RICHMOND, Va. - How much, if any, will Michael Vick's role as financier of a brutal dogfighting ring hurt him? What about his use of marijuana while awaiting sentencing?

Or will he benefit from his public apology? His cooperation? His voluntary early start on his prison term?

Answers to these questions, among others, will determine how much time the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback will serve in prison for his role in a federal dogfighting conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson will sentence Vick today in a Richmond courtroom. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison. Hudson is not bound by sentencing guidelines that suggest a year to 18 months, or prosecutors' recommendation.

Hudson already sentenced two of Vick's co-defendants to 18 months and 21 months - slightly more than prosecutors recommended, but still within the guidelines.

Noteworthy

* Buffalo safety George Wilson was taken to the hospital after he fractured two ribs in the Bills' victory over Miami. Wilson, a converted receiver, was injured on a kick return in the first quarter.

* Arizona tight end Leonard Pope was taken off the field on a cart after an injury to his right ankle late in the third quarter of the loss to Seattle. Pope remained down on the field for more than 5 minutes while trainers placed an air cast around his foot.

* San Francisco quarterback Trent Dilfer suffered a head injury after taking a hard hit shortly before halftime of yesterday's loss to Minnesota. The quarterback went down motionless and stayed on the turf for at least 4 minutes. *