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ABSENCE OF UPSETS DISPROVES PARITY

Where's the parity?

"On any given Sunday . . . " any team can beat any other in the NFL. Or so the story goes.

Six weeks into the 2004 season, though, bottom feeders are feeding on, well, other bottom feeders. None has a huge upset to show.

Fifteen of the 32 NFL teams went into this weekend with losing records.

Miami (0-6), San Francisco and Tampa Bay (both 0-5), Buffalo, Arizona, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Carolina, Chicago (all 1-4), Dallas (2-3) and Oakland, Green Bay, New Orleans, Tennessee and Washington (all 2-4) make up the 15.

Among them they have won only 20 games. Sixteen of those victories have come against the other bottom feeders. Miami has been the favorite patsy so far. The Bills and Bengals own one victory so far over the Dolphins. One of Tennessee's two victories was over the Fish, too.

Chicago's only victory was over Green Bay. Tennessee's other victory was over the Packers.

Tampa Bay has been victimized by Washington and Oakland.

The only victories outside the group were over St. Louis (by New Orleans), Cleveland (by Dallas), Detroit (by Green Bay) and Baltimore (by Kansas City).

Game of the day

Jets (5-0) at Patriots (5-0)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Patriots favored by 6 points.

The scoop: New England has won four of the last five against Gang Green, but only one was easy. New York was 7-1 versus the Pats between 1997 and 2001. . . . A dropped pass by Jets center Kevin Mawae on fake FG and a 55-yard interception return by the Pats' Asante Samuel were big plays in New England's 23-16 win at Foxboro last year. That was with Vinny Testaverde, not Chad Pennington, at QB for the Jets.

Outlook: Pats skate by for No. 21, 24-21.

Top attractions

Jaguars (4-2) at Colts (4-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Colts by 9.

The scoop: The first return match of the season. Colts defeated the Jaguars, 24-17, in Jacksonville on Oct. 3 and had a season-low 337 yards. Jacksonville rolled for a season-best 408 yards in that one . . . . Colts beginning a tough stretch with Kansas City (away), Minnesota and Houston coming up. . . . Jags need a win to stay in the race for the AFC South.

Outlook: Colts win another shootout, 37-31.
Titans (2-4) at Vikings (4-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings by 6 1/2 .

The scoop: Another tough one for Titans, who have had brutal schedule. . . . Three of Tennessee's losses have come at home, where the Titans were once almost invincible. . . . Minnesota has six home games left. Vikings rolled up 605 yards at New Orleans, second most in club history and a record against the Saints.

Outlook: Vikes have 1,115 yards the last two games. Add another 400, Minnesota, 30-21.
Eagles (5-0) at Browns (3-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Ch. 29.

The line: Eagles by 7.

The scoop: They used to be bitter rivals in the NFL's old Eastern Conference. The Browns broke into the Holier-than-Thou NFL in 1950 with a 35-10 thrashing of the defending NFL champion Eagles. That opened a few eyes. Cleveland went on to dominate series, 31-13-1. . . . Cleveland's offense woke up for 449-yard day against Bengals last week while Eagles avenged NFC title game loss to Carolina.

Outlook: No domination today. Eagles, 24-17.
Lions (3-2) at Giants (4-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Giants by 7.

The scoop: Lions were held to 125 yards last week by the Packers. That's right, 125 yards total offense against a team that gave up 456 to Tennessee at home the week before.. . . . Giants are playing so well, it's unreal. Tom Coughlin's crack-the-whip mentality is working for the time being.

Outlook: Lions have little roar on the road. Giants, 27-13.

Best of the rest

Bills (1-4) at Ravens (3-2)

TV: 1 p.m., Ch. 4

The line: Ravens by 5 1/2 .

The scoop: Bills began to look like a football team last week, but that was against Miami. They protected the passer, made clutch third-down plays and ran the ball. They still had the stupid penalty for excessive (premeditated) celebration and coach Mike Mularkey wasted another timeout by making a replay challenge that had no chance. . . . Ravens coming off bye week after ugly win at Washington.

Outlook: McGahee revives Bills offense, but it's the Ravens, 23-20.
Broncos (5-1) at Bengals (1-4)

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

The line: Broncos by 6.

The scoop: Who's your daddy, Raiders? Mike Shanahan. Denver embarrassed the Black Hole gang, 31-3, last week in Oakland. The Broncos have won nine of last 10 against Cincinnati. The exception was a 31-21 upset in 2000. . . . Reuben Droughns followed up his big game against Carolina with a 176-yard outing against the Raiders. Bengals are among the NFL's worst at stopping the run.

Outlook: Broncos may clinch division by Veterans Day. Denver, 35-20.
Chargers (3-3) at Panthers (1-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers by 3.

The scoop: Jets, Broncos and Falcons, who are a combined 15-2, are the three teams with victories over the surprising Chargers. Bolts' victories have been versus Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville (a combined 9-9). . . . Drew Brees playing like he doesn't want to give up QB job to Philip Rivers just yet. . . . TE Antonio Gates had six more catches for 68 yards for Chargers in loss at Atlanta.

Outlook: Second trip to the East Coast in two weeks wears down Chargers. Carolina, 24-21.
Falcons (5-1) at Chiefs (1-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs by 3 1/2 .

The scoop: Chiefs and Michael Vick and Co. should light up the scoreboard at Arrowhead. Falcons are 4-1 all-time against the Chiefs with K.C.'s lone win coming in Atlanta in 2000. . . . K.C. is 0-2 at home so far.

Outlook: Another big day for Vick. Atlanta, 41-38.
Rams (4-2) at Dolphins (0-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Rams by 6.

The scoop: Steelers (314) and Bills (341) are only teams to gain more than 235 yards total offense against Miami so far despite record. Dolphins actually showed some signs of life in the running game last week with 111 yards and 4.4-yard average against Bills. . . . Rams won't like the slow track at Pro Player, especially if it's rainy.

Outlook: Miami bounces back from bad day in Orchard Park, but still loses. Rams, 20-13.
Seahawks (3-2) at Cardinals (1-4)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Seahawks by 6 1/2 .

The scoop: One nice thing about Seattle's move from AFC West to NFC West, they get to play the Cardinals twice every year. . . . Seahawks have rolled up 834 yards against the Rams and Patriots last two weeks and lost. . . . Arizona had last week off after blowing big lead at San Francisco the week before.

Outlook: No lead safe with either team. Seattle, 28-27.
Cowboys (2-3) at Packers (2-4)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m., Ch. 29.

The line: Packers by 3 1/2 .

The scoop: Another old-line opponent for Cowboys, who have met the Redskins, Giants and Steelers the last three weeks, beating only Washington. . . . Packers are 0-3 at home so far and have been outscored, 83-44. Green Bay hasn't lost four games at home in a season since 1991 (2-6). Cowboys never have won at Lambeau, regular season or postseason. Only wins in Wisconsin were in Milwaukee (1978, '80 and '91).

Outlook: Pack came back from the dead at Detroit. Green Bay, 20-14.
Saints (2-4) at Raiders (2-4)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Raiders by 3.

The scoop: Saints gave up 605 yards to Vikings at home. Raiders managed only 145 at home in embarrassing loss to Broncos. . . . Jim Haslett on hot seat in N'awlins. Norv Turner had better watch his back in Oakland.

Outlook: Raiders can't match points with Saints. New Orleans, 34-16.

Dog of the day

Bears (1-4) at Buccaneers (1-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers by 7.

The scoop: Bears may have to go to rookie Craig Krenzel or newcomer Chad Hutchinson after Jonathan Quinn's sorry performance (10 for 22, 65 yards, one interception, four sacks) against Redskins last week. Teammates openly showed their disdain for Quinn during the game. . . . Tampa Bay also has QB problem with Brian Griese due to get another start. . . . Both sides will have trouble scoring.

Outlook: This one almost guaranteed to be ugly. Buccaneers, 17-9.
e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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