Atlanta (-51/2) vs. New Orleans
in San Antonio, 1 p.m.
The Alamodome is the Saints' home. Sort of. They couldn't practice there this week because the building was rented out to the Junior League of San Antonio's home show. They also won't practice there when the building hosts the NCAA women's volleyball tournament in December. Also, two of their practices at a local high school have been bumped -- one for Special Olympics and another for ROTC practice.
Carolina (-1) at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Practice on Wednesday could not have been too much fun for the Panthers, as four of their six running backs missed it with injuries. The only healthy backs were Nick Goings, who was sixth on the depth chart last year, and Jamal Robertson, the all-time leading rusher for the Division III Ohio Northern Polar Bears.
Cincinnati (-3) at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Titans running back Chris Brown has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game; he had four such games at this point last year. He also does not have a rushing touchdown. He should get a chance this week -- the Bengals give up 4.9 yards per carry, third-worst in the NFL. Brown rushed for 147 yards in a 27-20 win against Cincinnati last year.
Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore,
1 p.m. (WUSA-9, WJZ-13)
Only five times have the Browns faced a third down of more than 10 yards, the lowest such total in the NFL. That has fed perfectly into an attack that features accurate passing from Trent Dilfer (92 for 138, 66.7 percent). His completion percentage is the second-highest among AFC starters (Cincinnati's Carson Palmer is first).
Jacksonville (+3) at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Even if Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger doesn't play, don't expect the play-calling to change too much. Pittsburgh runs the ball on first down a league-high 67 percent of the time (68 of 102). Don't expect a shootout in this one, either: The Jaguars have not scored more than 30 points since Dec. 23, 2001, a span of 55 games.
Miami (+4) at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
The good news: The Dolphins are giving up 2.8 yards per carry, tied for the best in the NFL. The bad news: They were called offside six times in a loss to Buffalo last week. Jason Taylor leads the team with three sacks and five offside calls. He sees hope for the future. "We were a bullcrap team last year," he said. "We got that fixed, didn't we?"
Minnesota (+3) at Chicago, 1 p.m.
This week's assessment of the NFC North comes from Bears safety Mike Brown. "I hate to say it: We always find a way to lose," he said. "I know we have to find a way to win, but we always find a way to lose. Always. The only saving grace we have is our division is horrible."
New York Giants (+3) at Dallas,
The Giants' defense should be ready for Cowboys RB Julius Jones: Ryan Grant, one of his backfield mates at Notre Dame, is on the Giants' scout team and simulated Jones in practice. Whether the defense is ready for Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe is another question. The Giants are expected to use two inexperienced cornerbacks -- rookie Corey Webster and second-year player Curtis Deloatch -- because starter Will Peterson is out with a back injury.
New England (+3) at Denver,
4:15 p.m. (WUSA-9, WJZ-13)
The Broncos have not had a turnover in 13 quarters; it is believed to be the longest streak in team history. The Patriots, meantime, have just one interception this year (they had 20 last year).
New York Jets (+3) at Buffalo,
The Jets kept Tampa Bay's offense guessing throughout their 14-12 win last week. They lined up in a "46" defense for the first time in several years and also utilized five-linemen and two-linemen sets. That is bad news for Buffalo's offensive line. The right side is expected to be manned by rookie Duke Preston and free agent Greg Jerman. The team didn't score a touchdown on first and goal from the 1 and, in the second half, three straight possessions ended with third-down sacks last week.
San Diego (-11/2) at Oakland, 4:15 p.m.
NFL coaches are known copycats, so LaDainian Tomlinson can expect to see the same formation Pittsburgh used to hold him to 62 yards on Monday night. What that formation is, exactly, remains shrouded in mystery. "It's a look we hadn't used, but I don't want to get into the specifics of it," said Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. None of the Raiders would comment on it either, nor would Tomlinson.
Houston (+91/2) at Seattle,
8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sure hope you didn't pick the Texans' defense in your fantasy draft. The unit has yet to force a turnover and has a conference-low four sacks.
St. Louis (+131/2) at Indianapolis, Tomorrow, 9 p.m. (WJLA-7)
The Colts are the last team that can stop those fuddy-duddy members of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins from popping champagne, as they do every time the last undefeated NFL team suffers a loss. The schedule looks promising: The Colts play winless Houston (twice), Arizona, Tennessee and St. Louis. At least the bubbly probably won't be flowing for those has-beens late tomorrow night: The Rams have given up at least two touchdown passes in four of five games.