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Unconventional Wisdom - Week 3
Fritz Schlottman
September 21, 2007


N.Y. Giants at Washington

The Giants are a mess.  Going into the season I thought this was a team to fade in the final eight games, but it looks like New York has wasted no time in circling the drain.  If the G-men start 0-3 they might as well kiss this season goodbye because this team’s chemistry is so bad they will implode.

Historically, teams that start out the season with two losses have been good bets in game three.  Knowing that they face long odds to make the playoffs with a third straight season-opening loss, most 0-2 teams respond with a great effort.

But I’m not going anywhere near the window to back New York until I see some signs of life.  Their defense is terrible, especially the secondary.  The G-men have allowed 80 points in their first two games.  The team is ranked last in the NFC in total defense, scoring defense, and passing defense.  I have no confidence that N.Y. is going to turn the defense around this week.

The Giants only shot at winning this game is to outscore the Redskins.  Washington isn’t great in any one area, just above average in all areas.  That’s probably enough to be a playoff team in the NFC and certainly enough to get the victory this week if the Giants don’t go for broke.  New York has the weapons to win a shootout.  RB Derrick Ward is ranked 2nd in the NFC with 179 rushing yards and a gaudy 6.4 yds./carry average. QB Eli Manning is fifth in the NFC in passing.  The Giants have the weapons to win a shootout, but do they have the will?  Washington 27 N.Y. Giants 21.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay

The Rams have been terrible in two home games.  The team previously known as the “Greatest Show on Turf” scored an underwhelming two touchdowns in the first two games, a huge disappointment to fantasy players who loaded up their rosters with St. Louis players and have gotten little or no production two games into the season.

The Rams’ have three problems: blocking, tackling, and hanging on to the football.  RB Steven Jackson is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, QB Mark Bulger was sacked six times by the 49ers, and the Rams have significant injury problems at both tackles.  The Rams have also turned the ball over five times in the second half, putting their smallish defense under the gun.  The Rams like to blitz, which would be fine if their corners and safeties could cover and tackle.  Unfortunately for St. Louis their front seven can’t get to the quarterback and the secondary can’t cover the opposing receivers leading to big plays.

Fortunately, this week’s opposition, the Tampa Bay Buc’s, aren’t exactly juggernauts.  RB Cadillac Williams is averaging an underwhelming 3.4 yards per carry leaving QB Jeff Garcia to run for his life.  The Buc’s defense struggles to put pressure on the opposing quarterback.  Tampa Bay has less yards (rushing, passing, and total), less points, less first downs, less time of possession, and less sacks than their opposition.  In other words, despite being 1-1, this is not a good football team.

Like the Giants, it’s now or never time for the Rams.  St. Louis makes progress this week.  St Louis 24 Tampa Bay 21

Detroit at Philadelphia

There’s no reason why the Eagles should be laying a touchdown to the Lions.  RB Westbrook has had his first MRI of the season on his knee and he’s the one bright spot for Philadelphia.   Westbrook left Monday Night’s game with a knee sprain.  The Eagles running back didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday and may not be available this Sunday.  The Eagles desperately need him in the lineup.  The passing game is going nowhere with TE Smith nursing a groin injury and both starting receivers (Brown and Curtis) combining for nine catches through two games.  The injury news on defense isn’t any better.  Both Pro Bowl safeties are dinged although Brian Dawkins may play on Sunday with a neck injury. 

Detroit has too much at wide receiver for the Eagles depleted secondary to cover.  Williams at 6’3” and Johnson at 6’5” are going to be handfuls if QB Kitna has time to throw.  Expect the Eagles to blitz, blitz, and then blitz some more hoping to knock the fragile Lions signal-caller out of the game with yet another concussion.  That strategy should lead to a game of big plays. 

Detroit has its own secondary problems, but you have to go with the better offense in a shootout.  Detroit wins and covers its second road game of the season 24-21.


Minnesota at Kansas City

Hmm…Which team do I want?  Do I want the road team that committed 12 penalties and turned the ball over five times including four interceptions in their last road game, or do I want the home team that has been outscored 40-13 thus far this season?  Decisions, decisions, decisions….

The Vikings has real problems.  QB Travaris Jackson was just terrible in his first two games throwing five interceptions to just one touchdown.  To make matters worse, the Vikings quarterback picked up a groin injury against the Lions and may not play this week. If he can’t play, then the team will turn to either Brooks Bollinger or Kelly Holcomb.  Maybe it’s not all Jackson as Minnesota’s wide receivers have gone missing in action.  The Vike’s leading WR is Wade with six catches for 50 yards and no touchdowns through two games.  Minnesota’s defense, which is leading the team in scoring, will likely be without both starting safeties this week.

The Chiefs have their own issues, namely scoring only one touchdown and 13 points thus far this season.  RB Larry Johnson has been a non-factor this season and the Chiefs have neither the quarterback nor receivers to carry the offense if they can’t run the ball.

It all adds up to a big Under play.  Kansas City 13 Minnesota 10.

Jacksonville at Denver

The Broncos have had two thrilling final play victories.  The good news is they’ve won both games.  The bad news is they’ve been life-and-death to beat the winless Oakland Raiders and the winless Buffalo Bills.  Denver steps up in class against Jacksonville this week and the results may be different.

Denver’s offense has been dominating, but yards have yet to translate into touchdowns.  The Broncos offense is averaging a gaudy 455.5 yards per game.  That’s 36.5 yards per game better than the all-powerful Patriots.  It’s also nearly 65 yards per game better than the 2006 Saints offense.  Unfortunately for Bronco fans and fantasy players turnovers, missed field goals, and penalties in the red zone have hurt Denver’s point production.

This week’s opponent isn’t in the same class as Oakland and Buffalo.  The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is another animal entirely.  Historically, Jacksonville is hard to run the football against, although the Tennessee Titans seem to have found the magic formula (spreading them out).  The Jaguars are still one of the toughest pass defenses.

Look for both teams to run the ball and call safe passing plays.  That usually leads to a low-scoring game.  Denver’s luck finally runs out.  Denver 17 Jacksonville 20.

Upset(s) of the Week

St. Louis (See above)

Detroit (See above)

Jacksonville (See above)

Dallas Cowboys at Chicago
Rex Grossman plays quarterback for the Bears.  That’s about all you need to know.  Cowboys pull the upset the Bears on the road 21-10.

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Game Predictions
Projected Player Stats
Start / Bench List
Team Defense Report
The 6-Pack
Free Agent Forecast
Weekly Game Breakdowns
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