16. DENVER BRONCOS (-6) OVER New Orleans Saints
1. Saints secondary is still a bit banged up – LB’s are slow and not known for coverage.
2. Sean Payton’s squad relies too much on the pass – not only do they not run, they choose not to.
3. Who’s stopping let alone containing Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Eddie Royal in Shanahan’s high-flying aerial attack?
15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-3.5) OVER Pittsburgh Steelers
1. Let me be the first to say I admire Pittsburgh’s firm philosophy on both sides of the football – just not this week against a pass-heavy Eagles team. Just running the ball and stopping the run will not be enough.
2. I don’t believe Steelers OL will carry their own weight and protect Big Ben.
3. No-Huddle, 5-receiver sets, and trick-gadget plays will successfully be used early & often for Philly.
14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-5.5) OVER Jacksonville Jaguars
1. This is Joseph Addai’s “get back-on-track” game. Dwight Freeney = difference-maker, will feast on Jags “rent-a-line”.
2. Both Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark will play- both will make tremendous impacts.
3. As long as Indy stops MJD and Fred Taylor from becoming game-changers, Jacksonville has no shot at an upset – nevermind, both are hurt (ankle, toe). Too easy for Indy.
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS OVER (+3) Washington Redskins
1. One of those “statement” games for Arizona. Washington was very fortunate last week.
2. Cards defense (best TO differential in NFL) will continue to flourish and pressure Campbell into forcing inaccurate throws and bad decisions – “Turnover City”
3. Offensively Warner, Fitzgerald, and Boldin are clicking on all cylinders. Keep in mind, ‘Skins pass rush – impotent, Cards in the RZ – potent.
12. TENNESSEE TITANS (-4.5) OVER Houston Texans
1. Tough 1st start for rookie Steve Slaton against stingy, stout Titans rushing D. On the other hand, Chris Johnson’s speed will keep Houston’s D honest and open up the pass.
2. Michael Roos and David Stewart may be the best tackle tandem in the league – Mario Williams may not get a sack, will DeMeco Ryans make enough plays?
3. Texans obviously don’t have any offensive rhythm on their side – this means Jeff Fisher’s ultra-safe game plan (offense:run, defense:stop run) will be successful for yet another week.
11. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-8.5) OVER New York Jets
1. Jets offense will be in disarray all night. They have yet to find a way to implement Leon Washington and Brad Smith consistently. Coles & Cotchery aren’t getting the job done.
2. Super Chargers on offense (Rivers, Chambers, Sproles) + super upset over last week’s officiating = all-around dynamic performance on both offense and defense – watch out for blowout.
3. SD doesn’t lose at home when allowing less than 17 points – you get the picture.
10. GREEN BAY PACKERS (+3) OVER Dallas Cowboys
1. Physical, aggressive Green Bay defense = key factor. Kampman, Woodson, Bigby, Hawk, and Barnett will be all over the place, attacking and disrupting ‘Boys All-Pro offensive line and firepower.
2. They might say GB’s defense hasn’t faced an offense like Dallas’ so far – but the following statement could be just as true if not more correct – Dallas’ offense hasn’t faced a defense like Green Bay’s so far. GB is one of the very few teams that possesses enough viable options in defending Owens, Witten (always the x-factor), and Barber.
3. Dallas’ OL will have allowed a total of 5 sacks after 3 weeks – Packers are going to rattle and ultimately test Romo.
9. CHICAGO BEARS (-3) OVER Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Don’t let Earnest Graham’s high yards per carry (8.3) or Matt Forte’s ypc (4.7) fool you. Despite Graham’s average and overall rush yards/touchdown output – Forte is the better back and will have a much better performance Sunday. The rookie actually can make something out of nothing and make a defender miss.
2. Tampa’s QB Brian Griese will have nowhere to run and no place to hide. Playing without talented OG Davin Joseph hurts.
3. Chicago owns the 3rd best third down offensive conversion rate and the best third down defense in the NFL. If Hester does not suit up – look for Daniel Manning to pick up his slack.
8. CAROLINA PANTHERS (+3.5) OVER Minnesota Vikings
1. Jake Delhomme/Steve Smith connection is explosive and unstoppable at times – I don’t think Antoine Winfield is ready for the tall task ahead.
2. Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams will run behind that massive offensive line for a combined total of 125+ yards – they will wear you out in the 2nd half.
3. As effective as Carolina’s offense has been, the defense has been that much more effective – “Ball Hawk City”.
7. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-13) OVER Miami Dolphins
1. When will Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams form a stellar RB combination? Once they are able to run behind a decent offensive line, which means – never.
2. Matt Cassel will have a field day picking apart what’s left of that Miami secondary.
3. Adalius Thomas, Richard Seymour, and Jerod Mayo and the rest of that Pats defense is making a significant case for the best D in the AFC – and maybe the entire NFL.
6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-10) OVER St. Louis Rams
1. Julius Jones vs. Rams D = career day. He still is a very talented back in his prime.
2. Seattle’s defense gets to the QB with the best of ’em – count on 7+ sacks for the 2nd consecutive week.
3. Rookie TE John Carlson will thrive and get his first 100-yard game of his young career.
5. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-4.5) OVER Detroit Lions
1. Will Detroit ever have the patience to wait and give the running game (Kevin Smith is a bruiser) an opportunity to prove itself? Can you say 40+ pass attempts? of
2. Patrick Willis will make life difficult for Jon Kitna and whoever crosses the middle of the field. The 49ers secondary that features Nate Clements, Michael Lewis and Walt Harris, will bait Kitna into throwing three more picks.
3. J.T. O’Sullivan will go for over 220+ yards against his former teammates. Frank Gore might even go past two bucks in total offense.
4. BALTIMORE RAVENS (-2.5) OVER Cleveland Browns
1. Joe Flacco has the skills and stature that remind me of Ben Roethlisberger.
2. Jamal Lewis of ’08 just doesn’t look the Jamal Lewis of ’07.
3. At home, Baltimore’s defense plays at an elite form.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (+9.5) OVER Buffalo Bills
1. I expect Oakland to run the ball with consistent success.
2. Trent Edwards needs to watch out for Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison on short crossing routes and when going to the TE – both linebackers have a knack for the rock.
3. If Marshawn Lynch doesn’t get going early, I believe the Raiders will hang in there.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS (-6) OVER Kansas City Chiefs
1. Offensively, Turner and Norwood will be more than enough to dictate the tempo and control the clock.
2. I’d be surprised if John Abraham (4 sacks) doesn’t dominate right out of the gate.
3. If Matt Ryan doesn’t utilize Roddy White’s speed and ability this week – then when will he?
1. CINCINNATI BENGALS (+13.5) OVER New York Giants
1. If there was a game for Carson Palmer and Co. to get over the slump – this has to be it.
2. No one takes the Bengals offense serious anymore – watch ’em make it closer than expected.
3. Chris Perry should play a key role in prolonging drives and keeping alive their chances on 3rd downs – he is shifty, quick, and elusive enough to get by the Giants back 7.