New Orleans @ Green Bay
New Orleans finally has a home game and they mop the floor with the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. Saints DL Charles Grant got back on track with 7 solo tackles and a sack, and showed everyone who was thinking of moving him, they ought to think twice. The Packers are 0-4 for the first time in the Brett Favre era, yet he isn’t the problem in Green Bay. Green Bay doesn’t play defense outside of LB Nick Barnett, and he can’t make every tackle, though 10 solo and 3 assists were impressive.
New Orleans is playing inconsistent defense, but they are putting a lot of pressure on the QB, and its paying off. Grant isn’t likely to duplicate his performance from last week, but DB Dwight Smith sure could. Green Bay will have its hands full with the Saints offense even if Joe Horn doesn’t play. Of course Nick Barnett could have a huge game meeting Deuce head on every other play.
Best Bets – New Orleans - DLCharles Grant - Green Bay – LB Nick Barnet
Solid plays – New Orleans - DBDwight Smith - Green Bay – DB Nick Collins
Others to Consider – New Orleans - DLDarren Howard - Green BayLB Robert Thomas
Baltimore @ Detroit
Baltimore hopes it can get out of its own way on offense enough to let its defense win some games for them. The Ravens OL is simply terrible right now, and Jamal Lewis can’t get going. Detroit doesn’t figure to have the pass rush the Jets had a week ago vs. Baltimore, but their defense should be good enough to stop Anthony Wright and the vertically challenged Ravens from finding the end zone, making this a close game for 4 quarters.
In this game look for Detroit to try and get Kevin Jones going, and Ray Lewis should have a big game. The size of the Lions WR’s should create problems for the Ravens DB’s and force S Ed Reed and S Will Demps to spend more time in coverage. Lions LB Earl Holmes and Boss Bailey could have nice days as well, if Baltimore can hold Detroit to Field goals instead of touchdowns.
Best Bets – Baltimore – LB Ray Lewis - Detroit – LB Earl Holmes
Solid plays – Baltimore – DB Ed Reed - Detroit – DB Kenoy Kennedy
Others to Consider –Baltimore– DB Will Demps - Detroit – LB Boss Bailey
Chicago @ Cleveland
Chicago coming off its Bye week saw its QB get liquored up and thrown out of a bar. Not exactly what HC Lovie Smith had in mind when he gave his team time off during the bye week. Cleveland also on bye, was able to stay out of the headlines and should be ready to go this weekend.
Chicago has been impressive on defense this season, and LB Brian Urlacher and DB Mike Brown have been playing at a pro-bowl level. Cleveland starting MLB Andra Davis has been one of the best linebackers in the league through the first 3 weeks, before their bye. Expect both teams playmakers to show up in this regional contest.
Best Bets – Chicago – LB Brian Urlacher - Cleveland – LB Andra Davis.
Solid plays – Chicago – LB Lance Briggs - Cleveland – LB Ben Taylor
Others to Consider – Chicago – DB Mike Brown - Cleveland – Gary Baxter
Miami @ Buffalo
Miami has been a pleasant surprise, and that can be attributed to new Head Coach Nick Saban and his team’s preparation each week. In week 3, Miami knocked off Carolina, and held the Panthers leading rusher Stephen Davis to 36 yards on 16 attempts. Buffalo was whipped last week in San Antonio by the New Orleans Saints and releasing former QB Drew Bledsoe has proved to be a huge mistake.
Nick Saban with 2 weeks to prepare for Buffalo will prove to be a huge advantage for the Dolphins. Buffalo on defense hasn’t been the same since LB Takeo Spikes went down to injury. Couple that with RB Ronnie Brown looking for another statement game before Ricky Williams returns from suspension, and this has the makings of a blowout.
Best Bets – Miami – LB Zach Thomas -Buffalo - LB London Fletcher
Solid plays – Miami – DL Jason Taylor - Buffalo - LB Angelo Crowell
Others to Consider – Miami – DB Tebucky Jones - Buffalo - DB Terrance McGee, DL Aaron Schobel.
New England @ Atlanta
New England lost at home for the first time since 2002, and by the looks of things, it wont be their last home defeat of the season. New England and its patch work defense was humiliated by the Chargers at their place to the tune of 41-17. Atlanta blew out Minnesota 30-10, and had only 88 yards passing, but 285 yards rushing. Both amazing in their win.
New England may catch a break if Vick isn’t 100%, but the way Atlanta is playing defense, they may not be able to take advantage. The Falcons had 9 sacks last week, and you can bet Tom Brady is aware of that while entering this game. Atlanta LB Keith Brookings has been impressive through 4 weeks, but the surprise of the Falcons D has been the stellar play of 2 nd yr LB Demorrio Williams. Williams has played so well, he has pushed hot free agent LB Ed Hartwell to the bench on 3 rd down, while he covers in the nickel package instead.
Best Bets – New England- DB Guss Scott - Atlanta – LB Keith Brooking.
Solid plays – New England - LB Monty Beisel - Atlanta – LB Patrick Kerney
Others to Consider – New England - DL Richard Seymour - Atlanta – LB Demorrio Williams
Seattle @ St. Louis
Seattle limped out of week 4’s defeat to Washington with both of its starting WR’s banged up and questionable for this week. Bobby Engram has 2 broken ribs, while Darrell Jackson is nursing a bruised knee. St Louis has its own share of head aches with its HC going in and out of Hospitals the last 2 weeks over an undetermined illness. Its still not determined if he will coach this game or his top assistant Joe Vitt will.
Seattle rookie MLB Lofa Tatupu had his finest game of the season in week 4, with 9 solo tackles, an assist, and a sack. Expect him to be active hunting down Rams RB Steven Jackson in this contest. St Louis best defenders at the moment are its two safeties Adam Archuleta and Michael Hawthorne. Expect both to be active again this week.
Best Bets – Seattle – DB Michael Boulware - St. Louis – DB Adam Archuleta
Solid plays – Seattle – LB Lofa Tatupu- St. Louis – LB Chris Claiborne
Others to Consider – Seattle – LB Jamie Sharper, - St. Louis – DB Michael Hawthorne
Tampa Bay @ NY Jets
Tampa Bay simply finds a way to get it done. Last week its workhorse RB Cadillac Williams had a flat tire, so it relied on backup RB Michael Pittman and WR Joey Galloway in the passing game to beat the Lions. The Jets are in QB hell right now, without its top 2 options Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler, due to injury. Third string Brooks Bollinger was so bad after one game, he was replaced by just signed Vinny Testaverde after just 2 practices.
Tampa has the firepower to score some points, but the Jets defense only shot in this game is to keep this a low scoring affair. Buc LB Shelton Quarles is still getting it done at age 34, and LB Derrick Brooks age at WLB is starting to show in his performances so far. NY doesn’t have any problems with age in its LB corps, as Jonathon Vilma is one of the youngest stars in the game. Expect a low scoring game, where a fumble, could decide things.
Best Bets – Tampa Bay - LB Shelton Quarles - NY Jets – LB Jonathon Vilma.
Solid plays – Tampa Bay - DB Ronde Barber - NY Jets – DL John Abraham
Others to Consider –Tampa Bay - DL Simeion Rice - NY Jets – DL Shaun Ellis
Tennessee @ Houston
Tennessee and Houston are both bottom feeders this season, and while its not surprising Tennessee is struggling, as they are in salary cap hell, it is surprising Houston is. Titans QB Steve McNair clearly misses Derrick Mason, and the offense isn’t the same without its best WR for the past 5 seasons. Houston can’t seem to give David Carr time to get the ball down field to, (star if he was actually thrown the ball) WR Andre Johnson.
Houston comes into this game winless, as Tennessee does have one victory on the season to date. Houston should be able to run the ball and Titan LB’s Bullock and Kassell should benefit. Expect Tennessee DL Kyle Vanden Bosch to get to QB David Carr more than once, and have another solid outing.
Best Bets – Tennessee – LB Keith Bullock - Houston – LB Morlon Greenwood
Solid plays – Tennessee – LB Brad Kassell - Houston – LB Kaliee Wong
Others to Consider –Tennessee – DL Kyle Vanden Bosch - Houston – DB C.C. Brown
Indianapolis @ San Francisco
Indianapolis finally got its offense on track, and its defense was just as stellar, holding Tennessee to 10 points. The Colts look like the real deal this year and are licking their chops at this weeks match up. San Francisco had an impressive first quarter in Mexico City, but was drilled the final 3 quarter in their beat down vs. the Cardinals.
San Francisco is starting #1 overall pick QB Alex Smith in this game, and he is in for a long day facing the pass rush of the Colts. The only thing that would make this match up worse would be if they were playing this game indoors on the fast track. One would expect the Colts DB’s to score well, as the 49ers will be forced to throw as a result of the score. The 49ers LB should score very well, with Edge being fed the ball 30 times in this game.
Best Bets – Indianapolis– LB Gary Brackett - San Francisco – LB Derek Smith
Solid plays – Indianapolis– DL Dwight Freeney - San Francisco – DB Tony Parrish
Others to Consider – Indianapolis– DB Bob Sanders - San Francisco – DL Bryant Young
Washington @ Denver
Washington pulled off another stunning upset, beating the Seahawks last week, and are the worst undefeated team in the league at 3-0. This team is literally a handful of plays away from being winless, but that’s why you suit up, and play the game. Denver looked impressive in its 20-7 victory over the Jags last week, though place kicker Jason Elam missed 2 field goals or it could have been 26-7.
Washington will not be able to hang around and steal a win vs. the Bronco’s this week, and this game will be decided by the 3rd quarter. Look for Washington’s run stoppers to score very well in this game, as Denver will control the clock with its ground game, and this could be a disappointing scoring game for the Denver LB corp.
Best Bets – Washington – LB Lemar Marshall - Denver – DB Nick Ferguson
Solid plays – Washington – DB Sean Taylor - Denver – LB Ian Gold.
Others to Consider – Washington – DL Cornelius Griffin - Denver – LB Al Wilson.
Philadelphia @ Dallas
Philadelphia showed what kind of team its made of, getting down big to Kansas City early, on the road, and storming back to get the win. McNabb and Owens put on a pass and catch clinic with Owens receiving 171 of McNabb’s 369 passing yards. Dallas is coming off its 2 nd loss of the season and once again failed to make a play down the stretch to get a win.
A year ago in Dallas, McNabb displayed a 13 second scramble that eventually led to a 40+ pass and catch to WR Freddie Mitchell. Dallas drafted LB Demarcus Ware and shifted to the 3-4 defense to prevent McNabb from ever doing anything like that again. Philly is clearly the better team, but if Brian Dawkins isn’t able to play, and Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe can beat the blitz, this could be an exciting match up.
Best Bets – Philadelphia – LB Jeremiah Trotter - Dallas – LB Dat Nguyen.
Solid plays – Philadelphia – DB Michael Lewis -Dallas – LB Bradie James,
Others to Consider –Philadelphia – DB Brian Dawkins (questionable) - Dallas – DB Roy Williams, DL/LB Demarcus Ware
Carolina @ Arizona
Carolina made a huge mistake in last Monday nights game, going for 2 with a big lead, midway through the 3 rd quarter. Favre rallied the troops and led a dramatic comeback, that fell just short. That 2 pt failure could have forced the game in OT, if Favre could have gotten another first down or two on the Packs last drive. Arizona looked like they were going to be blown out last Sunday night, trailing 14-0 early in the 2 nd qtr, only to come roaring back and embarrass the 49ers in front of 105,000 in Mexico City.
Carolina is clearly the stronger team, and wants to play ball control in this game and wear out the Cardinals defense with its rushing attack. Arizona has one of the best WR tandems in the NFL, and if QB Josh McCown can stay upright, the Cardinals will score some points. Id expect the Carolina DL to get to McCown early and often and have solid scoring in this match up.
Best Bets – Carolina – DL Julius Peppers, DL Mike Rucker - Arizona – DB Adrian Wilson
Solid plays – Carolina – LB Will Witherspoon - Arizona – LB Karlos Dansby
Others to Consider – Carolina -LB Dan Morgan - Arizona – DL Bertrand Berry
Cincinnati @ Jacksonville
Who’d have thunk, Cincinnati is undefeated, and playing some of the best football in the NFL right now. Bengals QB Carson Palmer is one of the most accurate deep ball throwers in the NFL, and he has weapons deep to make defenses pay. Jacksonville on the other hand has taken a step back from a year ago, and looks more like the Bengals of 2004. The Jags have a strong defense and weapons on offense, but have yet to put it all together like Cincinnati has done in 2005.
Linebacker play in this game will be key as Cincy MLB Odell Thurman and Jags MLB Mike Peterson have been dominate to date. Thurman started off with a bang week 1, and has fewer opportunities because teams have had to shelf the run, and turn to the pass to stay in games with Cincinnati. Peterson has been more productive as his teams offense hasn’t been as fortunate to get a big lead. But that’s what keeps Peterson productive, a tight ball game where teams are still running in the 4 th quarter.
Best Bets – Cincinnati – LB Odell Thurman - Jacksonville – LB Mike Peterson
Solid plays – Cincinnati – DL Justin Smith. - Jacksonville – DL John Henderson, DL Marcus Stroud
Others to Consider – Cincinnati – LB Brian Simmons - Jacksonville - LB Daryl Smith
Pittsburgh @ San Diego
Pittsburgh coming off a Bye, better have prepared for a resurgent Charger team, that is much better than its 2-2 record. San Diego did what Pittsburgh couldn’t the week before, beat the Patriots. The Chargers didn’t just squeak out a win, they dominated the World Champs in New England and showed every team in the NFL, the recipe for success. A strong running game, and patience in the passing game.
The Steelers have something New England doesn’t, a stout defense that can derail the Chargers running game, and force QB Drew Brees to beat them. Both teams feature a 3-4 defense where the ILB and SS play are keys to each defense’s success. This game should be a battle, and the best advice is to start your studs and get ready for a great Monday night game.
Best Bets – Pittsburgh – LB James Farrior - San Diego –LB Donnie Edwards
Solid plays – Pittsburgh – DB Troy Polamalu - San Diego –DB Terrance Kiel
Others to Consider – Pittsburgh – DL Aaron Smith - San Diego –LB Steve Foley
Open Date: Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, NY Giants