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Line of Scrimmage: Week 16
Line of Scrimmage: Week 16
Line of Scrimmage: Week 16 - Pro Bowl Snubs, Anyone?
December 19th, 2007
After spending a week in Arizona for the Super Bowl, you might not feel like going to Hawaii anyway. Though by rights, you should be there.
Welker, who was passed over for the AFC Pro Bowl team, announced Tuesday, was among the highest-profile snubs. Apparently, the panel of players, coaches, and fans who vote on these honors weren't impressed enough by Welker's 96 catches, 1,004 yards, and eight touchdowns to send him to Hawaii.
The quality of the AFC receiving corps - Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Braylon Edwards, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh - made guys like Welker, Chad Johnson, and Denver's Brandon Marshall the odd men out. All of the above are worthy selections, though Welker certainly has a major gripe.
So does Kellen Winslow (71 receptions, 971 yards, 5 TD), who was passed over in favor of Antonio Gates (68 receptions, 898 yards, 9 TD) and Tony Gonzalez (82 receptions, 971 yards, 5 TD). Gates deserves to be there, though you have to honestly ask yourself whether Gonzalez or Winslow has made the bigger impact on his team. Gonzalez has been great, but how many big catches has he really made for the 4-10 Chiefs?
The most egregious Pro Bowl error is on the offensive line, where the selection of Baltimore tackle Jonathan Ogden was laughable. Ogden is going to the Hall of Fame, but he has been a shell of his former self in 2007, missing roughly half the year due to injury and not distinguishing himself when he has been in the lineup for a 4-10 team. The Colts' Tony Ugoh and Browns' Joe Thomas are but two players more worthy of the citation Ogden was unjustly awarded.
Another Ravens player named to the squad based more on reputation than merit is Ray Lewis, who is still an above-average middle linebacker but hasn't been as good as Tennessee's Keith Bulluck or Indianapolis' Gary Brackett this season.
At defensive tackle in the AFC, I would have chosen John Henderson (Jacksonville), Casey Hampton (Pittsburgh) or Kelly Gregg (Baltimore) well before the Chargers' Jamal Williams, who has battled knee problems all year and hasn't been as big a difference-maker as in years past.
The NFC team has its share of head-scratchers as well.
Torry Holt's numbers (83 receptions, 1055 yards, 7 TD) are all inferior to those of Marques Colston (87 receptions, 1092 yards, 9 TD), and Colston plays on a better team, yet Holt (who put up a lot of his numbers in garbage time for a 3-11 team) was an NFC pick at wideout, and Colston wasn't. Explain that one to me.
Elsewhere on the NFC offense, Philadelphia guard Shawn Andrews is having an average year at best. No way does he deserve to go to Hawaii ahead of the Giants' Chris Snee.
Defensively, the biggest problems for the NFC squad are the safeties. The Vikings' Darren Sharper plays a good center field but he plays for the worst statistical pass defense in the league. Dallas' Ken Hamlin doesn't do a heck of a lot for me either. I would have selected the Buccaneers' Jermaine Phillips or the Giants' Gibril Wilson before Sharper or Hamlin.
And, what's the deal with Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and linebacker Karlos Dansby both getting snubbed? No defensive tackle in the league has more sacks than Dockett (8), and Dansby (88 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 INT) has made as many big plays as any outside linebacker in the NFL. The fact that they play in relative obscurity in Arizona couldn't have helped, which was the same affliction facing the Jaguars, who didn't have a single player selected despite being 10-4.
At the end of the day, plenty of deserving guys received recognition, and a few of those mentioned above who were left off the list will get their due when some of those named to the Pro Bowl inevitably beg off due to injury.
But some, like perhaps Welker, will be home the second weekend in February pondering just what they have to do to be recognized for their efforts in the future.
Cash bribes definitely wouldn't hurt.
Let's take a look at the week that will be in the National Football League.
WEEKLY SEED REPORT
An up-to-date ranking of where teams lie in the playoff race.
AFC 1 - New England (14-0) 2 - Indianapolis (12-2) 3 - San Diego (9-5) 4 - Pittsburgh (9-5) 5 - Jacksonville (10-4) 6 - Cleveland (9-5)
NFC 1 - Dallas (12-2) 2 - Green Bay (12-2) 3 - Seattle (9-5) 4 - Tampa Bay (9-5) 5 - N.Y. Giants (9-5) 6 - Minnesota (8-6)
FANTASY - FIVE TO START
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati (vs. Cleveland) - After getting passed over for the Pro Bowl along with teammate Chad Johnson, look for him to play with passion.
Todd Collins, QB, Washington (at Minnesota) - He won't have to deal with the Giants Stadium wind this week, and the Vikings run defense will force him to throw a lot.
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay (at Chicago) - Bears front seven hasn't tackled anyone all year, and Packers will look to run a lot in the Chicago cold.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta (at Arizona) - Cardinals secondary is depleted, which could spell a big day for the Chris Redman-to-White connection.
Dallas Defense (at Carolina) - Matt Moore won't have a clue against the Cowboys pass rush.
FANTASY - FIVE TO BENCH
Cleo Lemon, QB, Miami (at New England) - Don't let that big day against the Ravens goad you into starting him in frosty Foxborough.
Clinton Portis, RB, Washington (at Minnesota) - Won't have a better game against the Vikings' front four than anyone else has.
Plaxico Burress, WR, N.Y. Giants (at Buffalo) - Bills secondary is good, and who knows what effect the weather will have on the passing game.
Matt Stover, K, Baltimore (at Seattle) - Once-reliable Stover is beginning to show signs of fading.
Chicago Defense (vs. Green Bay) - Reputation of this once-proud unit is as bad as its been in a while.
SUICIDE POOL PIX
1. New England (vs. Miami) - If you've held off on using them and you're still alive, congratulations.
2. Jacksonville (vs. Oakland) - After across-the-board Pro Bowl snub, they'll take out frustrations on Raiders.
3. Seattle (vs. Baltimore) - Ravens are 1-6 on the road, and you may recall that they lost to the Dolphins last week.
I was 8-8 in my picks last week, thanks in large part to the six underdogs that were outright winners, and slipped to 6-10 against the spread. I am now 142-82 (.634) with two weeks to play, but just 96-118-10 (.451) while walking the line. My 11-month-old little girl, who twice last week screamed in terror at the presence of Santa Claus, was 10-6 against the spread in Week 15. Ms. Moss is now 119-95-10 with Vegas involved, six better than any of The Sports Network's group of 16 "Pigskin Prognosticators."
Pittsburgh (9-5) at St. Louis (3-11), Thursday, 8:15 (Pittsburgh -7)
Storylines: Pittsburgh, which can clinch at least a Wild Card berth with a win, is tied with Cleveland atop the AFC North as Week 16 begins...Rams to retire running back Marshall Faulk's No. 28...Steelers running back Willie Parker leads the NFL in rushing yards (1317)...Rams have thrown a league-worst 23 interceptions on the year, while Steelers have intercepted a league-low nine passes in 2007...St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (862 yards), who rushed for a season-high 143 yards in last week's 33-14 loss to Green Bay, is 38 yards shy of 1,000 for the season...Steelers lead the NFL in total defense (258 yards per game), are tied for first in scoring defense (15.6 points per game) along with Tampa Bay, and have surrendered a league-low four rushing touchdowns on the year...Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed is an NFL-best 21-of-23 (91.3 percent) on field goals...Steelers, who will be playing in St. Louis for the first time since meeting the Cardinals there in 1979, are 0-9-1 in road games against the Rams all-time.
Fast Fact: If Steelers running back Willie Parker (1317 yards, 2 TD) maintains the NFL rushing lead without scoring another touchdown this season, he will have the fewest ground TDs for a league rushing champ since the Giants' Tuffy Leemans (810 yards, 2 TD) in 1936.
Prediction: This will resemble a Steelers home game, a situation that will lift Pittsburgh to a win it must have. Steelers 24, Rams 14.
Dallas (12-2) at Carolina (6-8), Saturday, 8:15 (Dallas -10)
Storylines: Dallas can clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win and a Green Bay loss at Chicago on Sunday...Panthers are still alive for playoffs but would need to win out and have Vikings, Redskins, and Saints lose out...Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo expected to play after injuring thumb in last week's 10-6 loss to Philadelphia...Romo defeated Carolina, 35-14, in his first career start last season...Rookie Matt Moore expected to make second straight start at quarterback for Carolina after engineering last week's 13-10 win over NFC West Champion Seattle...Cowboys had a league-high 11 players named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday...Dallas running back Marion Barber (871 yards) is 129 yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard season...Cowboys safety Roy Williams will miss game after being suspended for one week following third "horse-collar" tackle of the season last week... Carolina has recorded an NFL-low 19 sacks on the season.
Fast Fact: The Cowboys are 6-1 in regular season games against the Panthers, including 3-0 in games played in Charlotte.
Prediction: Coming off a tough loss to the Eagles, Romo and the Cowboys will punish rookie QB Moore and the Panthers. Cowboys 31, Panthers 10.
Re: Line of Scrimmage: Week 16
N.Y. Giants (9-5) at Buffalo (7-7), Sunday, 1:00 (N.Y. Giants -3)
Storylines: Giants will clinch a playoff berth with a win or losses for the Redskins (at Minnesota) and Saints (vs. Philadelphia)...Bills were eliminated from playoff contention in last week's snow-plagued 8-0 loss to Cleveland... New York has won six consecutive road games since losing its season-opener to Dallas...Buffalo has scored just 17 offensive touchdowns on the year, tied for last in the league along with Atlanta...Bills rookie Marshawn Lynch needs 60 yards to top 1,000 for the season...Giants running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) considered questionable for Sunday...Giants lost tight end Jeremy Shockey for the year with a broken leg suffered in Sunday's 22-10 home loss to the Redskins...New York wideout Plaxico Burress (935 yards) is 65 yards shy of his fourth career 1,000-yard season...Giants lead the league with 49 sacks in 2007...Buffalo end Aaron Schobel has a sack in three consecutive games...The Bills' Roscoe Parrish leads the NFL in punt return average (17.5).
Fast Fact: Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is 2-2 against the Bills all-time, including a 30-27 road win for his Jaguars in a 1996 AFC First-Round playoff.
Prediction: Bills won't score enough to pull off an upset against a Giants team that needs this one in advance of next week's date with New England. Giants 20, Bills 10.
Green Bay (12-2) at Chicago (5-9), Sunday, 1:00 (Green Bay -9)
Storylines: Packers can assume control of No. 1 spot in the NFC with a win and a Dallas loss at Carolina on Saturday night...Bears were 27-20 winners at Green Bay in Week 5...Kyle Orton will make second straight start at quarterback for Chicago, after presiding over 20-13 loss at Minnesota on Monday night...Bears are last in the league in rushing offense (78.4) and yards per carry (3.1)...Chicago receiver Bernard Berrian (906 yards) trying to become Bears' first 1,000-yard receiver since Marty Booker in 2002...Green Bay rookie kicker Mason Crosby leads the NFL in scoring (130 points)...Bears have a league-high five kick returns for touchdowns this year (3 punt, 2 kickoff), all by Devin Hester...Packers named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday were quarterback Brett Favre, wideout Donald Driver, defensive end Aaron Kampman and cornerback Al Harris...Hester, linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo were the Bears named Pro Bowlers.
Fast Fact: Chicago's Lovie Smith is 5-2 (.714) in his career against the Packers, after predecessors Dick Jauron (2-8) and Dave Wannstedt (1-11) went a combined 3-19 from 1993 through 2003.
Prediction: Bears have plenty of problems, but they won't let the hated Packers run them off of Soldier Field. Packers 16, Bears 9.
Cleveland (9-5) at Cincinnati (5-9), Sunday, 1:00 (Cleveland -3)
Storylines: Browns can take control of the AFC North lead with a win and a loss by Pittsburgh (at St. Louis on Thursday night)...Cleveland, which was a 51-45 winner at Cincinnati in Week 2, looking for its first home-and-home sweep in the Battle of Ohio since 2002...Cleveland last won division and/or hosted a playoff game in 1994...Browns wideout Braylon Edwards needs one touchdown catch to set franchise single-season record in that category, established by Gary Collins in 1963...Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh leads the NFL with 101 receptions, also a Cincinnati franchise record... Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow (971 yards) is on the verge of his first career 1,000-yard season...Browns are last in NFL total defense (378.4 yards per game), and are tied with the Lions for most passing touchdowns allowed (27)...The Browns' Joshua Cribbs leads the league in kickoff return average (30.9)...Edwards, Houshmandzadeh, and Cribbs were all named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday.
Fast Fact: Either Kenny Watson (564 rushing yards) or Rudi Johnson (497 yards) is in danger of posting the lowest total for a Bengals rushing leader since Harold Green led the team with 661 yards in 1995.
Prediction: It's a trap game for the Browns, who are going to see their youth catch up to them at some point. Bengals 30, Browns 27.
Kansas City (4-10) at Detroit (6-8), Sunday, 1:00 (Detroit -5)
Storylines: Lions have lost six straight since a 6-2 start, while Chiefs have dropped seven in a row after opening 4-3...Loss for Kansas City would give team its longest losing streak during a single-season since 1987 team lost nine in a row...Lions last lost seven in a row in 2006...Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle looks for first win in five NFL starts...Detroit has allowed a league-high 52 sacks on the season...Lions placed wide receiver Roy Williams (knee) on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday...Chiefs running back Larry Johnson (foot) expected to practice this week after missing the last six games...Detroit is last in the league in scoring defense (27.9 points per game), touchdowns allowed (49), and is tied for last in passing TDs allowed (27) along with Cleveland...Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez (971 yards) is on the verge of his third career 1,000-yard season, while wideout Dwayne Bowe (885 yards) is approaching his first...Lions have forced a league-high-tying 17 lost fumbles on the year, along with the Buccaneers...Gonzalez and defensive end Jared Allen were the Chiefs named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday.
Fast Fact: The Lions' eight losses this season have come by an average of 20.4 points each.
Prediction: Lions are mad at the world after six straight losses, and have finally found an offense they can contend with. Lions 27, Chiefs 13.
Houston (7-7) at Indianapolis (12-2), Sunday, 1:00 (Indianapolis -7)
Storylines: Colts are locked into the No. 2 seed in the AFC...Houston needs one win in its last two games to post its first non-losing season in franchise history...Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels, subbing for the injured Matt Schaub (shoulder), will try to move to 4-0 as a starter this season... Indianapolis wide receiver Marvin Harrison (knee) unlikely to return during the regular season...Colts have lost a league-low three fumbles on the season...Texans defensive end Mario Williams is second in the league with 13 sacks, seven of which have come in his last three games...Indianapolis has given up a league-high three touchdowns off of kickoff returns...Colts are No. 1 in the league in passing defense (162.4 yards per game)...Texans are 1-10 all-time against Indianapolis, including 0-5 at the RCA Dome...Colts named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday were quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Joseph Addai, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, center Jeff Saturday, and safety Bob Sanders...Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was the only Texan named to the squad.
Fast Fact: Texans receiver Andre Johnson has not posted more than 59 receiving yards in any of his seven career outings against the Colts, and has just one touchdown against Indianapolis all-time.
Prediction: Texans simply don't have the secondary to keep Peyton Manning and the Indy passing attack off the field. Colts 34, Texans 14.
Oakland (4-10) at Jacksonville (10-4), Sunday, 1:00 (Jacksonville -13)
Storylines: Jaguars can clinch AFC Wild Card berth with a win or a loss by Cleveland (at Cincinnati) or Tennessee (vs. N.Y. Jets)...Jacksonville received zero Pro Bowl citations when the teams were announced on Tuesday...Jaguars running back Fred Taylor trying to go over 100 rushing yards for a fifth straight week, which would be his longest streak since eclipsing the century mark nine straight times in 2000...Oakland lost running back Justin Fargas (knee) for the season in last week's 21-14 loss to the Colts, and LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes are expected to share carries in his absence...Josh McCown expected to start again at quarterback for Oakland, with rookie JaMarcus Russell slated to see time off the bench...Raiders are surrendering a league-high 4.7 yards per rush, and have allowed an NFL-worst 21 rushing touchdowns and 16 rushes of 20 yards or longer on the season...Punter Shane Lechler was the only Raider named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad...Raiders are visiting Jacksonville for the first time in team history.
Fast Fact: The Raiders are 0-5 in the state of Florida since beating the Dolphins there in 1990.
Prediction: Single-game NFL rushing record of 426 yards could be in peril here. Jaguars 35, Raiders 8.
Philadelphia (6-8) at New Orleans (7-7), Sunday, 1:00 (New Orleans -3)
Storylines: Saints are one game behind Minnesota for the final Wild Card berth in the NFC as Week 16 begins...Eagles try to avoid second losing season in the last three years...Saints beat Eagles by identical 27-24 scores in regular season and playoffs last year...New Orleans running back Reggie Bush (knee) could return after a two-game absence...New Orleans has allowed a league-low 12 sacks on the season...Eagles running back Brian Westbrook leads the NFL with 1,896 yards from scrimmage on the season...Philadelphia receiver Kevin Curtis (970 yards) is 30 yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard season... Eagles linebacker Takeo Spikes (torn rotator cuff) was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday...Eagles are the only team in the league without a touchdown off either an interception, fumble, punt, or kickoff return this season...Westbrook and guard Shawn Andrews were the Eagles named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday, while no New Orleans players made the team.
Fast Fact: 13.8 percent of the rushing yards and 33.3 percent of the rushing touchdowns in the career of Saints running back and eight-year-pro Aaron Stecker have come in the last two weeks.
Prediction: Eagles don't look like a team that has back-to-back road wins in them. Saints 23, Eagles 16.
Atlanta (3-11) at Arizona (6-8), Sunday, 4:05 (Arizona -9)
Storylines: Falcons, who have lost five straight, try to hand interim head coach Emmitt Thomas his first career win...Cardinals try to avoid their ninth straight losing season, and 21st in the last 23...Chris Redman, who posted a 0.0 passer rating in last week's 37-3 loss to Tampa Bay, will make his third consecutive start for Atlanta...Falcons are last in the league in scoring offense (13.4 points per game) and touchdowns scored (17)...Atlanta has had a league-high five interceptions returned for touchdowns this year...Falcons wideout Roddy White (999 yards) is one yard shy of becoming Atlanta's first 1,000-yard receiver since Terance Mathis in 1999...Arizona running back Edgerrin James went over 1,000 yards for the seventh time in his career last week...Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was the only Cardinals player named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday, while no Atlanta players made the list... Falcons have won four straight against the Cardinals since a 29-26 win for Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium in 1997.
Fast Fact: Current Falcons backup QB Joey Harrington (7 TD passes) is in danger of posting the lowest total for an Atlanta touchdown pass leader since David Archer threw for a team-best seven scores in 1985.
Prediction: Falcons won't win, but might actually get something going offensively against an injury-depleted Cardinals defense. Cardinals 27, Falcons 20.
Tampa Bay (9-5) at San Francisco (4-10), Sunday, 4:05 (Tampa Bay -6)
Storylines: NFC South champion Buccaneers currently occupy the No. 4 spot in the NFC Playoffs, just behind the similarly 9-5 Seahawks...Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia will face the team for which he played from 1999 through 2003 for the first time...Shaun Hill, who presided over last Saturday's 20-13 upset of the Bengals, to make his second straight start at QB for San Francisco...49ers are last in the league in total offense (242.8 yards per game) and passing offense (152.2 yards per game)...Buccaneers have thrown a league-low six interceptions on the season...Running backs Frank Gore (919 yards) of San Francisco and Earnest Graham (877 yards) of Tampa Bay are both within reach of 1,000 yards this week...Buccaneers receiver Joey Galloway (985 yards) is on the verge of becoming the first receiver in team history to go over 1,000 yards in three straight years...Tampa Bay is tied for the NFL lead in scoring defense (15.6 points per game) along with Pittsburgh...Buccaneers have forced a league-high-tying 17 lost fumbles on the year, along with the Lions...Linebacker Patrick Willis and punter Andy Lee were the 49ers named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad, while Tampa Bay did not have a player named to the team.
Fast Fact: Tampa Bay is 1-10 in San Francisco all-time, with its only road win over the 49ers coming in 1980.
Prediction: Buccaneers aren't really playing for anything at this stage, and they'll get a serious scare from a 49ers club that might have finally found its offensive compass last week. Buccaneers 20, 49ers 17.
Miami (1-13) at New England (14-0), Sunday, 1:00 (New England -21)
Storylines: Patriots and 1972 Dolphins are the only teams in NFL history to start 14-0...Dolphins were the last team to beat New England in the regular season, taking them down 21-0 last Dec. 10...New England quarterback Tom Brady (45 touchdown passes) is four behind Peyton Manning for the NFL single-season passing touchdowns record, and also leads the NFL in passing yards (4235) and passer rating (119.7)...Patriots wideout Randy Moss leads the league in receiving yards (1343) and touchdowns (19), and is three back of Jerry Rice for the NFL record for single-season touchdown receptions...New England ranks No. 1 in the league in total offense (413.6 yards per game), passing offense (298.6 yards per game), and scoring offense (37.4 points per game), and is 33 points shy of the league single-season mark for points, set by the 1998 Minnesota Vikings with 556...New England (67 touchdowns) is three back of the 1984 Dolphins for the most TDs in an NFL single-season...Pats have also committed the fewest turnovers in the league (11), and are tied with San Diego at the top of the league in turnover margin (+19)...Dolphins are last in the NFL against the run (155.9 yards per game), and have a league-low 17 takeaways.
Fast Fact: In six of the last seven years, the team that has won the front end of the Dolphins/Patriots home-and-home has lost the return matchup.
Prediction: Dolphins won't be under pressure to perform well after getting their win last week. Patriots 42, Dolphins 14.
Baltimore (4-10) at Seattle (9-5), Sunday, 4:15 (Seahawks -10)
Storylines: NFC West champion Seahawks currently occupy the No. 3 spot in the NFC Playoffs, just ahead of the similarly 9-5 Buccaneers...Ravens have the longest current losing streak in the NFL at eight games...Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller (concussion) expected to be back in the lineup after being knocked out of last week's 22-16 overtime loss to formerly winless Miami... Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (dislocated finger) could also play... Ravens have committed an NFL-worst 36 turnovers, including a league-high 22 fumbles lost, and are last in the league in turnover margin (-18) on the season...Baltimore wideout Derrick Mason (917 yards) is 83 yards shy of his sixth career 1,000-yard season...Seahawks end Patrick Kerney leads the NFL in sacks (13.5)...Seattle has surrendered a league-low 10 touchdown passes on the season...Baltimore is allowing an NFL-low 2.8 yards per rush...Ravens have forced a league-low-tying five lost fumbles on the year, along with the Jets...Ravens will be playing at Seattle for the first-time in team history.
Fast Fact: The Seahawks are 0-4 all-time against Baltimore-based NFL teams, losing twice each to the Colts (1977, 1978) and Ravens (1997, 2003).
Prediction: The Ravens show up in a road game? Not likely. Seahawks 31, Ravens 15.
N.Y. Jets (3-11) at Tennessee (8-6), Sunday, 4:15 (Tennessee -8)
Storylines: Titans are one game back of Pittsburgh (at St. Louis on Thursday night) and Cleveland (at Cincinnati on Sunday) for the final Wild Card berth, and will be eliminated from the playoff race if both Steelers and Browns win this week...Status of Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens (ribs) unknown for Sunday after he was knocked out of last week's 20-10 loss at New England... Running backs LenDale White (960 yards) of the Titans and Thomas Jones (963 yards) of the Jets are both within reach of 1,000 yards this week...Jets wideout Jerricho Cotchery (902 yards) within striking distance of his first 1,000-yard season...Tennessee placed linebacker Reggie Fowler (shoulder) on injured reserve Wednesday, and signed ex-Jaguars LB Jorge Cordova to take his spot on the roster...Titans kicker Rob Bironas leads the NFL in made field goals (31)...Jets have forced a league-low-tying five lost fumbles on the year, along with the Ravens...Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and kicker Rob Bironas were all named to the AFC Pro Bowl team on Tuesday.
Fast Fact: With 25 more rushing yards for Vince Young, the Titans will have three players (Young, LenDale White, Chris Brown) over 400 rushing yards in a season for the first time since Mike Rozier, Allen Pinkett, and Alonzo Highsmsith did so for the Oilers in 1988.
Prediction: Titans lack the offensive consistency to blow anyone out, but that defense is still a top-tier group. Titans 13, Jets 10.
Re: Line of Scrimmage: Week 16
Washington (7-7) at Minnesota (8-6), Sunday, 8:15 (Minnesota -6)
Storylines: Key clash of NFC Wild Card hopefuls...Vikings will clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Saints loss against Philadelphia...Washington quarterback Todd Collins, who won his first start since 1997 against the Giants last week, will open behind center for the second straight week in place of the injured Jason Campbell (knee)...Vikings lead the NFL in rushing offense (169.6 yards per game), yards per rush attempt (5.4), rushing touchdowns (20), and rushes of 20 yards or longer (18)...Redskins have allowed a league-low two rushes of 20 yards or longer...Vikings are No. 1 in NFL rushing defense (67.9 yards per game)...Minnesota is last in the NFL in pass defense (266.4 yards per game), but has recorded a league-high six interception returns for touchdowns this year...Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's steroid policy...Washington cornerback Fred Smoot will play against his former team for the first time.
Fast Fact: Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs is 4-0 all-time in road games against the Vikings.
Prediction: Vikings face a major short-week challenge, but the Redskins' injury problems will finally doom their playoff chances. Vikings 27, Redskins 24.
Denver (6-8) at San Diego (9-5), Monday, 8:00 (San Diego -8)
Storylines: Chargers clinched AFC West title last week and have inside track for No. 3 seed in the conference playoffs...Broncos, who were 41-3 home losers to San Diego in Week 5, trying to avoid first losing season since 1999...San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns (14) and is six yards back of Pittsburgh's Willie Parker for the league rushing lead as Week 16 begins...Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie leads the NFL in interceptions (10), while San Diego leads the league in INTs (27), takeaways (41), and is tied with New England for the league lead in turnover margin (+19)...Broncos released troubled punter Todd Sauerbrun on Tuesday, and will use Paul Ernster on punts and Matt Prater on kickoffs...Tomlinson, Cromartie, tight end Antonio Gates, guard Kris Dielman, fullback Lorenzo Neal, linebacker Shawne Merriman, nose tackle Jamal Williams and special-teamer Kassim Osgood were the Chargers named to the AFC Pro Bowl team on Tuesday...Cornerback Champ Bailey was the only Bronco to make the team.
Fast Fact: The Chargers (three straight wins over Denver) have not swept a home-and-home against the Broncos in back-to-back seasons since 1967-68.
Prediction: Playoff-bound Bolts won't be at their sharpest, but will break enough long runs to complete the sweep of the Broncos. Chargers 28, Broncos 22.
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