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Mostly turkeys served up as holiday leftovers

Today could be a day for spoilers in the National Football League. Three division leaders -- the Cowboys, Packers and Colts -- played on Thanksgiving Day, leaving a rather unattractive schedule for the other 13 games. There is potential for playoff contenders to stumble against marginal teams. For example, could the Washington Redskins, trying to hang in for a wild-card spot, upset Tampa Bay and keep the Bucs from taking a firmer hold on first place in the NFC South? The Houston Texans, trying to stay in the wild-card chase, could be a spoiler in Cleveland, where the Browns are sitting in the AFC's second wild-card position. And will the Chicago Bears prove to be inhospitable hosts to the Denver Broncos, who have climbed into a tie for the AFC West lead with San Diego?

>Game of the day

Eagles (5-5) at Patriots (10-0)
TV: Ch. 2, 8:15 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-24).
The scoop: The Patriots can earn one of the earliest divisional clinchers ever with a victory or a loss by the second-place Bills. New England's last Super Bowl triumph was over the Eagles, who have since fallen on hard times. . . . New England's quest for an unbeaten season and the assault on the NFL record book by Tom Brady and Randy Moss will be hot topics for the rest of the season. . . . Donovan McNabb (ankle, thumb) will not be able to play for the Eagles. Journeyman A.J. Feeley gets the start. . . . Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, who leads NFL with 1,367 scrimmage yards, is having Pro Bowl season. . . . Patriots are one of biggest betting favorites in point spread history, according to Las Vegas expert R.J. Bell.
Outlook: Patriots are unreal but Eagles can be tough nut. New England, 35-14.

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>Top attractions

Redskins (5-5) at Bucs (6-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bucs (-3).
The scoop: Breakdowns in Washington secondary led to loss at Dallas for Redskins . . . Bucs just playing solid, consistent, mistake-free football. They have turned the ball over only 13 times (just four interceptions) and lead NFC in defense (285.1). . . . Earnest Graham (4.2 average) has taken over the Bucs' ballcarrying role with 100-yard games the last few weeks.
Outlook: Redskins stay alive for wild card despite 17-10 loss.

Texans (5-5) at Browns (6-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Browns (-3).
The scoop: Houston has QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson back and is looking to win three in a row for first time in franchise history. Schaub and Johnson hooked up for an early score in last week's win over Saints. . . . Browns coming off wacky win at Baltimore after near miss in Pittsburgh. Cleveland winning despite giving up 406.3 ypg.
Outlook: Browns looking to win fifth in row at home for first time since '94. Cleveland, 41-35.

Broncos (5-5) at Bears (4-6)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Bears (-1 1/2 ).
The scoop: Hard to believe Bears are only 1-3 at home. Rex Grossman (2-6 TD-INT ratio for season) had productive game, but made key turnover in loss at Seattle. . . . Just when Broncos were being counted out of playoff contention, they have rebounded with no-names (Selvin Young and Andre Hall) filling key roles at RB.
Outlook: Bears' rush gets to Cutler. Chicago, 17-13.

Bills (5-5) at Jaguars (7-3)
TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.
The line: Jaguars (-8).
The scoop: Jaguars playing best ball of season and have QB David Garrard back. . . . Bills without Marshawn Lynch and can't sustain an offense with J.P. Losman at quarterback.
Outlook: Jags believe they can catch Colts in AFC South. Jacksonville, 31-13.

Ravens (4-6) at Chargers (5-5)
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
The line: Chargers (-8 1/2 ).
The scoop: Chargers ran the ball only 20 times at Jacksonville last week. Fans of Bolts are ready to revolt over team's performance and there seems to be dissension in locker room. A.J. Smith, who forced out Marty Schottenheimer and brought in Norv Turner, should be feeling the heat. . . . Ex- Dolphin Chris Chambers had four catches for 93 yards in loss to Jags.
Outlook: LaDainian Who? Chargers break out, 27-17.

Vikings (4-6) at Giants (7-3)
TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.
The line: Giants (-7).
The scoop: Vikes RB Chester Taylor was superb filling in for injured Adrian Peterson against Oakland last week. Minnesota averaging league-best 177.9 yards per game on ground, but QB Tarvaris Jackson has 55.5 passer rating. . . . No coach gets more borderline calls in his favor and cries more than Giants' Tom Coughlin. . . . Giants may not be able to run against Minny so Eli Manning will have to come up big.
Outlook: Giants, 27-10.

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>Best of the rest

Seahawks (6-4) at Rams (2-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Seahawks (-3).
The scoop: Rams (35 sacks allowed) can't protect Marc Bulger. He took six sacks against woeful 49ers last week. . . . Mediocre Seahawks will make playoffs because they are playing in weakest division in football and that's saying something when you look at dreadful AFC East. Rams have won their last two. . . . S-Hawks QB Matt Hasselbeck may not start.
Outlook: Rams get first home win, 27-24.

Raiders (2-8) at Chiefs (4-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Chiefs (-5).
The scoop: KC QB Brodie Croyle showed impressive arm, some dubious decision making in first NFL start against Colts last week. Chiefs have to start raw rookie Kolby Smith with Priest Holmes (neck) retired and Larry Johnson (knee) sidelined. . . . Chiefs' Jared Allen (No. 1 in NFL with 9 1/2 sacks) is best DE you probably never heard of. He deserves AFC start in Pro Bowl. . . . Raiders' losing streak at six.
Outlook: Remember when this used to be a marquee rivalry? Chiefs, 13-10.

Titans (6-4) at Bengals (3-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Titans (-1 1/2 ).
The scoop: Titans have won last five in Cincinnati, but haven't played there since 2002. Tennessee has lost last two. Vince Young should hit a career high for passing yards for third week in a row against weak Bengals defense. . . . Tennessee defense (278.7 ypg) did not live up to its reputation in Monday night loss at Denver.
Outlook: Bengals' Carson Palmer adds to 2,793 passing yards, 18 TD totals. Cincy, 33-30.

Saints (4-6) at Panthers (4-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Saints (-2).
The scoop: Carolina picture so bad, oddsmakers have made Panthers underdog at home against Saints team that has lost last two. New Orleans coach Sean Payton is 0-3 against Panthers, including 16-13 loss Oct. 7 on 52-yard John Kasay FG as time expired. . . . Carolina has seriously underachieved because of quarterback injuries. Vinny Testaverde doing all you could ask of a 44-year-old, but it's not enough. . . . Saints' Reggie Bush had 12 catches for 70 yards in loss at Houston last week, but only 34 yards in 15 carries.
Outlook: It's up week for up-and-down Saints, 24-20.

Dolphins (0-10) at Steelers (7-3)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Steelers (-16).
The scoop: Poor Dolphins. If things weren't bad enough, they have to go to Pittsburgh for a Monday Nighter and face a team that will be steaming over loss to the Jets. . . . Cam Cameron might be coach of year for keeping Miami competitive despite no offense at all.
Outlook: Miami can't score. Steelers 23-3.

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>Dog of the day

49ers (2-8) at Cardinals (5-5)
Kickoff: Ch. 29, 4:05 p.m.
The line: Cardinals (-10 1/2 ).
The scoop: The late Buster Ramsey was playing guard for the Cardinals and Paul Christman, Elmer Angsman and Pat Harder were in the backfield the last time Red Birds were a 10 1/2 -point favorite over anybody. . . . Niners haven't scored a TD since first possession at Atlanta three weeks ago. They've been blanked the last 11 quarters.
Outlook: Break out large "Lindbergh Lands in France" type. Niners score, but lose, 20-10.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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