The Skins try to regroup
Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2002
Washington 10, Tennessee 7. If the Skins can’t get it together today, they could end up resembling the team that lost its first five games last season. They’re playing a team that’s lost three straight, including a 52-25 massacre to Oakland last week, a game in which the Titans lost top receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Samari Rolle. But the Redskins have been embarrassed in losses to San Francisco and Philadelphia, so their Fun ‘N Gun better start firing today.
Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 6. This game makes it seem as though the season was set up to make Michael Vick’s first year as a starter a season of turmoil. Only two weeks after being tormented by the Chicago defense, Vick today has Warren Sapp and the rest of a Buc defense that has allowed 47 points in four games. The Falcon defense also doesn’t have anyone who can stop Michael Pittman or Mike Alstott, so Tampa Bay’s winning streak should move to four quite easily.
Oakland 42, Buffalo 38. Game of the week, hands down (at least on paper). The Raiders lead the league with 37.7 points per game, and the Bills are close behind with 33.0. Drew Bledsoe and Rich Gannon were burning bright last week, combining for 709 yards in wins over Chicago and Tennessee. This game is tough to call because of the explosive offenses, but the Raiders get the Pick because they’re also effective on the defensive side of the ball; the Bills have given up 32.8 points per game, the Raiders only 19.6.
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Indianapolis 50, Cincinnati 3. As if it couldn’t get worse for the city that once elected Jerry Springer mayor, the Bengals now have to take on Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James, perhaps the league’s hottest combo. The Colts are also well-rested after a bye week, while Cincinnti was routed 35-7 by Tampa Bay, bringing their point total for the season to 23. This game should end a few seconds after the coin toss.
Carolina 24, Arizona 21. Neither of these teams should be in the playoff picture in a few weeks, but this might be interesting. The Cardinals have some momentum after defeating the Giants last week, and a win today puts them at 3-2 for the first time since 1991. But the Panthers have a defensive line that’s more stable than it has been in years, racking up 17 sacks in four games. If the Panthers can get a suitable kicker (Jon Hilbert’s 24-yard miss last week cost them a loss to the Packers), they should take this one.
Dallas 20, New York Giants 13. This one’s another close call. The Cowboys are on a roll after slamming the Rams last week, and Quincy Carter threw for 204 yards in the win. He might not have Joey Galloway this week, but Darnay Scott burned the Ram defense for Dallas’ only touchdown. A Giant offense that features Kerry Collins, Amani Toomer, and Ike Hillard has produced just three touchdowns this season, including losses to Seattle and Arizona.
New England 30, Miami 28. The Patriots’ offense is one of the best in the league, but their defense has been shredded by Priest Holmes and LaDanian Tomlinson over the past two weeks. With Ricky Williams around, the New England defense might have its toughest day yet. But they still get the Pick because Kansas City ambushed the Dolphins last week, and the Chief offense doesn’t have Tom Brady. If the Dolphins win, it won’t be an upset.
Pittsburgh 21, New Orleans 20. Yet another tough one. The Saints are looking to kick things up a notch after being humiliated by Detroit last week, but quarterback Aaron Brooks will be without one of his favorite targets, as Donte’ Stallworth is out with a hamstring injury. The Steelers found a new weapon last week when Tommy Maddox (maybe the only good thing to come out of the XFL) came off the bench to lead his team to an overtime win over Cleveland, so they get the (close) Pick.
San Diego 14, Denver 13. The Chargers are still unbeaten after a decisive win over New England last week, while Denver would be 4-0 if they hadn’t handed last week’s game to Baltimore with nine penalties and three interceptions. This game will be won by whoever makes things happen on offense; San Diego and Denver are first and second in the AFC in defense. Both teams have the talent, but the Chargers get the Pick because of LaDanian Tomlinson, who leads the league with 506 yards.
San Francisco 50, St. Louis 6. I’m writing this because I’ve had it. I’ve had it with picking the Rams every week, and having them turn around and embarrass me four straight times. Now that Kurt Warner’s out with a boo-boo, a Niner defense that has allowed just 47 points this season and is rested from a bye week will have no mercy on journeyman quarterback Jamie Martin. With Aeneas Williams hurting, the Ram defense won’t be able to stop Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens.
Kansas City 38, New York Jets 3. &uot;I will refuse to say our ship has sunk,&uot; said Jets running back Curtis Martin last week. &uot;But I’ll say it’s sinking.&uot; By tonight, the boat will be at the depths of Captain Nemo, after getting &uot;holed up&uot; a Chief offense that has racked up 126 points the past three weeks and Priest Holmes to charge through a Jet &uot;defense&uot; that has yielded 434 yards in two games. The Chiefs have lost 13 straight road games against AFC East teams, but that streak will end in a big way today.
Philadelphia 23, Jacksonville 8. Both teams lost their season openers, but haven’t lost since. Fred Taylor and Stacey Mack have given the Jags a formidable rushing attack, and the Eagle defense hasn’t beaten anyone with their skill. But Donovan McNabb leads an offense that has won their last three games by a combined 116-37, so they shouldn’t have too much trouble today.
Cleveland 16, Baltimore 13. The Browns are still a few years away from serious playoff contention, but the Browns have more than enough firepower to defeat the Ravens. Jamel White could be among the league’s elite in running backs soon. Baltimore may have scored 34 points in an upset of Denver last week, but it was due to their special teams, as they scored off a blocked punt and a punt return. The Ravens managed only 230 yards, so they won’t win consistently until that problem is solved.
Green Bay 20, Chicago 10. The Packers have all the motivation in the world to win on Monday; they put on a less-than-stellar performance in last week’s win over Carolina, they’re up against a team that’s missing four defensive starters to injuries, and they’re playing in Chicago, at which they’ve won their last eight games. If Green Bay loses, it will be because the Packers beat themselves.
Last week: 7-7