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STATISTICS HAVE BEEN MEANINGLESS THIS YEAR

If you don't believe statistics are for losers, consider this:

The Chicago Bears have gained a total of 661 yards in offense in winning their last three games. The Kansas City Chiefs totaled 956 yards in their last two games and lost both.

Here are other statistical gems to consider while looking ahead to this weekend's less-than-stellar schedule of NFL games.

The top two teams in total offense, Kansas City and Minnesota, have the same combined record (8-10) as the bottom two, Chicago and Detroit.

The top two teams in total defense, Pittsburgh and Washington, are a combined 11-7, only one victory more than the bottom two, New Orleans and Indianapolis (10-8).

Only three teams have managed to win games despite gaining less than 200 yards, and two did it last weekend. Chicago (176 yards) and Arizona (178) managed victories over Tennessee and the New York Giants. Jacksonville did it in Week Two, edging Denver, 7-6.

The Giants had a 100-yard receiver (Amani Toomer), a 100-yard rusher (Tiki Barber) and no turnovers but lost at Arizona, 17-14.

The top 10 teams in total offense have won 54 games, the bottom 10 have won only 35. Defensively, though, the bottom 10 have won exactly the same number as the top 10 (44).

Game of the day

Patriots (8-1) at Chiefs (3-6)
TV: Ch. 7, Monday, 9 p.m.

The line: Patriots favored by 3.

The scoop: New England is 0-8 in Kansas City since its last win in 1964. . . . New England has scored first in its last five games, winning four. . . . Despite missing last week's loss at New Orleans, Priest Holmes (knee) of the Chiefs has 14 rushing TDs, more than 30 NFL teams, including the Bills, of course. . . . Teams last met in 2002 with Patriots winning, 41-38, in OT.

Outlook: Chiefs will light it up at home on Monday night against Super Bowl champions, 31-23.

Top attractions

Chargers (6-3) at Raiders (3-6)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Chargers by 3 1/2 .

The scoop: Both teams coming off bye week, so neither has an advantage. . . . Raiders still chafing over 42-14 pasting at the hands of the Bolts on Oct. 31 in San Diego. . . . Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer has owned the Raiders (22-7 record). . . . Chargers QB Drew Brees, whom everybody was ready to write off before the season, is third in the league with a 108.7 passer rating. . . . Raiders won their last game, 27-24, at Carolina. Chargers are coming in riding a three-game winning streak.

Outlook: Raiders are angry and Chargers are due to slip. Oakland, 27-20.
Titans (3-6) at Jaguars (6-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Jaguars by 3.

The scoop: Tennessee owned Jags when Tom Coughlin was Jacksonville coach and has won 10 of last 13 against Jags. However, Jacksonville won Sept. 26 meeting in Nashville, 15-12, which started Titans' slide in AFC South standings. . . . Backup QB David Garrard guided Jags to win over Lions in OT last week while Titans lost at home to the Bears.

Outlook: Jags need win to keep pace with Colts. Jacksonville, 17-10.
Steelers (8-1) at Bengals (4-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Steelers by 4.

The scoop: Pittsburgh is hottest team in league with eight straight wins since losing, 30-13, at Baltimore in Week Two. Bengals must win to stay in wild-card hunt. . . . Duce Staley of Steelers ran for 123 yards in Oct. 3 victory over Bengals in Pittsburgh. . . . Bengals have won three of last four (Denver, Dallas and Washington).

Outlook: Bengals flunk big test. Steelers, 20-10.
Lions (4-5) at Vikings (5-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings by 7 1/2 .

The scoop: Vikes have lost three straight in their annual swoon. Lions are second last in the league in yards per game but manage to hover near .500 thanks to low turnover total. . . . First meeting of season between NFC North rivals. . . . Minnesota coach Mike Tice is 4-0 versus Lions in his career. . . . Vikings not expecting WR Randy Moss (hamstring) back for this one.

Outlook: Lions find a way to hang in. Vikings, 27-24.

Best of the rest

Rams (5-4) at Bills (3-6)
TV: Ch. 29, 1 p.m.

The line: Rams by 1 1/2 .

The scoop: Bills are exciting at home, unwatchable on the road. . . . QB Drew Bledsoe had 14.3 passer rating in loss to New England last week. That has to be worst in Bills history. . . . Rams scored huge win at home over NFC West rival Seahawks. Series sweep over Seattle gives Rams leg up in tiebreakers if needed. . . . Last time teams met, Tony Banks scored from 2 yards out with 11 seconds left for a 34-33 Rams victory in 1998. . . . Bills have won last three at home while Rams somehow found a way to lose at Miami in their last road outing.

Outlook: Unless there's a hurricane, Bills' defense won't stop Rams. St. Louis, 28-10.
Jets (6-3) at Browns (3-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Browns by 1.

The scoop: Won't someone buy Herm Edwards a Rolex or a Timex or a Mickey Mouse watch? His clock management is so horrible it's in the Gregg Williams-Mike Mularkey class. . . . Jets about to continue annual tradition of folding down the stretch. That goes back to the Joe Walton days. . . . Browns coach Butch Davis pulled starting QB Jeff Garcia last week after a horrid start against Pittsburgh and inserted Kelly Holcombe. . . . Jets blew 14-0 lead in home loss to Ravens last week.

Outlook: Records are reversed, but Browns are better at home. Cleveland, 17-14.
Falcons (7-2) at Giants (5-4)
TV: Ch. 29, 4:15 p.m.

The line: Falcons by 3.

The scoop: Eli is here. No. 1 pick in 2004 draft, Eli Manning, makes first NFL start for Giants. He replaces Kurt Warner in panic move by Tom Coughlin. . . . Giants have blown 14-0 and 14-3 leads last two weeks against lowly Bears and Cardinals. . . . Peerless Price had two catches for 20 yards in Falcons' win over Tampa Bay last week. Atlanta's real big-play receiver is TE Alge Crumpler, who snagged four passes for 29.5-yard average.

Outlook: Still don't believe Falcons are for real. Giants, 17-14.
Redskins (3-6) at Eagles (8-1)
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Eagles by 10 1/2 .

The scoop: Redskins have chance to get inside 10 1/2 points, but that's all. . . . Eagles are dominating once-proud NFC East like nobody has, even the great Giants, Cowboys, Redskins teams of the '80s and '90s. . . . Philly rolled over Dallas while Redskins were futile on offense in loss to Cincinnati. Patrick Ramsey, who relieved Mark Brunell last week, gets first start of season for Redskins. Joe Gibbs finally woke up. . . . Terrell Owens of Eagles leads NFL with 12 TD catches.

Outlook: Too much T.O. Eagles, 30-13.
Broncos (6-3) at Saints (4-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Broncos by 4.

The scoop: Can anybody figure the Saints out? One week, they seem to have quit on coach Jim Haslett. The next, they defeat a tough opponent. Last week it was Kansas City, 27-20. . . . The Saints are giving up 424 yards a game . . . Denver, tied with San Diego for lead in AFC West, had bye last week.

Outlook: Saints, underdogs at home, keep it close. Denver, 31-28.
Packers (5-4) at Texans (4-5)
TV: ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Packers by 3.

The scoop: Packers have won last four after starting 1-4 and have leg up in NFC North after OT win over Minnesota last week. . . . Texans have been routed by Denver and Indianapolis last two weeks. Opponents starting to take advantage of Dom Capers' zone-blitz defensive schemes.

Outlook: Pack due for a letdown, win only by a field goal, 34-31.
Colts (6-3) at Bears (4-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Colts by 7 1/2 .

The scoop: Rookie starters at QB are 11-0 this season. Ben Roethlisberger of Steelers is 7-0, Craig Krenzel of Bears is 3-0 and Chris Simms of Bucs is 1-0. Chicago upset Tennessee on road last week even though Krenzel's passer rating was only 19.3. . . . Peyton Manning threatening Dan Marino's record for TD passes. Manning needs 17 more to equal Dan's record total of 48.

Outlook: Should be easy for Colts, but Bears have worked three miracles in a row. Indy, 27-14.
49ers (1-8) at Buccaneers (3-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers by 8.

The scoop: Niners can't hold a lead. They blew 17-0 advantage in loss to Carolina last week. . . . Without Warren Sapp and John Lynch, Bucs are still sixth in the league in total defense.

Outlook: Niners blow another lead. Buccaneers win, 24-20.
Dolphins (1-8) at Seahawks (5-4)
TV: Ch. 4, 4:05 p.m.

The line: Seahawks by 9.

The scoop: Do we have to watch, especially after looking at the Bills' offense for three hours? . . . Dolphins making first start under interim head coach Jim Bates. . . . Seahawks smarting from key loss at St. Louis. . . . A.J. Feeley starts at QB for Fish.

Outlook: Odds are any NFL team, even one as bad as Dolphins, can stay inside 10 points. Seattle, 20-13.
Cardinals (4-5) at Panthers (2-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers by 2 1/2 .

The scoop: Both teams coming off wins last week. Cards beat Giants, Panthers won at San Francisco . . . Arizona averaging only 259 yards a game. . . . Panthers have allowed only 12 sacks.

Outlook: Two bad offensive teams. Cards, 13-10.

Dog game of the day

Cowboys (3-6) at Ravens (6-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens by 8.

The scoop: Cowboys might drive Tuna back to retirement. . . . Ravens have won nine of last 10 at home.

Outlook: Ravens don't have passing attack to take advantage of Dallas secondary. Ravens, 16-9.
e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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