The ‘Skins can’t lose today… can they?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Bennett’s Creek Pop Warner Midget Warriors 21, Washington 7. With the ‘Skins on a bye week, I thought they could come down to Suffolk and take some lessons from one of the region’s top young teams.

St. Louis 30, Pittsburgh 13. The Rams are still streaking with Marc Bulger and Tony Holt helping to rack up over 30 points in the last three games, including last week’s 34-24 win over Green Bay. Jerome Bettis and Amos Zereoue are a far, far cry from the Steeler offense that led the league in rushing just two seasons ago, and now they face a St. Louis defense that just held Packer back Ahman Green to a season-low 35 yards.

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Chicago 24, Detroit 10. The Lions haven’t won on the road since Dec. 2000, but today may be their best chance; they’re playing one of the other worst teams in the league. Unlike Detroit, who has been stomped 136-59 in the past five game, though, the Bears have lost their last two games by a combined 14 points, and almost slipped past Seattle last week. Chris Chandler, who nearly engineered a game-winning drive last week, shouldn’t have much trouble today.

Carolina 20, New Orleans 17. This might be interesting, The Panthers have to prove that they can come back from a tough loss, after Tennessee smashed them last week. The Saints destroyed Atlanta, winning back-to-back games for the first time all season. Stephen Davis, held to 20 yards last week, carried for 159 in Carolina’s 19-13 win over New Orleans three weeks ago, but if the Saints can stop him, they’ll score the upset.

New England 35, Cleveland 14. Bill Belichick has shown his renowned ability to turn copper into gold, taking the league’s most injury-riddled team to a 5-2 record and first place in the AFC East. The Patriots have taken 15 of the last 20 home games they’ve played, and now are facing a team that got embarrassed by San Diego last week. If the Patriot defense played like it did while shutting down Ricky Williams last week, this one will be over before halftime.

Minnesota 20, N.Y. Giants 19. The Giants are better than their 2-4 record shows, but the Vikings have been the league’s hottest team since the season began. Dante Culpepper and Randy Moss have really come into their own, and the Giant defense is solid but not unspectacular. A team that has been beaten by fate as often as New York has deserves this game, but this is reality.

Denver 21, Baltimore 16. After one of the hottest starts in the AFC, Denver has been stricken by injuries the past two weeks, losing quarterbacks Jake Plummer, Steve Beuerlein and possibly Danny Kannell. Baltimore is at the top of the AFC North, the league’s worst division. Kyle Boller played well enough for Baltimore last week, but he did throw an interception that eventually gave the Bengals a 24-7 lead. No surprises either way.

Tennessee 42, Jacksonville 7. The Jaguars aren’t half the team they were when they fell to Tennessee in the 1999 AFC Championship game, enduring three consecutive losing seasons. Steve McNair is having perhaps his best season, throwing for a league-high 1,791 yards, an AFC-leading 106.8 passer rating and his 12 touchdown passes are tied for tops in the conference. The Titans have scored over 30 points in four consecutive games – including last week’s 37-17 stomping of previous lossless Carolina. This one shouldn’t be close.

Dallas 28, Tampa Bay 6. Now comes the tough part for the Cowboys, who are 5-1 with all of their wins coming against sub-.500 teams. But the Bucs might not present as big a challenge as they would have when the season began; they’ve lost two of their last three, and six starters won’t play today. The Buc defense allowed 458 yards in last week’s loss to San Francisco, and Brad Johnson threw three interceptions.

Seattle 24, Cincinnati 19. Breaks have gone the Seahawks’ way this season, as the team has won its last three by a combined nine points, two of which were by a single point. The Bengals have won two of their last three by utilizing a passing game that no one knew existed. Seattle gets the Pick, but this one won’t be an upset.

San Francisco 35, Arizona 10. The ‘Niners have some momentum after beating Tampa Bay last weekend, and Arizona is the proverbial stomping ground. The 49er rushing offense is fourth in the league, while the Cardinal rushing defense is 20th. Add in the fact that the San Franners have won five straight against the Birdies, and this one shouldn’t be a contest.

New England 24, Philadel-phia 21. Game of the week. The Eagles are a dark mystery, as the offense that racked up 415 points last season is the laughingstock of the league, even though it has virtually all of the same players. Both teams are trying to salvage a season that they might have expected to end in the playoffs, so a loss today could be the final coffin nail.

Indianapolis 28, Houston 13. Edgerrin James finally suits back up for the Colts today, and, coming off their first loss of the season, they need him. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are the top tandem in the AFC (and Dante Culpepper and Randy Moss are only slightly ahead), so if David Carr doesn’t get hot early, the Colts should gallop away.

Kansas City 20, Buffalo 13. When a team is 7-0, it’s hard to find fault. That’s why no one mentioned that Kansas City had one of the league’s worst defenses until the Chiefs were able to hold off Oakland last week. Buffalo is on something that could be interpreted as a roll after stomping Washington last week, but they’ve been touch-and-go all season.

Miami 30, New England 12. Junior Seau makes his return to the city where he spent 13 years, and, this time, he’s got a team to back him up! Miami is the league’s best at stopping the run, although LaDanian Tomlinson isn’t playing as well as he did last season. Ricky Williams and Jay Fiedler are raring to go after subpar performances in last week’s loss to New England, so they may just let it all show Monday.

Last week: 9-5

Overall: 48-38