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Week 7 in the NFL

The Nickel Package

Times staff writer Sam Farmer breaks down five areas worth watching this week in the NFL

October 22, 2006|Sam Farmer

5 BOWLING-BALL BACKS

Kevin Jones

Detroit

* Leads the league with 294 yards gained after catches.

Larry Johnson

Kansas City

* Becoming a favorite target for quarterback Damon Huard.

Reggie Bush

New Orleans

* Starting to run more north-south, with great results.

Brian Westbrook

Philadelphia

* Averaging an NFL-best 6.3 yards a carry on the road.

Maurice Jones-Drew

Jacksonville

* Former UCLA standout has four touchdowns in his last three games.

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5 POISED FOR A BREAKDOWN

RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo

* Last time against the Patriots, he had eight carries for three yards.

QB Joey Harrington, Miami

* He is 2-5 with a 52.6 rating in seven games against the Packers.

QB Jon Kitna, Detroit

* In his last 11 quarters against the Jets, Kitna had zero touchdown passes and six interceptions.

WR Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay

* Only eight times has Galloway been held without a reception -- three of those came against Philadelphia.

RB Edgerrin James, Arizona

* He's averaging only 2.7 yards a carry. And Oakland's defense isn't too bad.

Source: STATS LLC

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5 POISED FOR A BREAKOUT

QB Tom Brady, New England

* In his last six starts against Buffalo, he has a combined passer rating of 101.9.

WR Steve Smith, Carolina

* Smith, who plays at Cincinnati, has 100-plus yards receiving in eight of his last 10 road games.

TE Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City

* In his last four games against the Chargers, he has averaged 8.5 catches and 101 yards.

QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle

* He's right at home; has 12 touchdown passes in his last four home games.

DE Michael Strahan, New York Giants

* Watch out Drew Bledsoe; Strahan has 13 sacks in his last 10 games against Dallas.

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5 LOCKS

* Jacksonville over Houston -- Even after a week off, the Jaguars won't lose momentum for this one.

* New York Jets over Detroit -- With Shaun Rogers out, a bad Lions defense gets a little worse. It will be close though.

* Philadelphia over Tampa Bay -- The Eagles are 3-10 in Florida, but they'll make an exception here.

* Denver over Cleveland -- The Browns have yet to win at home, and Denver's defense is just too good.

* Seattle over Minnesota -- Deion Branch is starting to become a difference-maker for his new team.

Last week: 3-2.

Season: 26-4.

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5 FAST STARTERS

NFL teams that opened 5-0 in at least two consecutive seasons:

Dallas, 1976-77

* Cowboys won the Super Bowl in the '77 season.

Chicago, 1985-1986

* Bears won the Super Bowl in the '85 season.

Denver, 1997-1998

* Broncos won consecutive Super Bowls in 1997 and '98 seasons.

St. Louis, 1999-2000-2001

* Rams won the Super Bowl in the '99 season.

Indianapolis, 2005-2006

* Colts haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season.

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