Six weeks in…everyone has played four games and is at least one-quarter of the way through the season. There have been some surprises: like the New Orleans Saints, the Chicago Bears, the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers. I have to say that I thought the Saints would be very good this year. Of course, I thought they’d be doing it with Donte Stallworth. Drew Brees has been the real deal. While Brees hasn’t put the numbers that Rex Grossman has put up, he’s been the real key to the Saints turnaround. Stallworth, of course, has moved on to the Eagles – but is not likely to play when Philly comes to the Big Easy on Sunday. I believe Stallworth really set the tone for the Eagle wide receivers this year. His deep speed was the most dominant aspect of their offense at the beginning of the season. His recent injury, however, suggests that Donovan McNabb may have simply made up his mind to be THE MAN this year. This should be an interesting game – and it has my attention. I’ll be looking for the Saints to continue their good thing…more on this game and how I think it’ll go down – below.
NFL Lines For Week 6 – NFL Football Line Week Six
NFL Game Dates 10/15 & 10/16, 2006
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|10/15 1:00 ET||Cincinnati||-5||At Tampa Bay||43.5|
|10/15 1:00 ET||At Washington||-10.5||Tennessee||39.5|
|10/15 1:00 ET||At Dallas||-13||Houston||43|
|10/15 1:00 ET||Buffalo||-1||At Detroit||40|
|10/15 1:00 ET||Seattle||-3||At St. Louis||44.5|
|10/15 1:00 ET||At Atlanta||-3||NY Giants||41|
|10/15 1:00 ET||Philadelphia||-3.5||At New Orleans||46.5|
|10/15 1:00 ET||At Baltimore||-3||Carolina||33|
|10/15 4:15 ET||At NY Jets||-2||Miami||36.5|
|10/15 4:15 ET||San Diego||-10||At San Francisco||42.5|
|10/15 4:15 ET||At Pittsburgh||-6.5||Kansas City||36.5|
|10/15 8:15 ET||At Denver||-15||Oakland||36|
Monday Night Football Line
|10/16 8:30 ET||Chicago||-11||At Arizona||39.5|
This week, there are only 13 games on the schedule. For me, none is bigger than the Chiefs visit to Heinz Field. The Chiefs are on a bit of roll. They were able to squeak out a tough win against Arizona. They also beat the 49ers to a pulp. The Steelers, meanwhile, have been struggling with the Chargers, Bengals and Jaguars. Week 6 is early for a must-win game. I thought last week’s game versus the Chargers was critical to the Steelers playoff chances. After all, the Bengals and Ravens have substantial leads over the Steelers (though 2 matchups against Baltimore are still to come). As it stands, with 6 playoff positions available, the Steelers are in deep trouble. The Patriots are in. The Colts are in – unless the wheels fall off. The Bengals are likely to go in. The Broncos and/or Chargers are going this year. That’s five spots. Jacksonville already has the tie-breaker over Pittsburgh – so the Steelers are out if both teams finish 10-6. The same goes for the Chargers – unless some crazy 3-way tie formula kicks in. If the Chiefs win on Sunday, the Steelers would essentially have to run the table to make the playoffs. Sunday, they’ll play without three starters (Porter, Townsend and Simmons) and it won’t be easy to find a rhythm in the passing game against Surtain and Ty Law. If Hines Ward doesn’t catch about 9 balls, they won’t win. I’m guessing that his hamstring is probably much stronger than it was. Steelers 31, Chiefs 17.
I like the Buccaneers to pull the upset of the year and beat the Bengals tomorrow. The Bengals have not demonstrated the capacity to stop the run and Gruden wants Cadillac to get 30 carries. The Bucs can also throw deep to Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton. I believe the Bucs will have tremendous confidence in the ability of their rookie QB to keep them in games. If Cadillac can get 15 carries in the first half, the Bucs D can stay off the field and bear down against Carson and Company in the second half. Can a Buc D that concedes 5.0 yards per carry really hold it down against pile moving Rudi Johnson? Not likely. But, that’s why they play the games. It will be a nice homecoming for Florida State alum and former Buc Dexter Jackson. The former Super Bowl MVP will be looking to make a couple of picks, but this is my out on a limb game of the week. Bucs 26, Bengals 24.
I like the Titans to cover that huge spread against the Foreskins. There is still no telling who the real Washington team is from week to week. 36 points against the Jaguars, 3 points against the Giants. If anyone tells you they know what to expect from this team, they’re lying. I doubt that Joe Gibbs knows what to expect. When a team is this inconsistent, they tend to underperform against lesser teams and perform to a higher level against elite teams. So, I expect the Foreskins to struggle against the Titans. If the Titans gained any confidence from their close loss at Indy, that should carry over into this road game. Washington 21, Tennessee 17.
The Cowboys are home against the Texans. They’re 13 point favorites in this game. The Texans can score points. They enter the game with two wide receivers who can catch, run routes, break tackles and put the ball in the end zone (Andre Johnson & Eric Moulds). They enter the game with the league’s top rated QB in David Carr. They also enter the game with a poor defense that could be picked apart by Bledsoe if he has time to throw. If the Cowboys cover the spread in this game, the Texans are in complete disarray and will need to seriously consider tanking the season to get some real help on defense. This team has already beaten the Dolphins and competed well against Washington. The Texans are coming off a bye-week and will play 6 of their next 8 games on the road. If they’re not focused this week, they’ll never be. I’ll take the Texans to cover…don’t be surprised if they win and Mario Williams has a break out game. Dallas 24, Houston 20.
The Bills are on the road to take on the Lions. The last three games the Bills have played were against NFC North teams. The Bills beat the Vikings and lost to Chicago. This should be a walk for the Bills. They’re better than 40-7 vs. Da Bears. I felt that bobbled punt in the first quarter really changed the course of that game. The Bears were simply too much, but the Bills didn’t quit all day. That counts for something. Coach Dick Jauron knows the Lions personnel very well. Willis McGahee and Roscoe Parrish could really let loose in this one. Bills 30, Lions 13.
The national media has taken the bait. Last week, after the Rams squeaked out a win over the Packers (with Brett Favre fumbling in the RED ZONE), they emerged 4-1 on the season. I knew it wouldn’t be long before folks started talking about how well the Rams were playing; about how the new Martz-free offense was more balanced and better; and about how the Rams were resurgent. Whoa, Nelly! The Rams are far from good right now. The Rams are mediocre at best and have benefitted from one of the softest imaginable schedules. Can the Rams beat the Seahawks at home? Sure they can – because it’s a divisional rivalry; because they’ve had Seattle’s number for years; because Shaun Alexander has been Maddenized; and because the Rams have confidence in their ability to use Stephen Jackson and Torry Holt to get the job done. I don’t like the Rams one iota, but I think they can win this game. Seattle’s defense has not been nearly as solid as I thought they would be. The one thing that works in their favor is that Deion Branch has had another week to learn the offense. I’ll take the Hawks. Seattle 41, St. Louis 28.
The Giants are going to their doom. The Falcons are going to deliver some serious pain. The Giants are not a strong defensive team right now. The Falcons are a zone blocking, quick hitting team that should give the Giants nightmares. I don’t like the Giants on turf – ever. I think they’ll look slow, lumbering and confused for most of the game. The most intriguing matchup of this game – aside from Michael Vick against Osi Umenyora – will be DeAngelo Hall vs. Elijah Manning and Plaxico Burress. I’ll take the Falcons – with the Giants laying an egg on the road. Atlanta 38, New York Football Giants 24.
The Eagles and the Saints. Tough game to pick. I’m going with the Saints. I feel the Saints did an admirable job on Steve Smith in their road game against Carolina. The Eagle receivers are not in his class. Of course, Five (McNabb) is in a class by himself. If Brian Westbrook can’t go in this game, the Eagles lose about 8-10 points off of their expected offensive production. The Eagles are already going in without Donte Stallworth. Let me be the first to officially disrespect the Eagles defense and the multiple/consistent blitzes of Jim Johnson. That approach will yield some huge plays for Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Joe Horn and Marcus Colston. Brees has seen exotic blitz packages for years. He practiced against the Chargers 3-4 and faced the Broncos twice a year. Eagle blitzes are not likely to create a Bledsoe effect here. I like the Saints to keep it going. If the Eagles can’t play coverage and stop McAllister, they may have to play from behind all day. Saints 27, Eagles 14.
Steve Smith returns and the Panthers have won three games in a row. Up next – Baltimore on the road, Cincinnati on the road, Dallas at home. Ouch! Carolina has enough offense to beat the Ravens and enough defense to beat the Ravens. This game could look alot like the Denver game. Conversely, it could look alot like Charger game two weeks ago where the Ravens won at the end of the game. The Panthers have a style of play that travels well, but…they’ve beaten the Bucs, squeaked by the Saints and outscored the lowly Browns. Playing in Baltimore is a different matter all together. Both teams will be up for this game. Jamal Lewis has to break through once this year – doesn’t he? McNair has to make adjustments off the Denver game – doesn’t he? I like McAllister and Rolle to get the job done in the secondary. Baltimore 20, Carolina 16.
The Jets are two point favorites at home against the Dolphins. This is another “Family Tree Game” featuring Eric Mangini and Nick Saban – both of the Bill Belichek tree. The Jets can’t stop the run. The Jets can rush the passer. The Dolphins can’t throw. The Dolphins have Ronnie Brown. Psst! Nick!! Run the ball down their throats. Dolphins 17, Jets 10.
San Diego, off a big win against the Steelers, heads up north for a trap game with the 49ers. I don’t Philip Rivers is the kind of QB that will lose many games like this in his career. I’ve always liked this kid, though I couldn’t stand him last week. I believe he’s the real deal – and he may be the guy that finally allows Marty to loosen this super-tight thong. That’s a big spread to cover. I think the Chargers are just finding their stride. Antonio Gates hasn’t had a breakout game yet. He and Rivers are not putting up the numbers that Brees did – but that will come with time. Rivers is used to throwing the ball 30 times a game. He’s used to winning big games with his arm. With the Chargers, he’ll seldom be asked to do so…but this could be a game where the Chargers exhale a bit and explore more of the playbook. Chargers 45, 49ers, 16.
Broncos – Raiders? By now, you may have noticed a theme. I don’t play any attention to Raider games. Broncos 65, Raiders 0.
Monday, Monday. “I pity the fool.” – Overheard in Los Angeles…Mr. T talking about Matt Leinart walking boldly into a universal ass kicking against the Bears. With Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals probably make this a game for a quarter. Without Larry, the Bears rotate coverages over the top of Anquan Boldin and stack the box against Edgerrin James. The front four gets pressure on Leinart, the LBs don’t miss tackles and the DBs break every pass that is less than perfect. Will the Cardinals feel the Monday night miracle? It’s been year’s since they’ve been on Monday Night Football. After this debacle, it’ll be years before they’re on again. I hope, however, that the nation gets a chance to see Cardinal strong safety Adrian Wilson. Wilson goes 6’3″ 220 and he can do it all. If he played on the Steelers, he’d be the household name that Troy Polamalu has become. Chicago 44, Arizona 17.
And that’s the week that will be…