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NFL: Head—to—head

RAVENS (4-2) AT EAGLES (6-0)

11 a.m., Ch. 2

The skinny: This is the second of three consecutive games against AFC North teams for Philadelphia. The Eagles barely survived the first, beating Cleveland in overtime, and they would not survive the second if Jamal Lewis (serving the second of his two-game suspension) were playing. That's because the Eagles, despite their many strengths, cannot stop the run. Couple that with an inability to run the ball — injuries have weakened the backfield — and the Eagles are merely whistling past the graveyard heading into Week 7. Donovan McNabb is not the type of pure passer to make a living throwing to Terrell Owens, who has an NFL-best eight TD catches. But, without Lewis, the Ravens can neither run nor throw, which is an even more debilitating combination.

Prediction: Eagles, 21-17


11 a.m.

The skinny: Steve McNair is no stranger to Cincinnati, a former division rival. The Tennessee quarterback has thrown 20 touchdowns against the Bengals, more than any other team. But McNair isn't inflicting pain these days as much as he's enduring it. His bruised sternum has limited his ability, not to mention his availability, and that's a problem for the Titans, who are just another team without last year's co-MVP. What's more, playing at home is no bargain, either, for the Titans, who have lost their past three at The Coliseum. Sure, the Bengals are coming off a 23-10 victory against the Broncos on Monday night, but let's wait another game or so to determine if they have turned the proverbial corner.

Prediction: Titans, 31-28


11 a.m.

The skinny: In a move over which it had no control but nonetheless was greatly appreciated, Arizona hasn't had to travel to Buffalo since 1990. That was back when the Bills could score points (the Cardinals were beaten, 45-14). Now, the Bills can't even produce more points (77) than Miami, a curious malady given their decision to hire Mike Mularkey as head coach. They didn't even manage a touchdown in last week's 20-6 loss to the Ravens and might be the only team to turn runners such as Travis Henry and Willis McGahee into ordinary backs. How else to explain why neither back has gained more yards this season than Emmitt Smith, who needs 123 to become the first to rush for 18,000 career yards?

Prediction: Bills, 23-21

LIONS (4-2) AT COWBOYS (2-4)

11 a.m.

The skinny: At one time, Detroit was the worst road team since the Washington Generals, those noted Globetrotter foils. But, after losing 26 away games in a row, the Lions are 3-0 on the road this season, a mark every bit as impressive as the Patriots' 21-game winning streak. Their latest bit of road work came last week in Giants Stadium when they easily ended New York's four-game winning streak, 28-13. Conversely, Dallas has lost three in a row, a rarity for coach Bill Parcells, who prides himself on not losing back-to-back games. The Cowboys have allowed 65 points in their past two games, and their secondary couldn't stop Hank Williams, let alone Roy Williams.

Prediction: Lions, 28-20


11 a.m.

The skinny: Perhaps the people who run the scoreboard at Reliant Stadium can conveniently allow the game clock to conclude after 59 minutes. That would prevent Jacksonville from getting to the final minute, where the Jaguars seem to do all their damage. All five of the Jaguars' victories have come in the final minute — four in the final 45 seconds — which is why their ascent to the top of the AFC South is as pulsating as it has been surprising. The latest from the Final Minute Men came in their 27-24 victory against Indianapolis, when K Josh Scobee made a 53-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining. Such finishes might be too much even for Houston, which is coming off a bye after winning three of its final four games.

Prediction: Jaguars, 24-23

COLTS (4-2) AT CHIEFS (2-4)

11 a.m.

The skinny: In this weekend's version of a ping-pong match, Indianapolis and Kansas City get together in a rematch of last year's AFC divisional playoff game where the Colts and Chiefs combined for 69 points, 842 yards and neither team punted. The Colts prevailed, 38-31. It might not be much different this time. The Chiefs are coming off a 56-point performance against the Falcons, and the Colts haven't lost back-to-back games in 30 weeks, the longest such streak in the NFL. The Colts have won the past seven meetings with the Chiefs, including 2-0 in playoff games. They just have to come up with something to stop the runs . . . touchdown runs, that is. Kansas City had a NFL-record eight against the Falcons.

Prediction: Colts, 45-41


11 a.m.

The skinny: Whatdya think Tom Coughlin would think of Randy Moss' corn rows? Even without the injured Pro Bowl receiver, Minnesota continues to roll up yards and compile points. The Vikings have discovered a new running back, Mewelde Moore, who has posted consecutive 100-yard games as a replacement for Moe Williams and Onterrio Smith. The Vikings might need some of that offense against New York, which had its four-game winning streak ended by Detroit. They also might need a history lesson. It was the Giants who beat them last year when the Vikings were unbeaten (6-0), starting Minnesota on a downward spiral that concluded with it missing the playoffs.

Prediction: Vikings, 31-21


11 a.m.

The skinny: This could be bad news for Green Bay, if you subscribe to the uniform-color theory. All three of the Packers victories have come against teams who wear blue and silver — Carolina, Detroit and Dallas. Washington, of course, wears burgundy and yellow. After starting 1-4 and looking worse than a leisure suit, the Packers have won two in a row, beating the Lions and Cowboys, to stay in contention in the NFC North. And they have done it with their offense since coach Mike Sherman took over the play-calling. The Redskins had a bye after their 13-10 victory in Chicago ended a four-game losing streak and will need their NFL No. 1 ranked defense to slow the Packers.

Prediction: Packers, 23-16


2 p.m., Ch. 13

The skinny: Despite getting thumped by 46 points by Kansas City, Atlanta is seeking to start 6-2 for the first time since 1998, which is when the Falcons went 14-2 before eventually losing to Denver in Super Bowl XXXIII. The Falcons have the league's No. 3 rushing offense, but that's because QB Michael Vick leads all NFL quarterbacks with 348 yards rushing. Of course, the Falcons also had the league's No. 1 rush defense until Kansas City scored eight rushing touchdowns against them. The Broncos are coming off a Monday night loss in Cincinnati, but they have won their past six games against the Falcons, including the Super Bowl (34-17).

Prediction: Broncos, 28-24


2 p.m.

The skinny: Fantasy-league players cringed last week if they selected Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, who was abysmal in the Seahawks' third consecutive loss. Carolina fans have been cringing all season, especially now that the defending NFC champions have lost four in a row and stamped themselves as this year's version of the 2003 Buccaneers. Just think, only three weeks ago, the Seahawks were unbeaten (3-0) and holding a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter on St. Louis. Now they are struggling at .500 and trailing the Rams in the NFC West. The only thing more distasteful in the Great Northwest would be to pan-sear salmon in mayonnaise.

Prediction: Seahawks, 24-13


2:15 p.m., Ch. 2

The skinny: It has become very chic for those who pretend to be in the know that the Steelers will somehow manage to beat New England, thus ending the Patriots' winning streak at 21 games. There is little evidence to support this theory, other than the Bob Prince hidden vigorish rule, which maintains the longer a team wins the closer it comes to losing. That being the case, the Patriots are really ready to lose. It would be simplistic to say the Steelers have some payback for the Patriots, who beat them in the AFC title game in 2001 on their way to the first of two Super Bowl victories. It would be more accurate to say, well, the Patriots are ready to lose. Keep this in mind, though: The Patriots are 2-4 when they play on Halloween. The Upset Special.

Prediction: Steelers, 20-16


2:15 p.m.

The skinny: All of a sudden, after a slow start, San Diego is looking like one of the surprise teams on the year. The Chargers have won three of their past four games, including last week's 17-6 victory in Carolina, and the credit has to go to QB Drew Brees, who has completed 71 percent of his passes and thrown six TDs in that stretch. Oakland has won 10 of the past 13 meetings with the Chargers, though it lost the last time in San Diego, 21-14, a game in which LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 243 yards. The good news for Raiders QB Kerry Collins: The game is in San Diego, where the Raiders fans don't boo as loud as they do at home.

Prediction: Chargers, 31-17

49ERS (1-5) AT BEARS (1-5)

6:30 p.m., ESPN

The skinny: If Jacksonville is this year's good-luck team, winning all five games in the final minute, Chicago is the NFL's hard-luck team. The Bears have lost five games by an average of 6.8 points, meaning last week's 19-7 loss to Tampa Bay constitutes a blowout. Their biggest problem is producing points, something that should come as no surprise when your quarterback is Craig Krenzel, a rookie fifth-round pick. San Francisco has the opposite problem. The 49ers offense has picked up with the return of quarterback Tim Rattay, but a Bay area-fog continues to hover about the defense. Appropriately, the Bears gave up 49 points to the 49ers last year. The 49ers, though, are 8-7 after a bye.

Prediction: Bears, 17-13