After going 8-5 last week, my record is up to 49-38 for a .563 win percentage. Last week a few teams that were viewed as underdogs - and even some that were not necessarily so in their line - came out on top. Teams like Green Bay, Minnesota, and Kansas City are the first that come to mind. I look for some more of the same this week.
New England at Miami
The Dolphins misery does not look to end this weekend. They have been poor all year on offense - other than Ronnie Brown during the last few weeks - and the defense has been terrible. Tom Brady will put up 300+ yards, and three TDs, and the stout Patriots defense should shut-down the ‘Fins offense. Brown will still get about 80 yards and a TD as well.
Atlanta at New Orleans
Things now look a lot brighter for the Saints and their faithful. After a good game last week against the Seahawks, Brees and Bush should dominate the Atlanta defense. I look for a steady diet of Bush on the ground and Colston should get his number called a lot, even though DeAngelo Hall will probably be on him all day, I think Colston can out-muscle Hall all day. Byron Leftwich's first start as a Falcon could spark this offense, but it's not going to be enough for this out-manned Falcon team.
San Francisco at New York Giants
Ever have a pick that no matter how much you don't want to make it, you just have that gut-feeling urging you to make it? That's this one for me. As good as the Giants have looked the past few weeks, and as bad as the Niners have looked - and without their starting QB - I am still going with San Fran. After the bye, they have had two weeks to dissect the Giants defense. I think Frank Gore will have a great day, and the 49ers strong secondary will shut down Eli Manning's passing attack.
Tennessee at Houston
This is a good inter-division matchup. Every team in this division is .500 or above, and not a lot of divisions can say that. I don't think it's the strongest division in the league, but it's fair enough. At the end of the day, though, they will probably have one team below that .500 mark. Houston is much stronger this season than any since they have been back in the league, but I do not think that their offense can overpower the surprisingly strong Titan defense. LenDale White and Chris Brown should be able to run on the Houston D, and their defense will be off the field for most of the game.
Baltimore at Buffalo
The Ravens shoddy defense will get back on track for this game. Yeah, I know, Buffalo almost beat the Cowboys two weeks ago. The problem there is that of their 24 points, 21 were either interception or kickoff returns. The Ravens are nowhere near good this year, so Baltimore fans don't let your 4-2 record get you excited, but they are better than the Bills.
Arizona at Washington
The Cardinals have either an injured quarterback starting, or one that has only been with the team just over a week. Things are not good for this team from an offensive standpoint, and worse than that they are facing a strong pass-defense. Washington should be able to run and pass on this team, keeping the Arizona defense on the field and wearing them down slowly but surely.
Tampa Bay at Detroit
Take Jeff Garcia, sprinkle in a little retribution about his poor year with the Lions, and you have a Buccaneer win. Detroit's defense is porous and the Tampa offense has been steady all season. They don't put up eye-popping numbers, but they are efficient. The Lions on the other hand face a fairly strong Tampa defense and, although they should put up some numbers, it probably won't be enough to take out the Bucs.
Kansas City at Oakland
After last week's morale boosting victory over the Bengals, the Chiefs should feel pretty good about themselves. That team, though, is far from good without a passing game. That phase is slowly coming around with Damon Huard and Dwayne Bowe becoming more active together, but they face a team looking to make a statement this week in the Raiders. It should be a close one, but the Raiders lack of offense could ultimately doom them.
New York Jets at Cincinnati
The Bengals are in disarray right now. Whether it is their coach saying that he doesn't know what the problem is, or their star players yelling at eachother on the sidelines. We all know that this team is just a bunch of convicts that can play football, but c'mon, they aren't even playing good football this season. The Jets are massively underachieving, starting with their starting QB. Maybe what the doctor ordered is a sad, sad Bengals defense. Hmm...for some reason I think that the Bengals won't be able to do much against the Jets, this after not being able to do anything against the Chiefs. They just can't seem to stop teams, no matter how many points they put up.
Minnesota at Dallas
Fresh of their first loss, the Cowboys will be looking to show that they should still be considered one of the best teams in the league. Tough task #1: shut down Adrian Peterson. With over 300 all-purpose yards last week you can bet the Vikings want to continue giving the ball to him, and it's up to Dallas to show that Peterson can be stopped - that is if they want to win this and not begin a losing streak. Oh, and they will break the Vikings streak of not allowing a rushing TD as "Marion the Barbarian" gets in from close range.
Chicago at Philadelphia
For the last few years the Chicago Bears defense has been in the top-5 and had dominated offenses whether good or bad week after week. This year they are 27th in the league and have looked awful on their trip down. Philadelphia needs to set the tone early by scoring on their first drive. The Bears' defense is much better when playing with a lead, so it's the Eagles job to make sure they are behind the eight-ball early. This should be a close game until the fourth when the Eagles will pull away. Can Brian Griese continue to put up the numbers he has been...?
St. Louis at Seattle
If for nothing but the fact that the Rams are terrible this year, this is an easy pick. The Seahawks have been taken to the cleaners the last two weeks, and they need to get back on the winning track. Hasselbeck put up 362 yards against a suspect secondary, and I see nothing different for this game. He should have 300+ yards and three TDs easily. What this team really needs to do, though, is establish some sort of running game. Without that they have no chance to go deep into the playoffs.
Pittsburgh at Denver
The Broncos rushing defense is lacking some oomph, which really hurts for them as they face the second-best rushing team in the league; a team known for running the ball way more than passing. The Broncos will probably have close to 100 yards rushing, but I don't look for much to happen through the air. Cutler is not a bad quarterback, but he can get frazzled easily, and this is not the defense to face with that attribute, as Dick LeBeau will have them blitzing Cutler all day to force bad passes.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
The Colts and Jags square off in a great Monday Night Football matchup. The only problem for the Jags is that they don't have an answer for Manning and Co. I could see this game going to the half tied or really close, then the Colts just pulling away from there. The Colts air attack will propel this team to victory in front of a national audience.
Enjoy watching the games this weekend, it should be a blast.