Houston at Tennessee
The Titans get the nod this week. Tennessee had a bye week off to get QB Young more comfortable with the offense and that comfort should translated into points against a Texans defense giving up 247 yards per game through the air. With RB Travis Henry running the football effectively, gaining 214 yards on the ground against Indianapolis and 194 rushing yards against the Washington Redskins, Tennessee has a nice balance on offense. As a result the Titans haven’t had to call on QB Young to win games on has own and therefore this squad has been competitive against some very considerable competition the past few weeks.
On the other hand, this looks like a let-down spot for the Texans. Houston beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-14 last week. The euphoria they’re feeling this week should be short-lived. The Titans lead this series 6-2. Asking Houston to win two games in a row, on the road, against a squad they haven’t had much past success with is asking a little too much. Tennessee gets the home victory this week.
Arizona at Green Bay
Let’s see…a new offensive coordinator comes into Arizona the day after the Cardinals blow a big lead against the Chicago Bears (with Chicago turning the ball over six times and not scoring an offensive touchdown). Six days later Arizona doesn’t get into the end zone against the hapless Raiders after forcing five Oakland turnovers. The Cardinals’ defense forces 11 turnovers in two games and you can’t get a win? Talk about deflating! That just can’t be sitting well in the Cardinals’ locker room, which by the way is $10 million under the salary cap. Can you say set-up for failure boys and girls? Sure you can.
Now the Card’s have to go back on the road to play in nasty, cold Green Bay. Despite paying RB James a boat-load full of cash, Arizona’s gotten nothing from their running game, which hurts them when playing outdoors in crappy weather a week before their bye week. Southern California native and 0-3 as a starter QB Matt Leinart gets to make his first trip to frosty Wisconsin, oh joy. A bad team, worse ownership, and a bad spot this week.
Green Bay got a taste of victory last week…I think they’re hungry for more. Give me the Packers.
Baltimore at New Orleans
Both teams are off a bye week so each team should be rested and ready to play their best this Sunday.
I can’t really say anything bad about either team, which is a change. New Orleans has been powerful on offense and their defense has played surprisingly well. The question that remains, however, is this team capable of handle prosperity? The Saints have had strong starts before only to see the train come off the tracks, tumble over the embankment, burst into fire, crash and burn. Admittedly, those Saints teams had more questions at quarterback than this squad, but history has a nasty habit of repeating itself. New Orleans started 7-1 in 1988 and finished 10-6, but missed the playoffs. In 1993, they started 5-0, but finished 8-8. And in 2002, they started 6-1 before losing their final three contests to close the season left them 9-7.
This is the start of a tough four game stretch for New Orleans. Their next four matches are at Tampa Bay, at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and at Atlanta. The Saints might just get caught looking ahead this week, and not play focused against a formidable Ravens team that will get QB Steve McNair back for this game. Give me the Ravens.
N.Y. Jets at Cleveland
Who would have thunk the Jets would be 4-3 half way through the season? Certainly not the Las Vegas Sports Gods who put New York’s season win total at 5 to 5 ½ wins. QB Pennington has played inspired football this year, a season after looking like the Jets ex-starting quarterback. It’s clear that when Pennington’s healthy, he’s a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. At least through the first half of the season (cross your fingers) all of Pennington’s body parts are attached.
Cleveland is in the same spot as the Cardinals were last week. The Browns fired their offensive coordinator (Maurice Carthon) on Monday after a disappointing start on offense (dead last in the NFL). Cleveland was averaging 14 points per game and management made a move. I can’t say I blame them, but the timing couldn’t be better for New York.
Historically, it takes an offense a few games to find its legs with a new skipper on deck, as Arizona found out in Oakland, so don’t expect an offensive explosion this week. To make matters worse, the Browns have holes all over their secondary. The team was trying out cornerbacks this week to plug the holes after another season-ending injury last game.
New plays and not many practices to get them right usually is the recipe for failure. The Jets should get by the Browns easily this week.