Vindicator Logo

PREVIEW Saturday's games

Friday, December 20, 2002

MIAMI (9-5) at MINNESOTA (4-10)
Time: 1:30 p.m.
TV: WKBN (27), WOIO (19), KDKA (2).
Series history: Dolphins lead 5-3. Vikings beat Dolphins 13-7 on Sept. 10, 2000, at Minnesota.
Last week: Dolphins beat Raiders 23-17; Vikings beat Saints 32-31.
Rankings: Dolphins offense (rush 3, pass 24, overall 14); Dolphins defense (rush 3, pass 5, overall 2); Vikings offense (rush 2, pass 12, overall 3); Vikings defense (rush 9, pass 31, overall 29).
Key matchup: Dolphins RB Ricky Williams vs. Vikings' run defense. Williams is NFL's second-leading rusher with 1,601 yards, 790 in past five games. His 14 TDs rushing are tied for second in NFL and one shy of franchise record. Vikings allow only 107.4 yards rushing per game, but have allowed 15 TDs rushing this season.
Streaks, stats and notes: Dolphins can clinch AFC East title with win and New England loss. ... Vikings have NFL's worst turnover differential, minus-18. Dolphins are minus-3. ... Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler's .725 winning percentage (29-11) is highest among active NFL QBs with at least 20 career starts. ... Vikings RB Michael Bennett has seven 100-yard rushing games this season, and will tie club-record with one more. He has 1,160 yards rushing, third best in NFC, and could become only third Viking to rush for 1,200 in one year.
Time: 5 p.m.
TV: WYFX (17/62); WJW (8), WPGH (53).
Series history: 49ers lead 13-9. 49ers beat Cardinals 38-28 on Oct. 27 at San Francisco.
Last week: 49ers lost to Packers 20-14; Cardinals lost to Rams 30-28.
Rankings: 49ers offense (rush 6, pass 16, overall 10); 49ers defense (rush 10, pass 23, overall 18); Cardinals offense (rush 25, pass 27, overall 31); Cardinals defense (rush 25, pass 27, overall 31).
Key matchup: Cardinals RB Marcell Shipp vs. 49ers' run defense. Last week against St. Louis, Shipp rushed for 96 yards and two TDs and added an 80-yard TD catch. He has career-high 709 yards rushing and his 4.7-yard average is tied for sixth in NFL (minimum 150 carries). 49ers gave up 90 yards and a TD to Packers' RB Ahman Green last week, and allow only 4.2 yards per carry.
Streaks, stats and notes: San Francisco has clinched NFC West title. Cardinals have been eliminated from playoff contention. ... 49ers WR Terrell Owens leads NFL with 13 TDs receiving and tops NFC with 100 receptions and 1,300 yards receiving. ... Last week, 49ers scored in their 400th straight game, extending their own NFL record. ... Cardinals QB Jake Plummer has rushed for 263 yards, sixth-best in NFL among QBs. ... 49ers are tied for NFL low with 13 turnovers this season.
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Series history: Cowboys lead 50-36. Eagles beat Cowboys 44-13 on Sept. 22 at Philadelphia.
Last week: Eagles beat Redskins 34-21; Cowboys lost to Giants 37-7.
Rankings: Eagles offense (rush 5, pass 19, overall 7); Eagles defense (rush 7, pass 8, overall 4); Cowboys offense (rush 12, pass 30, overall 27); Cowboys defense (rush 14, pass 18, overall 15).
Key matchup: Eagles K David Akers vs. Cowboys K Billy Cundiff. With 123 points, Akers, an All-Pro last season, leads all NFL kickers. He is perfect on PATs (31-of-31) and 28-of-31 on FGs. Cundiff, a rookie, has made all of his PATs (23-of-23), but has been less successful on FGs, 11-of-18. Cowboys might need strong game from Cundiff, because offense has second-lowest TD total (24) in NFL.
Streaks, stats and notes: Eagles have already clinched second-consecutive NFC East title. ... Eagles average 27.2 points per game, nearly double Cowboys' average (14.3). ... Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith needs 68 yards rushing for his NFL record 12th consecutive 1,000-yard season. He has 76 career 100-yard rushing games and will tie Walter Payton for most with one more. He has 12 career 100-yard games vs. Eagles, tied for his most vs. any team, and has rushed for 2,427 yards vs. Eagles, his most vs. any team.
-- Associated Press