PHILADELPHIA at Kansas City
Conventional Wisdom has the Chiefs favored at home against a banged-up Eagles squad. Unconventional Wisdom has the Eagles going into Arrowhead stadium and coming out with the victory.
For those who may have missed it, QB McNabb has been diagnosed with a sports hernia that will require surgery at some point. Until he goes under the knife, McNabb will have to play through the pain. So stick a fork in the Eagles with Akers, McNabb, and Owens all dinged, right?
Not so fast. Last Sunday you saw the Eagles come together as a team. When Akers limped on to the field to kick that winning field goal it showed me something about this franchise. You can forget about Owens complaining about his deal and how much his own abdomen hurts after Aker’s display of courage. McNabb and Owens have no choice but to suck it up and stay on the field after the place kicker gutted out a winning field goal. Anything less isn’t going to cut it in that locker room.
On the other side you have the Chiefs who have yet to get their offense going this season. It took until the last two minutes of Monday night’s game for Kansas City to get a passing touchdown this season. The Kansas City offensive line played like turnstiles against the Broncos rush for the entire game and that does not bode well with the Eagles having a well deserved reputation for sending six, seven, or eight after the quarterback. Trent Green spent most of Monday night’s game throwing off his back foot and he’ll have to more of the same this week. I expect the Chiefs to have a hangover after the poor showing in Denver.
The Eagles are 22-11 against the number on the road in their last 33 road games. The Eagles won the last meeting in Kansas City 23-10. I would not be at all surprised if Philadelphia was 23-11 on Monday.
INDIANAPOLIS at Tennessee
All you’ve heard on sports radio this last week is “What’s wrong with the Colts offense?” Conventional Wisdom says the Colts don’t have their timing down yet this season. Unconventional Wisdom says: Not to worry. With every talk show wringing their hands over the Colts offense, Manning and company have plenty of incentive (and opportunity) to prove their point this week
The Tennessee defense is giving up 5.9 yards per play (tied for 27 th in the NFL) and six passing touchdowns (also 27 th). Last week, the Titans gave up 31 points to the Rams in St. Louis and they will give up more this week with Pac Man Jones getting his first start at cornerback. There’s no mercy in the NFL and Manning will find the receiver matched up on Jones and go right at him.
Have no fear and play your Colts this week. Manning throws for over 300 yards and at least two touchdowns and the Colts leave their doubters in the dust.
Minnesota at ATLANTA
A good home team vs. a poor road team in this match-up. Atlanta’s secondary is a long way from healthy but Minnesota’s new and improved defense is giving up 5.7 yards per play while Atlanta’s beaten up squad is surrendering only 4.7. The Vikings are 28 th in the NFL in yards per game against, tied for 24 th in yards per play against, and are -5 in turnover margin. Given the choice, I’ll take the banged up Falcons.
The Falcons offense should be able to take advantage of those weaknesses. Atlanta’s averaging a decent 5.2 yards per play on offense which is not much less then the high powered Vikings offense which averages 5.5 yards per play. The Vikings are giving up 142 yards on the ground each week so this is probably a good week to start your Falcons ball carriers as it’s unlikely Minnesota is going to improve on their 4.7 yards per carry rush average against.
Time and time again we’ve seen Vikings QB Culpepper throw turnovers when Minnesota gets down by more than a touchdown. I expect more of the same this week as the Falcons jump out early and force Minnesota to play catch-up. Atlanta wins this game by more than a touchdown.
DENVER at Jacksonville
Conventional Wisdom says that the Denver Broncos are now on a roll. Conventional Wisdom is wrong once again.
Denver goes on the road to Florida once again after a big win home win against the Chiefs. That has been the receipt for disaster in the past. Back in Week 1 the Broncos went down to Miami as favorites and had their butts handed to them by the Dolphins. The Broncos don’t travel well to Florida it seems.
QB Jake Plummer has never thrown a touchdown pass against the Jaguars so if he gets one this week he’ll surprise all of us. The Broncos running game should do less well against Jacksonville who has already contained Shaun Alexander, Edge, and Curtis Martin this season. On a short week, I don’t expect the Broncos to have any new wrinkles so it’s a matter of which team can execute better.
This looks like a very low scoring game with the first team to 20 points winning. It's a good time to sit those Broncos if you have better options this week.
HOUSTON at Cincinnati
Conventional Wisdom says that this is a bad spot for the Bengals who are 3-0 playing the 0-2 Texans this week with Jacksonville on deck next week. Unconventional Wisdom says play your Bengals.
Houston has the worst offense in the NFL. Actually, they are last in three categories: yards per game (170), scoring (7 points per game), and passing yards (65). That was bad enough to prompt a change in the offensive coordinator (Chris Palmer-out, replaced by Joe Pendry) during the Texans bye week. Doubtful the team has a whole new playbook prepared and ready to go in two short weeks even if they hadn’t been interrupted by hurricane Rita. QB Carr is second to last in the NFL passer ratings and was sacked eight times (13 times in two games) in his last outing… the term speed bump more or less sums up his NFL career.
On the other hand, the Bengals have the third most yards per game on offense. QB Carson Palmer has a QB rating of 114 (second in the league).
If this game was being played in Houston, then the conventional wisdom may be correct. But with the Bengals going home to play in front of an inspired crowd, this is a game that should get ugly quickly.
N.Y. JETS at Baltimore
If you haven’t dumped your Jets, it’s time to consider it with Brooks Bollinger starting at QB. The Ravens are going to put nine in the box and dare the Jets to throw the ball. First team to 14 points wins this game.