Game of the Week
Green Bay Packers (+2½) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
This NFC North rivalry game will likely determine the playoff fates for both of these teams. The Bears are likely to lose this week, so the winner of this game will be tied for first, while the loser will be the owner of a brand new losing record. The victor may not eventually win the division, but they definitely have a leg up in that race, and a good shot for the wild card.
The Vikings have a defense custom made for the Packers. Minnesota is built to stop the run, which is just fine, because the Packers have had trouble running the ball all season. On the other hand, the Vikings defense has been downright atrocious against the pass, a defect that should make Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver rather happy.
When the Vikings have the ball they'll need to sustain drives to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field, and keep the game close. Adrian Peterson should have no trouble shredding the Green Bay defense. Gus Frerotte on the other hand is a big question. Frerotte will have to do more than manage the game to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers, but he'll also have to play mistake free ball. In the end, Gus Frerotte will fail and Green Bay should end the game victorious.
Thursday Night Game You Won't See
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-3½) over Denver Broncos
I believe in Brady Quinn. This is actually a pretty good first start for Quinn. There's next to no film on him, so opposing defenses will have to learn his tendencies on the fly, which is okay because the Denver defense couldn't do that anyway.
Monday Night Cheerleader
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-9½) over San Francisco 49ers
Alix is a rookie on the Arizona Cardinals cheerleading squad, she is a native Arizonian and has been a Cardinal fan her entire life. Alix is an alumnus of Arizona State University where she was a member of the dance team for four years. Alix and the rest of the Arizona squad will surely lead the cheer as the Cardinals defeat the 49ers this Monday night.
Lock of the Week
Tennessee Titans (-3½) over CHICAGO BEARS
Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders had a great point about Kyle Orton in this week's Quick Reads. The basic idea is to imagine an alternate reality where Kyle Orton did not play his rookie season, and thus didn't become a joke. Now imagine that he had won the starting job out of training camp this year as a forth year quarterback. He basically becomes Tony Romo or David Garrard. But because we all remember his terrible rookie campaign, we think his play so far has been a fluke and he'll revert to his rookie level performance. However, the thing is, sometimes if a young quarterback gets to sit back out of the spotlight and learn from the bench, he will improve and end up developing into something decent. Not every quarterback is Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan and can play right away out of college with no acclimation period. Sometimes a quarterback needs to sit back and just learn.
That all said, Kyle Orton is likely out this week, Rex Grossman has had chances to both sit back and learn and develop and at this point, he is what he is. And that's a quarterback that the Titans defense can handle.
Upset of the Week
Indianapolis Colts (+3½) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS
It's looking like Ben Roethlisberger will be out this week with an injury and the human statue known as Byron Leftwich will take his place. Despite some decent play last week in relieving Ben, the combination of the Steelers' Swiss cheese line and Leftwich's immobility, the Colts should be able to pressure him early and often.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-1½) over Baltimore Ravens
I still like both of these teams, but I'm just not sure what happened to Houston's defense. The Texans featured a young, up and coming defense last year led by Mario Williams, but the unit has completely disintegrated this season. And yet, they should be able to get the job done against Joe Flacco, rookie quarterback.
ATLANTA FALCONS (-½) over New Orleans Saints
My new NFC South rule, take the home team.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-6½) over DETROIT LIONS
If I didn't just write an article predicting Detroit to go winless this season, I'd almost predict a victory this week. This year's Jaguars is a team that I just don't trust. The Lions have at least been playing teams somewhat close recently, it helps that Calvin Johnson has arrived. And yet, the Lions will probably lead early, but I'm sure that they'll find a way to lose at some point. To root on a Detroit winless season, I'd steal Barack Obama's "Yes we can!", but I'm pretty sure that ESPN's Bill Simmons has already staked his claim.
MIAMI DOLPHINS over Seattle Seahawks (+9½)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3½) over Buffalo Bills
Thus continues the free fall of the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are starting to learn the limitations of week armed quarterbacks who don't even try to throw down field. Teams can stack the box with run stuffers, play all wide receivers not named Lee Evans one-on-one and dare Trent Edwards to throw deep. Edwards is going to have to learn just to chuck it every now and then just to keep opposing defenses honest.
NEW YORK JETS over St. Louis Rams (+8½)
The Jets have been uncharacteristically adept at stopping the run this year. Much of that credit belongs to Kris Jenkins who's resembled a brick wall in run defense and a tiger in pass rush. However, the Jets defense has been highly susceptible to the pass, even making Tyler Thigpen of all people look like a real quarterback. Add in the weekly Brett Favre interception or two, and the Jets have had trouble putting away opponents. New York should win this week, and the game may be high scoring, but it should still end close.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS over Kansas City Chiefs (+15½)
Tyler Thigpen has actually resembled a live NFL quarterback in recent weeks. I'm sure Herman Edwards will bench him at first chance.
Carolina Panthers (-9½) over OAKLAND RAIDERS
After Oakland had one of the most humiliating offensive performances in recent history, they may be looking for some redemption this game. However, JaMarcus Russell is already looking like a bust, they have been starting a wide receiver named Chaz Schilens, and Darren McFadden has disappeared. Oh, and the Raiders just released DeAngelo Hall, a former Pro Bowl corner who was acquired for a second round draft pick just this off season. The lone bright spot on this Oakland team is Nnamdi Asomugha, who has completely shut down his corner of the field. Most quarterbacks don't even look his direction anymore.
New York Giants (+2½) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
It's a bit weird, but at this point I actually trust Eli Manning more on a nationally television Sunday Night game more than Donovan McNabb.
A Blast from the Past
- Straight Up: 9-5 Last Week, 79-51 for the season
- Vs. Spread: 7-7 last week, 70-60 for the season
- Game of the Week: 4-5 straight, 5-4 spread
- Monday Night Cheerleader: 4-5 straight, 4-5 spread
- Lock of the Week: 7-2 straight, 6-3 spread
- Upset of the Week 3-6 straight, 5-4 spread
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.