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Thriller in Indy overshadows other worthy clashes

They're calling it the Perfect Bowl. Until today, never in 88 years had two NFL teams met with records of 7-0 or better. The New England Patriots (8-0) and Indianapolis Colts (7-0), led by the two most efficient quarterbacks in the game, will clash at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis today. Aside from Super Bowls, it's perhaps the most hyped-game in league history and overshadows several attractive games on the Week Nine schedule, including divisional encounters between the Cowboys and Eagles in Philadelphia tonight and the Ravens and Steelers in Pittsburgh on Monday night.

>Game of the day

Patriots (8-0) at Colts (7-0)

TV: Ch. 4, 4 p.m.

The line: Patriots (-5 1/2 ).

The scoop: Colts think WR Marvin Harrison (bruised knee) will make it back for this one. He did not practice Wednesday, however. New England DT Richard Seymour returned to action and played on 22 of 57 defensive snaps in rout of Washington. RB Laurence Maroney also has returned and TE Benjamin Watson should be back. Pats rested WR Randy Moss (no injury reported) and Colts did same with DE Dwight Freeney (no injury reported) in practice this week. . . . Patriots have scored on their opening drive in all eight games. . . . Colts wiped out a 21-3 first-half deficit to beat the Pats, 38-34, in the AFC Championship Game in RCA Dome last January and went on to win the Super Bowl. Indy dominated the stats (first downs, 32-17 and total yards, 455-318) in that one. . . . Pats have won last eight (11 straight in regular season) while Colts' winning streak is 12 stretching back to last season.

Outlook: Quarterback duel between Tom Brady (30 TDs) and Peyton Manning (13 TDs) goes to Colts, 27-21.

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>Top attractions

Cowboys (6-1) at Eagles (3-4)

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

The line: Cowboys (-3).

The scoop: Eagles have won 11 of last 14 in series, including sweep in 2006 series. Coach Andy Reid is 12-4 against Dallas. . . . Cowboys had open date last week while Eagles were winning at Minnesota, 23-16. . . . Eagles DE Trent Cole leads NFL with nine sacks. . . . RB Brian Westbrook of Eagles is second in NFL in scrimmage yards (881). . . . Dallas is only 1-3 in visits to Lincoln Financial Field.

Outlook: Eagles show their grit. Philly, 21-16.

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Ravens (4-3) at Steelers (5-2)

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

The line: Steelers (-9).

The scoop: Steelers are No. 1 and Ravens No. 2 in NFL in total defense. . . . After missing two starts and bye week, Steve McNair due back to quarterback Ravens in key division game. . . . Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger has 15 TD passes, half of what Tom Brady has put up.

Outlook: Last gasp in division for Ravens. Steelers, 20-13.

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Panthers (4-3) at Titans (5-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Titans (-4).

The scoop: David Carr likely to start at QB for Carolina because Vinny Testaverde (Achilles tendon) missed practice during week. . . . Titans QB Vince Young looked rusty on his return in last week's 13-9 win over Raiders. . . . Tennessee in middle of three-game homestand. . . . All not well in Panther-land. WR Steve Smith (two receptions, 28 yards) had sideline flare-up with Carr during loss to Colts last week.

Outlook: Titans tough in close ones, 17-10.

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Seahawks (4-3) at Browns (4-3)

TV: Ch. 29, 4 p.m.

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

The scoop: Moment of truth for Browns against playoff-caliber opponent at home. . . . Cleveland and QB Derek Anderson (17 TD passes) are surprises of NFL season. . . . Last time Seahawks visited Cleveland (2001), Rian Lindell kicked three FGs, including 52-yarder with 3 seconds remaining for 9-6 Seattle win.

Outlook: S-Hawks' Shaun Alexander (3.4 rushing average) is fading. Browns, 20-17.

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Broncos (3-4) at Lions (5-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Lions (-3).

The scoop: Lions also facing Moment of Truth against capable opponent at home. . . . Lions are minus-22 in points despite record, thanks to 35- and 31-point road losses to Eagles and Redskins. . . . Detroit QB Jon Kitna leads NFC with 69.4 completion percentage but has only 8-6 TD-INT ratio. . . . Broncos are three Jason Elam FGs from possible 0-7.

Outlook: Lions (3-0) are home bodies. Detroit, 27-24.

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Packers (6-1) at Chiefs (4-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

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

The scoop: Chiefs need win to stay in thick of AFC West and AFC wild card races. First-place Packers getting push from Detroit in NFC North. Green Bay coming off OT win at Denver and a short week while Chiefs had last week off. Another case of unfair NFL scheduling. . . . K.C.'s Jared Allen leads AFC with eight sacks, same number as Aaron Kampman of the Pack.

Outlook: Since Super Bowl I, Packers are 1-6 against Chiefs. K.C., 20-17.

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>Best of the rest

Bengals (2-5) at Bills (3-4)

TV: Ch. 4, 1 p.m.

The line: Bengals (-1)

The scoop: With just six offensive TDs, and 80 fewer points than Bengals, how can the Bills keep up? . . . Bills picked off Carson Palmer twice in Christmas Eve win in Cincy in 2005. One was returned 46 yards for TD by Terrence McGee.

Outlook: QB change disrupts Bills. Bengals, 20-10.

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Chargers (4-3) at Vikings (2-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chargers (-7).

The scoop: Last year's rushing champion, LaDainian Tomlinson of Chargers, goes against this year's leader, rookie Adrian Peterson. Tomlinson has 671 yards, 4.4 average and six rushing TDs. Peterson had 750 yards, 5.8 average and five TDs. . . . Chargers have won their last three and look ahead to home game against Colts next week. . . . Tarvaris Jackson will return at QB for Minnesota, which has only four passing TDs for season.

Outlook: Matchup of top RBs and run defenses. Chargers, 20-14.

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Jaguars (5-2) at Saints (3-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Saints (-3).

The scoop: Saints have awakened with three straight wins, but last two were over lowly Falcons and 49ers. . . . Quinn Gray gets another QB start for Jaguars. . . . Jax is 3-0 on road this season.

Outlook: Jaguars limited by QB situation. Saints, 17-10.

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Redskins (4-3) at Jets (1-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

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

The scoop: Kellen Clemens starts at QB for Jets against Redskins, coming off 52-7 embarrassment at New England. . . . Redskins lead all-time series with Jets, 7-1.

Outlook: Jets get revved up for Clemens. New York, 21-20.

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Cardinals (3-4) at Bucs (4-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

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

The scoop: Bye week allowed Cards' QB Kurt Warner's (left) elbow heal. . . . Edgerrin James of Cards is second in NFC in rushing (603) and WR Larry Fitzgerald is tied for first in conference with 46 receptions for NFC-best 642 yards.

Outlook: Cards rested, Bucs need a vacation. Arizona, 23-20.

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Texans (3-5) at Raiders (2-5)

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

The line: Raiders (-3).

The scoop: Each has lost last three. . . . Sage Rosenfels may start at QB for Texans after Matt Schaub (concussion) was roughed up by Chargers. . . . Raiders struggling to score despite sixth-best rushing offense.

Outlook: Barely watchable. Raiders, 16-10.

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>Dog of the day

49ers (2-5) at Falcons (1-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Falcons (-3).

The scoop: Niners last in league (220.4) in total offense; Falcons 25th. . . . Each team looking to crack 100-point mark.

Outlook: Georgia Dome crowd of 10,000 urges Falcons to 17-9 win.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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