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In final bye week, schedule gets down to nitty-gritty

Just past the halfway point in the NFL season, it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty -- divisional rivalries. Nine of the 14 games on the Week 10 schedule are divisional games, topped by the Dallas Cowboys' visit to the New Jersey Meadowlands to battle the New York Giants in the NFC East. Cleveland plays at Pittsburgh in a matchup of Rust Belt rivals and rookie sensation Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings will test the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in other big matchups. Also, fantasy players will be able to breathe easier because this is the last of the bye weekends. New England, Houston, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay have open dates but from here on it will be a full 16-game schedule.

>Game of the day

Cowboys (7-1) at Giants (6-2)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

The line: Cowboys (-1 1/2 ).

The scoop: Last time Dallas started 8-1 was in its last Super Bowl season (1995). . . . The Cowboys have scored 30 or more in five of their eight games, including a season high in 45-35 win over Giants in Week One. . . . 'Boys QB Tony Romo leads NFC with 19 TD passes and 100.4 passer rating. Will Giants pass rush (league-leading 30 sacks) rattle him? . . . Giants have won six in a row, Dallas three since loss to Patriots.

Outlook: Giants have had two weeks to get ready since London trip. Romo won't like Big Blue rush. Giants, 24-21.


>Top attractions

Colts (7-1) at Chargers (4-4)

TV: Ch. 2, 8:15 p.m.

The line: Colts (-3 1/2 ).

The scoop: Chargers spoiled Indy's unbeaten season with 26-17 win at RCA Dome last December. . . . Both teams on the rebound, Colts from loss to Patriots, Chargers from mauling at Minnesota by Peterson and Co. . . . Indy's first visit to San Diego since 1999, when Peyton Manning passed for 404 yards in 27-19 victory. . . . RB LaDainian Tomlinson having relatively quiet season, only seven TDs with long run of 41.

Outlook: A.J. Smith should have tried harder to get along with Marty Schottenheimer. Bolts in trouble if they don't win. San Diego, 27-24.


Vikings (3-5) at Packers (7-1)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-6).

The scoop: Until Adrian Peterson came along, who thought we'd see another like Jim Brown. He's mauled two quality defenses -- Bears and Chargers -- for astronomical yardage totals. . . . Packers won first meeting, 23-16, behind Brett Favre's 322 passing yards and two TDs. . . . Ex-Jet Brooks Bollinger came out of Vikes' bullpen to throw 40-yard TD pass in win over San Diego last week.

Outlook: Still don't believe Packers are this good. A.P. leads 20-10 Minny upset.


Browns (5-3) at Steelers (6-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Steelers (-10).

The scoop: Steelers starting to believe they can challenge Patriots and Colts after Ravens virtually handed them Monday night victory. . . . Browns lost at home to Steelers, 34-7, in Week One, have averaged 31 ppg since. . . . Cleveland is example of building a team from outside in, which is not supposed to be how you do it. TE Kellen Winslow (657 receiving yards) and WR Braylon Edwards (9 TD catches) star in a sensational offense that has saved Romeo Crennel's job. Winslow and Edwards have accounted for 1,393 of Browns' 2,142 receiving yards. . . . Steelers looking at two-week vacation with Jets (1-8) and Dolphins (0-8) up next.

Outlook: Steelers (4-0) too tough at home. Pittsburgh, 30-21.


Jaguars (5-3) at Titans (6-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Titans (-4).

The scoop: Third straight road game for Jaguars, who lost at home to Titans, 13-10, in Week One. . . . In six of their eight games, Titans allowing only 11 ppg. Colts got 22, which is understandable, but how on earth did Tennessee give up 36 in comeback win at Houston? . . . Titans looking for fourth straight win. . . . Another start for Jags' backup QB Quinn Gray, who has three TDs, three INTs in two starts.

Outlook: Teams fighting for second place behind Colts in AFC South. Titans and Vince Young are tough, well-coached. Tennessee, 20-10.


>Best of the rest

Bills (4-4) at Dolphins (0-8)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Bills (-3).

The scoop: Poor clock management in blowing games to Broncos and Cowboys obscuring coaching job Dick Jauron and his staff are doing despite injuries and uncertain QB situation. Bills are prepared and motivated every week. However, it's time for Miami to win one and Fish will be motivated after three straight losses to Buffalo. . . . Miami put up 20 or better against Cowboys, Jets, Browns and Patriots. . . . Bills rookie Marshawn Lynch has second most carries (177) of all NFL RBs. . . . Bills may see a lot of Miami rookie speedster Ted Ginn Jr.

Outlook: Jason Taylor (15 career sacks against Bills) disrupts things. Miami, 27-24.


Rams (0-8) at Saints (4-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-10 1/2 ).

The scoop: Saints on a four-game roll. They've scored 122 in last four after only 51 in first four when defense allowed 119.

Outlook: Even bye week couldn't straighten out mess Rams' O-line has become. Saints, 24-14.


Eagles (3-5) at Redskins (5-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Redskins (-3).

The scoop: Eagles coach Andy Reid 11-6 against Redskins. Washington's Joe Gibbs 20-12 against Birds. . . . Except for 56-point game against Lions, Philly offense has been flat all season. In four losses, opponent scored 20 or fewer.

Outlook: Eagles have to show up some time. Philly, 17-14.


Lions (6-2) at Cardinals (3-5)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Cardinals (-1 1/2 ).

The scoop: How do the Lions do it? Detroit looking to go 7-2 for first time since 1993. Two losses were road horror shows against Eagles (56-21) and Redskins (34-3). . . . Lions' defense has given up only seven points each to Bears and Broncos in last two games. . . . Cardinals have lost last three, but are 2-1 at home. . . . Shaky Detroit pass defense (28th in league) may not be able to contain Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald (50 receptions, NFC best 737 yards).

Outlook: Suddenly Lions GM Matt Millen looks like a genius. A shaky nod to Lions, 27-24.


Broncos (3-5) at Chiefs (4-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs (-3).

The scoop: This has grown into one of AFC's most fierce rivalries. Chiefs have won three of last five and are 14-14 all-time against Mike Shanahan teams. . . . Broncos have 41-3 and 44-7 losses on the books in disappointing season. . . . K.C. QB Damon Huard is 8-2 as starter at home. . . . Injury to Larry Johnson means Chiefs will give Priest Holmes his first start in more than two years at RB.

Outlook: Herm Edwards teams are tough against Broncos. K.C., 28-20.


Falcons (2-6) at Panthers (4-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers (-3 1/2 ).

The scoop: Nondescript Atlanta team chafing under rookie head coach Bobby Petrino but getting better. . . . Panthers have scored just 14 points last two weeks against tough Colts and Titans defenses. . . . Will it be Vinny Testaverde at QB for Carolina? . . . Panthers won first meeting, 27-20, in September when David Carr came off bench to lead rally after Jake Delhomme was injured.

Outlook: Panthers look stale and Joey Harrington not half-bad at QB for Falcons. Atlanta, 17-14.


49ers (2-6) at Seahawks (4-4)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Seahawks (-9 1/2 ).

The scoop: Niners and Rams are two most hapless offenses in league. Seahawks lead weakest division in NFL despite 4-4 record. Seattle is 3-1 at home. . . . S-Hawks won first meeting, 23-3, in San Francisco.

Outlook: Eighty million to Nate Clements hasn't made Niners a winner. Seahawks try to stay interested, 24-16.


Bears (3-5) at Raiders (2-6)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Bears (-3 1/2 ).

The scoop: Raiders have scored just 50 points (12.5 average) in losing last four. . . . Bears coming off bye week. . . . Chicago's Devin Hester has averaged 85 yards in his 10 career touchdowns, nine of which have been kick returns. . . . Raiders averaging 140 yards a game rushing, fourth in league.

Outlook: Raiders sputtering. Chicago, 20-10.


>Dog of the day

Bengals (2-6) at Ravens (4-4)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-3 1/2 ).

The scoop: Two vastly overrated teams. . . . Bengals ahead of only Cleveland in total defense. . . . Ravens own victories over Jets, Cardinals, 49ers and Rams, who are a combined 6-23 against the rest of the league. . . . Baltimore QB Steve McNair had horrid night against Steelers.

Outlook: If any game needed Chad Johnson sideshow for entertainment value, this one does. Ravens, 20-14.


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