Game of the Week You Will See
Tennessee at Miami
(8 p.m., ESPN)
After defeating the then-unbeaten Rams last week, the Titans are one win from matching the franchise's best start. But they must face Miami's fearsome defense. In his first game since undergoing back surgery, Titans QB Steve McNair last week passed for two touchdowns and ran for another. Six of Tennessee's seven games have been decided by three points or fewer and within the last two minutes. Not only have the Titans prospered in close games, but the offense also has largely abandoned its once-conservative ways. They have produced 300 yards passing three times this season, the most 300-yard games for the franchise since Warren Moon ran a run-and-shoot offense in Houston in 1993. Rookie DE Jevon Kearse is living up to his billing. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has a 40-inch vertical leap, an 86-inch arm span and has used his speed -- 40 yards in 4.43 seconds -- to notch four sacks. The Dolphins have plenty of defense too, having not allowed a rushing touchdown this season or an offensive touchdown of any kind in more than 10 quarters. That unit, along with PK Olindo Mare and an improved running game, has helped the Dolphins tie the Titans, Rams and Jaguars for the NFL's best record. Mare has kicked at least three field goals in each of Miami's past six games, has made 17 consecutive field goal attempts and leads the NFL in scoring with 86 points, half of Miami's total. The Dolphins have averaged 137.3 yards rushing in their past three games, a 55-yards-per-game improvement from their first four games and a big help to backup QB Damon Huard, who has filled in admirably for the injured Dan Marino.
Game of the Week You WON'T SEE
Kansas City at Indianapolis (1 p.m.)
Two hot teams, coming off memorable victories, meet at the RCA Dome. The Chiefs have had two or more interceptions in their past six games and are 5-1 in those games. Their total of 13 interceptions already matches their total for all of last season, and has helped them pile up a league-leading turnover differential of plus-13. And the defense isn't just helping the team win -- it's the fans' win too. BrandsMart, a Kansas City area electronics store, promised that anyone who bought an item selling for more than $399 during the week before last Sunday's Chiefs-Chargers game would get it for free if the Chiefs shut out San Diego. The final tally: Chiefs 34, Chargers 0, and more than $450,000 worth of free merchandise for 381 customers, according to the Kansas City Star. The Chiefs' offense remains run-oriented, averaging 126.3 yards rushing per game and calling 59 more rushing plays than passing plays this season. The Chiefs have won 23 games in a row when holding a halftime lead. Indianapolis is buzzing after last week's 34-24 victory over Dallas. The Colts attacked the Cowboys' defense fearlessly, throwing CB Deion Sanders's way six times for four completions, 84 yards and a touchdown. Indianapolis has the NFL leaders in individual 100-yard rushing games (Edgerrin James, four) and 100-yard receiving games (Marvin Harrison, four), as well as the top passing offense (280.4 yards per game). However, the Colts are minus-4 in turnover differential (James had 209 yards from scrimmage last week, but fumbled three times). Colts DE Chad Bratzke is tied for the NFL lead with seven sacks.
Motoring Away in Detroit
Lions RB Greg Hill, who last week replaced injured starter Ron Rivers, rushed for 123 yards against a Tampa Bay defense that was ranked first against the run and had gone 12 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. It was the most yards by a Lions running back other than Barry Sanders since Garry James gained 140 against Green Bay on Oct. 12, 1986. Today, Hill meets St. Louis -- not only the NFL's new top-ranked rushing defense, but the team that traded him in August. The Rams are on pace to score 71 touchdowns, which would break the NFL record of 70 set by the 1984 Miami Dolphins, but Detroit's defense has gone two games without yielding a touchdown for the first time since 1983.
In their first game since Walter Payton's death, the Bears will wear special football-shaped patches inscribed with Payton's No. 34. Meanwhile, the NFL will observe a moment of silence before every game this weekend in Payton's memory. However, Rams RB Marshall Faulk's request for a personal tribute to Payton was rejected. Faulk wanted to switch his uniform number from his usual No. 28 to No. 34 for today's game against the Lions, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but league rules prevent a uniform number change once the season begins.
Cream Puff Diet
The Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing offense (140.4 yards per game), scoring defense (9.9 points per game), total defense (245.3 yards per game) and passing defense (153.3 yards per game), but such statistical dominance is deceiving. The only winning team the Jaguars have defeated is the Steelers. The schedule doesn't get any tougher, either. Tennessee and Pittsburgh are the only teams currently above .500 left on Jacksonville's schedule, and today's game at Atlanta is the Jaguars' fourth game in a seven-game period in which their opponents have a combined 10-42 record.
GAMES WITHIN THE GAMES
A look at this week's best subplots
Ravens owner Art Modell
Told www.nfltalk.com, "I don't think anyone is going to hang a `Welcome Home Art, Pat and David` banner. I'll stay home, sip my Scotch, and watch it on TV."
Cleveland Browns fans
Banners are banned at the stadium, but season-ticket holder Jeff Wagner is banking on Browns fans' creativity: "I'm sure you'll see some interesting T-shirts," he told the Akron Beacon Journal. "We know Art's not going to be there, but he's going to be sitting in front of his TV at home."
Vikings WR Randy Moss in prime time
16 catches for 368 yards and 6 touchdowns in three night games last season. His fourth career night game comes Monday against Dallas.
Randy Moss and "Prime Time"
Deion Sanders was injured and his backups were burned as Moss caught TD passes of 51, 56 and 56 yards in Minnesota's 46-36 win last season.
Led by CB Shawn Springs (Springbrook High), its 17 interceptions leads the NFL. An NFL-best 22 forced turnovers and three defensive touchdowns have keyed Seattle's 5-2 start.
Its three interceptions rank 30th in the NFL. Ty Howard and Rico Clark, both claimed off waivers at the start of the season, likely will start at cornerback.