Many tight games this week!
Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 19, 2003
Buffalo 10, Washington 9. A lack of offense has hurt the Bills; after scoring 69 points the first two weeks, they’ve managed just 38 since. The Redskins are having disciplinary problems; they’ve been flagged for 64 penalties. No surprises either way, but the Bills get the Pick because the Washington defense is injury-riddled with Fred Smoot, Jonas Jennings and Takeo Spikes all out.
New Orleans 30, Atlanta 7. The Saints may have started to turn things around after beating Chicago last week, and an Atlanta team that got the absolute snot beaten out of it by St. Louis might be the perfect stomping ground. The Falcon offense sputtered last week, and its defense gave up 496 yards – a signal that even Michael Vick’s return might not save them. The New Orleans offense, bothered by injuries all season, might be at full strength today.
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Philadelphia 20, N.Y. Giants 17. Both teams are better than their 2-3 records suggest, and the key to winning this will be discovering the single thing that’s wrong. On one side, there’s Donovan McNabb, who’s struggled with injuries, inaccuracy, and a lack of experience in his receiving corps. On the other, there’s Tiki Barber and Kerry Collins, who keep handing the ball off to the opposition; Barber’s fumbled four times this season, and Collins has thrown four interceptions in two games. Neither team can lose today; if (when) Dallas beats Detroit, today’s loser will be a three-game hole.
Minnesota 33, Denver 31. With Jake Plummer out and Dante Culpepper back (not to mention Gus Frerotte waiting in the wings), the Vikings are the narrow choice, but remember; they may be 5-0, but their wins have come against teams with a combined record of 8-20. The Broncos are 5-1, but their only loss was to Kansas City, the hottest team in the league. They also have the league’s fifth-best passing defense at 163.5 yards, which should give Randy Moss a tough day. Game of the week.
Miami 17, New England 10. The Patriots have never won a September or October game in Miami, and they probably won’t today. Their past defeats of Tennessee and the Giants were based mostly on luck, while the Dolphins have the league’s hottest defense, one that’s allowed 37 points in four games and stolen 12 turnovers. Ricky Williams and Jay Fiedler have been inconsistent, but so has Tom Brady, who doesn’t even have a running back to hand off to.
St. Louis 35, Green Bay 34. St. Louis is playing better than they have since winning the 2000 Super Bowl, shredding Atlanta and Arizona by a combined score of 73-13. Marc Bulger has helped the Rams lead the league with 275.2 passing yards per game, and Lamar Gorden has rushed for 173 yards in two games. That’s bad news for a Packer defense that let Kansas City come back from a 17-point deficit last week and is the main reason that the team is 3-3.
Dallas 29, Detroit 17. The Cowboys aren’t as good as their record suggests, going 4-1 against teams with a combined record of 7-20. But that’s OK today, because there’s Bennett’s Creek Pop Warner football teams here in Suffolk that could beat the Lions.
Cleveland 3, San Diego 0. Big whoop. Cleveland is a shadow of the team it was during the years of Bernie Kosar, and San Diego, is, well, San Diego.
Carolina 21, Tennessee 20. The Panthers discovered a new weapon last week, as DeShaun Foster replaced the injured Stephen Davis by rushing for 85 yards, including 26 on the drive that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime. The Panthers should move to 6-0 today, but they do have one weakness; their passing defense is 23rd in the league. If Steve McNair plays like he usually does, the Titans might pull this out.
Baltimore 40, Cincinnati 13. The Ravens will keep winning until they face a team with a good rushing defense; the Baltimore passing attack is the worst in the league. Fortunately for Jamal Lewis (on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s season rushing record of 2,105 yards) the Bengal defense hasn’t scared anyone for years.
New York Jets 24, Houston 14. Last season, the Jets started 1-4. They won the AFC East. This season, they’re 1-4, one of which was a 30-3 drubbing of Buffalo last week. Vinny Testaverde threw three touchdowns last week, and Houston has arguably the worst defense in the league. If David Carr doesn’t get hot early and stay that way, the Jets will fly away with this one.
Seattle 42, Chicago 16. When you’re 4-1 and your only loss is to Kansas City, you have nothing to be ashamed of. That’s the situation the Seahawks find themselves in today when they host the Bears for the first time since 1984. The Bears showed a spark by beating Oakland two weeks ago, then stumbled back to their losing ways against New Orleans last week.
Tampa Bay 28, San Francisco 20. Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice have been terrorizing opposing offenses all season, and a San Francisco offensive line that let Seattle sack Jeff Garcia four times last week shouldn’t provide a challenge. Brad Johnson might have a tough time with a defense that leads the league in sacks, but he’s managed to help the Buc score 30 points in three consecutive games for the first time in team history.
Kansas City 30, Oakland 6. Oakland has the worst run defense in the league. Kansas City has Priest Holmes. You do the math.
Last week: 10-5