Game of the Week You WIll See
Green Bay at Dallas
(4 p.m., WTTG-5, WBFF-45)
It's not a good time for the Green Bay Packers to be headed to Texas Stadium, where they have dropped eight straight. Green Bay is coming off two straight losses at Lambeau Field after losing there only once in its previous 35 games. The Packers' offense and special teams are struggling mightily. Despite ranking seventh in the NFL at 341.3 yards of offense per game, Green Bay has scored one touchdown in each of its last three losses. In addition, opponents have gained momentum in the last two games by blocking field goals. It may be up to the Packers' defense to turn things around. Green Bay is allowing 128 yards rushing and 324 total yards per game and should be able to take advantage of the Dallas Cowboys' sudden loss of star power. Injuries to QB Troy Aikman, RB Emmitt Smith and WR Michael Irvin will sideline them this week, the first time at least one of the three hasn't been in a Dallas uniform since Smith joined the team in 1990, a span of 152 regular season games. QB Jason Garrett, who went 3-2 as a starter last season when Aikman suffered a broken collarbone, will be called upon again. Garrett has had success against the Packers, throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-31 win on Thanksgiving day in 1994. Smith's replacement, one-time Pro Bowler Chris Warren, is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and has 19 receptions this season. But even before Aikman and Smith went down in Dallas's loss at Minnesota Monday night, the Cowboys had lost three of four and were slowed on offense without Irvin. There are injuries on defense too, as CB Deion Sanders is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Game of the Week You WON'T SEE
Miami at Buffalo (1 p.m.)
It's a crucial AFC East rematch. On Oct. 4, the Bills returned a Dan Marino fumble for a touchdown and intercepted him to set up a field goal in Buffalo's 23-18 victory in Miami. In the aftermath of the Dolphins' only loss, a quarterback controversy grew. Marino went down with an injured shoulder against the Patriots, and QB Damon Huard has led Miami to four straight wins. In their fourth season under Jimmy Johnson, the Dolphins' punishing defense appears to fit the mold of those built by Johnson in Dallas. The offense -- while overly reliant on PK Olindo Mare's career season (26 FGs, on pace to obliterate the NFL record of 37) -- has been good enough in the victories and leads the NFL in average time of possession (33:34). Defensively, Miami has gone a club-record 14 consecutive quarters without giving up a touchdown and no team has scored a rushing touchdown against the Dolphins this season. Buffalo is 14-2 at home under QB Doug Flutie, and Miami is aware that Buffalo's run defense is effective in its own right. The Bills held the Dolphins to 59 yards on the ground in the teams' first meeting. Offensively, Buffalo averages 129.8 yards per game rushing, tied for second in the NFL. A rushing touchdown by RB Antowain Smith would not only be a breakthrough against the Dolphins, it could be an omen: The Bills have won nine of their past 10 when Smith has a scoring run. WR Andre Reed has 120 catches for 1,708 yards against Miami in his 15-season career, the most ever by a Dolphins opponent and most for Reed against any team.
Broncos QB Chris Miller, out of football for three seasons because of a series of concussions, faces a scary scenario today in his second start as a Bronco. He'll face Seattle's touch defense on the unforgiving artificial turf of the Kingdome with OT Trey Teague -- making his first start -- protecting his blind side. Miller auditioned extensively for Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren before the season, but he wasn't signed after the Seahawks' medical staff warned Holmgren of the dangers of Miller playing on turf. Worse, Miller may not have a healthy backup as Brian Griese and Bubby Brister are still listed as questionable with injuries. WR Rod Smith may be Denver's emergency quarterback for a second straight week. . . . Jets QB Ray Lucas makes his second start Monday night against New England, replacing Rick Mirer, who has been benched for the second time. . . . San Francisco's Steve Stenstrom starts today at New Orleans. Stenstrom was 1-6 as the Bears' starter in 1998.
A dubious feat, but the Colts defense has injured the opposing team's quarterback in five straight games. Miami's Dan Marino wasn't sacked by the Colts on Oct. 10, but he left early in his next start and hasn't played since because of a bone spur and a pinched nerve in his neck that he said was the result of punishment he took against Indianapolis. On Oct. 17, the Jets' Lucas suffered a severely sprained ankle when sacked on the final play. The next week, Cincinnati's Akili Smith left in the third quarter after a defender landed on Smith's ankle. The Cowboys' Troy Aikman followed, leaving the teams' Oct. 31 game after taking a blow to the head on a blitz. Last week, Kansas City's Elvis Grbac was knocked out of the game in the final minute after being hit by S Jason Belser.
GAMES WITHIN THE GAMES
A look at this week's best subplots
Chargers through four games
Tied for AFC West lead with a 3-1 record on the strength of NFL-best turnover differential of plus-eight.
Chargers through eight games
Tied for third in AFC West with a 4-4 record after a turnover differential of minus-15 in past four games.
Browns WR Kevin Johnson
Leads all rookies with in receptions (32), receiving yards (502) and receiving touchdowns (5).
Steelers WR Troy Edwards
Second among rookies in receptions (31), receiving yards (361) and tied for second in receiving touchdowns (2).
Chiefs' turnover differential
Plus-14 is best in the NFL.
Buccaneers' turnover differential
Minus-10 is tied for worst in the NFL.