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Week 3 Capsules

September 19, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

MINNESOTA AT DETROIT

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Minnesota 3 1/2.

Introduction: Give Coach Mike Tice credit for getting wide receiver Randy Moss to buy into the Vikings' team concept that has helped lead them to a 2-0 start.

Plot: Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper has developed into quarterback who not only can hurt opponents with his arm and legs but spot weaknesses in defenses too. Detroit's pass defense is shaky at best and will have problems trying to slow Culpepper and the Vikings.

Bottom line: The Lions will need to control the ball to have a chance against the Vikings, who have an underrated rushing attack with Moe Williams and Onterrio Smith. Unless Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington has a career game, the Vikings should win easily.

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TAMPA BAY AT ATLANTA

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

The line: Tampa Bay by 4.

Introduction: The Buccaneers got knocked around in last week's loss to Carolina and will be looking to reestablish themselves against the Falcons, who struggled late in their loss to Washington.

Plot: Atlanta Coach Dan Reeves will try to copy what the Panthers did against Tampa Bay, but the Falcons don't have the kind of defense to get it done. Atlanta's secondary is suspect and will be tested by quarterback Brad Johnson. Look for Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman to get more work this week.

Bottom line: The Falcons have to run the ball with more consistency to give quarterback Doug Johnson a fighting chance against the Buccaneers' dominant defense.

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KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Kansas City by 7 1/2.

Introduction: After two impressive victories to open the season, the Chiefs may be forced to play without standout running back Priest Holmes, who suffered bruised ribs against Pittsburgh last Sunday.

Plot: Quarterback Trent Green has not had to come up with too many big throws yet this season, but he may have to without Holmes in the lineup. The Texan defense has the ability to stop the Chief running game but struggles against the pass. Running back Stacey Mack needs to touch the ball more for Houston.

Bottom line: The Chiefs may be primed to be upset by Houston. With quarterback David Carr spreading the ball around, the Texans, who beat Miami on the road, could be in position to pull off another big victory.

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NEW ORLEANS AT TENNESSEE

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Tennessee by 4 1/2.

Introduction: The Saints and Titans have been strong teams at home and weak on the road.

Plot: The Titans looked awesome in a season-opening victory over Oakland, but horrible in last week's 33-7 loss at Indianapolis. Quarterback Steve McNair is questionable because of a finger injury and if he can't play, the Titans will struggle. New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks and running back Deuce McAllister give the Saints a strong 1-2 offensive punch.

Bottom line: If McNair can't play, Tennessee will go with Billy Volek at quarterback. That's not a good sign for running back Eddie George, who already has had trouble gaining yards even when McNair is in the lineup.

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N.Y. JETS AT NEW ENGLAND

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

The line: New England 6 1/2.

Introduction: Despite the lack of a running game, the Patriots are still a strong team on offense with quarterback Tom Brady. The Jets are looking for their first victory.

Plot: New England's defense has to shut down New York's Vinny Testaverde, who passed for 373 yards against Miami last week. Of course, running back Curtis Martin rushed for 32 yards and had only 10 carries last week, which helps to explain Testaverde's big numbers.

Bottom line: New York's defense is solid, but the Patriots will be able to exploit the Jets' poor pass rush. Look for Testaverde to keep the score close with big completions to Santana Moss.

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JACKSONVILLE AT INDIANAPOLIS

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Indianapolis by 7 1/2.

Introduction: First-year Coach Jack Del Rio has a rebuilding job on his hands, so the Jaguars will be hard-pressed to pick up their first victory against the undefeated Colts.

Plot: Colt quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Marvin Harrison have hooked up 12 times in two games but they have accounted for only 103 yards and one touchdown. Running back Edgerrin James rushed for 120 yards in a victory over Tennessee last week. Versatile back Fred Taylor leads the Jaguars in both rushing and receiving.

Bottom line: The Colt defense is coming off brilliant efforts in back-to-back games and should not have too many problems against quarter- back Mark Brunell and the Jaguar offense.

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PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI

Kickoff: Sunday, 10 a.m.

The line: Pittsburgh by 4 1/2.

Introduction: The Bengals played well enough to win last week at Oakland, but lost, 23-20. Pittsburgh gave up too many big plays in a 41-20 loss at Kansas City.

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