Today's games will end the first half of the National Football League's new 16 game schedule. There is no holiday in connection with the mid-day mark, as with the Fourth of July and baseball; just Oktoberfest for the football winners and a winter of discontent for the fall guys.
One of the teams that has suvived the loss of its quarterback for nearly half the season, Miami, is tied at 5-2 for the lead in the American Football Conference East with New England. The two will play in a 4 p.m. nationally telecast game in Foxboro, Mass.
Because Bob Griese is ready to play again, the Dolphins are only 4 1/2-point underdogs to the Patriots on the latter's turf.
Of the two unbeaten teams, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, the Steelers appear to have the tougher assignment. They'll face Heisman winner Earl Campbell and his Houston Oilers (4-3) in an AFC Central contest in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 7 1/2-point favorites in the Monday night game.
The Rams will play New Orleans (3-4) at Los Angeles and are 13 1/2-point favorites to continue undefeated. They lead the NFC West by four games.
The Patriots have won four straight and their defense has held opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in four of seven games. New England ranks first in the AFC in total offense, second in rushing and fifth in passing. On defense, the Pats are first in stopping the rush, fourth in total defense, but 10th against the pass.
The Dolphins rank third in rushing, seventh in total offense, but 12th in passing. Our defense, they're seventh against the rush, but 14th against the pass and 11th in total defense. The Dolphins have won three straight.
Miami's Delvin Williams leads the conference in rushing and interimquarterback Don Strock is fifth in passing. Steven Grogan of New England is ninth in passing, but he's the Patriots' second-leading runner-not just from scrambling.
Denver, tied for the AFC West lead with Oakland at 5-2, will play at Baltimore (2-5) and the Raiders will meet the unpredictable Seahawks (3-4) at Seattle.
In the NFC Central the surprise team of the season, Green Bay (6-1), will play at Minnesota (3-4), and Chicago is at Tampa bay in a game between two other teams with 3-4 records.
In the NFC East, Dallas, in second place with a 5-2 record, will try to hold off Philadelphia (4-3) at Texas Stadium and the Giants (also 4-3) will be gunning for division-leading Washinton (6-1) at East Rutherford, N.J.
In other games, St. Louis, which may be the best 0-7 team ever, will play the Jets (4-3) at New York; San Diego (2-5) will be at Detroit (1-6); Cleveland (4-3) at Kansas City (1-6); Atlanta (3-4) at San Francisco (1-6), and Cincinnati (0-7) at Buffalo (2-5).