Now that the regular refs are back in the game, we can all go back to complaining about how many calls they blow. I guess we should be thankful when progress comes, even when it’s only in small doses sometimes.
Patriots at Bills – Buffalo is always gunning for the Brady Bunch and has pulled their share of upsets over the years, but given how much everyone expected from the Bills this season and how little New England has to show for their considerable efforts thus far, I don’t see a surprise in the offing. Brady’s protection is suspect so they have a shot, but the Bills have to dominate in the running game and C.J. Spiller’s injury means that is considerably less likely to happen.
Texans at Titans – Tennessee’s output of amazing plays last week was a combination of desperation, creativity and huge holes in the Detroit Lions. The Titans have to show more than once it’s capable of sustaining an offensive drive. Houston’s defense is not going to give them much at all, and the potential for more special team explosions (worth two touchdowns last week) will be all but impossible. Hosting a divisional rival is a plus, but the negatives are piling up like electrons in one end of a thundercloud. The next sound you hear will be Matt Schaub playing Zeus.
Bengals at Jaguars – When Cincinnati’s defense finally gets healthy they may develop an ability to stop the run, but since they don’t yet you should watch for a healthy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew in the gaps, around the ends, and getting dump-offs in the flats. Being at home with a steadily improving quarterback is a big positive for Jacksonville. At the moment though, we should have considerable trust in Andy Dalton and his growing stable of Bengal receivers who are either big as monsters, quick as hummingbirds, or steady as the Ohio River. This could be a field goal difference type of game.
Raiders at Broncos – After all the “Peyton Manning this …”and “Darren McFadden that…,” the game still comes down to one that plays by the standard rules of a divisional rivalry which states the home team gets the breaks. Never mind how or who, what matters is just that they get it done. But in case you need further details, since Denver’s defense has taken a big hit this week their offense needs to lend a hand by moving the chains in deliberate measure and not turning the ball over. At least, that’s my best guess.
Cardinals at Dolphins – One thing about professional football is you’ve got to learn to trust the defense. That’s what wins games on the road and it doesn’t matter if the odds are with you or against you. Arizona’s offense is not going to get it done right now, that’s for sure. Miami’s only advantage here is that they are playing at home and West Coasters don’t usually do well, but it’s a 4:00 Sunday start so it will only feel like 1:00 to them. (When you’re on the road, you take every little advantage you’ve got.)
Redskins at Buccaneers – The coaches Shanahan better ditch the triple option right now or Greg Schiano’s bullies will have RGIII on the PUP list by halftime. Washington’s defense just doesn’t seem up to the task of pressuring Josh Freeman enough. If they were not on the road I might give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s still probably a field goal difference though.
Saints at Packers – New Orleans just can’t catch a break. If they did, it’d probably break them. How many of you remember those “Throw a Brick at Howard” nights during the 1970s heyday of Monday Night Football? I suggest Green Bay host a “Whack-A-Mole Named Roger” concession this Sunday for all those Goodell fans in Wisconsin, not to mention those in Lose-iana who sadly might be traveling for this experience.
Giants at Eagles – If Michael Vick wasn’t such a turnover machine and Eli Manning such a calm and steady (not to mention occasional miracle-working) presence, I’d go for the home team pick. This will be this week’s Smash Mouth special and Sunday nights on the gridiron likely won’t get any better, but I’m taking Big Blue and counting on the fact they never remind me of a certain university that constantly pretends it has a team.
Bears at Cowboys – Chicago’s offensive line remains awfully offensive. Still lacking a consistent rushing attack, Jay Cutler will get exposed in the face of a decent Dallas coverage unit and DeMarcus Ware coming fast around the corner. Don’t be surprised when Cutler blows up at his teammates and sulks away to a bench to be near his friends. It’s very lonely over there. Dallas does enough right to make up for the inevitable wrongs they commit and wind up 3-1 by the end of Monday night.