The Green Bay Packers could have clinched the NFC North with a win last week. They didn't, and this week they go to Tampa in a game that could help determine whether Green Bay gets to spend the playoffs at Lambeau Field.
The Packers and Bucs share the NFL's best record (8-2) heading into their first non-division meeting since Tampa Bay joined the old NFC Central in 1977.
The Bucs are favored by three points, which is the home-field betting edge.
Folks in Florida seem to be getting excited about their team. Someone even asked coach Jon Gruden on Monday if it will be the biggest game of his career.
''Yesterday's game has been the biggest game that I have ever been involved in,'' replied Gruden, who two years ago at Oakland coached in a legitimately big game, for the AFC championship.
''I'm sure this one will be the biggest I've ever been involved in because that's just how it is. Every Sunday is the same feeling to me.''
Despite Gruden's offensive expertise, his Bucs are performing in much the same way as they did under defensive-minded Tony Dungy -- they win with defense. They could be vulnerable to Brett Favre this week because Ronde Barber, their best cornerback, has a broken thumb and will be hampered if he plays at all.
This series definitely has a home flavor to it. Since 1998, the Packers and Bucs are 4-4 against each other, with the home team winning every game.
If they meet in January, the Bucs very much want not to go to Green Bay. They have yet to break their losing streak in cold weather: 21 straight in temperatures under 40 degrees.
That's enough incentive.
Philadelphia (plus 7) at San Francisco (Monday night)
The point spread would have been a lot lower if Donovan McNabb were playing.
St. Louis (minus 4 1/2) at Washington
The Rams continue their run with QB Kurt Warner coming back, while Washington's ''ball coach'' keeps changing QBs. It's Danny Wuerffel this week.
Indianapolis (plus 6 1/2) at Denver
Steve Beuerlein's not much of a step down from Brian Griese.
San Diego (plus 3) at Miami
Ray Lucas continues to improve. This is the fourth straight game against a contender for the Chargers.
Minnesota (plus 7 1/2) at New England
The Vikings have lost 15 straight on the road.
Atlanta (minus 3) at Carolina
Atlanta's unbeaten in six; Carolina's lost seven straight.
Cincinnati (plus 11) at Pittsburgh
Kordell gets to warm up against the Bungles.
Tennessee (minus 1 1/2) at Baltimore
They're not in the same division anymore, but this has been a nasty rivalry.
Buffalo (plus 3) at New York Jets
Defense gives the Jets the edge.
Cleveland (minus 6) at New Orleans
Tim Couch isn't Michael Vick.
New York Giants (minus 5 1/2) at Houston
A spot for a Giants letdown if New York wasn't on one of those semiannual Jim Fassel-inspired runs.
Kansas City (minus 3) at Seattle
The Chiefs are starting to play defense.
Oakland (minus 8) at Arizona
The Raiders' offense is functioning again.
Detroit (plus 5) at Chicago
Give the battered Bears credit. Eight straight losses and they're still playing hard.
Jacksonville (minus 2) at Dallas
The problem for the Cowboys is at quarterback.
LAST WEEK: 7-9 (spread), 10-6 (straight up)
SEASON: 79-77-4 (spread), 102-57-1 (straight up)
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