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?
BEST BET: RAVENS, 20-10
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.
UPSET SPECIAL: BUCCANEERS, 21-16
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.
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.
Atlanta (minus 3) at St. Louis
Falcons have been far better at home, Rams have been far better at home. So, of course …
Seattle (plus 12½) at New Orleans
Rested Saints begin their second-half push with perhaps their healthiest group since September.
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.
Detroit (plus 7) at Dallas
The Big D revival continues. Then again, everybody beats the visiting Lions.
Cleveland (plus 3) at Jacksonville
Do the Browns know how to defend the desperation pass?
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.
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.
Buffalo (plus 4½) at Cincinnati
Two bad teams, only one of which seems to care about getting better.
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.