At the start of the season, it seemed far more likely that when San Diego visited St. Louis to start the second half of the season, the Rams would be 6-2 and the Chargers 3-5.
Instead, it's the opposite.
Still, circumstances are changing. The Rams have won three straight after starting 0-5, and the Chargers, who started 6-1, were blown out 44-13 by the Jets at home last week.
''There's a lot of reasons why we lost that game,'' San Diego linebacker Junior Seau said. ''We didn't play well, we didn't tackle well, we didn't protect the ball. We didn't do a lot of things. We couldn't even onside kick well. Those games happen.''
The oddsmakers go with preseason perceptions: The Rams are favored by six, with Marc Bulger (3-0 as a starter) at quarterback instead of the still-injured Kurt Warner.
Warner's injury may be one reason the Rams are winning. Given Bulger's inexperience, coach Mike Martz has finally made sure Marshall Faulk is getting 30-odd touches a game and the results reflect it. Faulk has produced 703 yards in the three wins, 571 on the ground.
Oakland (plus 5 1/2) at Denver (Monday night)
When you've lost four straight, as the Raiders have, you don't want to go to Denver on a Monday night. Especially when you've lost there seven straight times.
Miami (plus 1) at New York Jets
If the Jets win, the AFC East could be close to a four-team deadlock.
Detroit (plus 11) at Green Bay
If the Packers win, they could be within a week of clinching the first-ever NFC North title.
Atlanta (plus 5 1/2) at Pittsburgh
Too bad Kordell Stewart's a backup now. Imagine Michael Vick on the same field with Stewart, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El.
Indianapolis (plus 9 1/2) at Philadelphia
Tony Dungy never had much luck in Philadelphia with better teams than he has now.
New England (minus 3) at Chicago
The Patriots are the NFL's best 4-4 team.
New Orleans (minus 5) at Carolina
Despite league-leading sack man Julius Peppers, the Panthers continue to lose.
Kansas City (plus 6 1/2) at San Francisco
Will the 49ers punt?
49ERS, 37-34 (overtime)
New York Giants (minus 1 1/2) at Minnesota
The Vikings are competitive at home, the Giants are inconsistent, but ...
Washington (plus 2) at Jacksonville
Plenty of folks in Florida think Steve Spurrier should be coaching the Jags.
Houston (plus 10) at Tennessee
The AFC South title is there for the Titans' taking.
Cincinnati (plus 5 1/2) at Baltimore
The Bengals' fun stopped in Houston.
Seattle (plus 3 1/2) at Arizona
Jeff George could be one week away from starting for the Seahawks.
LAST WEEK: 8-4-2 (spread), 10-4 (straight up)
SEASON: 63-64-3 (spread) 82-48 (straight up)
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