Can the ‘Skins get another win?
Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 16, 2003
OK, I know I had a tough week last week, but there’s two reasons for it. First of all, it was a bookmaker’s dream, with more upsets on one particular day that in recent memory (Atlanta stomps the Giants and San Diego hammers Minnesota? Did I wake up in a parallel universe and no one told me?). Second, I was still disoriented from getting run over by Nansemond River running back Trayce McPherson during his team’s game against Indian River last weekend. I hope I got my name in the stat book for recording the tackle!
Carolina 20, Washington 7. The Redskins have to prove that last week’s win over Seattle wasn’t a fluke, and the Panthers are on a roll after squeaking out a win over Tampa Bay. Carolina’s got a much more effective pass rush that Seattle, so Patrick Ramsey better be wearing some extra pads. Stephen Davis might have Bill Buckner-esque ankles, but he may just suck up the pain to show the ‘Skins what a mistake they made in getting rid of him.
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Tennessee 35, Jacksonville 13. The streaking Titans have the top offense in the league (for now), becoming the third team to score 30 points in six straight games with their 31-7 crushing of Miami last week. Steve McNair has been ON with 2,179 yards and 15 touchdowns, and the Titans have the league’s best run defense. Jacksonville has been sinking since reaching the 1999 AFC championship game, though their win over Indy last week means they can never be counted out.
Buffalo 17, Houston 6. The Bills offense has been slumping this season, averaging just 16.5 points and going without a touchdown in three of its last four games. However, they’re battling the league’s worst defense in Buffalo, where the home team is 7-2 their last nine games. If Cincinnati can find a way through the Texan defense (as it did in last week’s 34-27 win), than Drew Bledsoe certainly can.
Baltimore 17, Miami 14. This game may be decided by which Ricky Williams shows up for Miami – the one that led the league with 1,853 yards last season, or the one that hasn’t had a 100-yard game in six weeks. Neither team has a quarterback with any credibility (Brian Griese, once hoped to be Denver’s next savior, fumbled three times and tossed a pair of interceptions in last week’s humiliation), so this one will be won by the squad that gets a good game from its running back (Jamal Lewis is the AFC’s best) and its defense.
Cleveland 7, Arizona 3. Given a choice between staring at a test pattern for three hours and watching this one, I’d have to think about it.
Philadelphia 21, New York Giants 10. On the stat sheet, the Eagles are on a roll, with a five-game winning streak. But it’s no time to rest on their laurels; they’ve been behind or tied in the fourth quarter in all of those games, including last week’s 17-14 squeaker in Green Bay. On the bright side for Philly, the Giants are injury riddled, and their offense handed last week’s loss to Atlanta with two interceptions and two fumbles.
Kansas City 50, Cincinnati 3. I had to wipe tears of laughter from my eyes after hearing Bengal wide receiver Chad Johnson guarantee that his team would beat Kansas City this week. He’ll have athlete’s foot of the mouth after today. The Chiefs had an easy win over Cleveland last week, and this one should be even less problematic.
New Orleans 28, Atlanta 19. Late season collapses have become a sad trademark in the Big Easy, as the Saints lost five of their last seven in 2001 and their last four last year. But they’ve got serious momentum after beating Tampa Bay two weeks ago and then healing up on the bye week. However, the Falcons can’t be underestimated; they’re doing the free-spirit thing after smashing New York last week.
St. Louis 30, Chicago 9. Make no mistake – last week’s 33-22 win over Baltimore was 99 percent due to the St. Louis defense. Marc Wertz was sacked four times, led the team to just seven first downs and went 13-for-26 for 110 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns, and Marshall Faulk had just 48 yards. Chicago’s defense is decent, but its offense couldn’t score against Detroit last week – which makes a whole new statement in and of itself.
New York Jets 23, Indianapolis 20. The Colt offense went drier than the Sahara last week, squandering a 20-7 halftime lead to Jacksonville (Jacksonville!). Chad Pennington is starting to look like his old self, leading the Jets to a win over Oakland and a &uot;should have won&uot; over the Giants. Santana Moss caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown last week, and Marvin Harrison did bubkis for the Colts.
Denver 24, San Diego 16. This one’s up for grabs. Doug Flutie tore up the Minnesota defense last week, but he’s been hit-or-miss for years. Jake Plummer helped the Broncos to 4-1, but they’ve gone 1-3 since he got hurt, and a sore foot may limit his effectiveness today. Denver gets the Pick, but no surprises.
Minnesota 42, Oakland 13. Both these teams are spiraling downward, but Minnesota has far more to lose. Three games earlier, they were the hottest team in the NFC. Now they’ve lost three straight, including last week’s whomping by the Chargers. Daunte Culpepper doesn’t have to worry; it’s the defense, the very one that’s given up an average of 453 yards and nearly 34 points during the losing streak. The Vikings have allowed 1,458 yards, 86 first downs and 111 points in their last 13 quarters. Oakland, on the other hand, must have committed a collective sin in the past, because they’ve been paying dearly for the past five weeks.
Green Bay 35, Tampa Bay 21. Who could have predicted that both of these teams would be 4-5? Brett Favre vs. Warren Sapp is usually an interesting battle, but Favre, limited by a broken thumb, had three fumbles and an interception in last week’s loss to Philadelphia, and Sapp has just one sack in four games and is part of a defense that has surrendered 336 rushing yards the past two weeks. The Pack gets the Pick to get revenge for Sapp’s cheap shot last November that ended Chad Clifton’s season.
Did you know that Detroit hasn’t won a road game since 2000? That’s even worse news when they head to Seattle, where the Seahawks haven’t lost since last season. As if their poor showing in Washington last week wasn’t enough, the ‘Hawks need this one to stay atop the NFC West.
Dallas 30, New England 28. This one might get played again in late January. Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells worked together on the Jets, Giants and Patriots coaching staffs, so they know each other like twins (Twin Bill! Ha, I kill me). The Cowboys get the Pick because of reliability; the Patriots have overcome injuries to go 7-2, but Dallas hasn’t had that problem.
San Francisco 20, Pittsburgh 10. Both teams are looking for consecutive wins for the first time this season, but the Niners get the Pick because of Tim Rattay, who burned the St. Louis defense for 236 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago. Pittsburgh is coming off a win over Arizona, which is like a high school senior bragging about beating up a first-grader.