BARRY WILNER,AP Pro Football Writer

Backup quarterbacks rarely win in the NFL, so what chance do Tyler Thigpen and the Miami Dolphins stand in Thursday night’s home game with Chicago?


The oddsmakers believe in Thigpen and the Dolphins enough to make them a 2-point favorite over the Bears, who merely are tied for first place with Green Bay in the NFC North.

Not that Thigpen is a slouch. He showed in last Sunday’s win over Tennessee that he’s probably the best third-string QB in the league. Faint praise, perhaps, except that with Chad Pennington out for the season and Chad Henne bothered by a left knee injury, Thigpen now is the starter for the Dolphins (5-4). And for them to remain in the playoff race, he’ll need to perform like something more than a backup to a backup.

Thigpen had starting experience for the Chiefs in 2008, throwing for 18 TDs and being picked off 12 times while going 1-10.

“I feel like I did a great job there in Kansas City,” he says. “For all the people that are out there doubting me, I want to prove that I can stay in this league and I can be a starter. And for the supporters, thank you for supporting me.”

He has a supporter here, although Chicago’s fourth-ranked defense will make it difficult for Miami to score a lot of points.


Baltimore (minus 8) at Carolina

When will the Ravens begin looking like a Super Bowl contender? How about in Charlotte on Sunday against the awful Panthers?


Tampa Bay (plus 4) at San Francisco

Buccaneers are an NFC contender. Niners still think they could be one at 3-6. Maybe not after they fall to 3-7.


Indianapolis (plus 3) at New England

The annual Manning-Brady get-together. Unfortunately for Indy, much of Peyton’s supporting cast is unrecognizable due to injures.


Oakland (plus 8½) at Pittsburgh

Remember when this was the nastiest rivalry east of Chiefs-Raiders? Oakland has won three straight, now steps up in class.


N.Y. Giants (plus 3) at Philadelphia

Can the Giants stay with Philly’s video-game offense, led by dynamic Michael Vick? If they were healthy, perhaps, but they aren’t.

EAGLES, 28-21

Green Bay (minus 2½) at Minnesota

One last chance for Brett Favre to recapture the glory, make some positive headlines and begin Minnesota’s turnaround. Nah.

PACKERS, 21-20

Atlanta (minus 3) at St. Louis

Falcons have been far better at home, Rams have been far better at home. So, of course …

FALCONS, 23-21

Seattle (plus 12½) at New Orleans

Rested Saints begin their second-half push with perhaps their healthiest group since September.

SAINTS, 30-16

Denver (plus 9½) at San Diego, Monday night

History says the Chargers get charged up for November and December — but not for January. It’s November.


Washington (plus 6½) at Tennessee

Two teams coming off weak performance in big spots last weekend. The Titans have more talent, but they don’t blow out many opponents.

TITANS, 20-17

Detroit (plus 7) at Dallas

The Big D revival continues. Then again, everybody beats the visiting Lions.

COWBOYS, 20-14

Cleveland (plus 3) at Jacksonville

Do the Browns know how to defend the desperation pass?

JAGUARS, 17-16

Arizona (plus 7½) at Kansas City

Chiefs are beginning to wobble in the AFC West. Luckily for them, the Cardinals are sinking in the NFC West.

CHIEFS, 21-10

Houston (plus 6½) at N.Y. Jets

Jets haven’t played a complete game in more than a month, yet are 7-2. If the Texans can find defensive backs who can cover, they have a chance.

JETS, 22-14

Buffalo (plus 4½) at Cincinnati

Two bad teams, only one of which seems to care about getting better.

BILLS, 10-9


Versus spread, 8-6 (overall 77-59-1); Straight up, 9-5 (overall 91-53)

Best Bet: 4-6 against spread, 6-4 straight up.

Upset Special: 6-4 against spread, 6-4 straight up.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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