GAME OF THE WEEK YOU WILL SEE
Miami at New England
(1 p.m., WUSA-9)
The teams' past four meetings have been decided by three points or fewer. Expect more of the same today, which begins with New England and Buffalo tied for the AFC East lead at 4-1, and Miami at 3-1. Dolphins QB Dan Marino is seven passing yards from 60,000 for his career, and he'll exceed the milestone against a team he has dominated. Miami has won 13 of his past 18 starts against New England. Last week, Marino responded to public criticism of his play by Dolphins Coach Jimmy Johnson with 393 yards passing and his 35th fourth-quarter comeback in a 34-31 win at Indianapolis. No defense in the AFC has been stingier inside its 20-yard line than the Dolphins', which has allowed only four touchdowns in 11 opportunities. The Patriots have trailed in every game this season, but that didn't haunt them until usually reliable K Adam Vinatieri missed two 32-yard field goal tries, including one with nine seconds left, in last week's 16-14 loss to Kansas City. QB Drew Bledsoe has been spectacular this season, averaging 303.6 yards passing per game and completing passes to 12 receivers. Three of Bledsoe's four career 400-yard passing games have been against Miami. WR Terry Glenn leads the NFL with 37 catches and 636 yards, but if he gets shut down, Bledsoe has other options. Both of WR Shawn Jefferson's 100-yard receiving games last season came against the Dolphins, and TE Ben Coates has nine career touchdowns against Miami.
GAME OF THE WEEK YOU WON'T SEE
Seattle at San Diego (4 p.m.)
In yet another example of this topsy-turvy season, two recent AFC West also-rans meet to decide sole possession of first place in the division. The series is tied at 20 wins apiece, with the total point differential favoring San Diego, 853-852. Big plays should be a theme of this matchup. There has been at least one fumble, interception or punt returned for a touchdown in the teams' past five meetings and nine returns for touchdowns overall. This season, the Chargers not only lead the NFL with a plus-8 turnover differential, they also have scored 48 points off turnovers to seven by their opponents. The Chargers surrender a league-low 2.7 yards per rushing attempt, have yielded one rushing touchdown and have gone 23 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. More of the same will be needed today, as San Diego's offense averages 232 yards per game, 29th in the league. Seattle RB Ricky Watters is on pace for a career-high 356 rushing attempts, but it hasn't yielded much for the Seahawks, who are averaging 74 yards rushing per game and have yet to run for a touchdown this season. QB Jon Kitna's steady play -- 680 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 93.8 quarterback rating -- is starting to win over Seahawks fans. Seattle's secondary has a knack for coming up with the big play, making seven interceptions -- five in one game against Pittsburgh -- and returning two for touchdowns. Seahawks punt returner Charlie Rogers leads the NFL with a 25.8-yard average.
GAMES WITHIN THE GAMES
A look at this week's best subplots
Rams QB Kurt Warner
14 touchdown passes in four games.
Rams QBs in 1998
12 touchdown passes all season.
Bears QB Cade McNown
Makes first career start today.
11 interceptions leads NFL.
Colts QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison
14 touchdowns in 1st 16 games together.
Colts QB Johnny Unitas and WR Raymond Berry
7 touchdowns in 1st 16 games together.
Saints RB Ricky Williams
1998 Heisman Trophy winner on pace for 1,028 yards rushing despite nagging injuries, but has not scored a touchdown.
Titans RB Eddie George
1995 Heisman Trophy winner is off to the slowest start of his career: 55.4 yards rushing per game.
Raiders WR Tim Brown
712 career catches for 9,965 yards, 71 TDs.
Bills WR Andre Reed
729 career catches for 10,245 yards, 71 TDs.
Local Boy Makes Good
Olandis Gary's statistics from his NFL debut last week -- 64 yards rushing on 20 carries in the Broncos' 16-13 victory over Oakland -- don't jump off the page, but his performance had his teammates and the Denver media raving. The Riverdale Baptist High School graduate, a fourth-round draft pick out of Georgia, zoomed from inactive third-stringer to starter because of injuries to RBs Terrell Davis and Derek Loville, and according to the Denver Post: "The numbers that Gary provided the Denver Broncos paled in comparison with the inspiration he gave them. . . . It wasn't an amazing performance. Gritty is the word that comes to mind." Gary will return to a reserve role this week as Loville returns from a pulled hamstring, but he likely has earned more playing time.
Many Happy Returns
If Miami University of Ohio is the Cradle of Coaches, perhaps Arlington's O'Connell High School should be dubbed the Cradle of Kick Returners. When Colts rookie Terrence Wilkins returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against the Dolphins last week, he became the school's second graduate to return a kickoff for a touchdown in the NFL. Carolina's Eric Metcalf has done it twice, to go with six punt returns for touchdowns. . . . Panthers Coach George Seifert returns to San Francisco for his first game against the team he coached to two Super Bowl titles and a 108-35 record from 1989 to 1996.
Steelers rookie WR Troy Edwards leads his team's struggling offense with 21 receptions and 227 receiving yards despite playing a reserve role behind starters Courtney Hawkins and Hines Ward, who have as many touchdowns combined as Edwards does (two). "We have to get [Edwards] more involved," said Coach Bill Cowher, who added he has no plans to make Edwards a starter.
WASHINGTON (3-1) at ARIZONA (2-3)
Redskins: OUT: RB Larry Bowie (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: TE James Jenkins (knee). PROBABLE: TE Stephen Alexander (back); G Tre Johnson (knee); LB Eddie Mason (hamstring). Cardinals: OUT: T James Dexter (triceps); DT Mark Smith (knee). QUESTIONABLE: CB Corey Chavous (knee); WR Rob Moore (hamstring); QB Jake Plummer (hip-ribs); LB Patrick Sapp. PROBABLE: S Tommy Bennett (knee); TE Terry Hardy (ankle); CB Tom Knight (ankle); TE Johnny McWilliams (wrist); DE Simeon Rice (thigh); DT Eric Swann (knee); DE Andre Wadsworth (toe).
CAROLINA (1-3) at SAN FRANCISCO (3-2)
Panthers: OUT: LB Hannibal Navies (knee). PROBABLE: WR Donald Hayes (hamstring). 49ers: OUT: RB Travis Jervey (ankle); DE Marvin Washington (quadriceps-injured reserve); QB Steve Young (concussion). DOUBTFUL: LB Anthony Peterson (groin). QUESTIONABLE: C Chris Dalman (knee); WR Terrell Owens (ankle). PROBABLE: T Derrick Deese (knee); CB Craig Newsome (concussion).
CLEVELAND (0-5) at JACKSONVILLE (4-1)
Browns: OUT: DE Hurvin McCormack (knee); WR Leslie Shepherd (hamstring); G Steve Zahursky (knee). QUESTIONABLE: TE Irv Smith (knee). PROBABLE: S Corey Fuller (foot); RB George Jones (knee); CB Antonio Langham (thumb); C Dave Wohlabaugh (ankle). Jaguars: OUT: DE Eric Curry (knee-injured reserve); TE Damon Jones (knee). DOUBTFUL: DE Renaldo Wynn (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: RB Fred Taylor (hamstring). PROBABLE: S Carnell Lake (neck); RB James Stewart (hamstring); C John Wade (toe).
GREEN BAY (3-1) at DENVER (1-4)
Packers: OUT: Jahine Arnold (knee). QUESTIONABLE: T Earl Dotson (back); DT Santana Dotson (neck); DE Cletidus Hunt (ankle). PROBABLE: DT Gilbert Brown (knee); QB Brett Favre (thumb); WR Bill Schroeder (ankle); LB Brian Williams (knee). Broncos: OUT: TE Shannon Sharpe (clavicle). QUESTIONABLE: QB Bubby Brister (hip); S George Coghill (knee); C K.C. Jones (knee); RB Derek Loville (hamstring). PROBABLE: DT Cyron Brown (shoulder); LB Glenn Cadrez (shoulder); CB Ray Crockett (knee); RB Olandis Gary (toe); QB Brian Griese (finger); RB Howard Griffith (toe); T Tony Jones (wrist); RB Anthony Lynn (toe); WR Ed McCaffrey (thigh); QB Chris Miller (elbow); G Dan Neil (elbow-wrist); DT Trevor Pryce (toe); G Mark Schlereth (back); WR Rod Smith (groin); CB Chris Watson (ankle); LB Nate Wayne (knee-hand); DE Alfred Williams (back).
INDIANAPOLIS (2-2) at NEW YORK JETS (1-4)
Colts: DOUBTFUL: WR Lake Dawson (ankle); CB Tito Wooten (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: CB Chad Cota (ankle); WR E. G. Green (knee); RB Darick Holmes (ankle). PROBABLE: CB Tyrone Poole (head). Jets: OUT: S Kevin Williams (throat). QUESTIONABLE: S Steve Atwater (hamstring); TE Fred Baxter (hip); WR Wayne Chrebet (foot); CB Corey Sawyer (hamstring). PROBABLE: CB Aaron Glenn (leg).
MIAMI (3-1) at NEW ENGLAND (4-1)
Dolphins: OUT: DE Kenny Mixon (multiple abrasions and contusions). DOUBTFUL: WR Yatil Green (hamstring); LB Anthony Harris (groin). QUESTIONABLE: CB Terrell Buckley (ankle); G Mark Dixon (groin); T Richmond Webb (knee). PROBABLE: RB Cecil Collins (hip); WR Oronde Gadsden (ankle); QB Dan Marino (trapezius); S Shawn Wooden (thumb). Patriots: OUT: LB Ted Johnson (biceps). DOUBTFUL: RB Chris Floyd (knee); LB Bernard Russ (knee); RB Harold Shaw (quadriceps). QUESTIONABLE: WR Troy Brown (ankle); LB Tedy Bruschi (knee); CB Tebucky Jones (hamstring).
MINNESOTA (2-3) at DETROIT (2-2)
Vikings: DOUBTFUL: TE Jim Kleinsasser (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: DE John Burrough (foot); WR Matthew Hatchette (ankle). PROBABLE: DT Jerry Ball (ribs); RB Robert Smith (abdomen). Lions: OUT: LB Stephen Boyd (foot); DE Jared DeVries (foot); CB Kywin Supernaw (ankle). DOUBTFUL: T Juan Roque (knee); DE Robert Porcher (ankle); G Tony Semple (elbow). QUESTIONABLE: CB Lamar Campbell (knee); S Ryan Stewart (groin); CB Bryant Westbrook (hamstring). PROBABLE: DT Luther Elliss (groin); RB Sedrick Irvin (hamstring); WR Herman Moore (knee); T Tony Ramirez (quadriceps).
OAKLAND (2-3) at BUFFALO (4-1)
Raiders: QUESTIONABLE: T Mo Collins (knee). PROBABLE: TE Rickey Dudley (toe); RB Napoleon Kaufman (hand); DT Darrell Russell (ankle); RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder). Bills: OUT: G Joe Panos (neck); RB Thurman Thomas (liver contusion). QUESTIONABLE: G Ruben Brown (hamstring); QB Rob Johnson (head); DT Ted Washington (chest).
PHILADELPHIA (1-4) at CHICAGO (3-2)
Eagles: DOUBTFUL: LB Mike Caldwell (hamstring); DT Bill Johnson (ankle); RB Kevin Turner (neck). QUESTIONABLE: T Jermane Mayberry (hamstring); T Lonnie Palelei (shoulder). PROBABLE: QB Koy Detmer (back); DE Hugh Douglas (knee); DT Brandon Whiting (knee). Bears: OUT: RB James Allen (knee); PK Jeff Jaeger (hip-injured reserve); QB Shane Matthews (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: WR Curtis Conway (ankle). PROBABLE: LB Sean Harris (ankle); CB Rico McDonald (quadricep); S Frankie Smith (back).
PITTSBURGH (2-3) at CINCINNATI (1-4)
Steelers: OUT: DE Nolan Harrison (pectoral). DOUBTFUL: LB Mike Vrabel (arm). QUESTIONABLE: G Alan Faneca (ankle); DE Orpheus Roye (quadricep). PROBABLE: WR Will Blackwell (hamstring); S Travis Davis (knee); WR Hines Ward (groin). Bengals: OUT: TE Steve Bush (knee). DOUBTFUL: CB Rico Clark (ankle); DE John Copeland (elbow); G Mike Goff (knee); S Lawrence Wright (foot-ankle). PROBABLE: RB Clif Groce (shoulder).
ST. LOUIS (4-0) at ATLANTA (1-4)
Rams: QUESTIONABLE: RB Marshall Faulk (hip); G Tom Nutton (back). PROBABLE: RB Robert Holcombe (back). Falcons: OUT: LB Keith Brooking (knee); S Johndale Carty (hamstring). DOUBTFUL: LB Jessie Tuggle (quadricep). QUESTIONABLE: WR Jammi German (finger); DT Ed Jasper (knee). PROBABLE: WR Chris Calloway (knee); QB Chris Chandler (hamstring).
SEATTLE (3-1) at SAN DIEGO (3-1)
Seahawks: OUT: T Todd Weiner (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: WR Fabien Bownes (hamstring); G Brian Habib (knee); WR Charles Jordan (hamstring). Chargers: OUT: LB Eric Hill (knee-foot); WR Charlie Jones (hip); QB Ryan Leaf (shoulder). DOUBTFUL: CB Charles Dimry (knee). QUESTIONABLE: WR Jeff Graham (ankle). PROBABLE: RB Terrell Fletcher (wrist); QB Jim Harbaugh (ribs-elbow); T John Jackson (back); RB Natrone Means (ankle); T Vaughn Parker (shoulder); CB Terrance Shaw (ankle).
TENNESSEE (4-1) at NEW ORLEANS (1-3)
Titans: OUT: DT Mike Jones (knee); QB Steve McNair (back); G Scott Sanderson (back-injured reserve). QUESTIONABLE: S Blaine Bishop (quadriceps-concussion); DE Henry Ford (shoulder); TE Jackie Harris (hamstring); DE Kenny Holmes (ankle); S Steve Jackson (hamstring); S Perry Phenix (concussion); S Marcus Robertson (hamstring); WR Yancey Thigpen (hamstring-knee). Saints: OUT: CB Tyronne Drakeford (groin). DOUBTFUL: RB Josh Wilcox (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: TE Cam Cleeland (knee); QB Billy Joe Hobert (neck); LB Vinson Smith (hamstring); RB Ricky Williams (elbow-ankle).
DALLAS (3-1) at NEW YORK GIANTS (2-3)
Cowboys: OUT: WR Michael Irvin (neck). QUESTIONABLE: CB Kevin Mathis (knee); C Mark Stepnoski (back); S Darren Woodson (ankle). PROBABLE: G Everett McIver (hamstring); RB Emmitt Smith (back); CB Kevin Smith (back); CB Charlie Williams (arm); T Erik Williams (quadriceps). Giants: DOUBTFUL: CB Conrad Hamilton (knee). QUESTIONABLE: RB Sean Bennett (knee); S Lyle West (hamstring); C Brian Williams (thumb). PROBABLE: QB Kent Graham (concussion).