“The usually defiant McDaniels suddenly became contrite this week, apologizing to “the organization, the fans, everybody else” for the Broncos’ 59-14 loss to the Raiders. After 23 games, McDaniels finally realized that alienating his best players and treating the draft like an impulse shopping splurge might have a detrimental effect on the team’s success.”
The Niners are starting former Baltimore Raven and Ohio State Buckeye Troy Smith at QB on Sunday. This poses a challenge for the Broncos; not only do I think Smith has potential, but it’s common for new QBs to play over their heads in their first couple of games, because opposing defensive coaches don’t have any film on them to study. For his part, Smith just has to remember to throw to whoever’s not covered by Champ Bailey. TE Vernon Davis ought to be open a lot, because the Broncos have struggled against tight ends all year. The Niners have struggled to cover everyone except tight ends, and are especially bad against wide receivers. This plays right into Denver’s offensive strength.
You don’t have to believe me if you fear getting your hopes up only to see them crushed, but I’m betting on the Broncos.
Washington Redskins vs Detroit Lions
Line: Lions by 2 1/2
I’m worried about this game. The ‘Skins too often get beat by just one or two dominant players (Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh) while failing to exploit the other team’s weak links. Look for Johnson and Santana Moss to make some highlight catches, and cross your fingers that the Redskins don’t blow it. Redskins.
Miami Dolphins vs Cincinnati Bengals
Line: Bengals by 2
I’ve wanted to root for Miami all year. I’ve wanted to root for Cincinnati all year too. The Bengals have gone 2-4 through the easy part of their schedule, and now if they’re going to win, they’re going to have to do it against good teams like the Dolphins. It’s dumb that the Bengals are actually favored in Vegas. They shouldn’t be, but they are a danger to pull off the upset. I flipped a coin and it came up Bengals. That’s good enough for me. Look for rookie Jermaine Gresham in the end zone.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Dallas Cowboys
Line: Cowboys by 6 1/2
Jon Kitna and the Cowboys vs. one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Kitna ought to do just fine, and with any luck, maybe Dallas can get into a quarterback controversy! Cowboys.
Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs
Line: Chiefs by 8 1/2
The Bills have the worst defense in the league against passes and runs, though they’re worse against the pass than the tun. None of that will matter though, since Todd Haley and the Chiefs are going to keep feeding the ball to Thomas Jones, regardless of his or anyone else’s performance. Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick will put on a nice show, but Kansas City will win.
Carolina Panthers vs St. Louis Rams
Line: Rams by 3
Matt Moore has been an average QB this year. Why did the team pull him for Jimmy Clausen in the first place? The Rams have been decievingly good versus #1 receivers this year, but Carolina won last week throwing to rookies Brandon LaFell and David Gettis instead of Steve Smith. That’s a sample size of 1. Does it mean anything? Pick the Rams if you can do so without vomiting.
Green Bay Packers vs NY Jets
Line: Jets by 5 1/2
The Jets have been winning thanks to their offense; LaDanian Tomlinson has opened things up for Mark Sanchez in the passing game, and Sanchez has returned the favor by not throwing too many interceptions.
Sanchez will throw some INTs this week, and Green Bay’s deep receiving corps will put up some points. Based on the Jets past performance, I’m thinking more Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson and less Greg Jennings. Unless Dustin Keller can keep up in a track meet, the Packers should win.
Tennessee Titans vs San Diego Chargers
Line: Chargers by 3 1/2
Mike Tanier: “The Chargers have already used 63 different players this season, an incredibly high number for half a season. That’s what happens when you let important starters hold out until the leaves turn, suffer a rash of injuries, then cut the first wave of substitutes for making too many early-season mistakes.” Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders fans ought to be giddy with schadenfreude.
All-pro WR Vincent Jackson signed, though he’s not going to play until week 12. Chargers GM A.J. Smith put him in a lose-lose situation, and it’s cost Jackson the entire season. Considering the easy slate of pass defenses San Diego faces this year, we’ll never know what kind of astronomical numbers Jackson could have put up. Smith for all we know cost the guy a shot at the hall of fame because he runs the team like a used car salesman. This isn’t anything new for him; he cost his team a realistic shot at winning a superbowl when he fired Marty Schottenheimer over a childish disagreement. Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders fans ought to be giddy with schadenfreude.
The Chargers performance this season has been baffling. The Titans have been good, and they’ve been consistent. Think of them as the anti-Browns. Titans to win, no matter who’s at QB.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals
Line: Cardinals by 3
How can you pick Arizona in any game this year with a straight face? Bucs.
Minnesota Vikings vs New England Patriots
Line: Patriots by 6 1/2
Randy Moss is playing with his former team, against his former team! Favre will play too, because apparently a broken ankle is something you can play on.
Minnesota has the league’s 7th best defense, but their weakness is defending passes to depth receivers, something the Pats will surely be aware of and will exploit. The Pats defense’s weakness is defending passes to anybody, something the Vikings will surely be aware of and will exploit. New England is stronger on paper but I have a feeling Moss will score more touchdowns than Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead combined. Vikings in an upset.
Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders
Line: Raiders by 2
The Raiders scored 51 points in all of September, before scoring 59 last week. That gust of wind will die down this week, as Pete Carroll’s squad is playing more like a real NFL team than Tom Cable’s. If the bad Seahawks show up, maybe the Raiders can win. But I don’t think so. Seahawks.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New Orleans Saints
Line: Saints by 1
Chad Henne and the Dolphins moved the ball against the Steelers defense last week, in large part thanks to Jake Long winning his matchup against James Harrison all game. New Orleans doesn’t have Miami’s talent at tackle, but the bayou’s guards are out of this solar system. I’ve never seen a Sean Payton scheme I didn’t like, so add two parts Lance Moore, one part Devery Henderson, and a spritz of Jeremy Shockey, and we’ve got ourselves a ballgame! This will be way better than the wold series. The Steelers are the obvious pick to win, but I’ll be cheering for the Saints.
Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts
Line: Colts by 5 1/2
The Texans were on fire early this season, and they seem to have cooled off considerably since. It may not surprise you that their cooling coincides with Andre Johnson, who while healthy enough to play, hasn’t been healthy enough to dominate. They are getting left tackle Duane Brown back from suspension. Every little bit helps.
Manning and the Colts have the offense pretty much dialed in, but the Colts defense is just as bad as it was in week 1, if not worse. The Texans defense is isn’t any better though. They typically play good pass defense on one side of the field, but not the other. Therefore they may be able to slow down Reggie Wayne, but even with Dallas Clark on IR, their defense can’t stop more than one guy at a time, and the Colts have an offense with more than one guy at a time. You’re going to have to score a lot of points to win this shootout. I see the Colts being able to score a little bit more than the Texans, but to be absolutely certain, I had to flip a coin. Arbitrary chance favored the Texans. I go the extra mile for my readers.
Colts fans: so is Jim Caldwell a real person, or what? Does he actually do anything?
Bye: Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens