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Week 11 Capsules

November 14, 2003|LONNIE WHITE | Times Staff Writer

HOUSTON AT BUFFALO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Bills by 7.

Introduction: It's quarterback Drew Bledsoe and the Bills' inefficient offense vs. the Texans' porous defense that gave up 34 points to Cincinnati last week.

Plot: Even with running back Travis Henry, wide receiver Eric Moulds and Bledsoe, Buffalo's offense has had trouble scoring. Bledsoe has had eight passes intercepted and thrown only six touchdown passes for the Bills, the second-lowest scoring team in the AFC. The Texans have built a ground attack around rookie running back Domanick Davis, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of his last four starts.

Bottom line: Buffalo Coach Gregg Williams may not finish the season unless the Bills start winning soon, like Sunday against the Texans.

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WASHINGTON AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Panthers by 6.

Introduction: After getting past Seattle last weekend, Coach Steve Spurrier and the Redskins have to step up and face the Panthers, who completed their sweep over Tampa Bay.

Plot: Even without running back Stephen Davis, out with an ankle injury, the Panthers had enough offense to defeat the Buccaneers. Carolina's Jake Delhomme has thrown five touchdown passes, with three interceptions, in his last three starts, and played well against Tampa Bay. Washington's Patrick Ramsey has a 77.7 quarterback rating with 12 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Bottom line: The Redskins need the ball to be effective, but the Panthers have an excellent ball-control offense.

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ST. LOUIS AT CHICAGO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Ch. 11.

The line: Rams by 6.

Introduction: If St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger struggles as he did last weekend against Baltimore, don't be surprised to see veteran Kurt Warner get some playing time.

Plot: The Rams failed to generate much offense against the Ravens but still scored 33 points. Coach Mike Martz cannot count on that happening against the Bears, who have the least penalized defense in the NFL. With 17 fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions, the Rams are tied with Kansas City for most takeaways. In last week's 12-10 loss at Detroit, the Bears had 199 yards in offense.

Bottom line: As long as Bulger can get the ball to Torry Holt, who leads the NFL with 66 catches for 1,099 yards and nine touchdowns, the Rams should be in good shape.

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KANSAS CITY AT CINCINNATI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Chiefs by 6.

Introduction: The 1972 Miami Dolphins should be concerned about the 9-0 Chiefs, who are getting solid play from quarterback Trent Green and big plays from their defense.

Plot: Kansas City leads the NFL with a plus-18 turnover advantage. In his last four starts, Green has thrown for eight touchdown passes and one interception. Kansas City's Priest Holmes leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns rushing. The Bengals have won three of their last four games, including last week's victory over Houston. Cincinnati running back Rudi Johnson has gained 317 yards and scored four touchdowns in his last three games.

Bottom line: If the Bengals can shut down Holmes, the Chiefs may be in for a tough battle.

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ARIZONA AT CLEVELAND

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Browns by 6.

Introduction: The struggling Browns have lost three games in a row, and the Cardinals have not won a road game in more than a year.

Plot: Cleveland Coach Butch Davis has continuing problems with the Browns' passing game. In last weekend's loss at Kansas City, no Cleveland receiver had as much as 35 yards. With running back William Green out because of a suspension, the Browns need backup James Jackson to step up. Arizona quarterback Jeff Blake has passed for 1,712 yards and 11 touchdowns, with nine interceptions.

Bottom line: Look for the Browns to try to establish a running game, even without Green in the lineup, because that gives them their best chance to win.

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BALTIMORE AT MIAMI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Dolphins by 6.

Introduction: Every loss by the Dolphins turns up the heat on Coach Dave Wannstedt.

Plot: With rookie quarterback Kyle Boller sidelined because of a thigh injury, Baltimore will start Anthony Wright over Chris Redman. Wright's mobility adds a new dimension to the Ravens, who depend heavily on Jamal Lewis, who leads the NFL in rushing at 1,156 yards. In a loss to the Tennessee Titans last week, Miami quarterback Brian Griese threw three interceptions, fumbled twice and was sacked four times.

Bottom line: If Miami's Ricky Williams has a big game, the Dolphins win easily. If Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis has a big game, the Ravens have a chance.

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ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Saints by 8 1/2.

Introduction: Coach Dan Reeves and the Falcons will look for a second consecutive victory after a seven-game losing streak.

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