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THE NICKEL PACKAGE

Times staff writer Sam Farmer breaks down five areas worth watching in today's NFL matchups

October 01, 2006|Sam Farmer

5 BOUND FOR A REUNION

-Mark Brunell

Washington, QB

* Former Jaguar holds virtually every franchise passing record.

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Corey Dillon

New England, RB

* Making his first return to Cincinnati, he is Bengals' all-time rushing leader.

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Jake Delhomme

Carolina, QB

* Had the Saints held onto him, they might have had a lot more success in recent years.

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Antoine Winfield

Minnesota, CB

* Former first-round pick of the Bills returns to Buffalo as a key member of Vikings secondary.

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Az-Zahir Hakim

Detroit, WR

* He and Mike Martz, the Lions' offensive coordinator, are both in St. Louis to face their old team.

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5 PRIMED FOR A BREAKDOWN

* QB Brad Johnson, Minnesota -- He has struggled against the AFC, losing seven of his last nine starts and going 0-4 on the road.

* QB Steve McNair, Baltimore -- The Chargers are pretty rough on opposing quarterbacks -- especially when Shawne Merriman is coming hard off the edge.

* QB David Carr, Houston -- Although Carr has had a respectable rating of 95.0 or better in each of his three starts this season, Texans have lost 10 in a row when he's at 90.0 or better.

* QB Andrew Walter, Oakland -- He's making his first start after completing only 37.5% of his passes with three interceptions in his first two games.

* QB Jon Kitna, Detroit -- Playing well guarantees nothing; Lions have lost seven straight in which they've rolled up at least 400 yards of offense.

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5 COACHES WHO NEVER REACHED

THE SUPER BOWL

* Marty Schottenheimer (188 victories) -- Maybe this will be the season when "Martyball" takes the Chargers all the way.

* Chuck Knox (186) -- "Ground Chuck" helped put Seahawks on the map, but that wasn't enough.

* Jim Mora (125) -- He was a good coach, but his son and namesake might wind up being better.

* Don Coryell (111) -- He created a lot of excitement in San Diego with his innovative passing attack.

* Dennis Green (109) -- His old Minnesota teams had a lot more Super Bowl potential than his current Cardinals.

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5 LOCKS

* Atlanta over Arizona -- The Falcons will regroup after being emotionally overwhelmed in New Orleans.

* Dallas over Tennessee -- T.O. circus might be a distraction, but Cowboys should be able to handle Vince Young-led Titans.

* St. Louis over Detroit -- The Rams are no juggernaut, but the Lions have lost 36 of last 41 on the road.

* Indianapolis over New York Jets -- The Colts are starting to hit stride on offense; the Jets' pass defense is struggling.

* Philadelphia over Green Bay -- The Eagles will get back on track after losing four consecutive Monday night games.

* Last week: 4-1.

* Season: 13-2.

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Source: STATS LLC

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5 PRIMED FOR A BREAKOUT

* QB Daunte Culpepper, Miami -- Yes, he's 7-28 in his last 35 starts on the road, but he's facing the league's lowest-rated defense.

* RB Deuce McAllister, New Orleans -- He has averaged 99.8 yards rushing and has scored five touchdowns in four starts at Carolina.

* RB Larry Johnson, Kansas City -- He's ultra-tough at home, averaging 162.3 yards from scrimmage in eight games.

* WR Steve Smith, Carolina -- He felt good in practice after making season debut last week. Keyshawn Johnson takes a lot of pressure off him.

* QB Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia -- His last start against Green Bay: 464 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

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