Buffalo at Miami
(Monday night, 9 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2)
Parity is the key word in this fierce divisional rivalry. The Bills and Dolphins have split their past four regular season meetings; four of their past five regular season meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer; and their most recent meeting -- Miami's 24-17 victory in the first round of last season's playoffs -- wasn't decided until the final seconds. The Bills rushed for 47 yards in their season opener, but have rebounded to lead the AFC in rushing at 154 yards per game. They have won the past eight games in which RB Antowain Smith has rushed for a touchdown. They won't be afraid to pass, however, as WR Eric Moulds has three touchdown catches against Miami, and made nine receptions for an NFL postseason-record 240 yards last season. The Bills' defense ranks fifth in the league at 250.7 yards allowed per game, and has not allowed a touchdown in nine quarters. Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson has shown his desire to improve the Dolphins' perennially woeful running game, calling six more running plays than passing plays this season. However, the Dolphins are averaging fewer yards per carry this season than their league-worst average of last season (3.0 to 3.4). But the Dolphins have been tough inside the 20-yard line -- offensively and defensively. The offense has five touchdowns in six possessions inside the opponents' 20, while the defense has surrendered only two touchdowns in the six times opponents have gotten inside the 20. Miami has won eight of its past nine home games, and the home team has won the past five games in this series.
game of the week you WON'T SEE
Tennessee at San Francisco
When Titans QB Steve McNair needed back surgery following the season opener, Tennessee turned to former Maryland star Neil O'Donnell, and he has engineered victories over Cleveland and Jacksonville, giving the franchise its first undefeated month since December 1993. O'Donnell will start again today, as Tennessee aims for the first 4-0 start in franchise history. In the offseason, the Titans vowed to broaden their passing game after tight ends Frank Wycheck (another former Terrapin) and Jackie Harris were their leading receivers last season. They have lived up to that promise, completing more than half of their passes to wide receivers. Kevin Dyson has 20 catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns -- just two receptions and one touchdown short of eclipsing his totals from last season. The Titans' old staple -- running -- has fallen off to 74 yards per game, but RB Eddie George has scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving). On defense, rookie DE Jevon Kearse has made an auspicious debut, tallying 21 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. San Francisco also will use its No. 2 quarterback, with Jeff Garcia making his first NFL start. He may be an unknown to NFL fans, but he spent five years in the Canadian Football League and was picked by 49ers General Manager Bill Walsh to be Steve Young's backup. Playing without Young, who suffered a concussion Monday night, isn't necessarily a crisis for the 49ers. In the eight games he has missed because of injury since 1996, they have gone 6-2. San Francisco has won a club-record 18 consecutive home games, all but one of those wins coming under Coach Steve Mariucci. DE Charles Haley's next sack will make him the 18th NFL player with 100 in a career.
In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Carnell Lake witnessed the treament former Steelers received when they returned to Pittsburgh on an opposing team. Chad Brown and Willie Williams were booed, Greg Lloyd was cheered and Rod Woodson received a mixed reception.
Today it's Lake's turn, as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have supplanted the Steelers as the AFC Central Division's dominant team.
Deion Is Back
The Cowboys' Deion Sanders returns to the field today against Arizona, five months after toe surgery and nine months after his last meaningful game. Even if he doesn't immediately return to his old form, Sanders will vastly improve Dallas's secondary, which has allowed an NFL-worst 304 yards passing per game and has given up 11 plays of 20 yards or more. Sanders, whose eight interception returns for touchdowns are one behind all-time NFL leader Ken Houston, hopes for an auspicious debut. "I'm laying before the Lord saying, `Lord, please let Jake [Plummer, the Cardinals' quarterback] throw this ball to me because I've got a new Holy Ghost dance I'm going to give you guys out there on that field,' " Sanders told the Associated Press.
First Team to 100 Loses
Despite an encouraging 2-0 start, the St. Louis Rams still have the NFL's worst record in the 1990s (47-99). Gaining rapidly are the Cincinnati Bengals, whose 0-3 record has dropped their mark for the decade to 48-99. The loser of today's Bengals-Rams game will join the Buccaneers of the 1980s as the only franchises to lose 100 games in a decade.
GAMES WITHIN THE GAMES
A look at this week's best subplots
Buccaneers DT Warren Sapp
Tied for NFL lead in sacks with four.VS.
Vikings G Randall McDaniel
Has started in 10 consecutive Pro Bowls.
Raiders WR Tim Brown
59 receptions in past eight games; needs 142 yards receiving for 10,000 in career.
All four starting defensive backs made interceptions last week vs. Pittsburgh.
28th in NFL at 246 yards per game; 56 rushing yards per game worst in NFL.
30th in NFL at 174.7 yards per game; 93.3 passing yards worst in NFL.
Bills QB Doug Flutie
123 yards rushing in three games this season.
Dolphins QB Dan Marino 90 yards rushing in 17 seasons.
CAROLINA at WASHINGTON
Panthers: OUT: LB Hannibal Navies (knee). PROBABLE: C Frank Garcia (concussion); DT Sean Gilbert (foot); DT Esera Tuaolo (ribs). Redskins: OUT: RB Larry Bowie (ankle). PROBABLE: S Leomont Evans (knee); T Jon Jansen (knee); LB Derek Smith (shoulder); DT Dan Wilkinson (shoulder).
BALTIMORE at ATLANTA
Ravens: OUT: DT Tony Siragusa (knee); RB Tony Vinson (shoulder-injured reserve). PROBABLE: T James Atkins (thigh); RB Priest Holmes (knee); WR Patrick Johnson (abdomen); DE Michael McCrary (knee); S Stevon Moore (knee); LB Tyrell Peters (thigh); DE Fernando Smith (knee); WR Brandon Stokely (knee). Falcons: OUT: DT Ed Jasper (knee). DOUBTFUL: QB Chris Chandler (hamstring); WR Tim Dwight (hamstring); LB Ruffin Hamilton (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: DT Shane Dronett (calf). PROBABLE: CB Michael Booker (quadriceps); RB Bob Christian (foot); QB Tony Graziani (foot); DT Travis Hall (thumb).
ARIZONA at DALLAS
Cardinals: OUT: WR Rob Moore (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: T James Dexter (triceps); DT Eric Swann (knee). QUESTIONABLE: S Tommy Bennett (knee); CB Corey Chavous (knee); T Matt Joyce (back). PROBABLE: WR David Boston (shoulder); LB Ronald McKinnon (ankle); DE Simeon Rice (heart); DT Mark Smith (knee). Cowboys: QUESTIONABLE: CB Kevin Smith (back); G Everett McIver (hamstring). PROBABLE: TE Mike Lucky (foot); CB Deion Sanders (toe); S Kenny Wheaton (hamstring); T Erik Williams (quadricep).
JACKSONVILLE at PITTSBURGH
Jaguars: OUT: LB Tom McManus (foot, injured reserve); DE Renaldo Wynn (ankle). PROBABLE: WR Reggie Barlow (concussion); RB Chris Howard (leg); LB Bryan Schwartz (hamstring); RB Fred Taylor (hamstring); CB Dave Thomas (quadriceps). Steelers: OUT: DE Nolan Harrison (pectoral); LB Mike Vrabel (arm). QUESTIONABLE: T Chris Conrad (knee); S Lee Flowers (ankle); RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (knee). PROBABLE: WR Will Blackwell (hamstring); S Travis Davis (knee); WR Troy Edwards (quadriceps); G Alan Faneca (ankle); WR Hines Ward (hamstring).
KANSAS CITY at SAN DIEGO
Chiefs: OUT: G Dave Szott (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Bam Morris (hamstring); DE Dan Williams (hand); S Jerome Woods (thigh). PROBABLE: LB Donnie Edwards (ankle); QB Elvis Grbac (ankle); DT Chester McGlockton (shoulder). Chargers: OUT: WR Charlie Jones (hip); QB Ryan Leaf (shoulder). DOUBTFUL: LB Michael Hamilton (hamstring); CB Terrance Shaw (ankle); LB Tracy Simien (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: S Rodney Harrison (hamstring); CB Scott Turner (hamstring). PROBABLE: C David Binn (quadriceps); T John Jackson (back); DE Raylee Johnson (hamstring); CB Darryll Lewis (concussion); RB Natrone Means (ankle); G Aaron Taylor (ankle).
NEW ENGLAND at CLEVELAND
Patriots: OUT: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). DOUBTFUL: RB Harold Shaw (quadriceps). QUESTIONABLE: RB Kevin Faulk (ankle); RB Chris Floyd (ankle); CB Tebucky Jones (hamstring); LB Bernard Russ (ankle). PROBABLE: T Zefross Moss (ankle). Browns: OUT: S Tim McTyer (arm); TE Irv Smith (knee); G Steve Zahursky (knee). QUESTIONABLE: CB Antonio Langham (arm); WR Leslie Gardocki (back). PROBABLE: P Chris Gardocki (back); DT John Jurkovic (shoulder).
NEW ORLEANS at CHICAGO
Saints: QUESTIONABLE: WR Brett Bech (abdomen); RB Ricky Williams (elbow). Bears: QUESTIONABLE: RB Ty Hallock (quadriceps). PROBABLE: RB Curtis Enis (foot); G Greg Huntington (ankle); S Frankie Smith (shoulder); T James Williams (ankle).
NEW YORK JETS at DENVER
Jets: OUT: TE Fred Baxter (hip); WR Wayne Chrebet (foot). DOUBTFUL: DT Jason Ferguson (ankle). Broncos: OUT: S George Coghill (knee); C K.C. Jones (knee). PROBABLE: LB Glenn Cadrez (neck); QB Brian Griese (finger); T Tony Jones (toe); RB Derek Loville (ankle); WR Ed McCaffrey (head); QB Chris Miller (elbow); LB Bill Romanowski (head); G Mark Schlereth (back-knee); DE Neil Smith (thigh); WR Rod Smith (groin); LB Nate Wayne (knee); DE Alfred Williams (back).
ST. LOUIS at CINCINNATI
Rams: QUESTIONABLE: RB Amp Lee (knee). Bengals: OUT: RB Ki-Jana Carter (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Nick Williams (ankle). PROBABLE: G Brian DeMarco (back); LB Takeo Spikes (wrist).
TAMPA BAY at MINNESOTA
Buccaneers: OUT: CB Floyd Young (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: LB Don Davis (hamstring); WR Bery Emanuel (hamstring); LB Jeff Gooch (hamstring); T Jason Odom (back); DT Warren Sapp (hand); DE Steve White (ankle). PROBABLE: DT Anthony McFarland (ankle); G Frank Middleton (knee). Vikings: OUT: DE Martin Harrison (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Leroy Hoard (knee). PROBABLE: LB Kailee Wong (hamstring).
TENNESSEE at SAN FRANCISCO
Titans: OUT: QB Steve McNair (back). QUESTIONABLE: LB Joe Bowden (quadriceps); TE Jackie Harris (hamstring); DE Kenny Holmes (ankle); CB Steve Jackson (hamstring); DT Mike Jones (tricep); T Jason Mathews (back); DT Joe Salave'a (calf). 49ers: OUT: LB Anthony Peterson (groin); QB Steve Young (concussion). QUESTIONABLE: T Tyrone Hopson (shoulder); RB Travis Jervey (ankle). PROBABLE: TE Shonn Bell (shoulder); TE Greg Clark (ribs); C Chris Dalman (knee); LB Reggie Givens (back); CB Darnell Walker (hamstring).
OAKLAND at SEATTLE
Raiders: OUT: T Matt Stinchcomb (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: RB Zack Crockett (foot); RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder). PROBABLE: T Mo Collins (back); QB Scott Dreisbach (leg); TE Rickey Dudley (toe); DT Darrell Russell (ankle). Seahawks: OUT: T Todd Weiner (ankle); WR Charles Jordan (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: WR Fabien Bownes (hamstring); S Merton Hanks (hamstring). PROBABLE: P Jeff Feagles (elbow).
PHILADELPHIA at NEW YORK GIANTS
Eagles: OUT: T Jermane Mayberry (quadriceps); RB Kevin Turner (neck). DOUBTFUL: DE Hugh Douglas (knee). PROBABLE: TE Luther Broughton (hamstring); QB Koy Detmer (back); DT Bill Johnson (ankle); WR Charles Johnson (ribs); WR Torrance Small (ribs). Giants: OUT: RB Sean Bennett (knee); CB Conrad Hamilton (knee). PROBABLE: RB Gary Brown (knee).
BUFFALO at MIAMI
Bills: OUT: RB Thurman Thomas (liver contusion). DOUBTFUL: QB Rob Johnson (head); G Joe Panos (neck). QUESTIONABLE: G Ruben Brown (hamstring); DE Phil Hansen (chest). PROBABLE: TE Jay Riemersma (groin). Dolphins: OUT: G Mark Dixon (groin); LB Anthony Harris (groin); DE Dimitrius Underwood (reserve, non football injury). QUESTIONABLE: WR Yatil Green (ankle). PROBABLE: RB Cecil Collins (ankle); DE Kenny Mixon (ankle); S Shawn Wooden (thumb).