John Skelton will make the Cowboys defense look good, Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells might get a few good runs in but the Cardinals are a two-man defense right now (Dockett, Rodgers-Cromartie) and Kitna has been rolling. Cowboys 29, Cardinals 13 (home).
I have to believe that Spagnuolo and his coordinators are better strategically in second match-ups than Singletary and his coordinators. That said, it’s one of the hardest games to pick because San Francisco is going to go down swinging. Rams 14 (home), 49ers 10.
The Bengals are reeling. They had high preseason hopes ravaged by injuries along with bad playcalling and quarterbacking, now Marvin Lewis and Ocho Cinco are fighting again (I thought the Bengals-Lewis-Ocho fighting reached its apex with Ocho punching Lewis in the face at halftime in the 2005 playoff loss to Pittsburgh). The Chargers will stay alive for one more week. Chargers 28, Bengals 17 (home). They won’t gain ground this week as…
The Chiefs are one of the most dangerous offenses in football. While Tennessee’s offense has played good the last two weeks, but their defense is 17th in turnovers forced and 21st in points allowed. That won’t cut it when facing Charlie Weis. Chiefs 42 (home), Titans 31.
If Mark Sanchez is streaky, he is on one of his good streaks. However, he is a game-time decision and I just get a bad feeling about Mark Brunell who had turnover problems in Washington. The Bears stop the run pretty well. The Jets absolutely snuffed out the run last week and are tied for 3rd in the NFL with 3.6 ypc allowed (the Bears are 6th with 3.8). I think this is the game Rex and Schottenheimer validate themselves as elite coaches. Talent-wise, the Jets are way ahead on offensive line, corner, and wide receiver. They are equal in pretty much all other areas with the Bears getting the slight nod this year on D-line with Jenkins out. I think the Jets will hit an extra level for their head coach. Of all the come-from-behind victories they’ve had, winning at Pittsburgh had to give them a major confidence boost. I think they get to Jay Cutler, the refs actually call holding on the Bears line, and the Jets win it in the 4th as long as Sanchez is playing. Jets 23, Bears 16 (home).
Drew Stanton has been one of the feel good stories of the year. A week ago, this match-up would have been considered an interesting one, since Miami was so horrible at home and Detroit had not won a road game since October 28th, 2007. But Detroit stole one in Tampa Bay and they may be playing for their coach’s job. Miami might be looking to make a play at Cowher. This is one of the hardest to pick because as much as the Dolphins offense has been struggling, nothing cures a passing game like playing Detroit. Dolphins 24 (home), Lions 21.
The Raiders are in uncharted terrain. This young team is filled with guys who’ve never been in a playoff race. I generally think 31 of the NFL teams are mentally tough (the Wade Phillips Cowboys teams were not), so I don’t think a team like Oakland would play tougher with more at stake, just with more desperation – which can help. Peyton’s been here, most of his weapons have been here, he’ll get it done against a feisty Raiders pass rush. Colts 31, Raiders 13 (home).
I want to believe Rex Grossman will play even better this week. I know, however, the Redskins defense struggles to stop anyone and now will be missing both Albert Haynesworth and Philip Daniels from their front. Rashad Jennings might make his first start but, at 6.8 ypc, that should only worry you if you have Mojo or you are facing Jennings in fantasy football. This is tough to pick because the Jags DO have one good corner but that shouldn’t stop Sexy Rexy from unleashing the dragon. Redskins 30, Jaguars 28 (home).
There is so much drama and so much at stake for the Giants and Packers this weekend, this is actually maybe even bigger than a playoff game. I say that because I see such flaws in several teams that are guaranteed to go to the playoffs – Atlanta, New England, and Chicago – that I think each of these teams could go deeper if they get in. The Saints would have to collapse for both to get in and I think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers pass defense – which is 3rd in yards allowed, 4th in TDs allowed and 5th in interceptions – will squeak this one out. It will be interesting to see if Rodgers will be hesitant to run now. I also think a slight coaching edge goes to McCarthy. Packers 34 (home), Giants 31.
THE REST (home teams in bold):
Patriots 56, Bills 24
Ravens 21, Browns 20
Buccaneers 24, Seahawks 21
Texans 35, Broncos 28
Eagles 21, Vikings 17
Saints 31, Falcons 17
(Chris writes for Buccaneers Gab)