NFL game capsules – Week 4
Tennessee (2-1) At Pittsburgh (2-1)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Steelers lead series, 40-28.
Last meeting — Titans beat Steelers, 34-31, in OT on Jan. 11 at Tennessee in AFC playoffs.
Last week — Titans beat Saints, 27-12. Steelers beat Bengals, 17-10.
Titans Rankings : Offense — Overall (13), Rush (23), Pass (8); Defense — Overall (4), Rush (1), Pass (11)
Steelers rankings : Offense — Overall (5), Rush (18), Pass (2t); Defense — Overall (3), Rush (18t), Pass (2)
Watch this — Steelers RBs Amos Zereoue and Jerome Bettis vs. Titans’ front seven. Bettis, NFL’s 10th-ranked all-time rusher, has failed to break 100 yards against Titans in past 12 meetings. Zereoue leads team with 173 yards rushing in three games. Titans’ rushing defense allows 61.3 yards per game, best mark in NFL, and a paltry 3.1 yards per carry.
Streaks, stats and notes — Titans WR Derrick Mason leads NFL with 24 receptions and has 244 yards receiving. … Steelers WRs Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward lead NFL receiving duos with 572 yards on 40 combined receptions. Burress and Ward account for 52.2 percent of team’s total net yards (1,095). … Steelers QB Tommy Maddox is second in NFL and first in AFC in yards passing with 836. He’s tied with Titans QB Steve McNair and others for AFC lead with five TD passes.
Jerry DiPaola says : Titans, plus-3.
Chiefs (3-0) at Ravens (2-1)
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Series record — Chiefs lead 1-0.
Last meeting — Chiefs beat Ravens, 35-8, on Oct. 21, 1999, at Baltimore.
Last week — Chiefs beat Texans, 42-14. Ravens beat Chargers, 24-10.
Chiefs rankings: Offense — Overall (4), Rush (4), Pass (15); Defense — Overall (17), Rush (9), Pass (24).
Ravens rankings: Offense — Overall (21), Rush (1), Pass (32); Defense — Overall (13), Rush (15), Pass (15).
Key matchup — Chiefs RB Priest Holmes vs. Ravens RB Jamal Lewis. Lewis was a rookie in Holmes’ last year with Baltimore, when team won Super Bowl. Lewis is No. 1 rusher in Ravens history (3,187), and Holmes is No. 2. Lewis set NFL single-game rushing record with 295 yards against Cleveland two weeks ago. Holmes is NFL’s leading scorer with 42 points (seven TDs). Together, Lewis and Holmes have accounted for 11 TDs rushing this season, three more than combined totals of other top 10 AFC rushers. Lewis leads NFL with 496 yards rushing, Holmes is third with 296.
Streaks, stats, and notes — In Holmes’ last seven games, he has 1,003 yards rushing (5.8 yards per carry) with 12 TDs rushing. … Chiefs KR Dante Hall leads NFL in kick return average (33.6 yards per return) and punt return average (19.8). Hall has five return TDs in past eight games. … Ravens rookie QB Kyle Boller has worst passer rating (53.9) of any QB who has played in three games.
Jerry DiPaola says : Chiefs, minus-3.
Cowboys (1-1) at Jets (0-3)
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Series record — Cowboys lead, 5-2.
Last meeting — Jets beat Cowboys, 22-21, on Dec. 19, 1999, at Dallas.
Last week — Cowboys had bye, beat Giants, 35-32, in OT in Week 2. Jets lost to Patriots, 23-16.
Cowboys rankings: Offense — Overall (2), Rush (9), Pass (1); Defense — Overall (19), Rush (7), Pass (26)
Jets rankings : Offense — Overall (20), Rush (32), Pass (6t); Defense — Overall (23), Rush (31), Pass (8)
Key matchup — Cowboys WR Joey Galloway vs. Jets CBs Ray Mickens and Aaron Beasley. Galloway ranks seventh in NFL, averaging 91 yards receiving per game. He averages 18.2 yards per catch and is one of QB Quincy Carter’s favorite targets on offense that averages league-best 275 yards passing in two games. Mickens, subbing for injured Donnie Abraham, and Beasley will need to close off Galloway to give Jets’ sputtering offense a chance.
Streaks, stats and notes — Cowboys play second straight game in Giants Stadium after beating Giants in Week 2, then having bye. Last team to play consecutive games in Meadowlands was New England, which beat Giants 50-21, then beat Jets 27-20 in 1999. … Jets DE Shaun Ellis is tied for second in NFL with four sacks. … Cowboys have not allowed 100-yard rusher in seven consecutive games. That streak is probably safe as Jets have NFL’s worst rushing offense, averaging 47.7 yards per game.
Jerry DiPaola says : Jets, minus-3.
Packers (1-2) at Bears (0-2)
Time: 9 p.m.
Series record — Bears lead, 84-75-6.
Last meeting — Packers beat Bears, 30-20, on Dec. 1, 2002, at Green Bay.
Last week — Packers lost to Cardinals, 20-13. Bears had bye, lost to Vikings, 24-13, in Week 2.
Packers rankings : Offense — Overall (14), Rush (13), Pass (17); Defense — Overall (22), Rush (17), Pass (23)
Bears rankings : Offense — Overall (32), Rush (29), Pass (31); Defense — Overall (31), Rush (32), Pass (17)
Key matchup — Packers’ soft defense vs. Bears’ anemic offense. Bears have NFL’s worst offense, averaging paltry 167.5 yards per game. QB Kordell Stewart has not been stellar in first two games in Chicago as team averages only 100 yards passing. Packers allow 231 yards passing per game, so this might be Bears’ chance to rebound. But Chicago must do better than averaging 3.3 yards per play to have chance of winning in first game in renovated Soldier Field.
Streaks, stats and notes — Packers QB Brett Favre has thrown a TD pass in 22 straight games against Bears, second-longest streak all-time (Dan Marino threw TDs in 24 straight against Jets). … Packers are 15-0 when RB Ahman Green rushes for 100 yards. He needs 130 yards rushing to pass Tony Canadeo for third in club history.
Jerry DiPaola says : Packers, minus-4.
Cardinals (1-2) at Rams (1-2)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Rams lead, 26-21-2.
Last meeting — Rams beat Cardinals, 30-28, on Dec. 15, 2002, at St. Louis.
Last week — Cardinals beat Packers, 20-13. Rams lost to Seahawks, 24-23.
Key matchup — Cardinals LB Raynoch Thompson vs. Rams RB Lamar Gordon. With star RB Marshall Faulk out for a few weeks, Gordon fills in. In three games, Faulk has 116 yards rushing, more than half team’s total. Gordon has 72 yards on 14 carries. Rams have yet to record more than 90 yards rushing in game this season. Thompson, who leads Cardinals in tackles, will look to continue that streak.
Streaks, stats and notes — Cardinals QB Jeff Blake needs 26 yards passing to reach 20,000 for career. … Cardinals have the NFL’s worst turnover differential at minus-8. Rams are third worst at minus-6. … Cardinals RB Emmitt Smith has 76 career 100-yard rushing games and needs one more to tie Walter Payton for most in NFL history. … Rams WR Isaac Bruce has 9,732 career yards receiving and needs 30 to pass Rams WR coach Henry Ellard for most in club history.
Jerry DiPaola says : Rams, minus-101/2
Jaguars (0-3) at Texans (1-2)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Series tied 1-1.
Last meeting — Jaguars beat Texans 24-21 on Nov. 17, 2002, at Houston.
Last week — Jaguars lost to Colts 23-13. Texans lost to Chiefs 42-14.
Key matchup — Jaguars QBs Mark Brunell and Byron Leftwich vs. Texans CB Marcus Coleman. Brunell, questionable with an elbow injury, is one of three NFL starters without an INT this season. He has NFL’s best completion percentage at 65.9. Coleman is tied for NFL lead with three INTs. If Brunell can’t play, Leftwich, who is 11-of-13 with two TDs and no INTs in limited action this season, will fill in.
Streaks, stats and notes — Jaguars’ last road game until Nov. 2 at Baltimore. … Texans beat Jaguars on Oct. 27. 2002, for franchise’s first road and divisional win. … Jaguars RB Fred Taylor has 268 yards rushing and leads team with 13 receptions. … Texans WR Andre Johnson leads AFC rookies and is tied for fourth among AFC receivers with 18 catches. … Texans sacked Brunell 10 times last season. … Jaguars average 17.7 points per game, Texans average only 15.
Jerry DiPaola says : Texans, plus-3.
Eagles (0-2) at Bills (2-1)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Bills lead, 5-4.
Last meeting — Bills beat Eagles, 26-0, on Sept. 26, 1999, at Buffalo.
Last week — Eagles had bye, lost to Patriots, 31-10 in Week 2. Bills lost to Dolphins, 17-7.
Key matchup — Eagles RBs Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook vs. Bills’ front seven. Eagles RBs have struggled in first two games, gaining only 65 yards. QB Donovan McNabb leads team with 109 yards on 10 rushes, while WR James Thrash has 47 yards on one end-around. Staley and Westbrook could bounce back against Bills, who have struggled against the run. Last week, Miami’s Ricky Williams racked up 153 yards, and opponents are averaging 122 yards rushing per game against Bills.
Streaks, stats and notes — Staley has 4,375 yards rushing and needs 108 to pass Randall Cunningham for third in club history. … Eagles are only NFL club to draft all three QBs on roster (McNabb, Koy Detmer, A.J. Feeley). … Eagles have NFL’s second-worst turnover differential at minus-7. Bills are plus-2. … Bills CB Nate Clements is tied for NFL lead with three INTs. … Bills P Brian Moorman is second in NFL with 51.8 punting average.
Jerry DiPaola says : Eagles, plus-21/2
Patriots (2-1) at Redskins (2-1)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Redskins lead, 5-1.
Last meeting — Redskins beat Patriots, 27-22, on Oct. 13, 1996, at New England.
Last week — Patriots beat Jets, 23-16. Redskins lost to Giants, 24-21 in OT.
Key matchup — Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey vs. New England secondary. Ramsey leads NFL with 889 yards passing and is third overall with five TD passes. He’s thrown just two INTs and at 95.1, has the second highest QB rating in NFC. Patriots’ pass defense has been shaky at times since losing safety Lawyer Milloy to Buffalo just before season. To beat Redskins, Patriots CBs Ty Law and Asante Samuel will need to cover WR Laveranues Coles tightly.
Streaks, stats and notes — Coles is tied for NFC lead with 23 receptions and his 391 yards receiving leads league. … Patriots last played in Washington in 1981, when Joe Theismann scored go-ahead TD for Redskins. … Redskins RB Trung Canidate averages 5.3 yards per carry, tied for third in NFL (minimum 150 yards rushing). … Patriots plus-4 turnover differential is tied for best in AFC. Redskins are minus-3.
Jerry DiPaola says : Redskins, minus-31/2
Bengals (0-3) at Browns (1-2)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — Browns lead, 31-28.
Last meeting — Browns beat Bengals, 27-20, on Nov. 17, 2002, at Cincinnati.
Last week — Bengals lost to Steelers, 17-10. Browns beat 49ers, 13-12.
Key matchup — Bengals RB Corey Dillon vs. Browns MLB Andra Davis. Dillon has 941 yards rushing and five TD runs in eight career games against Browns and averages 117.6 yards per game. Dillon has rushed for more than 130 yards four times against Browns and Bengals are 4-0 in those games. Davis, who leads team in tackles, will need to shadow Dillon. Browns’ weak front seven allows 6.1 yards per carry, worst in NFL. Browns allow 161.7 yards rushing per game; only Bears and Jets allow more.
Streaks, stats and notes — In 59 games, Browns have outscored Bengals by only 18 points, 1,203-1,185. … Bengals WR Chad Johnson leads AFC with 303 yards receiving. … Cleveland defense is tied with Miami for best inside 20, both teams allowing no TDs in eight possessions. … Browns WR Kevin Johnson is third in AFC with 20 receptions.
Jerry DiPaola says: Bengals, plus-6.
49ers (1-2) at Vikings (3-0)
Time: 1 p.m.
Series record — 49ers lead, 21-18-1.
Last meeting — Vikings beat 49ers, 40-16, on Oct. 24, 1999, at Minnesota.
Last week — 49ers lost to Browns, 13-12. Vikings beat Lions, 23-13.
Key matchup — 49ers LB Derek Smith vs. Vikings QB Gus Frerotte. With starting QB Daunte Culpepper doubtful with cracked bones in back, Frerotte may have to step in. Frerotte threw for 184 yards and TD last week after Culpepper hurt back. Frerotte is not as mobile as Culpepper and will have to face SF defense tied for the NFL lead with 13 sacks. Smith leads 49ers with 2.5 sacks and anchors defense that allows only 154 yards passing per game.
Streaks, stats and notes — Game features two of NFL’s top three TD receivers of the 2000s: 49ers Terrell Owens (No. 1 with 43 TDs) and Vikings Randy Moss (No. 3 with 33). … Vikings RB Moe Williams is NFC’s second-leading rusher (283 yards) and is second in yards from scrimmage (387). … Vikings lead NFL with eight INTs. 49ers QB Jeff Garcia has thrown three INTs in three games.
Jerry DiPaola says : 49ers, pick’em.
Chargers (0-3) at Raiders (1-2)
Time: 4:05 p.m.
Series record — Raiders lead, 54-31-2.
Last meeting — Raiders beat Chargers, 27-7, on Dec. 8, 2002, at Oakland.
Last week — Chargers lost to Ravens, 24-10. Raiders lost to Broncos, 31-10.
Key matchup — Chargers P Darren Bennett vs. Raiders P Shane Lechler. With two struggling offenses, both punters could be busy. Lechler leads NFL with 52.2-yard gross average and is tied for league lead with most punts, 21. Bennett is third in NFL with 40.4-yard net average and has punted 16 times. Raiders’ struggling offense averages paltry 237.3 yards per game and Chargers QB Drew Brees has lowly 58.6 rating.
Streaks, stats and notes — Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson has been lone offensive bright spot, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and catching 18 passes. Charlie Garner leads Raiders with only 94 yards rushing and 14 receptions. … Neither team has been particularly strong defensively either, Raiders allowing 25.3 points per game, Chargers allowing 29.3. … Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer has 20-6 record against Raiders. … In eight games against Chargers, Raiders WR Jerry Rice has 11 TDs and averages of 7.5 catches, 116.1 yards.
Jerry DiPaola says : Chargers, plus-71/2
Falcons (1-2) at Panthers (2-0)
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Series record — Falcons lead, 11-5.
Last meeting — Falcons beat Panthers, 41-0, on Nov. 24, 2002, at Carolina.
Last week — Falcons lost to Buccaneers, 31-10. Panthers had bye, beat Buccaneers, 12-9 in Week 2.
Key matchup — Falcons QB Doug Johnson vs. Carolina secondary. Johnson, subbing for injured Michael Vick, has not had much success. He’s thrown six INTs in three games and is averaging 160.7 yards passing, although he has thrown four TDs. He might not get much resistance from Panthers’ shaky pass defense, which has only one INT and allowed nearly 300 yards passing per game.
Streaks, stats and notes — Panthers have scored only seven points in past three games against Falcons, including two shutouts last year. … Falcons coach Dan Reeves needs win to become sixth coach to reach 200 victories. … Panthers RB Stephen Davis has 21 career 100-yard rushing games and his club is 17-4 in those contests. … Panthers blocked five kicks (three FGs, one PAT, one punt) in first two games. … Falcons RB Warrick Dunn leads team with only 110 yards rushing.
Jerry DiPaola says : Falcons, plus-6.
Lions (1-2) at Broncos (3-0)
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Series record — Lions lead, 9-8.
Last meeting — Broncos beat Lions, 17-7, on Dec. 25, 1999, at Detroit.
Last week — Lions lost to Vikings, 23-13. Broncos beat Raiders, 31-10.
Key matchup — Lions DTs Kelvin Pritchett and Shaun Rogers vs. Broncos C Tom Nalen. Nalen, four-time Pro Bowler, and rest of offensive line have cleared holes for 1,000-yard rushers in seven of last eight years. No matter which RB plays for Denver — Clinton Portis is questionable (chest); Mike Anderson is probable (knee) — Broncos should run well on Lions, who allow 5.5 yards per carry.
Streaks, stats and notes — Lions last played in Denver in 1987, when John Elway ran for two TDs in Broncos’ shutout win. … Broncos K Jason Elam is second among NFL kickers with 32 points and has not missed a kick (11 PAT, 7 FG). … Broncos DE Bert Berry leads NFL with 4.5 sacks. … Lions rookie WR Charles Rogers (No. 12 pick overall in last draft) has 14 receptions, tied for third among NFL rookies. … Lions CB Dre’ Bly has three INTs, tied for league lead.
Jerry DiPaola says : Lions, plus-121/2.
Colts (3-0) at Saints (1-2)
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Series record — Saints lead, 5-3.
Last meeting — Saints beat Colts, 34-20, on Nov. 18, 2001 at New Orleans.
Last week — Colts beat Jaguars, 23-13. Saints lost to Titans, 27-12.
Key matchup — Colts CB Nick Harper vs. Saints QB Aaron Brooks. Brooks is off to decent start, completing 62 of 97 passes for 648 yards with four TDs for a QB rating of 92.6. He’s thrown only one INT in three games, but might find it tough going against Colts. Harper has three INTs (tied for NFL lead), and Colts have allowed only 26 points in three games (best in AFC).
Streaks, stats and notes — Saints have won last five in series. Colts last beat Saints in 1973 in Baltimore. … Colts QB Peyton Manning was born in New Orleans, watched his father Archie play for the Saints, and played in high school in Louisiana Superdome. … Brooks has 19 career 250-yard passing games and needs one to tie Archie Manning and Bobby Hebert for club record. … Saints are 14-2 when WR Joe Horn has 100 or more yards receiving. Colts allow only 159.7 yards passing per game, seventh best in league.
Jerry DiPaola says : Saints, plus-2.