I had a bad week. Still over .500, but 8-7 for an overall record of 25-16 for a .610 winning percentage, but I could do better. It’ll start with this week.
Baltimore at Cleveland – CBS 1 p.m.
This is a bitter game for me as many of you know, rotten crook Art Modell moved my beloved Browns to Baltimore, eventually made them the Ravens and into Super Bowl Champions while the Browns had to be reconstructed from scratch. The Browns have former Ravens RB Jamal Lewis. But the Ravens have an excellent run defense. They barely won over the Cardinals last week when QB Kurt Warner led a comeback that almost succeeded. And he completed 15 passes for 258 yards against a very stingy defense. Derek Anderson is not Kurt Warner, but he has shown the potential to lead a team quite well. Although he threw for just one TD against Oakland last week (as opposed to the five he threw against Cincy in Week 2), Anderson did throw for 248 yards. And Lewis has to get on track against his former team. I would love to see the Browns win this game and I’m going to pick them as my upset special here. I’ll say Browns win by a Phil Dawson figgy, 23-20.
Chicago at Detroit – Fox, 1 p.m.
The Bears were exposed as a bad offensive team last week. QB Rex Grossman was finally replaced after a pitiful performance against the Cowboys last Sunday night. Brian Griese finally gets his shot to lead the team. Meanwhile, Detroit is wondering if last week’s showing against Philadelphia was the real Lions. One thing the Eagles did was to expose the Detroit secondary as Donovan McNabb had a field day throwing the football. On the other hand, Lions QB Jon Kitna and the passing game are averaging over 340 yards a game. If Chicago can start throwing the ball with any consistency on Sunday, they’ll beat the Lions. And the Bears also have to get its running game on track. The last three weeks, they’ve shown that they miss RB Thomas Jones. His replacements have not shown they can pick up the slack. I’m going to choose Detroit in this game to beat the Bears, 28-10.
St. Louis at Dallas – Fox, 1 p.m.
What happened to the Greatest Show on Turf? This season, the Rams’ offense is woefully inept. They rank 25th in total yards, 20th in passing, 21st in rushing and the most telling stat, 29th in scoring. That is not going to cut it in the NFL. On the other side, the Cowboys are 1st in scoring average, 2nd in total yardage, 5th in passing and 5th in rushing. So you would think this would be a mismatch and you would be right. Cowboys are favored at 13. Tony Romo threw for 329 yards against the Bears Sunday night and I expect him to do well again this week. Take the Cowboys. The Rams just can’t get anything right. Cowboys win, 35-10 over the Rams.
Green Bay at Minnesota – Fox, 1 p.m.
The question is, when will Brett Favre break Dan Marino’s career touchdown throwing record? Favre is going to throw in this game. The Vikings have to be prepared to stop it. The Packers got a quality win beating the San Diego Chargers last week. Now, it’s time for a division game in a place where Favre has not done well. Even though the Vikings have a 1-2 record, their run defense is ranked 3rd, but the passing defense is ranked 20th. Guess where the Packers will attack? But the Vikings do not allow opponents to score. I still think the Vikes‘ achilles heel will come back to bite them on Sunday. I’ll take the Packers to win a close NFC North game, 24-17.
Jets at Buffalo – CBS, 1 p.m.
This is not a fun game to pick, but it is a division game. The Jets have the aforementioned Thomas Jones who ran for over 100 yards last week against Miami. Both of these teams are staring above at New England who is the class of the AFC East. Buffalo doesn’t want to fall to 0-4 and sometimes, playing scared can lead to wins. The Bills have to depend on rookie QB Trent Edwards from Stanford to replace the injured J.P. Losman. I’m going to take the Jets here, albeit reluctantly, 28-17.
Oakland at Miami – CBS, 1 p.m.
In the 1970′s and 1980′s, this would have been a marquee matchup. Two teams that have winning histories, Hall of Fame coaches on both sides, John Madden and Don Shula, both have multiple Super Bowl championships, plus many Hall of Fame players to boot. But those are just distant memories now. The Raiders bring back former Dolphin Daunte Culpepper to Miami. But the Raiders are expected to showcase RB Lamont Jordan who ran roughshod over the Browns last week for 120 yards. Miami is favored by 4 and with Oakland doing the traveling here, I’ll factor that in and say the Fish will take this one, 16-9.
Houston at Atlanta – CBS, 1 p.m.
You’re kidding, right?
Tampa Bay at Carolina – Fox, 4 p.m.
Who knew this would be a fun matchup in Week 4? I thought the Bucs would be 0-3 by now, but they’ve won over New Orleans and taken the life from the Rams. However, Carolina is a much better team. The Panthers have won 7 out of the last 8 games between these two teams and are favored at home. But the Bucs are still trying to find their identity as many teams are this early in the season. WR Steve Smith has torched the Bucs‘ secondary in the past and he can again this week, but it’s still not known QB Jake Delhomme will start (bad elbow) or former Houston Texan statue David Carr will take the helm for the Panthers. If it’s Delhomme, expect that TB zone defense to come up and take its shots. But if it’s Carr, expect him to get sacked a lot because he holds the ball too long. I’m finally picking Tampa Bay to win this game as I think the Bucs finally have the weapons to beat the Panthers, 28-21.
Seattle at San Francisco – Fox, 4 p.m.
Last week, Seattle had a dogfight with the Bengals while the Niners fell from the unbeaten ranks against Pittsburgh. 49er QB Alex Smith once again struggled, but the team he doesn’t struggle against is Seattle. Last time these two teams last met in December, Frank Gore ran rampant through the Seahawk defense, rushing for 212 yards. While I don’t think he’ll run for that much on Sunday, he’ll be ready to rumble. And Alex Smith has got to get going with the help of his much-maligned receiving corps. Seattle has already dropped a division game to the Cards at home in Week 2. If the ‘Hawks want to win, Matt Hasselbeck’s receivers have to stop dropping his passes. This will be a good drag out fight. I’ll take the Niners to win this one, 33-16.
Denver at Indy – CBS, 4:15 p.m.
The Colts are 11-0 in their last 11 September games. What does this tell you? And Denver has not done well in Indy in recent times. If the Broncos want to be take seriously, they’ll have to win this game, but the Colts have too many weapons. Plus, the Jacksonville Jaguars went into the Mile High City and won last week, 23-14 using their two headed running attack. And David Garrard, hardly a premiere QB ran the offense quite well for the Jags. With the Colts’ RB Joseph Addai, I expect the Colts to move the ball against the Broncos quite often. Indy is favored by 9.5 and they should be. I’ll take them to win outright, 38-21.
KC at San Diego – CBS, 4:15 p.m.
The question in San Diego this week: What’s wrong with the Chargers? The running attack is only averaging 67 yards a game which ranks 30th. This is a team that has LaDanian Tomlinson, but he’s rushed for only 130 yards this season which is not right. So there’s a lot of soul searching in Chargerland. Meanwhile, the Chiefs may have found something when they started to throw the ball to beat Minnesota last week. While the Chiefs still want to showcase RB Larry Johnson, QB Damon Huard did get WR Dwayne Bowe involved and threw him the winning score. Philip Rivers did throw well against Green Bay last week, but it still wasn’t enough. I’ll say the San Diego Super Chargers get back into the win column on Sunday, 26-17.
Pittsburgh at Arizona – CBS, 4:15 p.m.
Interesting game. Cardinal head coach Ken Whisenhunt along with his top assistant, Russ Grimm will be getting ready to face their former team in which new Steeler coach Mike Tomlin has his unit humming along rather nicely. The Steeler offense is running on all cylinders and the 198 rushing yards a game ranks tops in the NFL. However, the Cards defense has stopped the run this year, so it will be up to Ben Roesthlisberger to air it out against a weak Cardinal secondary. WR Hines Ward won’t play. And I’ll be watching to see if the QB situation in Arizona gets sorted out. We saw Kurt Warner play very well against Baltimore last week while Matt Leinart did not. Leinart will start, but you know Whisenhunt will pull the trigger if the offense doesn’t get in gear. I’ll take the Steelers by a Jeff Reed figgy, 24-21.
Philadelphia at Giants – NBC, 8:15 p.m.
I know Iggle fans are hoping Donovan McNabb righted the ship last week against Detroit. WR Kevin Curtis became a featured weapon for McNabb by catching three TD’s in the first half last week. Giants fans are hoping Eli Manning righted the ship with the win over Washington last week. The G-Men will have WR Plaxico Burress even with a tender ankle. Eagles RB Brian Westbrook is a load to contend with. And there’s Giants’ Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo coaching against his former team and mentor, Andy Reid. Put this all together and you have a great Sunday Night NFC East game. And the Giants do want some revenge for last year’s playoff game which the Eagles won thanks to a David Akers figgy. This game will be close again simply because neither team wants to fall to 1-3. I’m going to take the Eagles to win another tight one, 16-14.
Patriots at Cincy – ESPN, 8:30 p.m., Monday
Pats. 38-10. The Pats always score 38. What’s to stop them this week?
Enjoy the games.