After a stunningly poor performance by the Falcons on Monday Night Football, I recorded my first losing week of the season. 6-7-1 isn’t any way to exert my football expertise, but I still rest above .500 after 3 weeks have passed, and with a solid week 4, I’ll be head and shoulders above the rest.Arizona Cardinals (+8) at Atlanta Falcons: At first site, I was taking the Falcons all the way in this one, but history tells me I should head another direction. Last season, after losing to a Packer team that had no right to be on the same field as Atlanta, the Falcons finished the season 2-5 and out of the playoffs. Obviously I haven’t given the Saints enough street cred, but Atlanta’s psyche has to be tortured after Monday’s hideous performance. Arizona can put up offensive numbers, and the Falcons often struggle with offensive football teams. These facts have me taking Arizona.
Dallas Cowboys (+8.5) at Tennessee Titans: The TO fiasco brings all types of feelings into the game in Tennessee. I really think this is good for the Cowboys though, if that sounds weird let me explain. All year, the Boys have been waiting for TO to saddle up so they could ride him to the Super Bowl. Now that he’s on medical watch, they’ll just have to get right down to business and use the talent and football know-how they’ve got. TO or not. Dallas should kill a lesser Titan squad.
Indianapolis Colts (-9) at N.Y. Jets: The Colts didn’t play awesome football against the Jags last week, yet they still took the win. This week, they should play better against a Jet team that isn’t as good as their record shows. The Colts are just about 20 Tetris levels above the Jets. New York will still put up some points, but Peyton, Marvin, Reggie and company should find wide open spaces in that Jet defense.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Houston Texans: Miami is much better than they’ve played. Obviously all of the Super Bowl sleeper talk everyone was whispering to start the season was a little bit much, but Miami will start to gel, and maybe even Daunte “Baby Hands” Culpepper will remember how to hold a football. When that happens, and as Mark Brunell showed last week, there’s now better week to remember how to throw a football than when you play Texas, the Dolphins will begin their run to dethrone the Patriots hold on the AFC East.
Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) at Buffalo BIlls: The Bills have played solid football over the first three weeks only 1 win to show for it. JP Losman is getting better, and Willis McGahee has turned into a yardage machine, but this week at home against the Vikings, they’ll be in for a treat. Minnesota’s defense is much better than any of the three teams they’ve faced thus far. If I know one thing, it’s that young quarterbacks, sans Charlie Frye, struggle mightily against top defenses. The Vikings will shut down the Bill rushing attack, making Losman beat them. I don’t think JP can do that. The Vikings will win this game.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-7): The Saints will struggle emotionally after their huge victory over the Falcons on Monday Night Football in their first home game since Hurricane Katrina. As much as they were pumped to play on Monday, they’ll be exhausted on Sunday against a Carolina team that will only get better as the season moves forward. Steve Smith is back, and the Panther defense remains sturdy. I don’t like the touchdown difference, but I’ve got to take the Panthers here.
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (+3): After nearly getting had by the lowly Cleveland Browns, the Ravens will do all they can to attack first year starter, Phillip Rivers, early and often on Sunday morning. If the Ravens can disrupt Rivers, while limiting LaDainian Tomlinson’s effectiveness early, both things I think they’ll do, they should get out to a lead early. I don’t think Rivers is ready to come back from an early deficit, so I’ve got to take the Ravens at home in this one. I still can’t believe they are underdogs.
San Francisco 49ers (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs: The 49ers will never quit, and so this game should remain close throughout. Trent Green is out another week, so the Chiefs will once again rely on career backup Damon Huard for their quarterbacking needs. Larry Johnson will definitely score his first touchdown of the season, but don’t expect a high scoring game in Kansas City. Herman Edwards likes to pound it out on the ground. The Chiefs are limited without Green at quarterback. And the 49ers just flat out don’t score often. A close game means take the dog and all those points.
Detroit Lions at St. Louis Rams (-5): After nearly upsetting the Hawks in Week 1, the Lions have deteriorated swiftly, taking form into the Lions of old. Offensively, Detroit is improving, but defensively, they are eroding into a porous sieved. Yes, they are stopping nothing. Not even the Packers. The Rams haven’t looked great, but their passing attack looks improved, and their rushing game is still strong. Defensively, they run around well, and make plays. Against the Lions, that means turnovers. Turnovers mean points, and the Rams will take advantage of all that meaning. Take St. Louis at home in this one.
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Oakland Raiders: Until proven otherwise, I have to take anyone playing the Raiders, especially an improving Browns team that has really played pretty well for a team with an 0-3 record. The Raiders suck, so don’t expect them to be the first team of the two to record a win. I’m not sure if Andrew Walter’s 30% completion percentage is the improvement everyone thinks it is in Oakland. It’s not Aaron Brooks’ fault that the coaching staff doesn’t know their lips from their man-tits. I don’t mean to be vulgar, but Art Shell has a nice C-cup, and his offensive coordinators look as though they’ve been coaching high school soccer for the last 10 years. This team is bad.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5) at Washington Redskins: The Jaguars showed the world how good they could be when they dominated the time of possession and ran all over the Colts in the first quarter of last weeks game. Then they promptly began to suck it up on route to losing the game. Jacksonville is nearing the end of a very difficult opening schedule, as they’ll head home next week after playing the Redskins on Sunday. Jacksonville will be 3-1, and on their way to big things. Washington hasn’t showed me they can play good football against anyone besides the Houston Texans. And like I always say, everyone looks good in practice, which is basically what playing the Texans is like. Brunell won’t be breaking any records this week, let me assure you of that. Take the Jags, because they are much better than the Skins.
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5): The Bengals are the best team in football right now. When Carson Palmer starts throwing the ball to Chad Johnson, the Bengals will be sick. Until then they’ll just have to settle for the #1 spot in my rankings. I don’t know how the Patriots plan on winning this game. Their offense is pathetic this season, defensively, they aren’t even dreaming of stopping Palmer and the Bengals, and special teams doesn’t give them an advantage either. Soon the Patriots are going to have to pay someone besides Tom Brady and Richard Seymour. Losing Branch was huge, much bigger than his 998 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns looks on paper. The Bengals in a blowout. Pats 2-2 with wins against Buffalo and New York… Ah…. Feels good.
Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) at Chicago Bears: People are writing the Hawks off because Shaunna Alexander is OUT. Come one folks, Maurice Morris causes just as much concern as a starting back. Not because of his running ability, because obviously Shaun is the superior runner, but because of his pass catching prowess. Mo Morris can catch the ball and explode up field. His quickness should help the Hawks superior receiving corps look like the greatest show in the NFC against a supposedly tough Bears defense. Watch the Hawks surprise the NFL on way to 4-0.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-11): The Packers are 0-8-2 ATS in their last 10 games on grass. The Pack is 1-7-2 ATS in their last 10 overall. On the other hand, the Eagles are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games and 2-7 ATS when playing opponents with a losing record. This game will be one more win for the Packers. Eleven points are a ton, if the Eagles were playing any team but the Packers. After getting a W last week, the Packers will have a Monday Night hangover in Philadelphia. McNabb and the Eagles should run the Pack out of town.