Game of the Week You WILL See
Jacksonville at Tennessee (1 p.m., WUSA-9)
The Jaguars seemingly have all the motivation today, with an opportunity to clinch the AFC Central title, avenge their only loss of the season and greatly improve their chances of having home-field advantage in the playoffs. Neither Jaguars RB Fred Taylor nor Titans QB Steve McNair played in the teams' first meeting, which the Titans won, 20-19; both will play today. Before this season, no Jacksonville defensive player had made the Pro Bowl. This year, with the Jaguars' defense ranked first in the NFL in sacks (54), first in points allowed (12.1 per game) and second in total defense (258.7 yards allowed per game), it has three honorees: DE Tony Brackens, LB Kevin Hardy and S Carnell Lake. Brackens and Hardy were banged up in last week's lackluster 24-14 win at Cleveland, but both should play today. Another Jaguar in the Pro Bowl, WR Jimmy Smith, has been on a tear the past five games, catching 42 passes for 665 yards. After playing in three stadiums the past three seasons, the Titans have the AFC's only perfect home record (7-0). They also still have a chance to win the division. McNair is struggling to throw for touchdowns -- his scoring pass to WR Chris Sanders last week was his first since Halloween -- but Tennessee is 7-0 this season and 16-2 overall when McNair runs for a touchdown. RB Eddie George needs 30 yards rushing to become the fourth player in NFL history with 1,200 yards rushing in each of his first four seasons. DE Jevon Kearse, with 13 sacks, already has the NFL's rookie sack record, is the first rookie defensive end selected to start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl and could become the first rookie to lead the AFC in sacks.
Game of the Week You WON'T SEE
Kansas City at Seattle (4:15 p.m.)
Seattle's last victory was a 31-19 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 21 that seemingly made its first AFC West title since 1988 a foregone conclusion.But four consecutive losses -- a first for a Mike Holmgren-coached team -- coupled with four consecutive victories by the Chiefs have put Kansas City in position to clinch the division title today. The Chiefs' hot streak has been built on defense and power running. The Chiefs lead the AFC with nine returns for touchdowns, including five in the past four games. Also in the past four games, they have averaged 168 yards rushing (4.9 yards per carry). Pro Bowl-bound TE Tony Gonzalez has 10 touchdown receptions -- six in the past four games -- and is two from matching the NFL record for tight ends. WR Andre Rison needs one reception to become the 12th player in league history with 700. This will be the last regular season game at the Kingdome, providing the Chiefs with an obscure historical advantage: Kansas City is 4-0 when playing the final game in a stadium's history. Kansas City's recent strengths have been Seattle's weaknesses. The Seahawks have allowed an average of 158.5 yards rushing during their four-game skid, including 260 to Denver last week. They are tied for the NFL lead with 25 interceptions, but in the past four games, they have committed 14 turnovers and forced four.
Buffalo's No-Name Defense
Despite allowing only 256.7 yards and 15.2 points per game (first and third in the NFL, respectively), no Bills defensive players were voted to the Pro Bowl. Three-time Pro Bowl DT Ted Washington has been solid, but hampered by a rib injury. Sam Cowart has 157 tackles, but hardly stood a chance, considering even San Diego's Junior Seau didn't make the Pro Bowl at inside linebacker. Buffalo's players, however, were not feeling snubbed. "We've been playing well collectively and that ranks us No. 1. It's not the end of the world," DE Bruce Smith, whose streak of seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances ended, told the Buffalo News. Perhaps Smith knows that the last team to lead the NFL in total defense without a Pro Bowl defender -- the 1992 Cowboys -- went on to win the Super Bowl.
Jets Playing Spoiler
Dolphins QB Dan Marino heads into Monday night's game against the Jets with a chance to tie John Elway with 148 career wins. But in addition to dealing with his well-documented, recent struggles, Marino faces a resurgent Jets team. After heading into their bye week at 1-6, the Jets have rallied to 6-8 thanks in part to blossoming QB Ray Lucas and a determined defense. In the second halves of their past two games -- which were against the Dolphins and Cowboys -- the Jets have held Marino and Troy Aikman to a combined 34.3 percent pass completion rate, with four interceptions and no touchdowns.
GAMES WITHIN THE GAMES
A look at this week's best subplots
Buccaneers rushing offense
Has gained a combined 75 yards in past two games after averaging 119.5 in first 12 games.
Packers rushing defense
Has allowed a total of 89 yards in past two games after surrendering an average of 125.9 in first 12 games.
Bengals RB Corey Dillon
Has rushed for 445 yards in past three games, helping Bengals average 38 points and go undefeated (they haven't had a four-game winning streak since 1989).
Ravens rushing defense
Ranks second in the NFL at 77.8 yards allowed per game, has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
Vikings QB Jeff George
Has 99.7 quarterback rating, giving Minnesota a chance to be the first NFL team to have consecutive seasons of 100-or-better quarterback ratings with two starting quarterbacks.
Injury-thinned group may turn to CB Conrad Hamilton, whose ailing right knee has kept him out of every game but one this season, to start against WR Randy Moss.
Panthers Pro Bowlers
QB Steve Beuerlein (3,851 yards passing, 29 TDs, 93.3 quarterback rating) will lead three players from surprisingly strong offense to Hawaii.
Steelers Pro Bowlers
There aren't any for the first time since the Pro Bowl became an annual event in 1951.