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Monday, October 16 2017

NFL Predictions 2008: Week 10

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Maybe I should whine about not doing well more often. I had another good week at 10-4 straight up (80-50 overall) and rebounded from early failures to go 9-5 against the spread (70-53-7 overall). Most importantly, to me at least, all is right with the world after I went 12-2 on the over/under (67-57-6 overall). I’m a numbers guy so if I fail there it hurts. A quick note some of my overall season totals have been off the past few weeks because I failed to properly add some ties in the spread and over/under. Believe me I’m happy to be +27 against Vegas, but have no illusions about being impervious to a -10 this week. Gambling is for suckers, only the casinos win.

Denver (4-4) @ Cleveland (3-5): pick CLE -3/over 45.5

 

Will John Elway and Bernie Kosar be honorary captains for this one? They should be. These teams met three times for a trip to the Super Bowl in the late 80’s and the first two are among the best playoff games in history. When you hear “The Drive” everyone knows what you’re talking about. This one might be memorable for an entirely different reason, but still centered on the quarterback position. In a season already marked by one draft day slider Aaron Rodgers getting his shot in Green Bay, now another will start for Cleveland. I agree with the move because it is time to see what Brady Quinn can do. If you subscribe to NFL Network you’ll get a chance to see it live. I don’t believe Derek Anderson was awful though. He simply went up against a string of top defenses including Baltimore (twice) Pittsburgh, Washington and the New York Giants. Let’s see how would you like to play 5 out of your 8 games against the defenses ranked #1, #2, #3 and #4 in the NFL in total yards allowed? A sixth came against #9 Dallas who was going well in week 1.

 

Quinn is handed the football against the fourth worst team in total defense if you’re wondering. It’s also a home game with fans supporting him. Denver allows the sixth most passing yards, highest completion percentage (70.6%) eighth most touchdowns (12) and has the second fewest interceptions (3). DeAngelo Hall had 3 picks this season and was cut by the Raiders. Maybe the Broncos could use him. If Quinn can’t get it done early I would give him a quick hook although I’m not certain Crennel agrees. He should get help from the running game as well. Only one team allows a higher average per carry than the Broncos (5.1) who have given up the seventh most rushing touchdowns (10). My issue with the weakness of their defense is whether or not Cleveland has the offense to cash in. Jamal Lewis is back to plodding along with a low average (3.6) but how much of that is the strong defenses he has faced? Winslow is unpredictable and while Edwards has been solid the past four weeks with roughly 90 yards per game he has only caught 15 total passes in that stretch.

 

The flip side of this coin is Cleveland’s defense, especially against the run. They have the fifth most yards allowed per game (148.0) and fifth highest average rush (4.7). Denver hasn’t run a lot this season. In fact they have the fifth fewest rushes per game (23.9) but when they do it’s effective with the eighth best average (4.4). Against the pass Cleveland is across the board in the middle of the pack other than interceptions (9) where they are a solid seventh, and in the other direction sacks (13) where they have the sixth lowest total. Brandon Marshall is perhaps miffed at being ripped by Joey Porter and will step up his game. Eddie Royal is approaching the much talked about “rookie wall” but he has been fantastic this season. Cutler hurt the team with 3 interceptions last week despite throwing for over 230 yards (307) for the first time since September 28. He has a touchdown pass in nine straight games dating back to last season. The Browns have already lost twice at home, but against the top two defenses in the NFL. The Broncos have been embarrassed twice on the road, losing to otherwise 0-7 Kansas City by two touchdowns and 41-7 in New England. They don’t travel well, and I can’t ignore it. If this was at Invesco the result would be different and while this pick makes me uneasy the Broncos can’t play defense right now: Cleveland 27, Denver 23

 

Tennessee (8-0) @ Chicago (5-3): pick TEN -3/under 39.5

 

Just one season after New England made history with the first 16-0 regular season I don’t think anyone believes the Titans have a shot at repeating that feat. Then only question is when their quest for perfection ends and the 1972 Dolphins can celebrate. The Bears pose an interesting threat, but aren’t firing on all cylinders. Starting quarterback Kyle Orton probably will not play and his loss is significant. A lot of people ripped the team for not seeking a better signal caller to lead them into the future. Quietly they signed this week’s starter Rex Grossman to a one year deal and wound up with Orton. His first half translates to over 3,500 yards passing with 20 touchdowns against 14 turnovers. Not bad for a team with a capable defense and running game.

 

Without Orton it’s up to Grossman who has more turnovers (44) than touchdown passes (32) in 34 career appearances. The Titans lead the NFL with 13 interceptions. They have the #1 scoring defense (12.9 points per game) and only the Colts have allowed fewer touchdown passes (4). Grossman will struggle, and while Kerry Collins is directing the third worst pass offense in yards per game (168.3) with an NFL low 4 touchdown passes the more important stats are just 5 interceptions, fourth best in the NFL, and by far the lowest sacks allowed with 4. Tennessee thrives on not making mistakes. They might be tempted to open the playbook against the Bears who allow the third most passing yards per game (247.8) but 12 interceptions should deter them. Teams head to the air because they can’t run on this defense.

 

Now we’re down to the meat of this game. Who can run the ball? The Titans have better rushers with rookie Chris Johnson and touchdown maker LenDale White who hit the midway point of the season with a combined 1,119 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Chicago allows just 3.5 yards per carry, fifth best in the NFL. Tennessee’s run defense isn’t far behind and their 3.8 average is exactly what the Bears average offensively. Their rookie Matt Forte has been solid, but is more of a grinder than a home run threat. He hasn’t had a run over 20 yards since week 1, and last week’s 126 yards rushing were his first trip past 100 since the opener. This is another battle waiting to happen. Grossman still thinks he can win games while Collins knows how not to lose games. I think that’s the difference: Tennessee 16, Chicago 12

 

Jacksonville (3-5) @ Detroit (0-8): pick JAX -6/under 45

 

At the break a lot of people are wondering what happened to the Jaguars. It is simple actually. The offensive line has been decimated by injuries, especially at the guard position. Taylor and “MJD” have combined for 641 yards rushing which puts them on pace to finish with 65% of their 2007 season total. Last year they were #2 in yards per game, but have fallen to the middle of the pack losing 39.4 yards per game. It could be worse and they need only look at the Lions who are really down. Detroit is dead last in total defense (408.9 yards per game) and points allowed (29.9). The run offense and defense is second to last in yards per game, which explains the winless record. Actually they have been on the brink of recording their first victory for weeks now. The past four losses have come by 2, 7, 8 and 4 points. Unfortunately the momentum was the product of having Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. He’s out and the starting job now might fall to Daunte Culpepper who was just recently signed off the street.

 

Can Culpepper or possibly second year player Drew Stanton, who has never thrown a pass in the regular season, do anything against a team desperate to get back into the wild card hunt? I seriously doubt it, even if the Jaguars have allowed the second most touchdown passes (14) in the NFL and the fourth fewest sacks. The Lions have to approach this game intent on pounding the football. Jacksonville gives up a healthy 4.5 yards per carry. Rookie Kevin Smith and veteran Rudi Johnson aren’t exactly on fire, but that’s their best shot. On the flip side Jacksonville should get well in the running game against a defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry. David Garrard should have success passing the football considering the Lions have an NFL low 2 interceptions, the fifth most touchdown passes (13) allowed and the fourth highest opposing quarterback completion percentage (67.2). For one week the Jags might look like the dominant team everyone expected last season. They have lost two tight games on the road, but won’t be in that situation here: Jacksonville 27, Detroit 10

 

Baltimore (5-3) @ Houston (3-5): pick BAL +2/under 42.5

 

These teams have seen their share of streaks this season. After starting 2-0 behind rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens lost three in a row and have now won three in a row. The Texans started 0-4, but won three straight before losing last week. Another similarity is bad news on the injury front. Baltimore has lost their #1 cornerback Chris McAllister for the season while Houston is without starting quarterback Matt Schaub and linebacker Zac Diles, their leading tackler. The difference is how each team will respond. The Ravens are outstanding on defense, ranking second in total yards, first in rushing yards and fourth in passing yards allowed per game. Samari Rolle returns to the lineup and Fabian Washington is a capable player. Andre Johnson will certainly do some damage, but it’s not a game changing situation.

 

Sage Rosenfels is another story. He has looked good at times since joining the team in 2006. I think everyone remembers the disaster of his turnover laden fourth quarter against Indianapolis though. In 15 appearances he has 2,419 yards passing with 21 touchdowns against 20 turnovers. His strength is accuracy (65%) but his issue will be making it work when he has to throw the ball 30-35 times. He is 1-4 over the past two seasons when he attempts 29+ passes. Rookie Steve Slaton has been a savior, but he’s not going to do much against a defense allowing an NFL low 2.8 yards per carry. Baltimore has given up an NFL low 1 touchdown rushing and a ridiculously low 17 first downs via the run. By contrast the next best team is Pittsburgh at 30.

 

If Houston wants to stay in the game they have to do it on defense, which brings us back to losing Diles. Depending on health it will be McGahee, McClain or Rice running the football for Baltimore. Whoever it is will have success against a defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry. The Texans haven’t stood out in pass defense and Flacco seems to be gaining confidence with every snap. He might be on pace for under 3,000 yards passing and 10 touchdowns, but he has won games by protecting the football. It is no coincidence he has 0 turnovers in this three game winning streak, and they are now 4-0 when he doesn’t turn it over. Other than a blowout at Indianapolis the road hasn’t seemed to bother him. Speaking of the Colts, Houston would be 4-0 at home if not for imploding against them. I’ll take the better defense very time regardless of venue, especially when a new starting quarterback has no running game to lean on: Baltimore 17, Houston 13

 

Buffalo (5-3) @ New England (5-3): pick BUF +4.5/under 43

 

The AFC East is the pro equivalent of the ACC, everyone is in it and no team has stepped up. The Bills were taking charge at 4-0 before losing three of their last four games including the first two in division play. The Pats are the champs until proven otherwise, but have already lost twice by three touchdowns this season. They are also trying to find healthy bodies to play running back and cornerback. However, those positions seem to have been a problem spot at several different times during this decade of dominance. Perhaps the difference now is that without safety Rodney Harrison the secondary is weak and minus quarterback Tom Brady the offense is limited.

 

It is a testament to their offensive line that New England averages 4.3 yards per carry running the ball. Even with Marshawn Lynch Buffalo has the third lowest average (3.6). The Bills have been a little stronger in run defense and given the personnel situation I would call this a draw. Each team has a young quarterback. Second year man Trent Edwards leads Buffalo and Matt Cassel of course has taken over for New England since Brady’s week 1 injury. The results have been fairly similar in completion percentage, touchdowns and interceptions although Buffalo leads 245-208 in passing yards per game. Likewise the pass defense numbers are fairly similar although the Pats give up more touchdown passes (13-7) and have more interceptions (8-5). The Bills are down two Ohio State Buckeyes in the secondary with Whitner (safety) and Youboty (cornerback) out. This should be a typical low scoring slugfest in the AFC East. The Pats are down, but this is still their division. Buffalo lost their last two road games and are showing signs of mediocrity after the quick start. They are close, but not there quite yet: New England 19, Buffalo 16 (OT)  

 

New Orleans (4-4) @ Atlanta (5-3): pick NO +1.5/over 47.5

 

Remember when the Saints were in the NFC West? They probably wish they were back considering they are sitting in the NFC South cellar despite a .500 record. The Falcons are already an improvement over last year’s 4-12 disaster. This is where teams start to separate and one stat is hard to overlook in this division. The four teams are a combined 16-1 at home. New Orleans has the only loss when Minnesota beat them on MNF in a very strange game. Adding to the advantage is the Saints coming back from London two weeks ago. They have had time to rest, but is their defense up to the challenge? Already they have given up 29+ points five times. Atlanta’s offense behind rookie Matt Ryan has been fairly inconsistent in the scoring department and carried by their top ranked running game.

 

New Orleans has the top ranked total offense despite rushing for just 88.8 yards per game because Drew Brees is on pace for over 5,000 yards passing and might challenge the single season record. The Falcons have been pretty good defending the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 58% of their passes. Their weakness is the run where they allow 4.7 yards per carry, fifth most in the NFL. Deuce McAllister hasn’t officially been suspended and might find some running room in what has been a trying season for him. The other side of that is Michael Turner who should get loose against a New Orleans defense allowing 4.3 yards per carry. Ryan faces a defense allowing a low completion percentage (56.6) but plenty of yards (237.3) and touchdowns (12).

 

This is a tough game to call. The home field advantage is big. Atlanta being able to run the ball is also big. In a pinch it’s hard to bet against Brees facing off with a rookie. He has six games with 320+ yards passing and the team lost both games he didn’t reach that total (216, 231). It’s a coin flip and without a dominant defense to fall back on I’ll choose the dominant quarterback over the dominant running game. The Falcons will try to win by holding the football, but when Brees has it he’ll do enough: New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23

 

Seattle (2-6) @ Miami (4-4): pick MIA -8/under 44

 

It’s a bit shocking to see these team’s respective fortunes change so dramatically this season. The Seahawks owned the NFC West this decade yet even with Arizona far from dominant appear to have no chance of retaining their title. Losing this game will put them realistically out of reach and long road trips are not exactly their strong suit this season. Road games against the Bills, Giants and Bucs have produced losses by a cumulative 100-26. The Dolphins have somehow turned their 1-15 season into a playoff campaign. They are still in last place in the competitive AFC East, but are 2-1 against division foes and one game from the top.

 

The Dolphins have done it with defense. They allow just 3.5 yards per rush, fifth lowest in the NFL. The Seahawks have only been kept alive this season with their running game and this presents a big problem. Without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and thanks to numerous injuries to wide receivers Seattle is dead last in passing offense. Even the Raiders behind wildly inconsistent JaMarcus Russell and the Titans who never throw the football are ranked ahead of them. Seneca Wallace is an okay quarterback and oft-injured Deion Branch might return at receiver. It doesn’t matter. I can’t see this offense doing much.

 

When Miami has the ball they face a pretty good Seattle run defense giving up 3.8 yards per rush, but the pass defense has struggled. Only San Diego allows more yards per game through the air (258.0) and only Detroit has fewer interceptions (3). Seattle has given up 13 touchdown passes and opposing quarterbacks complete 66.7% of their passes. If anything Chad Pennington is an accurate passer. He has the Dolphins sixth in passing offense (259.6) despite being led in receiving by Greg Camarillo. You’re not alone I’m not sure who he is either. I like their creativity on offense with the much talked about Wildcat formation and as strange as it sounds they are a far superior team until proven otherwise. I see their defense dominating and the offense keeping up their current momentum: Miami 27, Seattle 12

 

Green Bay (4-4) @ Minnesota (4-4): pick MIN -1/under 48

 

Nothing can top the hype of their season opening game. Everyone wanted to watch MNF and see how Aaron Rodgers would respond to taking over for Brett Favre. He responded by completing 18/22 passes for 178 yards in Green Bay’s 24-19 win. The yardage total was identical for then starter Tarvaris Jackson of the Vikings, but he completed only 16/35 passes. Adrian Peterson had 103 yards rushing and Ryan Grant was close behind (92). Nearly half of their combined totals came on two runs (91) though. This is also a different Minnesota team behind Gus Frerotte. At 37 years old he has brought their passing game to life and other than his 4 interception game at Chicago has mostly protected the football while sporting a 4-2 record.

 

Rodgers might not like being compared to Favre, but for better or worse it will continue to happen. Until the past few seasons Favre struggled in domes. Rodgers had 328 yards passing and 3 touchdowns earlier this season at Detroit and the California native hopes to have another solid outing indoors. The Vikings have performed well in pass defense despite an onslaught of passes being thrown at them because their run defense (3.0 yards per carry) is so stingy. The Packers have gotten Grant going in the past four games averaging 91 yards rushing on 25.5 carries, but he’s not going to dominate this defense. Pat and Kevin Williams are in the lineup even with a possible suspension hanging over their head. Star free agent signing Jared Allen won’t be around to harass Rodgers though. He is out with a shoulder injury.

 

Here’s the big stat. Green Bay allows 4.9 yards per carry, third most in the NFL. Adrian Peterson has three straight games with over 110 yards rushing. We have seen him take over games and it looks like he could do it here. The Packers are fifth in pass defense with 183.9 yards per game and lead the NFL with 13 interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks complete an NFL low 51.3% of their passes against them. Will it matter? I think Frerotte is one of many wise older signal callers. He knows better than to force throws. I also believe the visitors will be tired and beaten up following their trip to Tennessee last week. It adds up to a thrilling finish when the Packers drive deep only to fall short: Minnesota 24, Green Bay 20

 

St. Louis (2-6) @ NY Jets (5-3): pick NYJ -7/under 47

 

With apologies to the fans of these teams I would not want to suffer through this one. The Rams showed signs of life winning two games and hanging tough against the Patriots, but fell right back down last week. The 34-13 loss to Arizona was their fifth setback by 17+ points this season. The Jets are tied for the AFC East lead having won four of their past five games. An overtime loss at sputtering Oakland was the only blemish. St. Louis will be without leading rusher Steven Jackson in this one and even with him has the third worst total offense at 263 yards per game. They are also the third worst defense at 401.8 yards allowed. They are also in the bottom six for rushing/passing offense/defense and scoring offense/defense. In other words their record is no fluke.

 

Favre’s comeback has produced similar numbers to what he posted the last few seasons in Green Bay. He is on pace for 3,624 yards passing which is slightly down, but 30 touchdown passes would be his highest total since 2004. The turnover department has been a problem with 14. He had 18 and 23 total the past two seasons. If it’s possible to teach a graying quarterback new tricks he needs to knock off the silly turnovers. In this one the defense is going to carry him. New York is fourth in the NFL allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The Rams are looking at Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado running the ball. Good luck with that. Bulger might do some damage passing, but with the defense waiting on it I would expect some interceptions. The Jets are also third in the NFL with 29 sacks and the Rams have taken 26. Thomas Jones should run right at the St. Louis defense giving up 4.9 yards per carry. I wound up with egg on my face when the Rams came up big at nearby Washington. This time they get bombed: NY Jets 27, St. Louis 13

 

Carolina (6-2) @ Oakland (2-6): pick CAR -7.5/under 38

 

If the Raiders thought last week was tough, here comes a better NFC South opponent. Atlanta piled up a 30-3 advantage in first downs during an embarrassing 24-0 loss. One thing they appear to be doing is cleaning house. Sometimes taking a step back is the best way to move forward. It might seem crazy to have released starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall, but he wasn’t adjusting to their defensive scheme. Signing him was a mistake and instead of letting him continue collecting huge sums of cash they decided to see what the players behind him can do. It’s not likely to be a pretty sight in the short term. The Panthers bring Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad with their combined 1,120 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Never mind that Carolina prefers winning by running the football. This week it might not happen because Jonathan Stewart is iffy due to injury. DeAngelo Williams is a capable running back, but has never had more than 21 carries in a game.

 

For all their strengths Carolina has not performed well on the road. They needed a late touchdown win at San Diego, lost at Minnesota by 10 and were blown away 27-3 at Tampa Bay. Oakland simply can’t score. Last week was their second game without a touchdown and since taking a 15-0 halftime lead over San Diego this team has scored only 32 points in their past 4 ½ games. Their running game sometimes can keep them going, but with rookie Darren McFadden out and quarterback JaMarcus Russell looking lost their season is again slipping towards another high draft pick. Delhomme is in line for a big day passing anywhere Asomugha isn’t camped out. It will be more than enough even if the defense does put up a fight: Carolina 20, Oakland 3

 

Indianapolis (4-4) @ Pittsburgh (6-2): pick PIT -3/under 40

 

The last time these AFC powers hooked up Jerome Bettis almost ended his career with an embarrassing fumble to lose a playoff game. Instead the Steelers avoided blowing a big lead thanks to a missed field goal and went on to win Super Boxl XL. The Colts won the next Super Bowl. Now both teams are just trying to survive injuries. At quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s status is unknown and Peyton Manning despite being on pace for another 4,000+ yards passing has struggled at times coming off knee surgery. Both teams have seen multiple running backs hurt as well. The Colts got their starter Addai back last week although he was ineffective. The Steelers had Willie Parker in the lineup only to lose him again.

 

Here’s what we know for sure. Indianapolis is not going to run on this defense. They average an NFL low 70.1 yards per game, the exact total Pittsburgh allows (third best). Three yards a pop is the best the Colts can hope for. It will be all on Manning and plenty of targets in the passing game. Long time star Marvin Harrison is suddenly the fourth option with 27 receptions for 320 yards. The Steelers counter with an NFL high 32 sacks, but the Colts have given up only 9 on the season. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in pass defense giving up 164 yards per game. It will be tough for Indy to move the football or score on a team allowing just 14.5 points on average. Indy also has a good pass defense not far behind in yardage (181.0) and an NFL low 2 touchdown passes given up. It’s deceiving though because quarterbacks complete 68.5% of their passes against them, second highest in the NFL, and only three teams have faced fewer passes.

 

If Byron Leftwich is the quarterback he has plenty of experience against the Colts from his days playing for Jacksonville having met them six times with a 2-4 record. It’s conceivable Indianapolis plays some inspired defense against a backup quarterback/running back combination and Manning does just enough on offense to pull out another ugly win. After all, they’ve already won two games by 18-15 scores this season. However, on the road they have either been lucky with comebacks (wins at Houston/Minnesota) or been handled comfortably (losses at Green Bay/Tennessee). The Steelers don’t mess around at home, even if Big Ben isn’t able to go: Pittsburgh 16, Indianapolis 12

 

Kansas City (1-7) @ San Diego (3-5): pick KC -14/over 46.5

 

The AFC West is a mess with two of the NFL’s worst teams at the bottom, and one of the NFL’s worst defenses leading the way. Stuck in the middle are the Chargers who were expected by many to make a Super Bowl run. Instead a defense that lost pass rushing leader Shawne Merriman has fallen apart. They have given up 50 more yards per game this season compared to 2007 and dropped from #5 to #23 in scoring defense. Their miseries pale in comparison to the Chiefs. Kansas City’s average ledger in total yards is 407-282 in favor of their opponents. They rank in the bottom five for scoring defense and offense. Teams run for a ridiculous 182.4 yards per game against them. Never mind that their best player, running back Larry Johnson, has been out for non-football issues and some guy named Tyler Thigpen is starting at quarterback.

 

One positive for the Chiefs is their play the past two weeks. They lost a close game to the Jets on the road and saw a big lead slip away against the Bucs. Their defense has now allowed 28+ points in five of their past six games. The Chargers have been somewhat inconsistent on offense, but must be relieved to be home again. They played four of their last five games on the road including two weeks ago in London. On this field they have scored 24, 48 and 30 points. Across the pond Tomlinson got his season going with 170 total yards on 24 touches. He should have another big game against a team allowing an NFL high 5.4 yards per rush. His fantasy owners can’t be happy to see him without a rushing touchdown in four straight. Speaking of FFL, with LJ slated to return next week some owners are starting rookie Jamaal Charles after he ran for 106 yards last week. Is it just me or do all 32 teams have a rookie running back? It sure seems that way.

 

I am looking for San Diego to make a serious run down the stretch. Four of their next five are at home, and including this one they have three against the Chiefs/Raiders. The finale against Denver is looking like it will be for the AFC West title and nine wins might be enough. They should overwhelm the Chiefs here. Kansas City has been hot and cold on the road. They have been a tough opponent for the Chargers in this stadium, but without Larry Johnson it shouldn’t be close: San Diego 34, Kansas City 14

 

NY Giants (7-1) @ Philadelphia (5-3): pick NYG +3/under 45

 

Even if most analysts seem to have put New York back in the Super Bowl already, despite their lofty record the NFC East isn’t even firmly in their grasp. The Eagles still control their own destiny because the teams have another meeting left in a few weeks. Let’s dig right into it. A big factor will be protecting the quarterback. The Giants are second in the NFL with 30 sacks while the Eagles are fourth (27). New York’s slight advantage is extended because they have allowed just 10, fifth best, while Philly has given up 13. Both pass defenses have been very effective. The better line play will go a long way towards determining the winner as is the case in a lot of games. The Giants still lead the NFL with 5.2 yards rushing per carry, but face a defense allowing just 3.5.

 

They actually have 6 common opponents. Both teams have beaten St. Louis, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. However, New York beat Washington and Dallas and Philadelphia lost. The Giants play on the road like they’re at home. Can you tell this is a tough game to call? Brian Westbrook always gives the Eagles a chance when he’s healthy and if the past two weeks are any indication he will go. He has totaled 54 touches for 305 yards in a pair of wins. They’re 7-3 against the Giants when he plays and 0-3 when he doesn’t. The smell in the air is an upset. McNabb is up to his old tricks and the G-Men are due for another sluggish outing. They have already lost once on national television: Philadelphia 17, NY Giants 15

 

San Francisco (2-6) @ Arizona (5-3): pick AZ -9/under 49

 

When this was put on the schedule for Monday Night Football I think the expectation was that these meetings have produced some wild, exciting results. It certainly wasn’t the case in the season opener when the Cardinals won 23-13. Neither team reached 300 total yards. Kurt Warner had just 197 yards passing, his second lowest total of the season. He also threw only 1 touchdown pass and in every game since has at least 2. Thus far he is playing like it is 1999-2001. He is on pace for 4,862 yards with 32 touchdowns. San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz wishes he had his old quarterback to work with I’m sure. Instead Shaun Hill steps into the starting lineup because J.T. O’Sullivan was on pace for 34 turnovers and 64 sacks. Hill has completed 67.6% of his passes over four games. His two starts late last year both produced victories, but the knock was that it came against the listless Bengals and a Bucs team resting for the playoffs.

 

This is turning into a special season for the Cardinals. They are looking down on three teams sitting on 2-6 records and after this week is in the books could easily have a 4 game lead. Their home record is 3-0 with wins over Miami, Buffalo and Dallas who are all at least 4-4. San Francisco’s defense has done a nice job stopping the run, but (stop meif you’ve heard this before) the Cardinals have a rookie running back ready to roll. Tim Hightower had been limited to touchdown duty until last week when he rambled for 109 yards at St. Louis. The 49er defense is also pretty good against the pass. Can they really stop Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston though? Arizona’s defense looked terrible at the Jets and to a lesser extent at the Panthers. They have also been surprisingly good at other times and rank #12 in total yards allowed. I hope for the sake of the viewers this turns into an exciting game when the rivalry kicks in. The reality is that pants dropping coach aside the 49ers are still a season away from competing: Arizona 30, San Francisco 14

 

 

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