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Week 5 Capsules

October 03, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

MINNESOTA AT ATLANTA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Minnesota by 4.

Introduction: The Vikings may be without quarterback Daunte Culpepper, but they still have wide receiver Randy Moss, who caught three touchdown passes from backup Gus Frerotte last week against San Francisco.

Plot: The injury-plagued Falcons will have their hands full trying to slow the Vikings, the NFC's highest-scoring team. Atlanta's already weak secondary will be without suspended cornerback Tyrone Williams. Expect Moss and Co. to take full advantage.

Bottom line: Minnesota safeties Brian Russell and Corey Chavous, who are tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions, should have a big game against quarterback Doug Johnson, who has thrown seven interceptions in four games.

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CINCINNATI AT BUFFALO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Buffalo by 8.

Introduction: The Bengals have become a respectable team and will give Drew Bledsoe and the Bills all they can handle.

Plot: Without running back Travis Henry, questionable because of a chest injury, the Bills are an average team that cannot run the ball. This will be a problem against the Bengals, who defeated Cleveland last week. Quarterback Jon Kitna has thrown four touchdown passes and no interceptions over his last seven quarters for the Bengals, who will be without running back Corey Dillon, who has a groin injury.

Bottom line: Expect Bledsoe to pass early and often, but that may make things easier for the Bengals, who have improved defensively each week.

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NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Carolina by 6 1/2.

Introduction: Coach Jim Haslett's days will be numbered if the Saints continue to play as poorly as they did in Sunday night's ugly home loss to Indianapolis.

Plot: As long as Carolina can run the ball with Stephen Davis, the Panthers will be tough to beat because of their strong defense. Davis is off to the best start in Carolina history with 406 yards in three games. New Orleans' defense has struggled, and the Saints' offense has been inconsistent, despite having quarterback Aaron Brooks and running back Deuce McAllister.

Bottom line: The Saints will need a big game from Brooks to give the Panthers their first defeat of the season. That may be a longshot.

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OAKLAND AT CHICAGO

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2.

The line: Oakland by 4.

Introduction: After defeating San Diego in overtime, 34-31, last week, the Raiders will be seeking their second consecutive victory over a struggling opponent.

Plot: If quarterback Kordell Stewart can get a big game from running back Anthony Thomas, the Bears may be able to move the ball against the Raiders. Oakland had a difficult time slowing the winless Chargers but should do a better job against the predictable and winless Bears.

Bottom line: Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon, the league's MVP last season, had his best game of the season last week but misses receiver Jerry Porter, who is still listed as doubtful for Sunday.

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ARIZONA AT DALLAS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Dallas by 7.

Introduction: Emmitt Smith makes his return to Dallas, but don't expect any special treatment from the Cowboys, who have won two in a row under Coach Bill Parcells.

Plot: If the Cardinals can get Smith going early to help open up the passing game for quarterback Jeff Blake, the Cowboys could be in for a tough game. Quarterback Quincy Carter still is inconsistent, but the Cowboy running game has steadily improved with Smith's replacement, Troy Hambrick. Led by safety Darren Woodson, the Cowboys feature one of the league's best secondaries.

Bottom line: As long as Carter remembers to get the ball to his talented receivers, the Cowboys will be looking at a surprising 3-1 start, thanks to Parcells' leadership.

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SEATTLE AT GREEN BAY

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

The line: Green Bay by 2.

Introduction: Coach Mike Holmgren returns to Green Bay with the undefeated Seahawks, who will be looking to knock the Packers back under .500

Plot: The Seahawks, 3-0 for the first time in five years, have been carried by former Green Bay quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has thrown six touchdown passes and only one interception. Green Bay running back Ahman Green is second in the league in rushing with 442 yards and also leads the Packers in receptions with 17.

Bottom line: Now that his receivers aren't all injured, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre is starting to look more like Brett Favre, and that means trouble for the Seahawks.

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DENVER AT KANSAS CITY

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Kansas City by 3 1/2.

Introduction: This AFC West showdown features two of the NFL's six unbeaten teams.

Plot: If Denver's Clinton Portis, who sat out last week's game because of a chest injury, can play, this game will feature two of the league's dominant running backs, Portis and the Chiefs' Priest Holmes. Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan, who has a 3-7 record at Arrowhead Stadium, will need a big effort from quarterback Jake Plummer, who has passed for seven touchdowns.

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