Thursday, August 31
Week 6 previews

Game of the week | Sunday night | Monday night | Rest of the week

Stock the fridge
Seahawks (3-1) at Chargers (3-1)
4:05 p.m. ET, CBS, Seahawks by 1½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
This matchup shows just how much the AFC West has changed -- these teams are playing for first place, while the Raiders and Broncos are on the bottom of the heap. The Chargers have been a big surprise under first-year coach Mike Riley, and they can take sole possession of first with a win. Mike Holmgren's Seahawks are riding a three-game winning streak as they come off their bye week. Even without Joey Galloway, the Seahawks have fared fine with WRs Sean Dawkins, Derrick Mayes and Mike Pritchard. Charles Jordan is finally healthy and should join that group. Chargers LB Junior Seau has made 31 tackles and three sacks. Chargers QB Erik Kramer will start for the second consecutive week while Jim Harbaugh recovers from cracked ribs. Seahawks QB Jon Kitna has shown steady improvement. 23: Consecutive games in which the Chargers defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher, the longest streak in the NFL.

74: Average rushing yards per game for Seattle, which ranks 27th in the NFL.

5: Consecutive wins in this series for the Seahawks.

Raiders (2-3) at Bills (4-1)
1 p.m. ET, CBS, Bills by 3½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
These talented teams appear headed in opposite directions. The Bills have won four straight games after a season-opening loss in Indianapolis and now own a share of first in the AFC East. The Raiders have dropped two in a row, including an ugly loss to the Broncos last week. Oakland will try to end that skid and enter its upcoming three-game homestand with a little momentum. Bills QB Doug Flutie has duplicated last year's magic with six TD passes and only three INTs. The Raiders must prevent Flutie from getting outside the pocket. Don't expect much from either team's RBs -- the Bills rank No. 1 in run defense, while the Raiders are No. 2. Raiders CB Charles Woodson will try to shut down Bills WR Eric Moulds. Raiders WR Tim Brown has already caught 32 passes. 0: Rushers who have reached the 100-yard mark against the Raiders this season.

10: Different receivers used by Raiders QB Rich Gannon last week.

102: Total first downs this season by the Raiders and Bills, who are tied for the AFC lead.

Packers (3-1) at Broncos (1-4)
4:15 p.m. ET, Fox, Packers by 3½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXII, so the Packers will be eager to avenge their loss from January 1998. Still, this matchup doesn't pack near the punch that was expected when the schedule was released. The banged-up Broncos are just trying to avoid falling completely out of contention. However, an article saying Denver was "finished" seemed to light a fire under the champs for last week's win in Oakland. Packers QB Brett Favre is singlehandedly responsible for the team's three wins. Packers WR Antonio Freeman comes off a two-TD game and could exploit Denver's porous secondary. Broncos TE Bryon Chamberlain replaces the injured Shannon Sharpe. Broncos QB Bubby Brister is expected to be healthy enough to make his first start, relegating Brian Griese to the bench. Denver also hopes to get RB Derek Loville back. Minus-7: The turnover margin for the Broncos, the worst in the AFC. That helps explain their 1-4 record.

414.0: Total yards per game for the Packers, the most in the NFL. Green Bay also leads the league in passing offense at 310.5.

8: Weeks since Favre injured his right thumb in a preseason game against Denver. That injury still lingers.

Keep the clicker handy
Colts (2-2) at Jets (1-4)
1 p.m. ET, CBS, Colts by 2½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
It will be interesting to see how the Colts rebound following their second tough loss. Indy blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter against Miami last week, and the Colts also squandered a 21-point lead at New England in Week 2. The Jets are getting very desperate and a defeat here -- which would be New York's third AFC East loss -- would just about finish them. Jets QB Rick Mirer kept his starting job despite a lackluster performance Monday night. Jets WR Wayne Chrebet should return from a broken foot. Colts WR Marvin Harrison has become one of the NFL's best, and he will challenge Jets CB Aaron Glenn. Jets RB Curtis Martin ran for 278 yards in two '98 meetings with Indy. Colts QB Peyton Manning leads the AFC with 10 TD passes. 29.3: Average points per game for the Colts, the most in the AFC.

7: Interceptions for Mirer, tied with Elvis Grbac for most in the AFC.

34-3: How badly Indy has outscored opponents in the first quarter this season. The Colts have been outscored 42-38 in the fourth.

Rams (4-0) at Falcons (1-4)
1 p.m. ET, Fox, no line
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
To determine if these teams have indeed switched places. The Rams have come out of nowhere to become the NFL's only unbeaten team -- similar to the way the Falcons did last season and the Panthers did in 1996. (What is it about the NFC West?) The defending NFC champion Falcons are enduring a nightmare campaign, but they will try to avenge a 35-7 loss at St. Louis in Week 3. Rams QB Kurt Warner has completed an incredible 72.6 percent of his passes -- no other NFL QB has hit even 64 percent. Rams WRs Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Az Hakim are overwhelming secondaries. Rams RB Marshall Faulk ran for 105 yards in the first meeting. Falcons CB Ray Buchanan will be tested. Falcons QB Chris Chandler (hamstring) has been upgraded to probable and is expected to start. 14: TD passes by Warner in his first four starts, an NFL record. The old mark was 12 by former Redskin Mark Rypien.

1989: The last season the Rams got off to a 5-0 start.

142-47: Point differential for the Rams, by far the best in the NFL.

Vikings (2-3) at Lions (2-2)
1 p.m. ET, Fox, Vikings by 3½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
It's time to assess the crisis for Minnesota. The Vikings are not only below the .500 mark and tied for last place, they're 1-2 in their division and are starting to show some signs of dissension. After a surprising 2-0 start, the Lions have dropped two straight and fallen back to the pack. Neither team can afford another divisional loss in the extremely tight NFC Central. Vikings QB Randall Cunningham is starting to feel some pressure after throwing as many INTs (eight) as TD passes in the first five games. Vikings WR Randy Moss is very frustrated and isn't clicking with Cunningham. Vikings RB Robert Smith broke his slump with 107 yards last week. Lions WR Herman Moore should return this week. Lions RB Ron Rivers must spark a stalled ground game. 97-97: The 1999 point differential for the Vikings, who outscored foes by a total of 556-296 in 1998.

29: NFL ranking for the Vikings pass defense, which is allowing 262 yards per game.

63-19: How badly the Lions were outscored by the Vikes in two '98 losses.

Titans (4-1) at Saints (1-3)
1 p.m. ET, CBS, Titans by 3
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
Well, it isn't LSU vs. Tennessee, but this Southern matchup still packs a little intrigue. The Titans, who don't have a particularly challenging schedule, will try to keep pace with a three other clubs for the AFC's best record. The Saints, who have blown leads in all three of their losses, will try to put an end to their frustrating start. Titans RB Eddie George continues to struggle on the ground, but he has become a weapon in the passing game. With Billy Joe Hobert out, the Saints will start either Billy Joe Tolliver or Danny Wuerffel at QB. Saints RB Ricky Williams (ankle, elbow) is still banged up. Titans WR Yancey Thigpen has caught 23 passes for 442 yards. 212: Penalty yards for the Titans last week, setting an NFL record.

0: Fourth-quarter points this season for the Saints, who have been outscored 41-10 in the second half.

66.6: Rushing yards per game for the Titans, who rank last in the NFL.

Clean out the garage
Panthers (1-3) at 49ers (3-2)
4:15 p.m. ET, Fox, 49ers by 5
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
Panthers coach George Seifert makes his return to San Francisco for the first time since resigning as the Niners coach in January 1997. These 49ers aren't in nearly as good shape as they were when Seifert left. The Niners were blown out by the Rams last week, and they'll be without QB Steve Young for the third straight week. Carolina had shown some improvement before its bye week. Both teams have weak secondaries, so look for Panthers WRs Muhsin Muhammad and Rae Carruth and Niners WRs Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and J.J. Stokes to put up some numbers. Panthers RB Tim Biakabutuka has ripped off four runs of at least 45 yards in his last two games. Niners QB Jeff Garcia threw three INTs last week and can expect to see plenty of blitzes. 3: Consecutive 100-yard receiving games for the Panthers' Muhammad.

0: Regular-season home losses for the Niners during Steve Mariucci's tenure. They're 18-0 at home since '97.

108-35: Seifert's record during his eight seasons with the Niners.

Steelers (2-3) at Bengals (1-4)
1 p.m. ET, CBS, Steelers by 5
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
To find out if Pittsburgh can break out of a dismal three-game losing streak following its promising 2-0 start. Steelers QB Kordell Stewart played much better last week, but the team still lost at Buffalo. The Bengals, meanwhile, avoid embarrassment by beating the expansion Browns. Remember, Cincy swept Pittsburgh in '98 for the first time since 1990, so the Steelers will have revenge on their minds. Steelers RB Jerome Bettis hasn't been the same since a preseason knee injury and is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. Steelers rookie WR Troy Edwards leads the team with 21 catches for 227 yards. Bengals WR Carl Pickens, who torched the Steelers in '98, is regaining his form following his holdout. Bengals RB Corey Dillon leads the NFL in rushing with 423 yards in five games. 0: Interceptions last week for Bengals rookie QB Akili Smith in his first NFL start. Smith went 25-for-41 for 222 yards and two TDs in a comeback win at Cleveland.

2: NFL ranking for the Steelers defense, which is allowing just 248.4 yards per game.

Eagles (1-4) at Bears (3-2)
1 p.m. ET, Fox, Bears by 6½
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
To see if the Bears, who have been one of the biggest surprises of the early season, can run their winning streak to three games by taking care of the punchless Eagles. Chicago is riding high after winning in Minnesota last week. To find out if Philadelphia built up any momentum with its upset of the Cowboys and if the Birds will be able to pull off another shocking victory. Bears rookie QB Cade McNown will make his first NFL start in place of the injured Shane Matthews (hamstring). Bears RB Curtis Enis has rushed for 342 yards in five games. With McNown at QB, Chicago will try to go downfield more to WRs Curtis Conway and Bobby Engram. Eagles WR Charles Johnson scored his first TD last week since coming to Philly as a free agent. 18: Consecutive quarters in which the Eagles had failed to score a TD before Johnson's scoring catch in the fourth quarter beat Dallas last week.

1: TDs allowed by the Bears in the Vikings' eight trips to the red zone last week.

7-1: Chicago's record in its last eight regular-season meetings with Philly.

Browns (0-5) at Jaguars (4-1)
1 p.m. ET, CBS, Jaguars by 17
Preview | Baxter's Bits | War Room Preview

Why to watch Who to watch Numbers game
To find out if the Jaguars will be able to break out of their offensive doldrums and put together an impressive performance against a struggling expansion team. Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Mark Brunell should be a little more aggressive than they were in Monday's pedestrian win over the Jets. The Browns continue to improve every week, so maybe they'll find a way to keep it close. Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith is in a brief slump, having caught just five passes for 39 yards in his last two games. Jags RB James Stewart is playing well, but the offense misses Fred Taylor's explosiveness. Jags DE Tony Brackens has five sacks in five games. Browns rookie WR Kevin Johnson is a real playmaker. The Jags defense ranks No. 1 and should thrive against the NFL's No. 31 offense. 7: Offensive TDs for Jacksonville in its first five games. Not exactly an explosion.

21: Sacks allowed by the Browns in their first five games.

234.8: Yards per game allowed by the Jags, fewest in the NFL.

Week 6 injury report

Week 6 picks

AFC: Life of Riley is pretty good

NFC: Moss grows uneasy