Now it’s time to move on to the late games for Sunday and the Monday night special. Before the end though, an apology is due for my boo-boo of the week.
Bills at Cardinals - Arizona is a clear favorite given their quality of play thus far in the season and Buffalo’s apparent destiny to remain a disappointment.
Still, the Cardinals’ offensive production is among the poorest in the league because the running game has been decimated by injury and the line provides almost no protection for any passing attack to develop. They win by exceptional defense.
Buffalo however remains mistake-prone with the ball and surprisingly weak on defense, giving up points by the truck load in the last two games.
A poor offense against an equally poor defense is a wash, so what chance do the Bills have to move the ball against Arizona? Not enough to make me take an upset chance on a road team.
Patriots at Seahawks - Here we have one of those marquee match-ups between the league’s number one offense in New England and the number one defense in Seattle. The best defense, at home, in as noisy an arena as there is on the planet is a winning combination.
Seattle’s defense has the speed to disrupt Tom Brady’s timing and the size to handle his preferred package of tight end routes. If the Patriots have success running the ball, the balance edges a bit closer in their favor.
On the other hand, Seattle’s offense has been floundering around quite a bit following a promising start and it may be time to bring Matt Flynn off the bench to see if any kind of consistent passing game can develop.
Finally, Bill Belichick has a 3:1 winning ratio against NFC teams while at New England and he always has some sleight-of-hand maneuver ready for a crucial moment.
This one’s an obvious Game of the Day selection and the choice is to go against the formula and take the visitors in a close one.
Giants at 49ers - Game of the Day candidates have lined up on the West Coast for this weekend, and the only thing keeping this one out of the top spot is the depleted condition of New York’s defensive backfield, which San Francisco will suitably exploit when needed. Never forget Eli Manning is always ripe for a miracle play to pull the rug out from under everyone, so this pick is hardly a lock.
Vikings at Redskins - It won’t take long to find out if Robert Griffin III learned his lesson last week. If not, Jared Allen will have a few not-too-subtle reminders for him. Surely Washington’s home losing streak has got to end sometime soon. Both teams have productive offenses and are good at stopping the run, so which QB has the best passing day? I’ll take RGIII at home.
Packers at Texans - First, my mea culpa. Brian Cushing torn knee ligament will not affect the Atlanta Falcons’ defense one bit since he no longer plays for that team but is on the Houston roster, and was active until last week’s injury. (Sometimes details get lost in pursuit of a good idea, and those Atlanta and Houston uniforms look so much alike now - he says as he rolls his eyes.)
While the Texans’ linebacking corps is diminished, it’s pass rushing front will continue to wreak all sorts of havoc on mediocre offensive lines like Green Bay’s. The Packers are facing desperate times as they cannot afford to fall too far behind by the midseason, but that’s just one of a number of problems they’re going to have to face this year.
Houston’s offense will continue to show the speed and flexibility to take the best pass rush the Packers can throw at them, and look for Arian Foster to have one of his better games.
Broncos at Chargers - Philip Rivers loves the spotlight of Monday nights, winning 70 percent of the time then. Coming off a tough loss to the Saints, San Diego has even more urgency to keep its lead in the division against the charging Broncos.
I just don’t see Denver’s defense making enough plays to keep San Diego from lighting up the board, but picking against both Mannings on the same weekend is probably sheer madness.