NFL Game Capsules
By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
Arizona (+3) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: Despite sitting at 4-5, the Cardinals have their sights set on the NFC West title after last week's win - their first in nearly a month - brought them to within one game of the division lead. Arizona's defense has been better than expected, allowing just 6.6 YPA and 3.8 YPC this season. Kurt Warner got back on track last week, completing 72.2 percent of his passes and throwing for three touchdowns. Surprisingly, Arizona has the best red zone offense in the NFL, and the passing attack should have their way against a suspect Bengals secondary that's allowed the second most passing scores (20) in the league. However, the Cardinals don't travel very well, posting a 1-4 record on the road this season. They are also the only team in the league without a first quarter touchdown in 2007, so they might find themselves playing from behind early Sunday…Winning in Baltimore doesn't mean what it used to, but last week's effort was still a nice surprise for this Marvin Lewis led squad. Cincinnati has major problems on defense and struggles running the ball, so the team has relied more on Carson Palmer than ever before, and the addition of super-talented Chris Henry to the aerial attack makes them that much tougher to defend. The Bengals are not a playoff team, but they are still competitive when playing at home, so expect them to come out on top during a shootout Sunday.
Predictions: Kurt Warner passes for 275 yards with TDs to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, while Edgerrin James adds 90 total yards sans a score. Carson Palmer counters with 290 passing yards, finding T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry in the end zone. Kenny Watson gains more yards, but Rudi Johnson gets the goal line score, as the home team prevails. Bengals 27-23.
Carolina (+9.5) at Green Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: The Panthers, who have lost six straight home games, may actually look forward to traveling these days. Still, Lambeau Field is hardly a welcome sight, as the Packers are 12-1 over their past 13 games dating back to last season. Carolina has dropped three straight contests and hasn't scored more than one touchdown in any of the losses. Steve Smith, one of the best players in the NFL, has been limited to 10 catches for 94 yards total during those three games and is now dealing with a shin injury. Julius Peppers has been non-existent, tallying 9.5 fewer sacks in 2007 than he had at the same time of the season last year. Mystery surrounds the quarterback position, but neither David Carr nor Vinny Testaverde are good options, so whoever starts is pretty much irrelevant expect for history's sake; if Testaverde gets the nod, he and Brett Favre would form the oldest starting quarterback duo in the history of the league…After being written completely off by many, Favre is in the midst of possibly his greatest season ever. He's already posted six 300-yard passing games this season and is on pace to finish with more than 4,900 yards passing, which would be the second highest total in NFL history. He's not going to break any of his touchdown records, but Favre's current 67.2 completion percentage and 7.8 YPA are both career-bests. The defense is playing extremely well, and if Ryan Grant continues to improve the running game, this team is clearly one of the best the NFC has to offer.
Predictions: Vinny Testaverde gets the call under center, resulting in 170 passing yards, a couple of picks and no touchdowns. Carolina's running game remains stagnant, while Ryan Grant totals 90 yards with a score. Brett Favre adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, as Green Bay continues to roll. Packers 24-6.
Cleveland (-2.5) at Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: Despite sporting the league's 32nd ranked defense, the Browns find themselves in the thick of the playoff race at 5-4. Cleveland has the easiest remaining schedule in the AFC, with the Bills their lone opponent with a winning record. Still, four of those remaining seven games are on the road, including Sunday, when they face a Ravens team that is 3-1 at home this season. The Browns, meanwhile, are just 1-3 on the road and will almost certainly be one-dimensional this week, as Jamal Lewis faces a stout Ravens' run defense allowing a league-best 2.7 YPC. The team can be passed on, however, and Derek Anderson will be looking to bounce back from a game that saw him manage just 3.5 YPA last week…Baltimore has lost three straight, thanks largely in part to poor defense and abysmal quarterback play. Kyle Boller is finally (and mercifully) replacing Steve McNair, who had gotten 5.4 YPA with a 2:11 TD:turnover ratio. Boller is not to be confused with Tom Brady, but he does look like an upgrade nevertheless. At a minimum, the playbook will expand, as Boller's superior arm strength will allow for more attempts downfield. Mark Clayton is finally 100 percent healthy and should be a big beneficiary of the QB switch. He was targeted 12 times last week and should be a matchup nightmare for a secondary that has allowed an NFL-worst 22 touchdowns through the air. With Todd Heap (hamstring) and Demetrius Williams (ankle) unlikely to play, expect Clayton and Derrick Mason to be heavily involved Sunday. After failing to rush for a touchdown in any of his first five games in a Ravens' uniform, Willis McGahee has found paydirt in four straight contests.
Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 260 yards with TDs to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, while Jamal Lewis is bottled up by his ex-teammates. Kyle Boller is serviceable, getting 225 yards passing with a scoring strike to Mark Clayton. Willis McGahee adds 125 yards and a TD run, as Baltimore wins it on a late Matt Stover field goal. Ravens 20-17.
Kansas City (+14.5) at Indianapolis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: Not that long ago, the Chiefs fielded a powerful offense. This week, Brodie Croyle will be making his first NFL start and handing off to a 34-year-old running back who had been out of the league for two years up until a few weeks ago. While Dwight Freeney's (foot) absence helps, Croyle is likely to get a rude welcoming, as the Colts enter with the league's best pass defense (5.5 YPA, 8:13 TD:INT ratio). Moreover, Indy should be hungry to avenge back-to-back losses after starting the season 7-0. Kansas City isn't soft defensively, but the 30th ranked offense led by a quarterback starting for the first time and a backup running back could be in a lot of trouble trying to play catch up to a high-powered Colts team…Injuries are really taking their toll on the defending Super Bowl champs, but they still nearly won last week despite allowing two special teams scores and Peyton Manning throwing six interceptions. You can bet Manning is going to be sharp Sunday, and although Marvin Harrison (knee) is likely to remain sidelined, Dallas Clark's (concussion) probable return will be a welcome sight. Reggie Wayne has been huge during Harrison's absence, averaging 12 targets per game since the star receiver went down. No one in the NFL has seen that many looks per game this season, and Wayne's 18 targets last week led the league. While added coverage comes with being the only game in town, the extra looks more than offset that.
Predictions: Brodie Croyle commits a couple of turnovers, throws for 180 yards and finds Tony Gonzalez for a score. Priest Holmes is held to just 50 yards rushing, while Joseph Addai answers with 150 total yards and a TD. Peyton Manning adds 250 yards with scoring strikes to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, as Indy wins in a rout. Colts 30-13.
Miami (+10) at Philadelphia, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: The Dolphins enter 0-9 and are going to start a rookie at quarterback for the season's final seven games. While getting thrown into the fire against a blitz-happy Jim Johnson led defense isn't ideal, at least John Beck is 26 years old, so he's more prepared both mentally and physically than your typical rookie. Additionally, the Eagles defense has hardly been dominant, allowing 7.5 YPA with a 12:6 TD:INT ratio this season. The Dolphins defense is bad, but the team has run blocked well, tallying the second-best YPC mark in the NFL. Jesse Chatman has really impressed since taking over for an injured Ronnie Brown (knee) and will likely be the focal point of the offense Sunday…The Eagles will be trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season, alternating wins and losses over the last eight games. Donovan McNabb is finally gaining more confidence in his surgically repaired knee, gaining a season-high 37 rushing yards on a season-high seven carries last week. He entered with just 70 rushing yards on the year and ran with the most conviction since the injury. Despite missing a game, Brian Westbrook (knee) has a legitimate shot at becoming just the third back in NFL history to finish with 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. He's on pace to finish with 101 catches and is a top-3 fantasy player right now. Miami's 12 rushing TDs allowed are the second-most in the league, so expect another monster performance from Westbrook this week.
Predictions: John Beck finishes his first career start with 160 passing yards and no TDs, but Jesse Chatman totals 100 yards with a score. Donovan McNabb answers with 270 passing yards and a TD to L.J. Smith, while Brian Westbrook adds 160 combined yards and two TDs, as Philadelphia comes out on top. Eagles 24-16.
New Orleans (pick 'em) at Houston, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: There hasn't been a harder to team to figure out this year than the Saints, who followed up a four-game losing streak with an equally long winning streak, only to lose to a winless Rams team at home last week. While the offense has played well over the past five games, the defense remains a weak spot, ranking 25th in the league. St. Louis may have provided a blue print on how to slow down New Orleans' offense last week, as relentless blitzing held the team to just 18 offensive plays during the first half. Still, Drew Brees and company made some adjustments and put together drives of 74, 96 and 63 yards during a fourth quarter that saw the team put 22 points on the board. Against a Houston defense allowing 4.6 YPC with just 14 sacks on the year, the Saints' offense should be successful Sunday…However, Houston should be able to move the ball with ease also, as New Orleans brings in one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. They allow a league-worst 8.3 YPA and are the NFL's only team allowing opposing quarterbacks to post a rating better than 100. Additionally, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are both set to make healthy a return to the lineup, which will provide a big boost to the offense. Forget Schaub's 5:7 TD:INT ratio; his 67.9 completion percentage and 7.7 YPA are far more indicative of the way he's played this season and portends much better things to come. Johnson was off to a terrific start to the season, tallying 262 receiving yards and three touchdowns before succumbing to a knee injury Week 2. It's an injury that sidelined him for each of the past seven games, and while Johnson says he's still not quite 100 percent, he shouldn't be limited Sunday. Ahman Green continues to battle knee problems, so expect Ron Dayne to be heavily involved in the run game. The Texans have had two weeks to prepare coming off their bye week, and New Orleans is especially vulnerable playing outdoors.
Predictions: Drew Brees passes for 250 yards with scores to Marques Colston and David Patten, while Reggie Bush adds 130 yards combined and finds paydirt. Matt Schaub responds with 240 passing yards and two TDs to Andre Johnson, while Ron Dayne chips in 60 yards and a score, as Houston wins it. Texans 27-24.
Oakland (+5) at Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: Daunte Culpepper is back under center for Oakland, relieving an ineffective Josh McCown. Sunday marks the second time he'll face a previous team this season, but it's doubtful he'll have as much success in Minnesota as he did in Miami. The Vikings have a stout run defense (3.0 YPC), although a beatable secondary. Still, it's unlike Culpepper can take advantage, as his lack of mobility and 6.5 YPA are just begging for the imminent move of JaMarcus Russell taking over the signal calling duties. In 90 career games, Culpepper has 87 fumbles. The team likes to rely on the running game, so it's an especially bad matchup Sunday, as the team's hopes will depend on Culpepper and his turnover-prone ways. One positive the Raiders can take from an otherwise dreadful 2007 season is Shane Lechler, who is re-writing the record books. Already the league's career punting leader, Lechler is getting a ridiculous 44.5-net yard average this season; no punter has ever finished a season with a net average of better than 40 yards in the history of the NFL…The NFL's best rushing offense suffered a huge blow last week, losing rookie phenom Adrian Peterson to a knee injury. It's bad timing too, because the league's leading rusher could have made his record breaking performance (296 rushing yards) from two weeks ago short-lived, as Minnesota faces the NFL's worst rush defense this week. Oakland's allowing 4.8 YPC and has given up 13 scores on the ground, both rank dead last in the league. Still, Chester Taylor has actually played well this season, averaging 5.0 YPC while running behind one of the game's best offensive lines. He should be in store for a huge performance Sunday, meaning the shaky Tarvaris Jackson won't be asked to do much other than manage the game.
Predictions: Daunte Culpepper takes numerous sacks, commits a couple of turnovers and finds Jerry Porter for a score. Justin Fargas is shut down, while Chester Taylor runs for 125 yards and two TDs. Tarvaris Jackson finishes with 160 passing yards without a score, but it's enough with the defense playing well, as Minnesota triumphs. Vikings 20-13.
San Diego (+3) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: The Chargers may have won on the scoreboard against the powerful Colts last week, but it was quite a disconcerting effort on offense, a theme becoming far too common this season. The team totaled just 177 yards on offense and was shut out in the second half - the fifth scoreless half for San Diego this year. Much of the blame falls squarely on Philip Rivers' shoulders, as he's committed 15 turnovers this season - four of which have been returned for touchdowns. His 77.9 QB rating is good for 21st in the league. Facing a Jaguars defense that has picked off more passes (10) than touchdowns allowed (9), it could be another brutal day for Rivers this week. LaDainian Tomlinson is just 22 touchdowns shy of last year's total…Jacksonville lacks long-term upside by continuing to hide their quarterback, but the fact remains the team is just one game behind Indianapolis for the AFC South lead. The offense should get a boost with David Garrard's (ankle) return to the lineup, and while he rarely attempts many passes, he's actually been pretty good on a per play basis this season. Garrard is completing 66.2 percent of his passes, getting 7.7 YPA and has yet to throw an interception in 2007. The Jaguars continue to limit Maurice Jones-Drew's touches, but he's a top-5 running back in football regardless of the fact. Jacksonville returns home after three straight road games (the only team in the NFL asked to do so this season) and should be able to handle a San Diego team that struggles mightily on the road (1-3).
Predictions: Philip Rivers continues his jittery ways, resulting in 180 yards without a touchdown pass. LaDainian Tomlinson contributes 80 yards and a score, while Maurice Jones-Drew finishes with a similar line. David Garrard adds 160 yards passing and a TD to Reggie Williams, as the home team prevails. Jaguars 20-13.
Tampa Bay (-3) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: The Falcons are coming off back-to-back wins, but Atlanta doesn't have a victory against a winning team this season, so the road wary Buccaneers are rightfully favored here. Byron Leftwich may return as starting quarterback this week, but his career numbers suggest he's nothing special. His career 58.6 completion percentage and 6.7 YPA are both subpar. Still, he may be an upgrade over incumbent Joey Harrington, especially since Leftwich can better utilize the team's best offensive weapon, Roddy White, downfield. Whoever starts will be faced with a difficult matchup against a stingy Tampa Bay secondary that has yielded just 6.1 YPA and six TD passes this season…The Bucs are just 1-3 on the road this year, but they should be prepared coming off their bye. After a career resurgence last season in Philadelphia, Jeff Garcia is playing even better this year, completing 65.9 percent of his passes and getting 7.6 YPA while limiting turnovers. The 37-year-old has Tampa Bay sitting atop the NFC South, although it's a tightly contested division, so the Bucs can't overlook the Falcons Sunday.
Predictions: Byron Leftwich gets the start, resulting in 180 passing yards but no TDs. Warrick Dunn runs for 60 yards and a score, while Earnest Graham answers with 90 yards and a TD of his own. Jeff Garcia throws for 225 yards and connects with Joey Galloway for a long score, as Tampa Bay wins in a defensive battle. Buccaneers 17-13.
New York Giants (-2.5) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:: In a battle between two potential playoff teams, both the Giants and Lions enter coming off disappointing losses. Dallas ended New York's six-game winning streak last week, but the fact the Giants' three losses have come against opponents with a combined 16-2 record is comforting. However, Plaxico Burress' ankle injury and Eli Manning's play in general are not. Manning faces a Detroit defense that has created a league-high 28 turnovers this season, so protecting the ball will be key Sunday. Despite the fact the Lions have allowed just 3.7 YPC in 2007, the Giants' game plan may center around Brandon Jacobs, who has been fantastic this year with a 5.2 YPC average. You're more likely to find Jimmy Hoffa's remains than a plausible explanation for why they take this 6-4, 265 LB beast out at the goal line…New York has traveled well this season, posting a 3-1 record on the road, but Detroit is unbeaten at home (4-0) this season. However, only one of their six wins have come against a team with a winning record. Kevin Jones continues to battle soreness in his foot, which partially explains the team's record-breaking minus-18 yard rushing performance last week. The Giants lead the league with 32 sacks, while Jon Kitna has been taken down an NFL-high 37 times this year - seven more than any other QB. Still, Roy Williams presents a matchup problem for a Giants' secondary that has allowed 16 touchdowns through the air this season, as home field is the difference.
Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 260 yards and two TDs, with Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer the recipients. Brandon Jacobs adds 90 yards and a score, while Kevin Jones finishes with a nearly identical line. Jon Kitna gets 280 passing yards with two scoring strikes to Roy Williams, as Detroit pulls off the mild upset. Lions 24-21.
Pittsburgh (-9.5) at New York Jets, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments:: A huge mismatch on paper, at least the Jets enter healthy coming off a bye, and the Steelers have lost to a couple of mediocre teams on the road this season. Moreover, Kellen Clemens gives New York some upside, as they have played most of the season with Chad Pennington at quarterback. Clemens not only has much better arm strength, but he's also more mobile, and with Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery at his disposal, the Jets have the makings of a potentially dangerous aerial attack. However, the Steelers' secondary allows the fewest YPA (5.5) and worst completion percentage (55.7) in the NFL…If GMs gathered to draft from a pool of all NFL players to start a new franchise, Ben Roethlisberger would be a top-3 pick. Already on pace to total 41 touchdowns this season, Roethlisberger gets to face a Jets defense that has allowed 8.2 YPA this season, so expect his stats to get padded even further Sunday. New York also allows the most rushing yards (152.2) per game in the NFL. Hines Ward is averaging more looks in the red zone per game (2.0) than any other receiver in the league this season. One area of concern regarding Pittsburgh is its terrible kick coverage, and Leon Washington is one of the best in the business, so a special teams touchdown wouldn't surprise from the desperate Jets.
Predictions: Kellen Clemens throws for 200 yards with TDs to Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Thomas Jones gains a modest 60 yards but the end zone eludes him, while Willie Parker gains 120 yards with a TD run. Ben Roethlisberger adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Hines Ward and Heath Miller, as the Jets' losing ways continue. Steelers 24-17.
Washington (+10.5) at Dallas, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments:: The Redskins have alternated wins and losses for eight straight games, but that's likely to come to an end Sunday, as the team fell to the Eagles last week and face Dallas, the NFC's best team, this week. Washington's once-feared secondary has been decimated by injuries, losing both Carlos Rogers and Sean Taylor, which isn't great news with the Cowboys' 3rd ranked passing attack next on the docket. Jason Campbell tossed three touchdowns last week, but he continues to be inefficient, failing to get more than 6.3 YPA in any game since Week 5. Clinton Portis led the NFL in touches for the second straight time last week and has been running harder of late. Entering the season, many expected Ladell Betts to cut into Portis' action, but his 204 touches for the year ranks fourth in the NFL. However, he gets a stern test Sunday, pitted against a Cowboys front seven yielding just 3.6 YPC this year…Dallas' offense gets the pub, but make no mistake, this defense is playing well after a slow start to the season. Their secondary is allowing a paltry 6.4 YPA and has intercepted 14 passes - the third most in the league. Tony Romo's 8.8 YPA is second only to Tom Brady, and he's fast becoming one of the five best players in the National Football League. He's the most valuable player in the NFC, and the Cowboys should manhandle a middling Redskins team Sunday.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 180 yards to go along with two INTs and one touchdown pass to Chris Cooley. Clinton Portis struggles to gain even 75 yards and doesn't score, while Marion Barber leads Dallas' rushing attack with 100 yards and a TD. Tony Romo finishes with 280 yards and three touchdowns, with Terrell Owens (twice) and Jason Witten the recipients, as Dallas wins in a blowout. Cowboys 31-13.
St. Louis (-2.5) at San Francisco, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments:: The last time these teams met, the 49ers won to improve to 2-0 on the year. Since then, the team hasn't won a game, failing to score more than 16 points in any of the seven consecutive losses. Alex Smith has had one of the worst seasons a quarterback has ever had in the history of the NFL this year, completing no better than 51.2 percent of his passes and getting 4.4 YPA or fewer in each of the past three contests. An injured shoulder and forearm may have contributed to the dreadfulness, so San Francisco will turn back to Trent Dilfer Sunday. Frank Gore looked healthier last week, and rookie Patrick Willis leads the NFL with 88 tackles. Still, that's where the optimism ends, as the team enters with the last-ranked offense in the NFL. Darrell Jackson has 21 receptions on 53 targets, giving him a 40 percent conversion rate - by far the worst in the league. At least San Francisco can find solace in the fact New England will be taking their likely top-3 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft…Hard to believe a team that won its first game of the season last week is favored by nearly a field goal while on the road just one game later. Still, with the 49ers looking like the NFL's worst team, it's not absurd, especially with Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson appearing to be back to full strength. Over his last two games, Bulger has completed 74 percent of his passes and gotten 8.9 YPA. This week, he faces a 49ers secondary that's fallen apart of late, and Jackson adds a much-needed new dimension to the offense, as the back is dynamic as a pass catcher and bruising as a runner. St. Louis typically doesn't travel well, especially outdoors, but San Francisco is playing some of the worst football you'll ever see right now.
Predictions: Trent Dilfer gets 200 yards passing with a TD to Vernon Davis, who is heavily targeted after complaining about his lack of involvement all week. Frank Gore adds 100 yards and a TD, while Steven Jackson answers with 125 combined yards and a score of his own. Marc Bulger finishes with 240 yards and scoring strikes to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, as the 49ers' demise continues. Rams 24-17.
Chicago (+5.5) at Seattle, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments:: Rex Grossman may have saved Chicago's season with impressive play in relief last week, and he gets another start as a result Sunday. The Bears are actually 3-2 on the road this season as well. Still, this team is in a lot of trouble, with a struggling defense (4.5 YPC, 7.4 YPA), and the league's worst rushing attack. There have been 71 running backs in the NFL this season who have runs that have gone for 17 yards or more; Cedric Benson is not one of them, despite 177 attempts. He had a career-high 31 touches last week against a terrible run defense in Oakland, but that resulted in a 2.6 YPC embarrassing performance. His 3.0 YPC mark for the season is worst among the 22 running backs with at least 100 carries on the year. There isn't a softer player in the league…The Seahawks might be a more interesting team than most give them credit for, and that's especially true when playing at home. Seattle's defense is underrated; they allow just 3.9 YPC on the ground and have ceded just two rushing scores during five home games. They've also yielded just 6.7 YPA and an NFL-low five passing touchdowns this season, revealing a very good secondary. The team doesn't run block as well as in the past with Steve Hutchinson gone and a declining Walter Jones, but the NFL is a passing league anyway. Matt Hasselbeck has thrown multiple touchdowns in six of the past seven contests, and with a healthy Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett added to the mix, this pass-happy offense won't be easy to defend, especially if Maurice Morris continues to player over the decrepit Shaun Alexander. Hackett received 10 looks last week and is the team's best red zone target, giving him the upside of a top-15 fantasy receiver from here on out.
Predictions: Rex Grossman lets everyone remember why he was benched in the first place with an uneven performance, featuring a couple of interceptions with a long score to Bernard Berrian mixed in. Cedric Benson starts losing touches to Adrian Peterson, but the ground game remains stagnant. Maurice Morris gets 80 total yards, while Matt Hasselbeck throws for 250 yards and finds D.J. Hackett and Bobby Engram for scores, as Seattle inches closer to its fourth straight division title. Seahawks 23-13.
New England (-15.5) at Buffalo, Sunday 8:15 p.m.
Comments:: Winners of four straight, the Bills find themselves underdogs by 15.5 points despite playing at home Sunday night. The last time a road team was favored so highly came in 1992, when the 16.5-point favored Bills were upset by the Colts. As crazy as the line may be, it's not unreasonable, as the undefeated Patriots are coming off a bye, and the last thing the opposition wants is Bill Belichick with extra time to prepare. New England is 13-1 over its last 14 meetings with Buffalo, and the Bills will be missing Marshawn Lynch (ankle) Sunday. The defense has really improved of late, but Buffalo's skill position players on offense have downright ugly numbers in their career against the Patriots. In five career games, J.P. Losman has a 1:5 TD:INT ratio when facing New England. In seven career games against them, Lee Evans has 14 catches, 247 yards and zero touchdowns…The Patriots enter with an offense getting 428.7 yards per game and on pace to score 75 more points in a season than any other team has in the history of the game. Playing on a team that's scored 46 touchdowns this season, Laurence Maroney has none of them. Still, his time will come, and his 4.7 YPC mark suggests he's actually playing well. Tom Brady's astronomical 9.0 YPA leads the league, while Wes Welker is first in the NFL with 17 targets inside the red zone. Considering their average margin of victory is 23.1 points, it would still be a mild upset if the Patriots didn't cover the historically high point spread.
Predictions: J.P. Losman struggles, throwing for just 200 yards with no TDs. Anthony Thomas gets the start at running back, but it's Dwayne Wright who's the most impressive Buffalo runner, and he punches in the team's lone score. Laurence Maroney runs for 90 yards and hits paydirt for the first time this season, while Tom Brady throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Ben Watson the recipients, as New England's perfect season continues. Patriots 34-13.
Tennessee (+2) at Denver, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments:: Denver is no longer an impossible place to play, and Tennessee should be the hungrier team coming off a disappointing loss. The Broncos, meanwhile, had an impressive win last week in Kansas City, led by unheralded running back Selvin Young, who could be a top-10 fantasy back from here on out. Travis Henry is almost certainly going to miss Monday night's game with a knee injury, and he'll then almost certainly be suspended, so he's unlikely to see the field again this season. Jay Cutler has gotten an impressive 7.6 YPA this year, but he needs to curtail the turnovers and faces an extremely stingy Titans' secondary Sunday. Tennessee has allowed just 5.8 YPA and has held opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 67.0 QB rating this season…Tennessee's fortunes Monday night may ride on the health of Albert Haynesworth, who may very well be the team's best player. His hamstring is improving, but he's missed practice all week. The team's normally stout run defense was gashed up the middle during his absence last week, so his health is the big story here. LenDale White should have a nice game against a sieve-like Broncos' front seven that allows 4.8 YPC on the year. Vince Young's 4:10 TD:INT ratio is dumbfounding, but Denver's secondary (7.9 YPA) is inviting, and the Titans will rely on their defense and ground game mostly anyway.
Predictions: Jay Cutler throws for 225 yards and a TD to Brandon Marshall, while Selvin Young totals 100 yards with a TD of his own. Vince Young throws for only 160 yards, but he does find Roydell Williams for a score. LenDale White adds 90 yards and a TD run, as Tennessee bounces back with a win on the road. Titans 20-17.
Article first appeared 11/16/07