NFL Game Capsules
By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
New York Jets (+3.5) at New England, Thursday 5:15 p.m.
The Jets are 5-1 over their last six games, and none were easier than last week’s 47-3 drubbing versus the Rams. One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround has been the defensive line, which has played fantastic football. The Jets are allowing just 3.2 YPC, and their 31 sacks are the second most in the NFL. Kris Jenkins
looks like a more important offseason acquisition than Brett Favre
, who has struggled at times. Favre has padded his stats against weak competition, but he has a 4:8 TD:INT ratio over his last five games, and his 7.0 YPA mark is average. After scoring just one touchdown last season, Thomas Jones
has reached paydirt eight times already, and his 4.7 YPC mark is a big surprise at age 30. Clearly, the Jets have improved greatly in the trenches this year... The Patriots have won three of their last four, and they have the advantage of not having to travel during the short week. Like New York, New England has relied more on its running game and shorter routes on offense, so Thursday’s game is unlikely to be high scoring. New England is still tough at home, and clearly possesses the coaching advantage, but because New York is tough to run against, the offense may struggle. Although he’s improved lately, Matt Cassel
has taken 29 sacks this season, so the Jets’ fierce pass rush could pose a problem. Still, Cassel continues to get more comfortable in the offense, and he’s played much better at home this season, so expect New England to come out on top.
Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 235 yards and a touchdown to Laveranues Coles, while Thomas Jones adds 70 rushing yards and a score. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk continue to split work in New England’s backfield, and while neither produce big yardage numbers, it’s Green-Ellis who runs in a TD for the fifth straight game. Matt Cassel adds 200 passing yards and finds Randy Moss in the end zone, as the home team prevails. Patriots 23-17.
Denver (+6.5) at Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m.
Denver is coming off a win, leads the AFC West and has extra time to prepare having last played on a Thursday. Unfortunately, the good news ends there, as the Broncos’ defense could very well be the worst in the NFL, and the team has no semblance of a running game either. Denver will have to rely heavily on Jay Cutler
’s arm, and with Brandon Marshall
, Eddie Royal
and Tony Scheffler
at his disposal, the offense should be able to put up points. Ryan Clady
has been fantastic during his rookie season, and he’ll need to continue to be while trying to stop John Abraham
on Sunday... The Falcons are 4-1 over their last five games and find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race. All with a rookie at quarterback, left tackle and head coach, not to mention a new running back as well. Matt Ryan
is having the best rookie season by a QB since Dan Marino
, and there’s no doubt he’s going to be a superstar. Michael Turner
should have a monstrous game against a Denver defense that has allowed 5.1 YPC and 11 rushing scores this year. Turner has gone 257 consecutive carries without a fumble, which is a remarkable feat. Atlanta has yet to lose a game at home this season and is the far more well rounded team, so expect them to prevail Sunday.
Predictions: Jay Cutler throws for 300 yards and three scores, with Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler the recipients. Peyton Hillis and Tatum Bell share backfield duties, and neither are productive. Michael Turner runs for 125 yards with two touchdowns, while Matt Ryan adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, as Atlanta continues to impress. Falcons 34-24.
Detroit (+14.5) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Detroit remains winless, and looking at their upcoming schedule, there’s a real chance the Lions go 0-16 this season. Calvin Johnson
is the lone bright spot, but Kevin Smith
gives added hope for the future as well, as the Lions are finally seeing what they have in their young back instead of wasting carries on Rudi Johnson
. Daunte Culpepper
is likely to get most of the QB work, but the Panthers have played terrific in the secondary this year, allowing just 5.9 YPA and only seven TDs through the air... The Panthers are 5-1 over their last six games, no thanks to Jake Delhomme
, as he had one of the worst performances of his career last week in Oakland. He got 2.7 YPA and was picked off four times, resulting in a 12.3 QB rating. Still, expect him to bounce back against a Detroit secondary that has allowed 8.9 YPA (NFL-high) and a 15:2 TD:INT ratio. DeAngelo Williams
has ran for 248 yards over the past two weeks, getting an impressive 6.9 YPC in the process. He’s rendered Jonathan Stewart
nearly irrelevant and should be in store for another big performance against the Lions this week.
Predictions: Daunte Culpepper struggles, throwing for just 150 yards with two turnovers and no touchdowns. Kevin Smith totals a modest 60 yards, but he does reach the end zone. DeAngelo Williams runs for 100 yards and a score, while Jake Delhomme adds 250 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad, as Carolina improves to 6-0 at home. Panthers 27-10.
Chicago (+4) at Green Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
With the top three teams all separated by just one game in the NFC North, Sunday’s matchup is greatly important in Green Bay. Kyle Orton
’s (ankle) health is key, as Rex Grossman
is a major downgrade if forced into action once again. It’s especially vital since the Packers’ secondary is so tough, as the team has allowed just 5.7 YPA while also recording an NFL-high 16 interceptions. However, Green Bay struggles against the run, allowing 5.0 YPC, so Matt Forte
will be a big part of Chicago’s offense Sunday... Aaron Rodgers
is coming off a poor effort last week, and while the Bears’ secondary has given up 251.8 passing yards per game, the unit has allowed just 6.4 YPA with a 10:11 TD:INT ratio, so they’ve played better than the cosmetic stats suggest. Moreover, Green Bay has been penalized an NFL-worst 655 yards, and Chicago is tied for the league-lead with 20 takeaways. Still, the Packers have homefield on their side, and they need to win in order to stay in contention in the NFC North.
Predictions: Kyle Orton fights through his ankle injury and plays, throwing for 200 yards and a TD to Greg Olsen. Matt Forte adds 100 yards combined with a touchdown run, while Ryan Grant gains 70 rushing yards and hits paydirt. Aaron Rodgers throws for 250 yards and finds Greg Jennings in the end zone, as the home team comes out on top. Packers 20-17.
Houston (+9) at Indianapolis, Sunday 1 p.m.
At 3-6, the Texans have been a major disappointment this season, as the defense continues to drag them down. Sage Rosenfels
is capable of moving the chains, but his inability to protect the football is a big problem, as he’s committed a whopping 23 turnovers over his last 12 games. It’s unlikely to get much better Sunday, as Indianapolis’ secondary has allowed just 6.4 YPA with a fantastic 2:9 TD:INT ratio this season. The Texans haven’t won a road game in more than a full calendar year... The Colts have won two in a row, but they haven’t been all that impressive in doing so. They remain in the playoff picture and certainly possess plenty of potential, but Indy has actually been outscored this season, and they sport the worst rushing attack in the league. Joseph Addai
has averaged a microscopic 3.1 YPC, while Marvin Harrison
looks just about done. Peyton Manning
has a 5:0 TD:INT ratio over the last two games, and he should shred a porous Houston secondary that has ceded 8.1 YPA on the year.
Predictions: Sage Rosenfels throws for 225 yards and a touchdown to Owen Daniels, while Steve Slaton adds 70 total yards and a score. Joseph Addai finally has a good game, totaling 90 yards with a TD run, while Peyton Manning adds 275 yards with scoring strikes to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez, as Indy rolls. Colts 28-20.
New Orleans (-5.5) at Kansas City, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Saints have the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL, but as a team, they're decidedly average. Their ground game is stagnant and the defense continues to be a major weakness. A finesse squad, New Orleans is 0-4 when playing on the road this season, so they will have their work cut out for them in Arrowhead on Sunday. Drew Brees
has gotten 9.2 YPA with a 13:4 TD:INT ratio at home, and 7.2 YPA with a 4:6 TD:INT ratio on the road this season... The Chiefs may be have a 1-8 record, but they’ve played far better than that since Tyler Thigpen
has taken over quarterback duties. Running a spread offense, Thigpen has posted a 6:0 TD:INT ratio over the last three games, and he should find plenty of success against New Orleans’ soft secondary. Larry Johnson
should be fresh in his return after having not played since Week 5, and Mark Bradley
is finally living up to his pedigree and looks like a serious playmaker. Kansas City’s young nucleus is impressive, and although the defense is ravaged by injuries and ranks last in the league, the team has forced an NFL-high 20 takeaways.
Predictions: Drew Brees throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, with Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson the recipients. The ground game is relatively unproductive, while Larry Johnson responds with 70 yards and a TD run. Tyler Thigpen adds 260 passing yards while connecting with Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley for scores, as Kansas City pulls off the upset. Chiefs 24-21.
Oakland (+11) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Raiders are 1-6 over their last seven games and have scored a paltry two touchdowns in five games since Tom Cable replaced Lane Kiffin as head coach. Last week Oakland lost to Carolina by 11 points despite having more yards, first downs, takeaways and nearly a 15 minute edge in time of possession. The Raiders have failed to score a touchdown for nine quarters in a row. The team is hoping to get JaMarcus Russell
(knee) back under center, but the passing game is a mess either way. Javon Walker
’s (ankle) season is over, putting a merciful end to one of the worst free agent signings in recent memory... Miami enters riding a three-game winning streak, although last week’s was a close one against an inferior Seattle squad. Still, it’s amazing to see the Dolphins as 11-point favorites after finishing last year 1-15, and they’ve quickly gone from rebuild mode to contenders. Ted Ginn
is developing into a nice option at receiver, while Chad Pennington
has also played well. Joey Porter
should destroy the Raiders’ left side of the line, so don’t expect a highly contested battle Sunday. Miami has committed an NFL-low seven turnovers.
Predictions: JaMarcus Russell suits up and plays, but he throws for only 160 yards while failing to lead his team into the end zone. Justin Fargas gets 70 hard-fought yards, while Ronnie Brown answers with 90 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Ricky Williams adds 60 rushing yards and a score of his own, while Chad Pennington adds 220 yards with a touchdown to Anthony Fasano, as Miami wins in a rout. Dolphins 24-6.
Baltimore (+7) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.
Baltimore has won four in a row and is currently tied for first in the AFC North. It’s strength against strength Sunday, as the Ravens boast the league’s best run defense while New York comes in with the NFL’s No. 1 ranked rushing offense. The Ravens have yielded just 2.9 YPC with only one touchdown on the ground, while also allowing just one rush of 20-plus yards all season long. The Giants’ 5.2 YPC mark is more than a half yard more than any other team in football. Baltimore hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 28 straight games, the NFL’s longest streak... The Titans may disagree, but the Giants currently look like the best team in the league, and the dominant offensive and defensive lines are a big reason why. Eli Manning
will have to avoid mistakes against a tough Baltimore secondary, but New York should have a big game defensively. Joe Flacco
has a 6:0 TD:INT ratio with a 107.5 QB rating over the last four games, and he’s played markedly better when on the road this season, but he’s still a rookie getting a stiff test Sunday. If the Ravens fall behind and struggle running the ball, Flacco may be asked to do more than he’s capable of at this point of his career, resulting in multiple turnovers and ultimately a loss.
Predictions: Joe Flacco plays poorly, taking multiple sacks while throwing for just 150 yards. He does find Derrick Mason for a score, but Baltimore’s backfield committee is bottled up. Brandon Jacobs gains 60 yards with a goal-line score, while Eli Manning answers with 220 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Kevin Boss, as New York wins it. Giants 23-10.
Minnesota (+3.5) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Vikings have won two straight and have averaged 32.3 points over their last three games. Unfortunately, Gus Frerotte
has thrown eight interceptions over that same time span, and the Bucs’ secondary has played well this season, allowing just 6.3 YPA with 12 picks. Over the last four games, Adrian Peterson
has ran for 563 yards (5.5 YPC) and four touchdowns. He’s already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the year, and while he still needs to improve his receiving ability and remains a health concern, Peterson is the best running back in football. He gets a tough test this week against a Tampa Bay front seven that has allowed only one rushing score this season... In a loaded NFC South, a win Sunday is imperative for the Bucs, who are a perfect 4-0 at home this year. Jeff Garcia
’s YPA has jumped from 6.1 on the road to 8.6 during home games this season, and while the Vikings have developed a good pass rush, their secondary can be beat. Antonio Bryant
has become the No. 1 option in the passing game, and he should be productive Sunday. Coming off a bye, expect the better prepared home team to prevail.
Predictions: Gus Frerotte throws for 200 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown to Sidney Rice. Adrian Peterson adds 75 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Tampa Bay’s ground game stalls. Jeff Garcia counters with 230 passing yards and scoring strikes to Antonio Bryant and Ike Hilliard, as Tampa Bay comes out on top. Buccaneers 23-17.
Philadelphia (-9) at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m.
The Bengals are coming off their first win of the season and then a bye, but they enter with the worst ranked defense in the NFL and a horrible passing attack. Ryan Fitzpatrick
set a season-high with 5.2 YPA during his last game, which speaks volumes. This aerial attack is beyond anemic. The Eagles’ fierce pass rush should tee off on Fitzpatrick come Sunday... Philadelphia’s defense and offense both rank in the top-10, and the team has outscored its opponents by 71 points this season, which is the third most in the NFL. Still, that’s resulted in a pedestrian 5-4 record, which is good for last place in the NFC East. The Eagles struggle in the red zone and in short-yardage situations, while Andy Reid continuously makes curious calls on gameday. Still, while choking against good competition, Philadelphia typically destroys the league’s doormats, something the Bengals qualify as. Expect Philadelphia to flex its muscles and win in a blowout Sunday.
Predictions: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 150 yards and a touchdown to Chad Johnson, while Cincinnati’s running game is shut down. Brian Westbrook bounces back with 125 total yards, including a score on the ground. Donovan McNabb adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson, as Philadelphia wins handily. Eagles 27-10.
St. Louis (+6.5) at San Francisco, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
The Rams come in having dropped three straight, but that’s only half of the 49ers’ six-game skid. Last week was rock bottom for St. Louis, as the team trailed 40-0 at halftime and resorted to kicking a second half field goal to make the defecit 47-3. Steven Jackson
(thigh) looks unlikely to play yet again, and the Rams are always at their worst when playing on the road and outdoors. Chris Long
and Donnie Avery
are the only reasons for any optimism, but Marc Bulger
has become a huge albatross. It might be best if they go their separate ways this offseason... Because of horrendous clock management at the end of the game, San Francisco is coming off a gut-wrenching loss to the Cardinals. Still, the team has played hard since Mike Singletary has taken over coaching duties, and while he has plenty to learn when dealing with the media, Singletary does seem to get the best out of a team riddled with mediocre talent. Frank Gore
(neck) was banged up late in last week’s game, but he’s expected to play Sunday, which should result in a huge game against a Rams team that has yielded 4.8 YPC and an NFL-high 15 rushing TDs this season. Shaun Hill
will have his ups and downs, but he looks like an improvement from J.T. O’Sullivan, and he gets a highly favorable matchup this week, so expect San Francisco to put plenty of points on the board.
Predictions: Marc Bulger throws for 200 yards and finds Donnie Avery for a score, while Antonio Pittman totals 70 yards with a TD. Frank Gore responds with 140 combined yards and a touchdown, while Shaun Hill adds 250 passing yards with scoring strikes to Jason Hill and Vernon Davis, as the home team prevails. 49ers 27-17.
Arizona (-3) at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Arizona was lucky to come away victorious against an inferior 49ers team last Monday, but regardless, the team is 6-3 and in total control of the NFC West. Kurt Warner
has been nothing short of fantastic, throwing for multiple scores in eight straight games while limiting mistakes. Tim Hightower
struggled during his second start last week, but San Francisco has quietly limited opposing runners to just 3.5 YPC this year, so expect a rebound performance from the rookie back this week. Still, Arizona’s defense is vulnerable, and it’s always difficult to travel after just playing Monday night... Seattle is just 2-7 with the 31st ranked passing offense this season, but the team will be getting both Matt Hasselbeck
and Deion Branch
back Sunday, which changes their outlook dramatically. Hasselbeck wasn’t playing well before going down with a back injury Week 5, but his poor play was likely a result of him fighting through the injury, and he appears to be the healthiest he’s been all season. Hasselbeck may be rusty early on, but he immediately gets a favorable matchup and finally has all of his weapons available to him as well. Julius Jones
looks like the primary runner for Seattle, and while he hasn’t overwhelmed, his current 4.6 YPC mark is easily the best of his career.
Predictions: Kurt Warner continues to excel, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns, with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin the recipients. Tim Hightower adds 75 yards and a short score, while Julius Jones produces a similar stat line. Matt Hasselbeck adds 230 passing yards with touchdown tosses to Bobby Engram and John Carlson, as the home underdog pulls off the win. Seahawks 27-24.
Tennessee (-3) at Jacksonville, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
The Jaguars are 4-5 and have been entirely unimpressive all season long. Meanwhile, the Titans are the NFL’s lone undefeated team, so it’s mind boggling to see such a small point spread. Jacksonville beat up a bad Detroit team last week, but they are just 1-3 at home on the year. While once a team strong suit, the Jaguars get pushed around in the trenches on both sides of the ball, which could spell disaster against the physical Titans this week. David Garrard
has played much better of late, but he’s been nowhere near the same quarterback he was last season and faces a Tennessee secondary that has allowed just 5.9 YPA with a 5:14 TD:INT ratio this season... It hasn’t been flashy, but all Tennessee has done this season is win. The defense is dominant, and the ground game ranks sixth in the league. Chris Johnson
should find plenty of running room against a leaky Jacksonville D, and Bo Scaife
has an uncanny ability of finding the open seams in the passing game. Kerry Collins
doesn’t rack up yardage or touchdowns, but he’s committed just three turnover in nine games. Even more remarkably, he’s been sacked just four times all season.
Predictions: David Garrard throws for 180 yards and finds Matt Jones in the end zone. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor produce modest stats on the ground, while Chris Johnson counters with 90 total yards. LenDale White punches in a short TD, while Kerry Collins throws for 150 yards with a touchdown to Bo Scaife, as Tennessee’s record remains unblemished. Titans 23-13.
San Diego (+5) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
At 4-5, San Diego remains alive in the playoff race thanks to a weak division and a two-point conversion stop at the end of last week’s win against the Chiefs. The defense is soft, and the team is just 1-4 on the road this season, so they’ll have a tough task playing in Pittsburgh on Sunday. LaDainian Tomlinson
has averaged just 3.8 YPC and is clearly in decline, so don’t expect much production on the ground against a Steelers front seven that has allowed just 3.0 YPC on the year. Still, San Diego has gotten far better quarterback play this season, as Philip Rivers
has gotten 8.7 YPA with 21 scores through the air, so the Chargers could put up some points against the tough Steelers’ defense... Pittsburgh’s potential is unlimited, but the offensive line is a weakness, and Ben Roethlisberger
has really disappointed. Likely because he’s been playing hurt, Roethlisberger’s YPA (7.0) is easily a career-low, and he’s thrown more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10). Limiting all those mistakes will be huge for Pittsburgh, but Roethlisberger practiced more than usual this week, so hopefully his health has started to turn the corner. He could have a huge games Sunday, as San Diego’s secondary has allowed 17 touchdowns, the second most in the league.
Predictions: Philip Rivers throws for 250 yards with scoring strikes to Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, while LaDainian Tomlinson adds 70 yards on the ground. Willie Parker returns to action, running for 75 yards and a touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger has a big game, throwing for 275 yards and two TDs, with Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes the recipients, as the home team wins it. Steelers 24-20.
Dallas (-1) at Washington, Sunday 8:15 p.m.
Both teams are coming off a bye and need to win to stay in contention in the competitive NFC East. Thanks to a solid defense and a strong ground game, the Redskins have jumped out to a surprising 6-3 record. However, they’ve outscored their opponents by only three points on the season, will likely be without Clinton Portis
(knee) Sunday and Santana Moss
(hamstring) is hobbled. Jason Campbell
has improved this year and has done an excellent job protecting the football, but his YPA (7.2) hardly screams star, and the passing attack is below average... Considered Super Bowl favorites by many entering the season, the Cowboys have been more paper tigers than anything else. In fact, Dallas is just 7-7 over its last 14 games dating back to last year. Still, the team gets Tony Romo
back this week, which is monumental. To say the replacement QBs struggled when Romo was out would be an understatement, and while he still commits too many turnovers, Romo has gotten 8.4 YPA with 14 touchdowns over six games this year. The Cowboys have already lost to the Redskins this season, so they’ll be extra motivated for payback come Sunday night.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 225 yards with touchdowns to Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. Ladell Betts gets the start at running back, resulting in 60 rushing yards and a TD. Marion Barber counters with 80 total yards and a goal-line score, while Tony Romo adds 275 passing yards with touchdown strikes to Terrell Owens and Jason Witten, as Dallas gets back into the win column. Cowboys 24-21.
Cleveland (+5) at Buffalo, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Cleveland has lost two in a row and three of its last four, and despite being 3-6, gets yet another game in primetime. Brady Quinn
provided a spark last week, and while he was efficient and didn’t make any mistakes, he attempted just one pass that went 15 yards through the air (incomplete), resulting in a poor 6.8 YPA. The playbook is scaled back with Quinn under center, as the second year signal caller prefers underneath routes opposed to attacking downfield. It’s good news for Kellen Winslow
’s stats, but it’s bad news for an already disappointing Braylon Edwards
. The Browns have the benefit of preparation, as the team last played on Thursday, but this team lacks personnel, and the coaching often leaves a lot to be desired... Losers of three straight, Buffalo is badly in need of a victory, especially since their division is all of a sudden so competitive. While they looked like the favorites to win the AFC East early on, it’s possible the Bills are currently the worst team in the division. Still, they should get back on track Monday, as the Browns’ defense has allowed 4.7 YPC and 7.9 YPA this season. Trent Edwards
has a rock solid 66.9 completion percentage and 7.5 YPA mark on the year, but he’s regressed of late, posting a 2:5 TD:turnover ratio over the past two games. Still, he and Lee Evans
should have their way with a leaky Cleveland secondary, and when you add in superior special teams and homefield advantage, it should result in a Buffalo victory.
Predictions: Brady Quinn throws for 220 yards with a touchdown to Kellen Winslow, while Jamal Lewis adds 60 rushing yards and a TD run. Marshawn Lynch answers with 80 total yards and hits paydirt, while Trent Edwards throws for 225 yards with scoring strikes to Roscoe Parrish and Lee Evans, as the home team prevails. Bills 24-17.
Article first appeared 11/13/08