Atlanta (+3) at Carolina, 1 p.m.

The Falcons have won nine of 10 against the Panthers, but a loss here would put them two games back in the NFC South and hurt, though not necessarily doom, their playoff hopes. Atlanta is 4-1 on the road.

Buffalo (+5) at Miami, 1 p.m.

Bills quarterback J.P. Losman, who looked dreadful earlier in the season, may be coming around. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 197 yards last week against the Panthers and ably ran the no-huddle offense at times.

Cincinnati (-3) at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (WUSA-9)

The Steelers had three offensive linemen -- Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings -- in the Pro Bowl last year, but that's where the problem has been the last two games. Pittsburgh rushed for 86 yards in its loss to the Colts and allowed three sacks. Offensive linemen also had five false-start penalties.

Dallas (+3) at New York Giants, 1 p.m.

Because the Cowboys won the earlier meeting, today's game is crucial to the Giants' NFC East title hopes. A loss would put them one game back in the standings, two if you consider the tiebreaker. The Giants had 16 penalties last week -- including 11 false starts -- their most in 56 years. They rank third in the league in penalties, behind the Raiders and Ravens.

Green Bay (+7) at Chicago, 1 p.m.

The Bears rank second in the league in quarterback sacks with 35, but a more telling statistic may be that they lead the league with 90 negative plays (sacks, runs or passes for a loss). The Packers have done an admirable job protecting Brett Favre: They've allowed 14 sacks, the second-lowest total in the league.

Houston (+81/2) at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (WJZ-13)

Houston Chronicle columnist John McClain saw something less than honorable in the Texans' 33-27 overtime loss to the Rams last week. "Do you realize how difficult it is to give away a 27-17 lead with 34 seconds remaining and make people think that you did it legitimately?" he wrote, insinuating the team is purposely trying to lose out to get draft rights to Southern Cal's Reggie Bush.

Jacksonville (-3) at Cleveland,

1 p.m.

Life without Byron Leftwich continues for the Jaguars. David Garrard rushed for a 16-yard touchdown on his first drive last week and ran for 61 yards overall. His mobility may give the Jaguars another offensive option.

Minnesota (-21/2) at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Reason No. 259 why the total defense statistic can be misleading: The Vikings rank 28th in total defense but have the second-most interceptions in the league (17), and their turnover margin (plus-1) is 16th. Just a month ago, they were minus-eight after a loss to the Panthers dropped them to 2-5.

Tampa Bay (-31/2) at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

Today's game in Baton Rouge, La., is the first of a rare three-game road trip for the Bucs. Only five teams have had such a long sojourn over the past three years. Tampa Bay is 2-4 against the Saints since realignment in 2002.

Tennessee (+151/2) at Indianapolis,

1 p.m.

San Francisco and Pittsburgh both have tried onside kicks to start the second half against the Colts this season. Will Titans Coach Jeff Fisher do the same? A year ago tomorrow, Tennessee tried three onside kicks, plus a fake punt, against the Colts. It didn't help much, as Indianapolis cruised to a 51-24 victory.

Arizona (-3) at San Francisco, 4 p.m.

The Cardinals might have locked up the award for the worst successful red-zone possession of the year last week against the Jaguars. In the third quarter, Arizona got to the Jacksonville 1 but ended up kicking a 42-yard field goal. That wasn't the only ugly part of the 24-17 loss: The Cardinals had four 15-yard penalties (one unsportsmanlike conduct, two unnecessary roughness and one roughing the passer).

Denver (-1) at Kansas City,

4:15 p.m. (WUSA-9, WJZ-13)

Chiefs running back Larry Johnson has rushed for 100 yards in four straight games (the team record is five) and ran for 151 yards and two scores in the teams' last game in Kansas City, a 45-17 Chiefs victory last Dec. 19. But this season, the Broncos have the league's top rushing defense at 79.1 yards per game.

New York Jets (+10) at New England, 4:15 p.m.

The Patriots haven't suffered back-to-back losses in 44 games, and that streak likely will reach 45 today. New England's big Achilles' heel is its pass defense, which ranks 31st in the league. But that pass defense should get something of a break today, as the Jets rank 27th in the league and have thrown just six touchdown passes, the fewest in the league.

Oakland (+11) at San Diego, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

The Chargers have won four straight over the Raiders. They haven't won five straight over Oakland since 1960-62. Drew Brees had a career-low 35.7 passer rating last week against the Redskins, but he has eight TDs and zero INTs in the wins over Oakland.

Seattle (-4) at Philadelphia, 9 p.m. tomorrow (WJLA-7, WMAR-2)

The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West title with a victory. Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is basically the team's only offensive option at this point. He leads the team in rushing, receiving and touchdowns.