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Week 8 in the NFL

The Nickel Package

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

October 29, 2006

5 LONGEST ACTIVE STARTING STREAKS (WITH CONSECUTIVE GAMES)

Brett Favre

Green Bay QB

* 227: He has a modest 78.8 rating this season, but, hey, he's Brett Favre.

Will Shields

Kansas City G

* 213: Among the most respected offensive linemen in the game.

Derrick Brooks

Tampa Bay LB

* 166: He ranks in the top 15 in tackles this season among NFL linebackers.

Jon Runyan

Philadelphia OT

* 151: A Sports Illustrated poll ranked him among the league's dirtiest players.

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis QB

* 134: He'll have a real test at Denver today, as Indy's offense has cooled.

*

5 POISED FOR A BREAKDOWN

* QB Alex Smith, San Francisco -- Smith has thrown for five touchdowns in his last two starts, but Chicago could present big problems.

* RB Edgerrin James, Arizona -- He's struggling, and Green Bay isn't bad when it comes to playing defense against the run.

* QB Tony Romo, Dallas -- Congratulations on your promotion to Cowboys starter, Tony. Of course you're familiar with Julius Peppers

* QB Bruce Gradkowski, Tampa Bay -- The Meadowlands can be an awfully tough place to play when the winds are swirling, particularly for a rookie.

* RB Reggie Bush, New Orleans -- Aside from his game-winning punt return, he has gotten off to a slow start. Today, he faces a tough Baltimore defense.

*

5 CONVERTED COLLEGE QUARTERBACKS

* WR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh: As a University of Georgia sophomore, bounced from flanker to tailback to quarterback to tailback to quarterback.

* WR Antwaan Randle El, Washington: At Indiana, he became the only player in Division I-A history to gain 6,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing.

* WR Matt Jones, Jacksonville: Finished his Arkansas career second on the school's all-time list with 53 touchdown passes and 5,857 passing yards.

* FS Brian Russell, Cleveland: Former San Diego State quarterback switched to safety midway through his junior year.

* WR Carlyle Holiday, Arizona: Notre Dame quarterback moved to receiver as a fifth-year senior but made a bigger impact as a punt returner.

*

5 POISED FOR A BREAKOUT

* WR Muhsin Muhammad, Chicago: In his last nine games against San Francisco, Muhammad has nine touchdown receptions.

* WR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh: He's averaging a career-high 14.5 yards a catch.

* RB Travis Henry, Tennessee: In his last two starts against Houston, Henry has averaged 154 yards. And he has gained 301 yards rushing the last two weeks.

* DE Bertrand Berry, Arizona: He has four sacks and three forced fumbles in his last two games. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre could be in trouble.

* WR Javon Walker, Denver: Walker has started against Indianapolis only once and had 11 receptions for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

*

5 LOCKS

* Chicago over San Francisco -- The Bears are rested and ready to resume their playoff march.

* New York Jets over Cleveland -- The Jets will win their third in a row for the first time in almost two years.

* Carolina over Dallas -- This is not the team Tony Romo wanted to see in his first start.

* New York Giants over Tampa Bay -- This one should be low-scoring, but the Giants are a better team.

* San Diego over St. Louis -- After three turnovers last Sunday, Chargers will get smart with the ball again.

Last week: 2-3.

Season: 28-7.

Source: STATS LLC

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