A big one for the ‘Skins

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 24, 2005

Washington 28, San Francisco 6. This could be the maker or the breaker for the Redskins. They’ve played teams close all season, and sometimes come out on top. But this is the first time that they’ve played a game they have absolutely no business losing. The Niners’ defense is ranked last in the league; the ‘Skins are ranked fifth. Their offense is pretty good too, but Clinton Portis hasn’t scored, which needs to hurry up and change.

Cincinnati 26, Pittsburgh 20. Don’t think the Bengals have forgotten how close they came to handing Ben Roethlisberger his first lost last year, as the Steelers managed to escape with a 19-14 win. He was missed in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, and he’s still below par. The Bengals know that the Steelers are their top opponents in the AFC North, and need some breathing room.

Cleveland 13, Detroit 8. Between watching this and watching paint dry, it would be a tough choice.

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New Orleans 28, St. Louis 24. This will be a &uot;Whoever screws up less wins&uot; battle. St. Louis is racked by injuries on both sides of the ball, and the Saints have already lost Deuce McAllister for the year and Joe Horn might be out with a bum hamstring. But New Orleans still gets the Pick because they have Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker, who very nearly carried them to an upset of Atlanta last week.

Green Bay 35, Minnesota 10. After getting killed in their first four games, the Pack got things together two weeks ago (hey, does anyone remember that they started 1-4 last year and ended up in the playoffs? Anyone?), while the Vikings have been falling farther and farther apart, what with their recent sex party on a boat scandal heavy duty beating at Chicago’s hands.

San Diego 30, Philadel-phia 16. This could be a war. While Philly got smashed by Dallas two weeks ago, they’re 17-3 in games after a defeat since 2000. Their rushing offense is last in the league, but they may stay high today, since the Charger defense is 27th against the pass. On the other hand, the defense that couldn’t stop Dallas now has to stop LaDanien Tomlinson, and that’s all but impossible.

Indianapolis 63, Houston 6. If the Texans win, I’ll eat my laptop.

Seattle 29, Dallas 19. Who wins the offensive battle? Matt Hasselbeck, who has thrown for 484 yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks, or Drew Bledsoe, who has the NFC’s top rating at 100.4? Seattle gets the edge because Hasselbeck can hand off to Shaun Alexander, who’s been running wild with a league-leading 715 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Chicago 13, Baltimore 7. These teams have the second- and third-ranked defenses in the NFL, so it’s a matter of who can get something done on offense. That’s why the Bears get the Pick – their offense went nuts last week against Minnesota, while the Ravens have scored just one touchdown in four of their five games.

Buffalo 20, Oakland 10. The Raiders may not have Randy Moss, and with him goes just about all of their offense. Buffalo is on a roll after beating Miami and the N.Y. Jets, and Kelly Holcomb and Willis McGahee should have a good day against a weak Oakland defense.

Denver 28, N.Y. Giants 16. The Broncos have been hotter than Jennifer Garner this year, continuing a five-game win streak with a beating of New England last week. The Giants are 3-0 at home, but four turnovers gave Dallas last week’s game, and the Broncos will be even more merciless. Wouldn’t it be something to see Ron Dayne carry for a big game against his former team?

Arizona 21, Tennessee 20. I like Dennis Green, so I’ll give Arizona the Pick.

Atlanta 33, N.Y. Jets 24. The Jets don’t have anyone who can stop Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn, but the Falcon defense is weak against the run, not a good thing with Curtis Martin around. Still, their defense will plant a target on Vinny Testaverde’s back.

Last week: 8-7

Overall: 46-41