Great matchups as teams jockey for playoff position
UNDATED (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won four in a row and are in playoff contention at 6-4. They'll find out today if they have the horses to make a serious postseason charge as they host the Atlanta Falcons, whose 9-1 record tops the NFC.
It's the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Falcons managed to win their last game against the Panthers despite Matt Ryan's five interceptions. The Bucs come off an overtime over Arizona, a game Tampa Bay trailed by 11 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Indianapolis Colts are also trying to prove they are playoff-worthy after finishing with the league's worst record last season. The Buffalo Bills visit the 6-4 Colts, who are tied with Pittsburgh for the two AFC wild-card berths. The Steelers take on the Browns in Cleveland, with third-string quarterback Charlie Batch running Pittsburgh's offense.
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are in Kansas City for what could be a mismatch. The 7-3 Broncos have a five-game winning streak and enjoy a three-game lead over San Diego atop the AFC West. The Chiefs have dropped seven straight to fall to 1-9, tied with Jacksonville for the NFL's worst record.
The 7-3 Chicago Bears host the 6-4 Minnesota Vikings as the two teams continue to battle Green Bay for the NFC North crown. The Bears have 30 takeaways already this season, tying them with New Orleans for the NFC lead. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tops the league with 1,128 rushing yards, and has run for at least 100 in his last four games.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will start after missing a game with a concussion.
In other early starts:
— Oakland visits the 5-5 Cincinnati Bengals, who are one game behind Indianapolis and Pittsburgh in the battle for the last two AFC playoff berths.
— The 6-4 Seattle Seahawks can bolster their NFC playoff hopes with a win over the Dolphins in Miami.
— The Jaguars entertain Tennessee in the only early matchup of teams with losing records.
The three later games feature two very good matchups as New Orleans hosts San Francisco while Baltimore visits San Diego. The 49ers enter play with a 7-2-1 record and a 1 ½-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. The Saints have won five of their last six games to move back into the playoff picture at 5-5. The Ravens own a two-game lead over the Steelers in the AFC North, and the sputtering Chargers have dropped five of six to fall out of the AFC West race at 4-6.
The other late game has the St. Louis Rams at the Arizona Cardinals, one of two games pitting teams with losing records.
The schedule concludes with the New York Giants hosting the Green Bay Packers. The Giants need a victory to open a two-game lead over Washington and Dallas in the NFC East. The Packers currently are tied with the Bears atop the NFC North.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Former Buffalo Bills tight end Ernie Warlick has died at age 80 following a brief illness.
Warlick was among football's first pass-catching tight ends and helped the Bills win consecutive AFL titles in 1964 and '65. He had 90 receptions for over 1,500 and four touchdowns in four years with Buffalo.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-AP POLL
It's unanimous - Notre Dame's the 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Notre Dame is the unanimous No. 1 team in the latest Associated Press college football poll following last night's 22-13 win over USC at Los Angeles.
The Fighting Irish claimed all 60 votes after running their record to 12-0 and moving within one victory of their first national championship in 24 years.
Alabama remains No. 2 after their 49-0 rout of Auburn. Georgia sits third and will take on the Crimson Tide on Saturday for the SEC title and the right to face Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Ohio State is fourth, followed by Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford, LSU and Texas A&M. The Buckeyes just completed a perfect season but are banned from the bowl picture because of NCAA sanctions.
No. 11 South Carolina is followed by Oklahoma, Florida State, Nebraska and Clemson.
Oregon State checks in at 16, ahead of UCLA, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Utah State. Michigan, Northwestern, Texas, Oklahoma State and Boise State round out the top 25.
Matinee hoops in Gotham
UNDATED (AP) — New York's two NBA teams are home this afternoon as the Knicks take on Detroit before the Brooklyn Nets entertain Portland.
The Knicks opened the season 8-1 to tie a club record for best nine-game start. But they've dropped their last two games and come off a dreadful 131-103 loss at Houston.
The Pistons share the NBA's second-worst record at 3-10 but come off a 91-90 win victory against Toronto.
The Nets haven't played since Friday's impressive victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Brooklyn is 5-1 at home heading into their game with the 6-6 Trail Blazers.
The other afternoon game has the Raptors hosting the San Antonio Spurs, who've won their last two games to become one of the league's three 10-win teams.
Later on, it's Boston in Orlando, Phoenix at Philadelphia and Denver hosting New Orleans.
TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
No. 1 in action
UNDATED (AP) — Nine ranked college basketball teams are in action today, headed by No. 1 Indiana's game against visiting Ball State. The Hoosiers are 5-0 after winning their two games at the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn last week.
The top-25 slate begins with sixth-ranked Syracuse taking on Colgate. Eleventh-ranked UCLA entertains Cal Poly, No. 15 Michigan State hosts Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 17 Gonzaga is home against Davidson, 20th-rated Oklahoma State takes on visiting Portland State, 21st ranked Connecticut is on its home floor against Stony Brook, 23rd-ranked Colorado hosts Air Force and No. 25 San Diego State is at Southern Cal.
Moan wins again
LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) — Norway's Magnus Moan made it two victories in as many days by capturing the Nordic Combined World Cup event at Lillehammer. Moan earned his first win in almost two years at yesterday's season-opening event.