AFCN Game Snapshots

Week 7 in the NFL brings the Buffalo Bills to Baltimore, the Browns host the Eagles and the Bengals host the Broncos on MNF. The Steelers are in their bye week.<br><br> Ravens Insider breaks down the three games.

Complete Game Listing:

Atlanta Falcons (5-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)
Buffalo Bills (1-4) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Chicago Bears (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)
Detroit Lions (3-2) at New York Giants (4-1)
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) at Indianapolis Colts (4-1)
Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)
San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-4)
St. Louis Rams (4-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-6)
Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (4-1)
New York Jets (5-0) at New England Patriots (5-0)
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at Green Bay Packers (2-4)
New Orleans Saints (2-4) at Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

Denver Broncos (5-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-4)

Buffalo Bills (1-4) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/24/04
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 2nd meeting, Bills lead 1-0, winning 13-10 on Halloween Day, 1999. After a 16-year hiatus, the Bills played a regular-season game in Baltimore, former home of the Colts, and defeated the Ravens at then PSINet Stadium.

Buffalo rallied from a 10-0 hole on two Steven Christie field goals and a five-yard touchdown pass from Doug Flutie to Jonathan Linton with 1:35 left. Flutie, who had a horrible day with three interceptions and a 32.8 rating, saved the day with a 17-yard scramble on fourth-and-15 to keep the winning drive alive.

Buffalo's own defense came up with a key turnover when Gabe Northern slammed into quarterback Tony Banks to force an errant pass that Kurt Schulz intercepted to set up Christie's second field goal.

2004 RANKINGS: Bills: offense 27th (21st rush, 25th pass); defense 8th (5th rush, 14th pass). Ravens: offense 30th (2nd rush, 32nd pass); defense 6th (11th rush, 7th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: In a game where field position will be critical, Ravens PR P.K. Sams could be a big factor after returning a punt for a touchdown in his past two games. Without suspended RB Jamal Lewis and injured TE Todd Heap, the Ravens will struggle to put drives together.

RB Chester Taylor will start in Lewis' place. And Buffalo's defense is allowing opponents to score touchdowns on just 28.6 percent of their red zone possessions. Buffalo has its own issues on offense, but expects to get RB Travis Henry back in the lineup.

Willis McGahee will also get significant snaps and the two need to produce on the ground because QB Drew Bledsoe has been sacked 49 times in his past 14 road games. Rookie WR Lee Evans is earning more playing time and helps the Bills stretch the field.

FAST FACTS: Bills: Are 2-12 in their last 14 road games. ... WR Eric Moulds is fourth on the team's all-time list with 7,777 yards from scrimmage. Ravens: QB Kyle Boller has thrown just nine career touchdown passes - one every 37 attempts. ... LB Terrell Suggs has 17 sacks in 21 career games.

PREDICTION: Bills 17-9

--SS Lawyer Milloy, who has been out since Aug. 28 with a broken right forearm, is expected to start Sunday in Baltimore. That can't be good news for the Ravens' 30th-ranked pass offense under young Kyle Boller.

--P Brian Moorman is wary of Baltimore return man B.J. Sams, who leads the NFL with two returns for touchdowns and a 14.8-yard average. "Obviously, this guy is talented. I go into it thinking I've got a challenge and I've got to go in there and do the job," said Moorman, the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

--QB J.P. Losman, who broke his leg in training camp, is doing scout team and individual work in drills for a second consecutive week. It's not known when he'll receive full medical clearance to start practicing with no restrictions, but it could be as soon as a week or two.

--CB Troy Vincent has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Baltimore. He's in the middle of a 2-4 week recovery period following minor knee surgery. He is working on a stationary bike and regaining his range of motion. Second-year pro Terrence McGee will earn his third start in his place.

--RB Travis Henry, who sat out the Miami game with a strained left arch, is back practicing and looking as if he'll play Sunday in Baltimore. It could be a game-time decision but Henry is much improved. Despite backup Willis McGahee's big game against Miami, Henry will start if healthy, against Baltimore's No. 3 run defense.

--RB Willis McGahee won't start Sunday in Baltimore if Travis Henry (foot) is healthy, but he's expected to play a lot on third down. Running on the Ravens won't be easy, but swing and shovel passes to the talented McGahee are believed to be Buffalo's game plan. The Bills burned Miami last week on the shovel pass, taking advantage of the Dolphins' up-field aggressiveness.

--WR Travis Taylor was upgraded to probable after he had no setbacks with his groin all week in practice. He is expected to start his first game since the opener.

--TE Todd Heap will be out for Sunday against the Bills and likely will be questionable heading into next week's game in Philadelphia. He sprained his right ankle in Week 2.

--LB Terrell Suggs should get a heavy rush on Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Suggs will be matched up on passing downs against right tackle Mike Williams, who has given up three sacks in five games this season.

--RB Musa Smith will receive his first carries of the season as the backup to Chester Taylor. As the third back most of the year, he has not carried the ball once this year.
--LB Ray Lewis has recorded 10 tackles in 13 straight games.

--CB Deion Sanders has fully recovered from his hamstring injury and was not listed on the injury report for the first time in three games.

After the five longest Sunday's of his eight-year NFL career, strong safety Lawyer Milloy is ready to bust loose.
The four-time Pro Bowler has the OK to return to the lineup this Sunday in Baltimore, making it 57 days since he shattered his right forearm while making a tackle in a preseason loss at Detroit on Aug. 28.

"The first game (of the year), I couldn't hold back the tears," said Milloy, who hadn't missed a game in his career, 137 in a row, before sitting out the opener against Jacksonville. "It was very hard not to be out there."

Milloy realized that in order for him to mentally make it through the rehabilitation process, he had to focus on his health and not dwell on the fact he wasn't playing. At first, doctors and trainers had to convince him of the seriousness of his injury - the bone in his forearm didn't fracture cleanly, it splintered. He had surgery to insert a plate and eight screws to promote the healing.

"If it was totally up to me I'd be out there the week after I got hurt with one arm tied behind my back," Milloy said.
He began easing back into practice last week wearing a protective brace and this week it's a full go.

"My bone is still broken," he said. "It's a matter of time to let that heal. We'll keep it as a surprise as to whether I'll be out there or not, but nothing's holding me back. ... Last week was more of an introduction. I knew that going in. But this week is a good week."

Milloy's return is a significant upgrade over the players who have manned the store in his absence, Coy Wire and Pierson Prioleau. The Bills rank eighth overall in defense but 13th against the pass, allowing 207.8 yards per game with a total of four interceptions. Milloy is also among the Bills best blitz players. They rank 18th in sacks but had five against Miami last week.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray mostly is looking forward to having Milloy's leadership back. Players can't really lead when they're hurt.

"To me, it's leadership (with Lawyer). You'll see everybody pick the tempo up now," Gray said. "He's out there talking about making plays, even on scout team...He just makes us better. He brings leadership, tenacity, a fire you wish everybody had."

In the matchup of the Ravens' pass rush against Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the numbers heavily favor Baltimore.
In addition to recording 14 sacks this season, the Ravens' defense has hit the quarterback 49 times on 169 dropbacks. That means the Ravens have reached the quarterback once every four pass attempts.

What makes the Ravens so effective is they don't have to risk much to produce pressure. They will bring five players about half the time but rarely send more than that, which allows them to keep at least six defenders in coverage.

The key is locating where the rush is coming from. Besides the Ravens' front three, offenses have to locate where the other two players are coming from, whether it's a linebacker, cornerback or safety. The Ravens have shown they are willing to blitz Ed Reed and Gary Baxter as quickly as they would Adalius Thomas.

As a result, nine Ravens have at least one sack this year.
"If you do one thing all the time, they can hone in and get you," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "I think it's important to change it up. They try to make you work with different formations, so you have to make them work."

Meanwhile, Bledsoe has been sacked an NFL-high 123 times since joining the Bills, an average of 3.3 a game.

Part of the blame can be put on Buffalo's banged-up, ragged offensive line. The rest can be put upon Bledsoe, the NFL's seventh all-time leading passer who is one of the league's most slow-footed quarterbacks.

At 6 feet 5 and 238 pounds, Bledsoe constantly waits and waits until either a receiver comes open or he's knocked to the ground.

"We don't like playing against the Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "A stationary quarterback, you know where he is going to be and you know how you can get there."

Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/24/04
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Bill Maas, Chris Myers
SERIES: 46th meeting. Browns lead the series, 31-13-1. The two teams haven't played since the 2000 season. The Eagles won that game, 35-24, as Donovan McNabb, in his first season as the club's starting quarterback, completed 23 of 36 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns.

2004 RANKINGS: Eagles: offense 6th (19th rush, 4th pass); defense 17th (9th rush, 23rd pass). Browns: offense 23rd (16th rush, 23rd pass); defense 13th (13th rush, 18th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles want to re-establish their short passing game. Five receivers have at least 10 catches, but TEs L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis have combined for three receptions the past two games and RB Brian Westbrook has just seven catches in the past six quarters.
The opportunities should be there because the Browns play mostly Cover-2, which is intended to limit big pass plays, and they will focus a lot of attention on WR Terrell Owens. Cleveland needs to keep the game close so they can keep feeding the ball to RBs William Green and Lee Suggs.

Their passing game was sputtering before WR Andre Davis sprained his toe and Quincy Morgan was dealt to Dallas, and it will take at least a few weeks for newcomer Antonio Bryant to become comfortable in the offense.

FAST FACTS: Eagles: QB Donovan McNabb has completed just 47.6 percent of his passes and has no touchdowns the past six quarters. ... Only the second team in 35 years to open a season with five consecutive double-digit victories. Browns: Are 3-0 at home for the first time since 1973. ... Suggs, who caught 15 career passes at Virginia Tech, has nine receptions in three games. ... K Phil Dawson has converted 23 consecutive field-goal opportunities.

PREDICTION: Eagles 30-17

--MLB Mark Simoneau sat out practice for the second straight day and remained questionable for Sunday's game against Cleveland.

--LB Jeremiah Trotter took all of the snaps at middle linebacker with the Eagles' No. 1 unit for the second straight day and may make his first start since re-signing with the Eagles this summer. Starting middle linebacker Mark Simoneau is nursing a sprained foot.

--CB Dexter Wynn was downgraded from probable to questionable Thursday. Wynn has a hamstring injury and didn't practice Thursday and probably will miss his second straight game Sunday. Wynn is the Eagles' fourth corner and plays in their dime package.

--LB Jason Short, one of the Eagles' top special teams players, was downgraded from probable to questionable Thursday. He has a sprained ankle. Short's injury provides a double-whammy for the Eagles' special teams since Jeremiah Trotter, who has been another top special teams player this season, is expected to start at middle linebacker in place of injured Mark Simoneau. If he starts, he likely won't play on special teams.

--CB Matt Ware likely will play for the second straight week because of Dexter Wynn's hamstring injury. Ware replaced Wynn as the fourth corner in the Eagles' dime coverage last week. He played eight snaps.

--RG Kelvin Garmon took a full turn at practice Thursday. He was held from team drills Wednesday because of a pulled quadriceps. He is listed as questionable.

--WR Andre Davis missed practice for the second straight day. He is wearing a hard cast on his left foot because of a sprained big toe. He is listed as questionable.

--LB Barry Gardner won't play against his former team Sunday. Gardner is out with a pulled groin muscle. Gardner's main contribution is on special teams.

--WR Antonio Bryant had his practice load increased Thursday, his second day of practice with the Browns after being acquired for WR Quincy Morgan in a trade with Dallas Tuesday. Coach Butch Davis would not commit to how long Bryant will play against the Eagles.

--WR Frisman Jackson was activated from the practice squad. KR Dee Brown was waived from the 53-man roster.

Middle linebacker Mark Simoneau's sprained foot kept him out of practice for the second straight day, increasing the likelihood that he won't play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Simoneau is listed as questionable on the Eagles' injury report. Head coach Andy Reid said on Wednesday that he felt his starting middle linebacker would be able to play this week.

But defensive coordinator Jim Johnson wasn't nearly as optimistic Thursday. "There's a chance he might not play," he said. "I think you have to (expect that he won't) right now. And we have to proceed as if he's not going to. If he comes around tomorrow and all of a sudden he's able to practice, then there's a good chance he'll start."

Simoneau's backup, former Pro Bowler Jeremiah Trotter, took the snaps with No. 1 defensive unit for the second straight day. He will start in the middle if Simoneau can't play.
"He'll be our first- and second-down (middle) linebacker if Mark can't go," Johnson said.

In most passing situations, the Eagles use a two-linebacker scheme featuring Ike Reese and Dhani Jones. That won't change if Simoneau is out.

Except for two games ago when the Steelers' Plaxico Burress got the best of him, Browns cornerback Anthony Henry has shut down some of the best receivers in the league. Last week he held the Bengals' Chad Johnson to three catches for 37 yards. He held former Browns receiver Kevin Johnson to 43 yards and no touchdowns in the opener and in the second game helped keep Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn out of the end zone.

Sunday he has his toughest assignment of the season so far - Terrell Owens. The Eagles have scored 13 touchdowns and Owens has six of them. At his current pace Owens will make 96 catches and score 19 touchdowns this season.

"No matter who I play, I look at the challenge each week as if the receiver were T.O.," Henry said. "Every receiver has the talent to beat you. He has a love for the game. I'm not saying other receivers don't, but he loves being in the spotlight and he's doing just what it takes to be in the spotlight."

Henry won't have to guard Owens alone for four quarters, but when the Browns are in man to man Henry will be on him regardless which side of the field Owens lines up on. It was the same defense they used against the Bengals last week - where Johnson went, Henry went.

Owens was Henry's assignment last year when the Browns beat the 49ers 13-12. Owens caught eight passes for 90 yards, but he did not score a touchdown and his longest reception was 27 yards. The Browns played some zone defense against the 49ers, but they are more of a man-to-man defense this season than they were a year ago.

Henry has worked overtime studying tape of Owens playing with the Eagles. He said he did not review tape of the Browns game against the 49ers because Owens has a different supporting cast. The Eagles throw downfield more than the 49ers did. But Henry did say playing against Owens once is an education in itself.

"You get a bead on what kind of release he has and what kind of routes he's going to run against you," Henry said. "If I go back and study what I did wrong against him I'll understand what he might try to do against me."

Denver Broncos (5-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-4)
KICKOFF: Monday, 9:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/25/04
TV: ABC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 23rd meeting. Denver leads the series 15-7, with a dominating 30-10 win in last year's season opener. The Broncos have won 9 of the last 10 meetings in the series.

2004 RANKINGS: Broncos: offense 5th (1st rush, 14th pass); defense 1st (4th rush, 2nd pass). Bengals: offense 25th (23rd rush, 22nd pass); defense 26th (32nd rush, 12th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Carson Palmer is receiving the brunt of the criticism for the Bengals' struggling offense, but the lack of a consistent running game has created far too many third-and-long situations. WR Peter Warrick is likely to miss another game, so Palmer doesn't have all of his weapons. He needs RB Rudi Johnson to be effective, and so does Cincinnati's defense.

The Broncos have the league's top-ranked running attack while the Bengals are last in stopping the run. If Cincinnati can't hold the ball offensively, the defense has little chance of containing Broncos RB Reuben Droughns.

Denver will play without suspended TE Dwayne Carswell, their best blocker at the position, but they will continue to pound the ball and try to set up the play-action pass. The biggest concern for the Broncos is QB Jake Plummer avoiding turnovers that can keep the Bengals close.

FAST FACTS: Broncos: Lead the series 15-7 and have won nine of the past 10 meetings. ... Droughns has 369 yards rushing in two starts. Bengals: Have not played on Monday Night Football since 1992 and have not had a MNF home game since 1989. ... Have a combined 2-13 record after five games the past three seasons.

PREDICTION: Broncos 30-20

--CB Willie Middlebrooks practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and could be available to play on Monday night. Middlebrooks partially tore his hamstring, and might only miss one week after the initial prognosis said he could miss four.

--DE Patrick Chukwurah missed last Sunday's game because of a quadriceps injury but he has practiced Wednesday and Thursday and could return this week. Chukwurah lines up as a pass rusher in Denver's nickel defense.

--CB Lenny Walls returned to practice Thursday wearing a harness on his injured shoulder he has dislocated twice. Walls said he can do everything physically on the field but has to be cautious when he lands on his bad shoulder.

--S John Lynch may have slipped slightly in his play, but he has more than made up for it with his intelligence and leadership. Lynch, in his first year with the Broncos, is already one of the vocal leaders of the defense, which is ranked first in the NFL.

--DE Marco Coleman is one of the Broncos' defensive linemen who has played well in Trevor Pryce's absence. The Broncos' line was pretty nondescript aside from former Pro Bowler Pryce, but has played well all season. Coleman leads all defensive linemen with 26 tackles.

-- RB Chris Perry is probable for Denver with an abdominal strain. How did he get it? Surely not from playing. He has a pair of rushes for one yard and three receptions. He has not been overworked.

-- WR Peter Warrick is doubtful for the Denver game Monday night and he did not practice Thursday. His shin injury is believed to be a fractured fibula.

-- DL Carl Powell (knee) is probable and did not practice.
-- CB Deltha O'Neal declined to respond to comments made Wednesday by his former coach, Denver's Mike Shanahan. Shanahan moved O'Neal from cornerback to wide receiver at the end of the 2003 and traded him to the Bengals in April.

-- QB Carson Palmer, like many Bengals players, will be making his debut on Monday night. "Every kid does," he said when asked if he dreamed of playing on Monday night. "I remember my dad would get home from work on Monday nights -- it starts a lot earlier on West Coast. We'd eat dinner around the game and watch the game. That was our Monday night tradition."

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey has played well against every receiver he has faced this season, but his toughest test this year should come Monday night.

Bailey will be in a one-on-one battle with Cincinnati's Chad Johnson on Monday. Johnson was a Pro Bowler last year after he broke the Bengals' all-time single season receiving record with 1,355 yards in 2003.

"He'll definitely give you some challenges out there," Bailey said. "I'm looking forward to it. He's one of those guys that you see a rare combination of speed and quickness from a guy that's 6-2."

Bailey has covered the opponent's top receiver, even taking some turns against Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez in Week 1, and has had success. Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith had the best outing against Bailey, with three catches for 69 yards.
Bailey has faced teams who refuse to throw his way, but that probably won't happen Monday. Johnson is Cincinnati's top receiver and although his numbers are down this year, the Bengals can't afford to ignore Johnson if Bailey is covering him.

Johnson is off of his pace from last year. He has 23 catches for 334 yards and one touchdown in five games, and he had a tough game last week. Johnson dropped four passes in a loss to Cleveland after sending bottles of Pepto Bismol to the Browns defensive backs the week leading up to the game.
"I'm sure he won't do that to me," Bailey said.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will again make defensive calls Monday night against Denver after coach Marvin Lewis called the defense Sunday at Cleveland.

Frazier is not in danger of losing his job, though.
"It's no indication of anything," Lewis said when asked if the move was a sign that Frazier's job was in jeopardy. "Sometimes you're suggesting a lot (as a head coach), and I don't think that's a fair way of doing things."

Lewis and Frazier create the defensive game plan in tandem, and Frazier normally makes the calls.

"I just wanted to settle our younger players down," Lewis said. "It was one way to get them something new."

Frazier clearly did not like the reduced assignment against the Browns.

"It's not desirable," he said. "It's not what I came here to do, to be in that role.

"He just made me aware ahead of time that this was something he wanted to do. He's the head coach. I helped with whatever I could do on the sidelines - taking (players) through the calls that (Lewis) might make on the next series."

The Bengals are last in the NFL against the run (160.4) this season and 29th in points allowed (25.8).

Still, eight of the regular starters are players acquired by Lewis.

The challenge will be great this weekend. The Broncos are No. 1 in the NFL in rush average at 151.7 yards a game.

"We're still working on it," Frazier said. "We've got to get it fixed. We say that every week. Hopefully this will be the week we get better at it. We've got to make small steps to get to big steps. No better place than Monday night against the Denver Broncos."

Asked if he thought his job were on the line, he said, "You've got to know, in this league, that is something that is out of your control, as well. They're going to point the finger at someone. I've got to continue to work as hard as I can to prepare our guys for every game. And those things will take care of themselves."


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