An analysis of the schedule led to only one game/team in a favorable position that would not be obvious to the casual observer. There are weeks like this one where games are evenly divided into the haves vs. the haves and the have-nots vs. the have-nots. With no big rivalry games scheduled for Week 7, there isn’t the opportunity to find teams that might get caught looking ahead.
That said it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that Seattle should have a healthy box score when all is said and done against the traveling Texans or that the Bengals passing game should be able to exploit the hapless Titans defense. For that matter, if you don’t think the Patriots/Broncos, Rams/Colts, and Chargers/Raiders will put up points I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Good games to watch, but no situations where one team has a motivational edge over the other.
The opportunities for teams to lay eggs is a little more promising.
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
The good news is that Dallas finally beat the Eagles, the bad news is they have to get up for another tough divisional foe this week and that may be asking a little too much in this spot.
The Giants are well rested and QB Eli Manning has made great strides in his development as a NFL quarterback. Without a doubt, barring injury, Manning will be on everyone’s list a quality fantasy starter next season. He should be productive again this week as the Cowboys defense isn’t likely to have two “A” games in a row against quality opposition. The G-men’s defense is already giving up more than 70 yards per game more than their offense is gaining and my opinion is that -70 is a pretty accurate range for the rest of the season so the Cowboys are going to have to help them out a little with some uninspired play.
Dallas caught the Eagles flat after an emotional come-from-behind victory last week. This week it’s their turn to be a little rusty. The Giants win this game in a mild upset.
Carolina at Detroit
Here’s a bad spot for both teams. This is Carolina’s second of back-of-back games on the road. Last week they were in Arizona, this week it’s the Motor City. The good news is Carolina played well on the road in the 4 th quarter, something they haven’t excelled at for many years now. Carolina is often a poor favorite and even more so on the road, therefore getting a win by even a slim margin is a positive sign. The day the Panthers beat a decent team they should beat on the road is the day I will reconsider my opinion. But here the Panthers are in a more comfortable role as an underdog against a wretched Lions squad.
If you weren’t one of the half dozen people that watched, don’t be fooled by the final score of the Lions victory over the Ravens as Detroit bumbled their way to an ugly victory. Detroit gained just 277 total yards including an embarrassing 97 net passing yards. On the other side of the ball, Detroit let Baltimore average nearly five yards per carry. Carolina allows only 83 yards per game rushing so don’t expect the Lions running game to carry the team again this week. The Panthers defensive weakness is their pass defense (259 yards per game) but you shouldn’t believe QB Harrington can do anything about it anymore than you believe in the Tooth-Fairy.
Carolina will pound the ball at the Lions defense and Detroit will once again work on their punting game. That adds up to a low-scoring game with Carolina pulling the minor upset.
Washington at Kansas City
The Redskins played their best game of the season last week in Denver. Statistically, Washington was the better team that day even though they did not prevail on the scoreboard. Can the Redskins put together back-to-back games with that intensity in back-to-back road games? Probably not.
Kansas City is in a desperate situation after back-to-back losses. They’ve had a bye week to get ready for this game and enough time to regroup both on offense where the Chief’s passing game has yet to show up this season and on defense where KC regressed back to little more than the speed bumps they’ve been in recent season. If Kansas City doesn’t get it together now, they may as well start playing the kids because they are not going to catch the Broncos or the Chargers for a playoff spot with three losses and a tough divisional schedule yet to come.
Chiefs should come out throwing the ball down the field and take an early lead. As we saw with the Eagles last week, asking a team to come back two consecutive weeks on the road is asking a little too much. The Chiefs win this game and get back into the playoff picture while Washington has a forgettable week on offense and limps back home with a 3-2 record.
Minnesota at Chicago
I was expecting Vikings HC Tice to get the axe during the bye week and was disappointed that Minnesota’s management decided to keep him on. I bet they’re regretting that move after news of the “Love Boat” scandal hit the airwaves.
For the life of me I can’t think of two more distracted teams. All of Chicagoland is gritting its collective choppers and bearing with QB Kyle Orton as he learns NFL defenses the way Helen Keller learned about fire and sharp objects and now they have to look away from the television as Chicago breaks-in a rookie runningback to boot. The Vikings players have had to duck questions from the media all week about how much it costs to become a first mate on the hooker barge and how does a tight end get to be a wide receiver? Needless to say if either of these two teams is focusing on Sunday, I’d be shocked.
Well, it’s true that someone has to win, but neither team probably should if their opponent had anything on the ball. As the doctor said when they were born, “This one’s going to get ugly.”