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LEAGUE DISPLAYS PLENTY OF POCKET CHANGE

Good and bad, young and old, injured or healthy. Quarterbacks have been the story so far in the 2002 NFL season.

Injuries to Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, Brian Griese, Jay Fiedler, Jim Miller, Trent Dilfer and Tommy Maddox.

The emergence of young stars such as Michael Vick, Chad Pennington, Drew Brees, David Carr, Joey Harrington and, surprisingly, Marc Bulger.

The comebacks of Tommy Maddox (from oblivion) and Drew Bledsoe (from injury).

The struggles of Vinny Testaverde, Jake Plummer, Daunte Culpepper, Kordell Stewart and anybody the Washington Redskins trot out to play the position.

It adds up to constant upheaval among the starting QBs. So far, 50 quarterbacks have started games this season. No. 51 and No. 52 come when Koy Detmer of the Eagles starts in place of the injured McNabb and Steve Beuerlein takes over in Denver for the injured Griese. Seventeen of the 32 NFL teams have had to make starting quarterback changes because of injury or ineffectiveness or both.

Game of the Day

Packers (8-2) at Buccaneers (8-2)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers favored by 3 points.

The scoop: The Packers got caught looking ahead last week when they were upset at Minnesota, 31-21. It snapped a seven-game winning streak. . . . The Bucs have two wins against Carolina and a victory against Minnesota since losing at Philadelphia. . . . Green Bay can clinch the division with a win and a Minnesota loss or tie at New England. . . . Tampa Bay leads the league in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense. Bucs defense has allowed only 10 touchdowns. . . . Last year, Packers won at home by one over the Bucs and lost by four on the road when both played in the NFC Central.

Outlook: Packers wake up and give offensively challenge Bucs a close game. Tampa Bay, 17-16.

Top attractions

Chargers (7-3) at Dolphins (6-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Dolphins by 3.

The scoop: This one should be over by 3:30 p.m. with the teams eating up time by running the ball. Matches NFL's No. 1 rusher LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers against No. 4 Ricky Williams of the Fish. . . . Miami got solid game from QB Ray Lucas and defeated the punchless Ravens last week. . . . Chargers handed OT victory when Niners blew a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead and flubbed an attempt at a winning FG in overtime.

Outlook: Cross-country trip and Miami humidity and law of averages catches up to Bolts. Miami, 17-10.
Bills (5-5) at Jets (5-5)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Jets by 3.

The scoop: Bills let one get away in Kansas City last week and it may end up costing them a playoff shot. . . . Third-year QB Chad Pennington has turned the Jets around. New York is 4-2 since he took over. . . . Buffalo has feasted on Ted Cottrell's New York defenses, averaging 408.3 yards in the last three games against the Jets.

Outlook: Pennington has the magic touch. Jets, 35-27.
Colts (6-4) at Broncos (7-3)

TV: ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Broncos by 6.

The scoop: Colts QB Peyton Manning has completed 76 percent (84 of 111) for 898 yards and 7 TDs with just two INTS in his last three starts. WR Marvin Harrison has 31 catches for 374 yards and five TDs in the last three. Rookie DE Dwight Freeney of Indy has three sacks and four forced fumbles as starter the last two games. . . . Beuerlein came off the bench and threw two passes for two touchdowns last week, but that was against the lowly Seahawks.

Outlook: Beuerlein can fill the bill. Denver, 28-20.
Eagles (7-3) at 49ers (7-3)

TV: Ch. 7, Monday, 9 p.m.

The line: 49ers by 7.

The scoop: Detmer makes his first start since 1999. . . . Eagles have thrown only six INTs, fewest in the NFL. . . . Niners let San Diego off the hook last week and let St. Louis back in the NFC West race. . . . Eagles lost at San Francisco, 13-3, last year.

Outlook: San Francisco won't let it come down to a field goal again. Niners, 17-6.
Titans (6-4) at Ravens (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Titans by 2.

The scoop: Tennessee built a 31-7 lead in thrashing of Steelers last week. . . . Ravens have won three in a row from Titans and have held Eddie George to 36-yard average in last six meetings. . . . Baltimore QBs have eight touchdown passes versus 11 INTs. . . . Titans on five-game winning streak.

Outlook: Strong effort from Ravens against former AFC Central rival. Ravens, 19-17.
Rams (5-5) at Redskins (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Rams by 4.

The scoop: Kurt Warner returns to quarterback the Rams after Marc Bulger (5-0) saved the St. Louis season. How rusty will Warner be? . . . St. Louis may be without RB Marshall Faulk again. . . . Steve Spurrier changing quarterbacks again. Danny Wuerffel gets the start.

Outlook: Rams are only 1-3 on the road and this one is outdoors on grass. St. Louis overcomes all that and Warner's rustiness for 27-17 win.

Best of the rest

Bengals (1-9) at Steelers (5-4-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Steelers by 10 1/2 .

The scoop: He's baack. Kordell Stewart returns to quarterback the Steelers. . . . Steelers won at Cincinnati, 34-7, on Oct. 13. Cincinnati offense has come alive since then (four games with 20 or more points) but defense has allowed 30 or more five times.

Outlook: If this were anybody but Pittsburgh, Bengals would be ready to fold the tent. Steelers struggle, 27-20.
Jaguars (5-5) at Cowboys (3-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Jaguars by 2 1/2 .

The scoop: Dallas working on a five-game losing streak. . . . Cowboys QB Chad Hutchinson has not thrown an interception in 86 career throws. However, he also has thrown only one touchdown. . . . Cowboys' defense has allowed only three rushing TDs, 17 overall. . . . Cowboys are alternating St. Emmitt with Troy Hambrick at RB spot.

Outlook: Jags trying for Texas sweep after 24-21 win in Houston last week. Dallas defense prevails, 14-12.
Vikings (3-7) at Patriots (5-5)

TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Patriots by 7 1/2 .

The scoop: Four of Pats' last six are at home, starting with today's game. . . . Vikings' only wins have come at home versus NFC North rivals Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay. . . . Pats ripe for an upset if they are looking ahead to divisional games at home against the Bills, Jets and Dolphins.

Outlook: Surprising Vikes cause problems. Pats, 34-28.
Browns (5-5) at Saints (7-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints by 6.

The scoop: New Orleans smarting from second straight loss to Atlanta and now finds itself trailing Tampa Bay by a game in the NFC South. Saints lead NFC wild-card race with four of the final six at home. . . . QB Tim Couch of the Browns has been coming on lately, completing 65 passes for 865 yards with eight TDs and three INTs in last four games for a 92.8 rating. . . . Every Saints opponent has scored 20 or more points.

Outlook: Browns will score on Saints. New Orleans, 34-31.
Raiders (6-4) at Cardinals (4-6)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Raiders by 8.

The scoop: Raiders have won two in a row while Cardinals (four losses in a row) are fading. Still, last "easy" game for Oakland before brutal finishing stretch (Jets, at San Diego, at Miami, Denver and Kansas City). . . . Cards have produced only 34 points in last three games. Jake Plummer's QB rating is only 65.7, second worst among starting QBs.

Outlook: Raiders struggle in desert. Oakland, 24-20.
Chiefs (5-5) at Seahawks (3-7)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Chiefs by 3.

The scoop: Kansas City has won seven of last 11 in Seattle. . . . RB Priest Holmes needs just three TDs to break club record of 19 by Abner Haynes in 1962 when team was still in Dallas. . . . Only Seattle victories in last six weeks were over punchless Cowboys and slumping Cardinals.

Outlook: Last chance for Seattle victory. Seahawks, 31-27.
Giants (6-4) at Texans (2-8)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Giants by 5 1/2 .

The scoop: McNabb injury may hand NFC East title to drab Giants team. Giants offense has produced only 15 touchdowns, but defense has given up only 17.

Outlook: Giants almost blow another one on the road. New York, 17-12.
Falcons (6-3-1) at Panthers (3-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons by 3.

The scoop: Falcons are 5-0-1 in last six, including sweep of New Orleans. . . . Falcons needs two more rushing touchdowns to break the franchise record of 18. . . . Carolina has lost seven in a row.

Outlook: Panthers contain Vick. Atlanta, 21-10.

Dog game of the day

Lions (3-7) at Bears (2-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Bears by 5 1/2 .

The scoop: Bears have lost eight in a row, six by six or fewer points. . . . Lions routed by 16 and 17 points in last two games.

Outlook: Da Bears win. Da Bears win, 14-13.
e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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