“Back…caught you lookin’ for the same thing; It’s a new thing, check out this I bring…” – Public Enemy, Don’t Believe the HypeLast week was a good one for prognosticators near and far. Let’s see what’s on tap for this week.
My team is off and some of the matchups heading into the week are not exactly A-list material. Still, there could be serious separation this week given that two sets of undefeated teams will square off when San Diego travels to Baltimore and the Seahawks head to the Windy City to meet the Bears. You know I’m saving those games for last.
NFL Lines For Week 4 – NFL Football Line Week Four
NFL Game Dates 10/1 & 10/2, 2006
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|10/1 1:00 ET||Indianapolis||-9||At NY Jets||46.5|
|10/1 1:00 ET||San Diego||-2.5||At Baltimore||33.5|
|10/1 1:00 ET||At Buffalo||-1||Minnesota||35|
|10/1 1:00 ET||Dallas||-9.5||At Tennessee||37|
|10/1 1:00 ET||At Kansas City||-7||San Francisco||40.5|
|10/1 1:00 ET||At Carolina||-7||New Orleans||42|
|10/1 1:00 ET||At Atlanta||-7.5||Arizona||40.5|
|10/1 1:00 ET||Miami||-3.5||At Houston||40.5|
|10/1 4:05 ET||At St. Louis||-6||Detroit||43.5|
|10/1 4:15 ET||At Cincinnati||-6||New England||46|
|10/1 4:15 ET||Jacksonville||-3||At Washington||34.5|
|10/1 4:15 ET||Cleveland||-3||At Oakland||33.5|
|10/1 8:15 ET||At Chicago||-3.5||Seattle|
Monday Night Football Line
|10/2 8:30 ET||At Philadelphia||-11||Green Bay||48.5|
After last week’s games, I came up with my own spreads and over/unders for this week. I don’t have the list in front of me, but I was close on several of these. I had Indy as a 13 point favorite over the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, with the o/u at 46. The Jets were two tremendous plays away from being smoked by a subpar New England Patriot squad at home. Coles (do you think I’m trying to spell Laveranues correctly?) and Jericho Cotchery made “play of the year” efforts to get into the endzone. I don’t like the odds of a repeat performance against the Colts. Indy’s Cover 2 will force Chad Pennington to make quick throws into tight spaces. I’m still not convinced he can do it – unless he has the type of time that Dwight Freeney and company seldom allow. The Jets have an intimate knowledge of the Colts. They were division rivals for decades. Dungy and Herman Edwards were close friends and new Jet coach Eric Mangini comes from the Patriots. There will be no surprises in this game. This game should come down to skill in execution. The Colts have much more skill. Pennington gets sacked about 6 or 7 times, throws three or four picks and the Colts win easily by a score of 35-14. PS, I expect Jonathan Vilma to have a HUGE game in a loosing cause.
In the “That’s What Super Bowls Are Four” bowl, the Vikings meet the Bills in an incestuous matchup that features the return of former Bills Antoine Winfield and Pat Williams. I expect the Vikings to be smarting from their premature jocularity last week against Chicago. The Bears talked about smiling Vikings last week before their comeback W. Not this week. Minnesota plays with a straight face, avenges two W’s (Winfield and Williams) and picks up a 3rd. Chester Taylor, Chester Taylor, Chester Taylor. No fumbles, please. Vikings 17, Bills 16. Taking a road dog from the NFC North can’t be a good idea.
Dallas at Tennessee. I could care less. You can take this game and shove it…but before you do, take the Cowboys but don’t expect them to cover because this is a signature game for the Titans. Everybody and their mama in the state of Tennessee will be trying to get tickets to this game. The Titans have a little something going with Travis Henry (if he can stay on the field…and the coaches get Chris Brown off the field) and those tight ends. I like Cowboy TE Jason Witten (former Tennessee Vol) to score at least once in this game. He could go for 9-120-2 if he gets some game plan love from the coaches. Dallas 27, Tennessee 7.
San Francisco at Kansas City. Alex Smith vs. a Cover 2 defense with Patrick Surtain and Ty Law on the corners. Age or beauty? I’ll take beauty on Sunday. But I don’t beauty will be enough to outdo the beast that is Kansas City’s ground game – especially without Vernon Davis. Larry Johnson off a bye week against a week sister from the NFC? Sounds delicious. Kansas City 24, San Francisco 17. Right at the spread, but over the line. If the Chiefs can’t score 24 points this week, their prospects for big offensive games the rest of the year are minimal. This game, even without Trent Green, will tell the world how much progress Herman Edwards has made with this team on both sides of the ball.
I know the Saints just came off of the biggest win in franchise history. I know the Carolina Panthers have Steve Smith back and desperately need a division win at home. But, the Saints win against Atlanta was not a knock-down drag out fight. It wasn’t a debilitating loss that wore them down. And, besides, if you’re 3-0 and really want that city and the nation to believe in you, you simply cannot afford to come out flat against Carolina. The Panthers are still the class of the division, but the Saints have the ability to play many different styles thanks to Drew Brees’ arm and Deuce McAllister’s power game. With Dan Morgan out of the middle, Deuce could get loose and take a run at the Panther safeties. I like the Saints to beat the Panthers. This is my riskiest pick of the week, but I said I thought this team could win 10 games – and if they can get this one, I believe you can book playoff tickets for this team. This is the moment for the Saints coaching staff to really galvanize the team – it was easy last week. What better time for an “Us against the World” message than now. No one believes the Saints can win this game on the road – and the city of New Orleans cannot make the flight. The coaches call on the team to man up and make it happen in the face of insurmountable odds. Saints 24, Panthers 21. NOTE: If the Saints lose this game and the players “blink” by referring to the Atlanta game, the team will spiral down.
Atlanta at Arizona. Everyone liked the Cardinals coming out of the gate, but now they’re not looking as attractive as they did in camp. Kurt Warner has returned to routine fumbles. Matt Leinart may not be ready. Edgerrin James is beginning to wonder if he’s being used properly. The Cardinals have some problems. On Sunday, one of those problems will be a zone blocking offensive line wearing black and red. Falcons roll, 37-17.
Miami is a road favorite at Houston. The Dolphins are going to lose this game. The Texans can score points. The Dolphins still haven’t figured out how to get the “bisquit in the basket.” David Carr is the league’s top rated passer. I knew he’d have a good year, but not this good – especially without Domanick Davis. I thought he’d be an early MVP candidate – but they’ve been losing without an effective running game. Carr, however, has enough to beat the unimpressive Dolphins. The atrocious Texan defense better break out the smoke and mirrors if they’re going to stop Ronnie Brown and Chris Chambers. Still, the Texans can rely on the fact that an underaggressive Miami offense is not likely to score more than 24 points. Houston 27, Miami 20.
The woeful Lions are en route to being disemboweled in St. Louis. Mike Martz will have so much to prove in this game…I’m predicting a sideline blowup between he and head coach Marinelli. Marinelli absolutely loses it after Martz signals the offense to GO FOR IT on 4th and 25 – then burns two timeouts with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. Martz is put in a headlock during halftime, passes out and an assistant coach is compelled to call plays for the rest of the game. Martz wakes up as the Rams win the game with a conservative offensive drive that culminates in a field goal from only 19 yards out. An irate Martz blasts the media for instigating his firing from the Rams, begs for his job back and petitions Dick Vermeil (who oddly enough is broadcasting the game) for character references. At the end of the game, Roy Williams says he’s better than Torry Holt – and that’s it’s just stupid how close the Lions came to putting up 40 points. John Kitna’s line – 50-75, 199 yards, 0 TDs. St. Louis 9, Detroit 6.
Jacksonville at Washington. I’ll take the JagWIRES. The Foreskins are still an enigma. This team has not had a convincing positive performance this season. Only their debacles have been compelling. If the rumor mill on Mark Brunell is correct (that he is more concerned with the rush than the route), then his day will be filled with images of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and every politician in DC can forget about running on Sunday. I like Rashean Mathis to continue intercepting passes. He could get Brunell for three or four picks…that depends on how much the ‘Skins throw the ball behind the line or to the other side. In any case, it ain’t hapnin’. Jags 30, Foreskins 3.
Cleveland at Oakland. No comment.
Cincinnati vs. New England. The Patriots are done. At the beginning of camp, I thought the Pats were onto something because they had so many tight ends on the roster – and they still had Deion Branch. Without Branch to stretch the field and run familiar routes, the Pats are subject to defenses ignoring the deep passing game. Until Doug Gabriel and others prove they can hurt you, teams will focus on Dillon and Maroney. Corey is going back to Cincinnati and the Bengals won’t be the least bit bothered. I will say this though…as crappy as I believe the Patriots are, they still watch film. Last week’s Steeler game is going to provide someone with some serious film for shutting down the Bengals. In the second half, the Bengals had five drives, ran 21 plays and gained 22 yards – with 3 punts, a pick and a fumble. Belicheck is sure to queue up the VCR and make notes on how best to deploy his troops. The main problem, however, is insufficient armor. The Pats don’t have the guys to get the job done on either side of the ball – but if Billy can get the smoke and mirrors going – look out. Cincy 45, New England 21.
Philadelphia hosts Green Bay in the “We’d Be Undefeated If We Had Brett Favre, Not! Bowl.” Philly is not sexy as an 11 point favorite, but the Packers are another team whose true personality has yet to come forward. The Packers just might be a decent team after all. The defense is young, but they’re hitting people – and we know that Philadelphia has tons of little wimpy guys who love to COUGH up the rock in big moments – that means you WESTBROOK! I suppose I could also be referring to Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis and Ryan Moats – but why kick a team when they’re up after beating the 40Whiners? Green Bay steps up on Monday Night with a little Spreadus Interruptus. Philly wins 30-20.
And now, for the Separation Anxiety games. Chicago hosts Seattle.
The Bears are a 3.5 point favorite…but, they’re going to lose. Seattle’s defense is as good as the Bears when they need to be. Chicago has the benefit of “contests” with Detroit and Green Bay four times each year. No team in the NFC West is as dysfunctional offensively (Favre’s inconsistency notwithstanding – Who the hell is Greg Jennings?). Seattle has better corners and comparable linebackers. The Bears are better up front – but Ray Rhodes’ schemes are at least as solid as those devised by Lovie Smith and Rivera. On offense, the Bears will be at Seattle’s mercy when they spread the field. We already know that Brian Urlacher needs help from his D-line to shed guards and centers. There will be no such help against Seattle. When the ‘Hawks go 4 wide, Urlacher will be 1-on-1 with a center or guard and Mo Morris. Morris is not the type of guy that can run over or away from Urlacher – but he can lean forward and pick up 3 or 4 yards on second and third down. That’s all the ‘Hawks need. Seattle’s best bet is to spread the field and keep the Bears 3 LB’s off the field. This game plan will work whether Seattle is leading or trailing the game – and the Seahawks would be wise to run a no-huddle – without rushing up to the line to run plays…keep the Bears D-line in their stance, prevent substitutions and only take what they give you…We’ll see how that Rick Manning pick up worked out for the Bears. Seattle 27, Chicago 26. Three touches + 2 FG’s over Two touches + 4 FG’s.
San Diego Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens. Note to ESPN’s John Clayton – “Shawne Merriman is NOT arguably the BEST defender in the NFL.” He’s barely wet behind the ears and as long as guys like Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Jamal Williams, Derrick Brooks and others can still find their way to the parking lot…you need to put all of that craziness on hold. The Chargers are looking good. The Ravens are looking inconsistent. The Chargers are coming off a bye and the Ravens are also coming off a bye (they played Cleveland last week and squeaked out a 1-point win). Both teams have clearly been looking forward to this game. The Chargers are also looking forward to hosting the Steelers next week, and avenging a loss last year. The Ravens have to get it together. It just may be that the Ravens were keeping things very, very close to the vest in the early weeks because they knew some trickeration would be needed against San Diego. The Chargers DBs are still suspect. Terrance Kiel has lost his mind…and Todd Heap is likely to kick off a big celebration in his honor. Will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up? If this is the game that announces the reunion between McNair and Derrick Mason, the Chargers will get electrocuted. If it’s the game where LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates make Ray Lewis look geriatric, the Ravens will be nevermore. I’ll take the home team. Baltimore 16, San Diego 14.
Oh yeah, Cleveland 26, Oakland 17.