Den @ Balt (-3.5). I’m still bullish on Balt and I’m still cowish on Den, as it were. Den has overachieved so far and while they may in fact not be bad, I just don’t think they’re undefeated-good. Denver’s #3 ranked rush defense (yards against) will get beat up this week. Ray Rice is turning into one of the better players in the league, somewhat quietly.
Hou @ Buff (+3.5). Interesting thought – though Houston opted out of the T.O. sweepstakes immediately this past off-season, what if they would have picked him up for this year? I wonder what he’d be like on a team where he would clearly be the #2 guy, like he would have been in Houston behind Andre Johnson. He probably would have been quite good – and would have made the Texans offense harder to defend. He also could have brought unwelcome distractions to the team and a coach facing a must-go-to-the-playoffs-or-I’m-canned year.
Cleve @ Chic (-13.5). The Cleve is horrendous. Even though Chic has been playing poorly lately, this game won’t be close. I read the other day that former Cleve GM Phil Savage was ripping on Mangini and the Browns present front office for the moves they’ve made – noting essentially that they’ve undone what he and Romeo Crennel built. From 2005-2008 with Crennel, they had records of 6-10, 4-12, 10-6, 4-12. Sorry Phil, nothing had been built. What does Phil Savage gain from this? Perhaps he’s still just trying to…savage his reputation.
Sea @ Dal (-9.5). The Cowboys have the #2 offense in the NFL (yards per game). They also have the #22 defense. Tough team to figure out. Seattle’s O-Line problems have essentially rendered rookie sensation TE John Carlson useless. He’s staying in for extra help protecting Hasselbeck on most plays. If they can figure out a way to set this guy loose and still protect Hasselbeck somewhat, they could be good again. For some reason, and it may be a dumb reason, I smell upset here.
StL @ Det (-3.5). This game may set the record for fewest viewers (none in Michigan because it will be blacked out and 8 in StL because they didn’t get the digital converter and Fox is the only station that sort of comes in).
SF @ Indy (-11.5). A little scary that Michael Crabtree can come in after holding out for half the season and have 5 catches for 56 yards in his debut. His freakish talent coupled with the fact that Vernon Davis is finally living up to his potential might end up having the biggest impact on the 49ers sluggish running game. Outside of one huge game by Frank Gore, it’s been weak. The Colts quality defense may have their hands full this week.
Mia @ NYJ (-3.5). I know how Ricky Williams would respond to this question: is there anything you’d recommend Coach Ryan do to help him settle down a bit?
NYG @ Phil (-2.5). It would be funny to listen to a “discussion” between an Eagles fan and a Giants fan re this game. Both would certainly employ the East Coast Shot Clock: on the east coast, you have 4 seconds to say what you want to say before being interrupted. It’s a manner of conversing quite a bit different than the plodding midwestern discussions where possibly too much listening takes place.
Oak @ SD (-16.5). Funny, I saw a KC upset of SD last week and expected lots of talk this week about how Norv Turner would suddenly be THE coach on the hot seat. Didn’t happen. San Diego may win this game by 40, seriously.
Jax @ Tenn (-2.5). Vince Young will finally get the start. Nice that Jeff Fisher tried keep secret which QB he’d be playing this week so that Jax would have to prepare for 2 QBs. While Jax is no superpower, Fisher doing this at 0-6 after getting blown out 59-0 is the equivalent of Bob Ueker, a lifetime .200 hitter, refusing to share any hitting tips during his playing days. That said, Tenn may in fact win here.
Car @ AZ (-9.5). I think it would be really fun to spend some quality time on some Carolina Panthers blogs and websites just about now. How can Delhomme remain the starter? And how insulting is it to the other QBs that John Fox explains his decision by saying Jake gives the team the best chance to win. (Especially when one back-up is the more than capable AJ Feeley.) This is a good example of a contract interfering with a coach’s judgment. Had Delhomme not signed that huge deal earlier this year, I wouldn’t imagine he’d still be the guy with his 56.5 QB rating and league-leading 13 picks.
MN @ GB (-2.5). It will be hard for me to boo Brett Favre. I used to love Favre and I still value what he did for this organization. But when this love is crossed with my greater love for the Packers as a team and my hatred for the Vikings, Favre loses out. So I will boo. I don’t see this game playing out like many experts seem to (Favre rising to the occasion having a monster day, Vikings prevailing). I don’t see that at all. I see Favre having a more non-descript type game, a big game from Aaron Rodgers (because CB Antoine Winfield will likely be out) and a quality RB duel between Grant/Adrian Peterson. I also believe the boos will be louder than the cheers. Packers win 27-17.
Atl @ NO (-9.5). Big spread facing an Atlanta team that isn’t bad, though they got handled last week by the Cowboys. I think now about the headache I’ve had all week (I would say the whole headache thing is the worst symptom of H1N1 – it’s like being hungover constantly), and how this is what it must feel like for any defensive coordinator about to play the Saints. They run well and pass well. They have athletes all over the place. They have a fantastic QB and a coach who knows what he’s doing. Atlanta may keep it tight for a half or so, then NO goes nuts.
“East Coast Shot clock” . . . hilarious. In my family you can’t get cut off, we just all talk at the same time.
My random call of the week for Vikes-Pack is that Brandon Jackson will make a few impact plays . . . maybe on a screen. I loved how McCarthy started to work him in last week and I think he has been very good when he’s had chances, he is a little more elusive than Grant (who isn’t?) and he runs tough. I’m not giving up on grant, but I don’t think he has been good enough to be the exclusive guy. Jackson has shown flashes and I hope they move mroe towards the 2 back system that so many other teams use successfully.