with George, who is averaging 2.9 yards a carry this season and labored painfully in a 21-13 upset loss to Dallas. He badly needs a weekend off, but, failing that, he gets the Browns, who rank 31st against the run and have yielded 120 or more rushing yards in their last six games--150 or more in the last five.

Monday's headline: "What's Brown and White and Gets Run All Over?"

*

NEW ORLEANS AT CHICAGO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Chicago by 1

Quick slant: Mike Ditka Memorial Classic.

Plot: Ditka coached both of these teams, to wildly different conclusions. With the Bears, he wound up in the Super Bowl. With the Saints, he mortgaged the franchise's future for a running back who now plays for Miami, then went 15-33 in three seasons. Now completely Ditka-less, both teams are on the rebound--the Bears 2-0 after winning by three points and one point, just like last year, and the Saints a surprising 2-0 to open the post-Ricky Williams era. Both of the Saints' victories have been against 2001 NFC playoff teams, Tampa Bay and Green Bay. A win over the Bears in Champaign would be another.

Monday's headline: "Hold the Champaign, It's Hurricanes All Around"

*

DALLAS AT PHILADELPHIA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11

The line: Philadelphia by 9

Quick slant: Quincy Carter won a game last Sunday. Let's see him do it again.

Plot: The Cowboys are 0-4 against the Eagles since 1999, having been outscored, 133-48. In those games, the Eagle defense has forced 13 turnovers. Into this breach is thrown young quarterback Carter, who missed both Eagle games last season and had lunch this week with team owner Jerry Jones. Rumor has it Jones requested the sit-down to counsel Carter on his recent dealings with the Dallas media, which have been hostile. Carter will learn soon enough: Against the Eagles, the postgame stuff is usually the highlight.

Monday's headline: "How Do We Put This Nicely? Eagles Intercept Carter Five Times"

*

INDIANAPOLIS AT HOUSTON

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 12

Quick slant: Learning curve bound to quicken for someone here.

Plot: In their 24-3 loss to San Diego, the Texans looked very much the undermanned expansion team that might have exhausted a full season's supply of adrenaline in their opening-night upset of the Cowboys. Now continues the hard part: the rest of the schedule. Meanwhile, the tackling-challenged Colts are still struggling to grasp the fundamentals of defense. After two games in 2001, the Colts had given up 50 points and 701 yards. After two games in 2002, the Colts have yielded 46 points and 685 yards. Tony Dungy and the Texans are slowly learning: It's going to be a long haul.

Monday's headline: "Giddy Dungy: 'You Mean We Get To Play Them TWICE A Year?!' "

*

KANSAS CITY AT NEW ENGLAND

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: New England by 9

Quick slant: Pony express finally reaches Vegas bookmakers. "Holy cow, it says here Patriots are good!"

Plot: It didn't take a ton of bricks to fall on the behind-the-curve types who set the NFL betting lines. No, only victories by scores of 30-14 and 44-7 over 2001 playoff teams Pittsburgh and the Jets. (Not to mention an 11-game winning streak that includes, oh, right, the Super Bowl.) Finally, the Patriots are favored to win a game, this one over Kansas City, which is one thrown helmet away from an 0-2 start and cries for Trent Green's benching. Oh, that has already started? Says Chief Coach Dick Vermeil of Green's backup: "It would not surprise me to see Todd Collins go in a football game and play very well."

Monday's headline: "Patriots Beat the Spread Again."

*

CAROLINA AT MINNESOTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Minnesota by 6

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