Kansas City at San Diego
The Chargers played well enough to win last Sunday against the Eagles, but a botched field goal led to the loss. Kansas City came back from a bye week last Friday night and went down to Florida and beat up the Dolphins
San Diego does need a win, right now they trail the Chiefs by a game and a half and another early loss may be fatal to the Chargers hopes this season in the very competitive AFC. Both teams have the same strengths and weaknesses: they run the ball exceptionally well, they have a passing game whose best weapon is the tight end and neither team has an exceptionally good pass defense. Kansas City rediscovered their tight end only after LT Willy Roaf got back on the football field. Gonzales’ production flat-lined when the Chiefs made the decision to keep him in to help protect QB Green with Roaf on the sidelines. Now that Roaf is back, Gonzales’s numbers and the Chiefs passing game should improve.
Injuries have really hurt this Chargers team. San Diego has 10 players questionable or out of this contest including three linebackers, three offensive linemen, and two cornerbacks. Sooner or later, playing back-ups at key positions is going to catch up with this football team.
This has been a close series. The similarities between these squads probably explains why eight of the last nine games between these two old AFL rivals have been decided by a touchdown or less, including six by four points or less.
The spot favors the Chargers who will be looking for a bounce-back effort after heartache last week, while this is Kansas City’s second straight game on the road. Once again I’ll ignore the Conventional Wisdom and go with the series history. The Chargers win by a field goal in a relatively high-scoring game.
Minnesota at Carolina
Last week I wrote that I wouldn’t touch the Vikings until they hit bottom and bounced. You saw just that last week. Minnesota went into the locker room at halftime trailing the visiting Packers 17-0. Minnesota came out and scored 23 points in the second half to win the contest 23-20.
This week I’m coming back with the Vikings against a very ordinary Carolina Panthers squad. The Panthers should be feeling very fortunate to be 4-2. Carolina has not been able to run the ball as they haven’t had a 100 yard rusher so far this season and QB Delhomme hasn’t thrown for 300 passing yards in 2005. That’s not exactly a good offensive mix. Meanwhile Carolina’s defensive has been equally disappointing. So far DE Julius Peppers has been MIA this season and the Panthers secondary isn’t getting the job done. In fact, the only thing this year’s version of the Panthers can hang their hat on is the rush defense which is among the league’s best. That might be the key to this contest…that is if Minnesota could run the ball at all…which seems beyond their capabilities thus far this season.
If Carolina can’t make QB Daunte Culpepper uncomfortable in the pocket, the Vikings offense has enough juice to win this game. The Vikings on the road have been a poor proposition for some time now. Once again, that’s the Conventional Wisdom. I’ll take Minnesota to keep this game under a touchdown and put up some good offensive numbers against that Panthers defense.
Miami at New Orleans
The Conventional Wisdom is that the Saints are too beaten up and too disorganized to put up a fight. Unconventional Wisdom says that this is the game New Orleans puts it all together.
The Saints are a disaster. They have 14 players that are questionable or worse on the injury report including their best three wide receivers (Stallworth, Horn, and Hakim), two runningbacks, three guards, and one tackle. Reports are the Saints are having difficulty practicing as they can’t field a scout team unless players are allowed to bring their crutches and walkers with them.
Despite all the injuries, every week you see New Orleans march up and down the field against their opponents. Last week, the Rams were beaten. Had the Saint just been a little more effective in the red zone, New Orleans would have blown out St. Louis.
So why is New Orleans going to win this game? First, because this is the Saints first contest in the state of Louisiana this season. No more playing home games in New York or San Antonio. These places are nice, but only the NFL’s brass would consider those cities home field. Expect the home fans (born and bred Louisiana Tigers) to be properly lubricated and very vocal. Second, Miami’s defense has its own injury problems. No Jason Taylor this week, no Junior Seau, no Kevin Carter, no Lance Shulters, and no Sam Madison. You can make a pretty good argument that the Dolphins will be playing with their second team defense this week.
With all the key injuries, this should be a high scoring affair. Not the marquis game on the card, but the contest should generate enough points and yardage to make fantasy owners happy. The Saints get the win in a pretty entertaining game.
Chicago at Detroit
Detroit is favored by a field goal. Hmm…it wasn’t that long ago that this same Bears team hosted the Motor City Kitties and put a 38-6 beating on them. So now you’re telling me that this Lions team should be favored in this spot? I know QB Garcia has come in and led them to a rare home victory, but this Detroit team was a lot better when they went to Chicago.
Who’s going to play wide receiver for the Lions? Not Charles Rodgers, not Eddie Drummond, not Roy Williams, and not Kevin Johnson, they’re all questionable or worse to play on Sunday. Your starting Lions WRs are going to be Mike Williams and Scott Vines. Williams is a rookie and you’ve never heard of Vines. You don’t even want to know who the third and fourth receivers are going to be. You put Garcia behind a creaky offensive line that can’t pass block or open holes for the running game and you ask Scott Vines to be the man against the NFL’s leading defense…Detroit are just begging for another beating.
I’m building a nice impact crater from banging my head against the table at my favorite watering hole. I figure if I watch enough NFC North games they’ll be able to use the indentation as a salsa bowl by Week 14. The old walnut takes another beating as these two teams produce yet another forgettable game. The Bears get the ugly win.
Cleveland at Houston
So, how can the Texans be favored against anyone? Oh, right Houston is the home team and they circled this game because it may be their only chance of winning a contest all season. Let me give you the Reader’s Digest version here. The Browns are playing hard for HC Crennel and the Texans don’t give a rat’s behind. Because Cleveland actually cares about the outcome of a game, they have the better offense and defense in this contest. The Texans don’t throw for 90 passing yards a game because their offensive line started mailing it in weeks ago. Until the Texans show signs of life, there’s no point in chasing them. Cleveland wins a low scoring game.