NFL Game Capsules
By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
San Diego (pick 'em) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Chargers are about to embark on the longest road trip in team history, with a matchup in Buffalo on Sunday followed by a jaunt to London to face the Saints. San Diego dominated New England last week, but the defense still ranks 28th in the league, and west coast teams often struggle traveling across the country to play in early games. Chris Chambers
(ankle) remains questionable, and if he's unable to go, expect another big game from Vincent Jackson
, who is getting an impressive 19.8 yards-per-catch this season... Coming off a bye, expect the Bills to be well prepared for the Chargers, especially since the week off got Trent Edwards
(concussion) back to health. He's played remarkably well this season (7.8 YPA) and shouldn't have much of a problem moving the ball against San Diego's secondary. Marshawn Lynch
's 3.5 YPC mark is extremely disappointing, and he hasn't topped 60 yards rushing in a game since Week 3. Lee Evans
has gotten a staggering 14.4 YPA on the year, but unfortunately, he's yet to receiver a single target in the red zone.
Predictions: Philip Rivers throws for 275 yards with touchdowns to Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, while LaDainian Tomlinson adds 75 rushing yards and a score. Trent Edwards counters with 230 yards and a scoring strike to Josh Reed, while Marshawn Lynch adds 80 scrimmage yards and finds the end zone. Buffalo also adds a score on special teams, as the home team prevails. Bills 24-21.
New Orleans (+3) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Last week Drew Brees
pitched a perfect game, completing 86.7 percent of his passes for 10.7 YPA and a 3:0 TD:INT ratio. This week, however, he faces a much more difficult challenge, as Carolina's secondary has yielded just 5.7 YPA this season, which is tied for the lowest mark in the league. Brees has been playing at an MVP level, and it looks like he'll also have Marques Colston
(thumb) back at his disposal. Reggie Bush
has been dealing with a swollen knee, so his status is murky, although he has fought through this problem in the past... The Panthers were annihilated 27-3 in Tampa Bay last week, so expect a rebound Sunday. They've yet to lose at home this season, and New Orleans' defense is beatable. Jake Delhomme
has gotten 9.1 YPA during games in Carolina this season, and he should have a big outing this week, especially if Jason David
is asked to cover Steve Smith
. Muhsin Muhammad
(knee) returned to practice and looks good to go, and he's been enjoying a resurgence this season. In an important NFC South matchup, homefield is the difference.
Predictions: Drew Brees throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with Marques Colston and Reggie Bush the recipients. Bush also adds 80 combined yards, while Jonathan Stewart answers with 60 yards on the ground and a score. Jake Delhomme adds 230 yards with scoring strikes to Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad, as Carolina comes out on top. Panthers 24-20.
Minnesota (+3.5) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Vikings have won back-to-back games but could have just as easily lost both, and last week's two-point victory at home against Detroit was anything but impressive. Additionally, a dome team like Minnesota is ill-suited to play in an environment like Soldier Field, and Brad Childress has officially become a major liability as head coach. Adrian Peterson
ran for 224 yards with three touchdowns the last time he faced the Bears, but the Vikings' offensive line just hasn't created many holes recently, and Chicago is allowing just 3.5 YPC on the year... The Bears enter with a 3-3 record, but their three losses have been by a combined eight points, and the defense has been rejuvenated. Matt Forte
's 154 touches lead the NFL, so Chicago will have to be careful not to overwork him moving forward. His matchup this week is unfavorable, but he'll still be a factor because of all his work in the passing game. Kyle Orton
is playing above-average football, and he should find success against Minnesota's secondary, as Devin Hester
and Greg Olsen
are developing into fine options in the passing attack.
Predictions: Gus Frerotte commits a couple of turnovers, throws for 200 yards and finds Visanthe Shiancoe for a score, while Adrian Peterson contributes 60 rushing yards with a short TD run. Matt Forte is shut down, but Kyle Orton throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, with Devin Hester and Greg Olsen the recipients. Hester also returns a punt to the house, as Chicago wins it. Bears 21-17.
Pittsburgh (-10) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Bengals are still winless and will once again be without Carson Palmer
this week. They also face the task of going against a strong Pittsburgh teaM C
oming off its bye. Ryan Fitzpatrick
has been brutal since replacing Palmer at the helm, and now T.J. Houshmandzadeh
(ankle) is hobbled. Chris Perry
has been so bad (2.6 YPC, five fumbles), the team actually considers Cedric Benson
an upgrade. Kenny Watson
also figures to get into the backfield mix, but none are good options against the Steelers' front seven that has allowed an NFL-low 2.8 YPC on the year... Pittsburgh enters rested and in total control of the NFC North with a 4-1 record. The bye was a welcome break for Ben Roethlisberger
, who has been beaten up recently, taking 14 sacks in his last four games. The Bengals have been surprisingly competent on defense, allowing just 6.1 YPA; it's often their offense that gets them into trouble. Still, expect a breakout performance from Santonio Holmes
, who's still searching for his first 100-yard receiving game of the year. Willie Parker
aggravated his knee injury by stepping into a hole at practice this week, but the team doesn't lose all that much by turning to Mewelde Moore
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick takes numerous sacks and throws for just 140 yards but does find Antonio Chatman for a score. The Bengals' running game is unproductive, whereas Mewelde Moore totals 100 yards and hits paydirt. Ben Roethlisberger adds 230 passing yards with scoring strikes to Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, as Pittsburgh wins in Cincinnati for the eighth straight time. Steelers 27-13.
Tennessee (-8.5) at Kansas City, Sunday 1 p.m.
Both teams are coming off a bye, but the similarities end there. The Titans are a perfect 5-0, while the Chiefs have the 29th ranked offense and defense, leading to a 1-4 record. GM C
arl Peterson continued to be difficult in trade talks, so Tony Gonzalez
remains in Kansas City. He'll have Brodie Croyle
throwing to him, who will be making his first start since Week 1. Croyle should have a brutal time dealing with a Tennessee secondary that's allowed 5.7 YPA with a 1:10 TD:INT ratio this season. Larry Johnson
will be inactive for disciplinary reasons, but the Chiefs running game figured to struggle regardless... The Titans have yet to allow more than 17 points in a game this season and face a Chiefs offense that's one of the worst in the league. Still, Tennessee needs to fight off complacency, and Kansas City typically plays competitively in Arrowhead. The last time Kerry Collins
was a full-time starter, he was sacked 39 times over 15 games playing for the Raiders. This season, he's been taken down just once, and since Kansas City has recorded a whopping three sacks on the year, don't expect it to happen Sunday. After facing the Vikings and the Ravens over his last two games before the bye, expect Chris Johnson
to explode this week, as the exciting rookie is making LenDale White
more and more irrelevant.
Predictions: Brodie Croyle struggles, throwing for 170 yards and committing multiple turnovers, although he does find Dwayne Bowe for a touchdown. Kolby Smith gets the start in the backfield, but it results in just 50 total yards. Chris Johnson, meanwhile, goes off for 100 combined yards and a touchdown. Kerry Collins adds 200 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Bo Scaife, as Tennessee remains undefeated. Titans 23-10.
Baltimore (+3) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.
Despite sporting the No. 1 overall ranked defense, Baltimore is riding a three-game losing streak, including a 31-3 drubbing at the hands of the Colts last week. After a solid start to his rookie campaign, Joe Flacco
has a 0:5 TD:INT ratio over his last two games. Miami's secondary is beatable (8.3 YPA), but they can get to the quarterback and defend the run well (3.5 YPC), which is a bad matchup for a run-heavy Baltimore team. The Ravens have lost seven straight games on the road... The Dolphins have been playing well and would have a winning record if not for a last second, heartbreaking loss in Houston last week. Miami has improved in the trenches, as the lines on both sides of the ball have become a strength. Chad Pennington
has been incredibly efficient, completing at least 75 percent of his passes in each of the last three games with an 8.0 YPA mark on the year. Miami has also played extremely well in the red zone, converting 11-of-14 trips inside the 20 for touchdowns, which is the best percentage in the league.
Predictions: Joe Flacco gets 175 yards passing, is picked off twice and finds Derrick Mason in the end zone. Willis McGahee and the Baltimore running game is bottled up, while Ronnie Brown counters with 60 total yards and a touchdown. Chad Pennington adds 190 yards through the air with a scoring strike to Anthony Fasano, as Miami prevails. Dolphins 20-10.
San Francisco (+11) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.
San Francisco has lost three straight games and has allowed at least 30 points in four of their six contests this season. It doesn't get any easier this week, facing a Giants team with the No. 1 ranked offense coming off an embarrassing loss in front of a national audience Monday night. Moreover, the 49ers are 3-15 since 2005 when playing early games on the east coast, by an average score of 28.4 to 13.4. J.T. O'Sullivan
has committed nine turnovers and has been sacked 10 times over the past three games, which doesn't bode well against the Giants' fierce pass rush... You can bet the defending champs will be focused after losing to Cleveland 35-14 last week, although they do have a short week to prepare. Eli Manning
tripled his season INT total when he was picked off three times, but it's not like he's going to revert to his old ways all of a sudden. The 49ers' secondary should help him bounce back, as should the Giants' strong running game. Brandon Jacobs
is a beast, but it's Derrick Ward
who has impressed the most, getting an almost unfathomable 7.4 YPC on the year.
Predictions: J.T. O'Sullivan faces constant pressure, resulting in 225 passing yards, two turnovers and a scoring strike to Arnaz Battle. Frank Gore adds 80 total yards and a touchdown, while Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward combine for 180 rushing yards with two TDs. Eli Manning rebounds with 240 passing yards and two touchdowns, with Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer the recipients, as New York gets back into the win column. Giants 31-17.
Dallas (-7) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Rams pulled off the upset of the year last week, beating the Redskins in Washington. The coaching change may have had something to do with the performance, but fumble recoveries were the biggest reason for the team's first win of the year, as the offense remained punchless. With Orlando Pace
(thigh) iffy for Sunday, things might only get worse, although they do get a Dallas team dealing with plenty of adversity. Through five games, Steven Jackson
has more yards receiving (243) than Torry Holt
(210)... Dallas hasn't looked like an elite team for nearly a month now, and just this past week the team lost Pacman Jones (suspension) and possibly Tony Romo
(pinkie) while also acquiring Roy Williams
via trade. Coaching and discipline have become major problems for Dallas, but they should get back on track against a hapless Rams team this week. It looks like Romo will attempt to play through the injury, although Brad Johnson
is capable of beating St. Louis and would likely commit fewer turnovers (and also produce fewer big plays). Whoever starts under center faces a Rams secondary that's allowed 9.0 YPA and an 8:1 TD:INT ratio, so expect success either way. DeMarcus Ware
has recorded a sack in nine straight games, tying Bruce Smith
and Kevin Greene
for the second-longest streak in NFL history.
Predictions: Marc Bulger throws for 180 yards with a TD to Donnie Avery, while Steven Jackson totals 100 yards and runs for a score. Marion Barber answers with a huge game, rushing for 125 yards and two touchdowns, as Tony Romo suits up and gets 225 passing yards with a TD to Jason Witten, as Dallas wins it. Cowboys 21-17.
Detroit (+9.5) at Houston, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
The Lions played the best defensive game of their season last week, but that resulted in yet another loss, as the team enters 0-5 on the year. Roy Williams
has been traded to the Cowboys, so expect Calvin Johnson
to see a ton of targets, and he should be able to take advantage of a suspect Texans secondary (8.1 YPA) this week. Likewise, both Kevin Smith
and Rudi Johnson
have a tasty matchup, as Houston has allowed 10 rushing scores this season, which is the most in the league. Still, Detroit is a lousy road team and sports the worst defense in football... Houston won for the first time last week, thanks in large part to Matt Schaub
's late game heroics. He still needs to cut down the turnovers, but Schaub has thrown for 686 yards (8.4 YPA) over the past two games while taking just one sack. He should shred a Detroit secondary that's yielded an NFL-high 9.3 YPA and seven pass plays of 40-plus yards on the season. Andre Johnson
, Kevin Walter
and Owen Daniels
form a terrific trio in the passing game, while Steve Slaton
has emerged out of the backfield. Mario Williams
has four sacks over the last two games and should have no problem getting to the quarterback Sunday, as Houston prevails in a high-scoring affair.
Predictions: Dan Orlovsky throws for 190 yards with a touchdown to Calvin Johnson, while Kevin Smith adds 60 total yards and a score. Matt Schaub responds with 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, with Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels the recipients. Steve Slaton also adds 100 yards and a TD, as Houston comes out on top. Texans 31-17.
Indianapolis (-1.5) at Green Bay, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
After shredding a Ravens secondary that had been playing at an extremely high level last week, it appears Peyton Manning
and the Colts passing attack is back. However, the defense remains a problem and the running game ranks last in football, and that was before Joseph Addai
went down with a serious hamstring injury. Green Bay has allowed an NFL-high 5.1 YPC, so Dominic Rhodes
could thrive as a replacement, although Indy's offense tends to slow a bit when playing outdoors. Over their last five quarters, the Colts have a plus-eight turnover margin, but the Packers have intercepted a league-high 11 passes on the year... Green Bay ended a three-game losing streak with a victory in Seattle last week, but the banged up secondary will have its hands full Sunday. Ryan Grant
has been one of the most disappointing players in football this year, but the Colts struggle stopping the run (4.6 YPC), and he's played much better at home (5.3 YPC) than on the road (2.1 YPC). Aaron Rodgers
has thrown seven touchdown passes over the past three weeks and continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises of 2008. Still, he'll get a tough test against a Colts secondary that's recorded a 1:5 TD:INT ratio this season.
Predictions: Peyton Manning throws for 250 yards with scoring strikes to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, while Dominic Rhodes totals 100 yards from scrimmage. Ryan Grant answers with 80 yards and a TD run, while Aaron Rodgers adds 250 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, as Green Bay prevails. Packers 24-23.
New York Jets (-3) at Oakland, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
The Jets have won two games in a row, but for a team that's struggled mightily on the road over the past year, traveling across the country won't be an easy task. Through five games, Brett Favre
has been responsible for a staggering 21 combined touchdowns and turnovers, so if nothing else, he's definitely made things exciting. Actually, he's played well with his new team, despite getting little contribution from the running game. Laveranues Coles
' 12 red-zone targets are second most in football, and the additions of Kris Jenkins
and Calvin Pace
have really improved the Jets' rush defense, which is bad news for a run-heavy offense like Oakland... A coaching change did little to affect the Raiders' fate, as the team was blown out 34-3 on ToM C
able's watch last week. JaMarcus Russell
completed just 37.1 percent of his 35 pass attempts, although in his defense, Oakland's group of wide receivers is an abomination. Darren McFadden
appears to finally be over his turf toe problem, which should result in a fairly even split in carries between him and Justin Fargas
. Nnamdi Asomugha
, the NFL's best cover corner, has seen just six passes thrown his way all season long. If Al Davis' decision to sign DeAngelo Hall
to a huge contract eventually leads to Asomugha bolting for free agency, that might be the owners biggest gaffe yet.
Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 230 yards, gets intercepted once and finds Laveranues Coles and Dustin Keller for scores. Thomas Jones gains just 60 rushing yards, while Oakland's backfield committee produces 110 yards and a TD run. JaMarcus Russell adds 160 passing yards and a scoring strike to Zach Miller, as the home team pulls off the mild upset. Raiders 20-17.
Cleveland (+7.5) at Washington, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Coming off their bye and playing at home in the spotlight, the Browns beat the previously undefeated Giants in impressive fashion, winning 35-14 on Monday night. Joe Thomas
and the rest of the offensive line were dominant against one of the best D-lines in football, keeping Derek Anderson
's jersey clean while giving him plenty of time in the pocket. Anderson will never have a high completion percentage, but he can be extremely productive when he attacks downfield, and hopefully last week was a sign of things to come. Kellen Winslow
has been suffering from one of the most unfortunate "illnesses" in recent memory, and his status remains questionable for this week... Over a four-week stretch, Washington played possibly the best football in the league, but that came to an abrupt end last week when the team lost at home to a previously winless Rams squad. After not committing a single turnover over the first five games, the Redskins committed three in the first half alone last week. Still, they were all lost fumbles, so it was mostly a fluke. Expect the team to bounce back in a big way Sunday, as Washington will be focused and playing a Cleveland team traveling during a short week that will have to fight not to suffer a letdown.
Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 225 yards and two touchdowns, with Braylon Edwards and Donte' Stallworth the recipients. Jamal Lewis adds 75 yards but doesn't score, while Clinton Portis runs for 125 yards and hits paydirt. Jason Campbell adds 220 passing yards with scoring strikes to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, as Washington is victorious. Redskins 27-17.
Seattle (+11) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 8:15 p.m.
The Seahawks are a mess on both sides of the ball, and it's safe to say Mike Holmgren is regretting coming back for one final year. Charlie Frye
was so abysmal (3.6 YPA) while replacing Matt Hasselbeck
(knee, back) last week, the team is now turning to Seneca Wallace
, who's attempted 34 passes since 2006. Still, he can't possibly be worse than Frye, although the Tampa Bay secondary has picked off an NFL-high 11 passes this season... Since Week 1, the Bucs have gone 4-1, including a 27-3 drubbing over the Panthers last week. Jeff Garcia
is settling in at quarterback, but the team usually relies on its defense and rushing attack to win games. Tampa Bay's front seven has allowed just 3.4 YPC, and they are the only team in the NFL yet to allow a rushing score. With three teams in the NFC North sitting at 4-2 and another at 3-3, it's one of the most competitive divisions in football, so the Bucs can ill afford to take Seattle lightly.
Predictions: Seneca Wallace throws for 150 yards and finds Bobby Engram for a touchdown, but the running game is largely bottled up. Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham each total 75 yards with touchdown runs, while Jeff Garcia adds 200 passing yards and a scoring strike to Antonio Bryant, as Tampa Bay wins its fifth game in six tries. Buccaneers 21-13.
Denver (+3) at New England, Monday 8:30 p.m.
After averaging 38 points over the season's first three games, the Broncos haven't scored 20 points in any of their last three games, two of which have been losses. The team is hoping to get Eddie Royal
(ankle) and Tony Scheffler
(groin) back as reinforcements, and it's not like the Patriots have played particularly well defensively this season. Michael Pittman
is the team's current feature back, at least until Ryan Torain
(elbow) returns. The offense should be fine, but the defense has lots of problems, as they've allowed an NFL-high 5.1 YPC on the year... New England's 12-game road win streak (second longest in NFL history) ended last week when the team was blown out in San Diego. Matt Cassel
has gotten just 6.4 YPA with a 3:4 TD:INT ratio since taking over quarterback duties, frequently relying on routes underneath while eschewing attempts downfield despite that being the main strength of the team's best offensive weapon (Randy Moss
). Still, Denver's secondary has played poorly this season, giving up 7.8 YPA with a 9:2 TD:INT ratio, so Cassel and the New England passing attack should show improvement.
Predictions: Jay Cutler throws for 250 yards with scoring strikes to Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, while Michael Pittman adds 80 rushing yards. Sammy Morris gets the most carries in New England's backfield, resulting in 60 yards and a TD run. Matt Cassel adds 190 passing yards and two touchdowns, with Randy Moss and Kevin Faulk the recipients, as New England wins it. Patriots 24-20.
Article first appeared 10/17/08