Game of the Week
Philadelphia Eagles (+6½) over DALLAS COWBOYS
I was considering picking Jets/Pats as my game of the week. But while that match up sure holds its share of storylines, from Matt Cassel to Brett Farve to Mangini-Belichick, and it looks to be a close and tough fight, the actual football has too much potential to be mediocre.
Now the Eagles at the Cowboys, that looks to be a close tough fight ripe with excellent football. Donovan McNabb is back and Tony Romo has joined the quarterback elite. Brian Westbrook is ready to run wild. Zach Thomas will try to stop him, but he'll find that he's just not quick enough anymore. McNabb should be able to target any receiver being covered by Adam Jones for success, while the Eagle's defense should be able to bend, but not break … as long as they remember to cover Jason Witten.
Cheerleader of the Week
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS over Buffalo Bills (+6½)
Before the weather gets cold up north, I feel that I should honor one of the cheerleaders of the Buffalo Jills, Vincenza. Vincenza, a Virgo, is shy, caring, mature, and spontaneous. She looks forward to entering medical school to become a forensic psychiatrist. Vincenza enjoys being a Buffalo Jill and being a role model for young girls.
The is a really good chance that the Bills are a team on the rise, while Jacksonville is a team that played over its head last year. I'm not buying that just yet, but it'll be close.
Lock of the Week
New York Giants (-8½) over ST. LOUIS RAMS
This lock isn't so much out of respect for the defending Super Bowl champions who are far from perfect, but out of complete disrespect for the Rams, who already look to be in the running for first overall pick in next year's draft. As shown last week in Philadelphia, St. Louis cannot cover even second-string receivers, Plaxico Burress should have a field day. While the Rams' run defense is better, it's nothing to brag about. On offense, the decline of Torry Holt is more apparent than ever, other receiving options don't really exist, and Steven Jackson just can't be expected to carry this team, especially with the disaster that is the St. Louis offensive line.
Upset of the Week
Baltimore Ravens (+4½) over HOUSTON TEXANS
I'm not a fan of taking an upset on the road, but I think this Baltimore defense is back to being as dominant as ever, or at least as long they remain healthy. The Ravens should shut down the run, and if they focus on Andre Johnson, they can reasonably contain the pass and force Matt Schaub to make a mistake or two he didn't want to. I'm not exactly sure how Baltimore will score points, but I'm confident they can prevent Houston from doing so.
Tennessee Titans (+1½) over CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Titans still feature a dominant defense, as long as Albert Haynesworth remains healthy. I actually like Kerry Collins for this offense better than Vince Young. Young just hasn't progressed as much as needed, while Collins can take advantage of the non-existant Bengal secondary.
Green Bay Packers (-2½) over DETROIT LIONS
Aaron Rogers is going to have a coming out party against the Lions. I have faith in Matt Millen to continue to put a terrible team on the field of Ford Stadium.
Oakland Raiders (+3½) over Kansas City Chiefs
I actually like Oakland to have some upside this season. Their run defense is still pretty abysmal, so Larry Johnson should look like the Larry Johnson of three years ago. However, they secondary should still be solid, their offensive line is improving and Justin Fargas is going to play some of the best football of his life to stave off Darren McFadden from taking his job.
Indianapolis Colts (-1½) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
This game will rest with Peyton Manning. The Vikings showcase perhaps the best run defense in the league giving Joseph Addai little to work with. The Indianapolis offensive line was uncharacteristically porous against the Bears, and Manning will have to be even quicker on his feet and with his reads to survive Jared Allen.
New Orleans Saints (+½) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS
The Saints offense is back. Marques Colston is out for the next few weeks, but this should just allow Jeremy Shockey and Robert Meachem to shine. The Redskins offense may gel towards the end of the season, but it's going to take a few more weeks for Jason Cambpell to become fully comfortable in the west coast offense.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3½) over Chicago Bears
The Bears may have looked dominant against Indianapolis, but this is still a team trusting Kyle Orton to lead the offense, and hoping he doesn't make a mistake.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS over San Francisco 49ers (+8½)
Between the Seahawks and the 49ers, this might just be the least talented collection of receivers to take the field in a single NFL game since the '60s. The Seahawks have a defense, and that will be the difference. I think there is a very real chance that the NFC West sends a losing team to the playoffs this year.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS over Atlanta Falcons (+8½)
Michael Turner probably isn't going to run for two hundred yards against this Tampa Bay defense. Matt Ryan will make a mistake or two, while Jeff Garcia won't and that will be the game.
San Diego Chargers (-2½) over DENVER BRONCOS
As long as San Diego sends someone out to cover Eddie Royal, they should be able to contain the Denver Offense. Losing Shawne Merriman is not as big a loss as it may seem. He is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but he's below average in coverage and average at best against the run. His loss may hurt San Diego's pass rush, but it may improve their coverage of tight ends and running backs and possibly improve their run defense.
NEW YORK JETS (-2½) over New England Patriots
It should be interesting to see how Bill Belichick treats Matt Cassel. Will he turn the offense into a power running game, shoving Lawrence Maroney, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan down opposing defense's throats while asking Cassel to do little more than "manage" the offense, or will he let Cassel to utilize Moss and company, spread the offense and continue to air the ball out?
ARIZONA CARDINALS over Miami Dolphins (+6½)
This game is more or less a toss up on neutral turf, so the home team wins. However, I like the Cardinals to improve as the season progresses, especially their defense as it gels. The Cardinals feature a good core who should lead this teams to a winning season eventually. The Dolphins still have plenty of rebuilding left to do. Their future looks far bleaker for the short term.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5½) over CLEVELAND BROWNS
If even some of the trouble that Indy experienced last week is real, then the Steelers are set up as the team to beet in the AFC. The Browns on the other hand could very well be one year wonders. The offense is still setup with a great line and solid playmakers, but Derek Anderson is not the real thing, and the sooner they hand the reigns of the team over to Brady Quinn, the better their future looks. However, Brady Quinn won't be able to fix the atrosity that is the Cleveland defense.
A Blast from the Past
- Straight Up: 11-5 Last Week, 11-5 for the season
- Vs. Spread: 10-6 last week, 10-6 for the season
- Game of the Week: 1-0
- Upset of the Week 1-0
- Lock of the Week: 1-0
The Ground Rules
Home team in CAPS, spread in ( paren ). If the spread is listed after the victor, then they will cover. If the spread is listed after the loser, then it will not be covered.
Spreads are taken from ESPN.com. I don't do lines.
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