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Weekly Game Breakdowns - Week 10
Bob Cunningham
November 8, 2007

Hey, it’s not the Patriots-Colts but this week’s Dallas-New York Giants confrontation at The Meadowlands will be a lot of fun.  The Cowboys were impressive at Philly last week, but beating the Eagles while they’re down is one thing, toppling the red-hot G-Men on the road is quite another.

See below for my breakdown.

Last week was not kind with regards to my prognostications.  I got away from the general philosophy I usually incorporate into my analysis – because that line of thinking hadn’t been much help the previous two weeks – and paid the price.  So it’s back to what I know from this point forward.  I’m assessing the numbers and letting my gut enter into it only when the numbers conflict.

And please bear in mind that my predictions are for comparison and entertainment purposes only.

2007 Picks Record Straight-up:  83-47 (64 percent)
2007 Picks Record Against-The-Spread:  61-61-8 (50 percent)
Last Week:  6-8 SU, 5-9 ATS

Here’s how I see Week 10: 

BUFFALO (4-4) at MIAMI (0-8)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Bills favored by 2½  

Strongest Trend:  Buffalo has won five of the last six meetings, and covered ATS in all six.

Last Meeting:  The Bills blanked visiting Miami, 21-0, at Buffalo last December.

Bills Status Report:  Buffalo rallied to whip visiting Cincinnati on Sunday, 33-21, for its fourth triumph in five weeks.  The Bills are second in the AFC East, four games behind New England.

Dolphins Status Report:  For the first time this season, Miami didn’t lose last week.  That the Dolphins were on their bye week is of little consequence.

Fantasy Factors:  Suddenly, the Bills have two solid QB options.  J.P. Losman or Trent Edwards – either is a decent start against the woebegone Dolphins secondary.  RB Marshawn Lynch is also a strong start.  For Miami, RB Jesse Chatman is a sleeper pick, but among the rest only WR Marty Booker should be even remotely considered.

Game Summary:  Logically, this looks like a game Miami can realistically win – at home against a division rival and approaching every contest in desperation mode.  Also, the Dolphins had an extra week to prepare.  An upset pick is tempting, but the Bills are simply playing too well to make such a forecast truly logical.  Buffalo bounces over the .500 mark and is right in the middle of the playoff chase with a solid road win here.

Prediction:  BILLS, 27-17

Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Steelers favored by 9½    

Strongest Trends:  The Steelers have won and covered each of the last eight meetings in this “rivalry.”  Pittsburgh is unbeaten at home this season and allowing less than a touchdown per contest.

Last Meeting:  Pittsburgh opened the season with a 34-7 rout at Cleveland.

Browns Status Report:  Cleveland edged visiting Seattle on Sunday, 33-30, in overtime.  The Browns are second in the AFC North, a game behind Pittsburgh.

Steelers Status Report:  Pittsburgh rolled to a 38-7 home rout of Baltimore Monday night.  The Steelers lead the AFC North.

Fantasy Factors:  The Steelers simply don’t allow points or much yardage on their home field.  I recommend benching all Browns, including QB Derek Anderson and WR Braylon Edwards, unless your alternatives have equally bad matchups (not likely).  The Steelers are good to go with their regular offensive stars – QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Willie Parker, WRs Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, and TE Heath Miller.  I’m not sold on WR Nate Washington as a reliable guy yet.  And sure, even against the improved Browns offense, you have to start the Steelers defense/special teams at home.

Game Summary:  Although Cleveland has obviously improved significantly since the 27-point spanking the Steelers laid on the Browns in the season opener, there’s nothing specific that points to the Browns having a realistic shot at the upset.  Perhaps if the Steelers take them lightly… but how often do teams take 5-3 opponents lightly?  You can’t pay me enough to go against Pittsburgh at home (I’d like to see you try, though).

Prediction:  STEELERS, 30-14

Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Titans favored by 5½    

Strongest Trend:  The underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings.

Last Meeting:  Tennessee upset the Jaguars at Jacksonville in the season opener, 13-10.

Jaguars Status Report:  Jacksonville lost at New Orleans Sunday, 41-24.  The Jaguars are third in the AFC South, two games behind Indianapolis and a game back of the Titans.

Titans Status Report:  Tennessee stopped Carolina at home last week, 20-7.  The Titans are second in the AFC South, a game back of Indy.

Fantasy Factors:  Dee-fense.  Both units are good to go… the Titans because they’re at home and playing well and Jacksonville’s because it’s a quality unit coming off a forgettable performance.  I recommend no one for the Jacksonville offense – RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are pitted against the NFL’s top rushing defense.  Because he’s been hot, I like Titans RB Lendale White.  But dat’s it.

Game Summary:  Expect this game to be every bit as hard-hitting and contentious as the Ravens-Steelers tilt last Monday night, and this one will be a lot closer.  At home, the Titans get the nod to complete the season sweep.

Prediction:  TITANS, 17-13

DENVER (3-5) at KANSAS CITY (4-4)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Chiefs favored by 4  

Strongest Trends:  The home team has won the last nine meetings, going 7-2 ATS over that stretch.

Last Meeting:  Kansas City prevailed at home, 19-10, last Nov. 23.

Broncos Status Report:  Denver was routed at Detroit a week ago, 44-7.  The Broncos are third in the AFC West, a game behind co-leaders Kansas City and San Diego.

Chiefs Status Report:  Kansas City lost at home to Green Bay on Sunday, 33-22.

Fantasy Factors:  Neither team is doing much on offense, and the Broncos may be without QB Jay Cutler.  Patrick Ramsey would start, but he is to be ignored for fantasy purposes.  In fact, ignore all Broncos for the time being.  For KC, RB Larry Johnson is out – veteran Priest Holmes and youngster Kolby Smith will fill in – and I’d bypass either even against the NFL’s worst run defense.  With WR Dwayne Bowe also nicked, the Chiefs passing game beyond TE Tony Gonzalez should be avoided. Kansas City’s defense is a good start.

Game Summary:  I’ve never seen a Mike Shanahan-coached club in such disarray.  The Broncos will get things straightened out eventually, but probably not this week.  KC’s defense is good enough to eek out a victory, although a Denver upset wouldn’t shock me.

Prediction:  CHIEFS, 20-13

Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Redskins favored by 2½   

Strongest Trend:  The road team has won three of the last four meetings.

Last Meeting:  Washington triumphed at Philadelphia in Week 2, 20-12.

Eagles Status Report:  Philly was pasted at home by Dallas Sunday night, 38-17. The Eagles are last in the NFC East.

Redskins Status Report:  Washington rallied to clip the New York Jets in overtime on the road, 23-20, last Sunday.  The Redskins are third in the NFC East, two games behind Dallas and a game back of the New York Giants.

Fantasy Factors:  Probably not going to be a lot of scoring.  For the Eagles, RB Brian Westbrook is an every-week play.  Ideally, you sit everyone else.  Washington’s best threat is RB Clinton Portis, with TE Chris Cooley also a solid start, as is the Redskins defense.

Game Summary:  To quote country singer Shania Twain (actually, I’d prefer to look at her), the Redskins just “don’t impress me much.”  I think I’ve pulled that not-so-clever line out for the Skins previously and, well, nothing has changed.  They’re truly pretty lucky to be 5-3 – outplayed by the Jets for most of the game last week, and ditto by the Cardinals on the Redskins’ home field less than a month ago.  Washington’s D is decent, but its offense is Portis (when healthy) and not much else.  And, for whatever reason, the home teams haven’t played well in this series recently.  Philly is the pick in a mild upset.

Prediction:  EAGLES, 20-17

MINNESOTA (3-5) at GREEN BAY (7-1)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Packers favored by 6

Strongest Trends:  The road team is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings. The Packers have won the last three meetings straight-up.

Last Meeting:  Green Bay beat the Vikings at Minnesota, 23-16, earlier this season.

Vikings Status Report:  Minnesota rolled to a 35-17 victory over visiting San Diego last week.  The Vikings are tied with Chicago for third place in the NFC North.

Packers Status Report:  Green Bay won at Kansas City, 33-22, and remains a game ahead of Detroit atop the NFC North.

Fantasy Factors:  He won’t break the single-game rushing record again, but RB Adrian Peterson is obviously an every-week start from this point forward.  That’s the only recommendation for Minnesota.  For the Packers, QB Brett Favre and WRs Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are good to go.  Driver is in a statistical slump but could emerge at any time.  TE Donald Lee is a solid start as well.

Game Summary:  Statistical oddity of the week:  the Vikings lead the league in rushing offense, the Packers are dead last.  So why is Green Bay going to win?  Because of Favre.  He will make plays in the passing game, and the Pack’s defense will bend a little to Peterson’s whims but not break enough to suffer the upset.  Still, I like Minnesota to keep this rivalry game tight.

Prediction:   PACKERS, 21-16

ATLANA (2-6) at CAROLINA (4-4)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Panthers favored by 4

Strongest Trend:  The road team has won the last four meetings.

Last Meeting:  The Panthers won, 27-20, at Atlanta in Week 3.

Falcons Status Report:  Atlanta held off San Francisco at home a week ago, 20-16, but remains last in the NFC South.

Panthers Status Report:  Carolina was dominated at Tennessee, 20-7, and is tied for second with New Orleans in the NFC South, a half-game behind Tampa Bay.

Fantasy Factors:  RB Warrick Dunn played well last week with Jerious Norwood sidelined.  He’s a decent start here.  I don’t recommend any other Falcons.  Carolina’s QB situation remains iffy… avoid whoever starts.  RB DeShaun Foster is an OK starter, and because of his upside, you have to stick with WR Steve Smith unless you have a star-caliber alternative.  The Panthers defense, inconsistent this season, is a good play.

Game Summary:  It’s only logical that because the Panthers lost their unbeaten road record last week, they should snap their winless home spell this Sunday.  Truth be told, this game is Carolina’s season.  If the Panthers stumble, they’re likely toast.  Carolina plods out a home win… somehow.

Prediction:  PANTHERS, 20-10

ST. LOUIS (0-8) at NEW ORLEANS (4-4)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. PT

Line:  Saints favored by 11½  

Strongest Trends:  The road team is 6-2 SU and ATS in the last eight meetings.

Last Meeting:  The Rams won at home, 28-17, in 2005.

Rams Status Report:  St. Louis was off last week.

Saints Status Report:  New Orleans pummeled Jacksonville at home on Sunday, 41-24, for its fourth straight win.  The Saints are tied for second with Carolina in the NFC South, a half-game behind Tampa Bay.

Fantasy Factors:  The Rams are averaging fewer than five points a game on the road this season.  So although it’s likely they can surpass that meager figure, there’s no points explosion on the horizon.  Play RB Stephen Jackson if you can confirm he’s starting, and the QB Marc Bulger/WR Torry Holt combo is a keeper, especially if the Rams fall behind big and are forced to throw a lot.  For the Saints, stay with blazing hot QB Drew Brees and WR Marques Colston, and of course, RB Reggie Bush.  TE Eric Johnson is worthy, and two good sleepers are WRs Lance Moore and David Patten.  Kicker Olindo Mare is also a solid start, and in larger leagues the Saints defense is worth a shot as well.

Game Summary:  Just about impossible to picture a team on as fine a run as New Orleans is stumbling against a winless team in its own building.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Saints remain on a roll, Rams remain winless.

Prediction:  SAINTS, 38-14

Sunday, Nov. 11, 1:05 p.m. PT

Line:  Ravens favored by 4½

Strongest Trend:  The home team has won the last four meetings.  Favorites are 10-3 ATS in the last 13 contests.

Last Meeting:  Cincinnati won at home, 27-20, on the season-opening Monday night.

Bengals Status Report:  Cincinnati lost at Buffalo, 33-21, and has dropped six of seven since that win over Baltimore.  The Bengals are last in the AFC North.

Ravens Status Report:  Baltimore was routed at Pittsburgh Monday night, 38-7.  The Ravens are third in the AFC North, two games back of Pittsburgh and a game behind Cleveland.

Fantasy Factors:  Cincinnati’s explosive offense meets Baltimore’s formerly fine defense.  The Bengals running game can be eliminated – that means a seat on the bench for Rudi Johnson.  QB Carson Palmer is an every-week starter, and T.J. Houshmanzadeh is likewise. Check the status of WR Chad Johnson, and don’t be afraid to start him if he’s active.  For Baltimore, check on RB Willis McGahee and go with him if he’s cleared to play after suffering a concussion last week.  QB Steve McNair is a risk play – poor recent production but a great matchup.  WR Derrick Mason is a solid start, and so is TE Todd Heap if he plays.  He sat last week.  Time to bench the Ravens defense, even at home, until the unit demonstrates more consistency and gets healthier in its secondary, which was torched by the Steelers Monday.

Game Summary:  The Bengals are arguably the NFL’s most disappointing team.  Although the talent is there for success, it’s unlikely that Baltimore will succumb to such a band of misfits at home.  Ravens grind out a win.

Prediction:  RAVENS, 31-21

CHICAGO (3-5) at OAKLAND (2-6)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 1:15 p.m. PT

Line:  Bears favored by 3½

Strongest Trends:  The home team has won four of the last five meetings.  Chicago has won the last three.

Last Meeting:  The Bears won at home, 24-21, in 2003.

Bears Status Report:  Chicago was off last week.  The Bears are tied for third with Minnesota in the AFC North.

Raiders Status Report:  Oakland’s 24-17 home loss to Houston a week ago was the Raiders’ fourth in a row.  They are last in the AFC West.

Fantasy Factors:  Not a lot to get excited about.  Chicago’s running game has been a bust, and QB Brian Griese is inconsistent.  He does continue to find WR Muhsin Muhammad quite often.  Rookie TE Greg Olsen is a decent start.  For the Raiders, RB Justin Fargas had a big game last week.  Check Oakland’s RB health situation.  Ignore the passing game.

Game Summary:  Admittedly, it’s a hunch as much as anything else… but Oakland’s ability to run the ball and the questionable status of Chicago LB Brian Urlacher leads me to the home team here.  Call this one my Upset Special for the week.

Prediction:  RAIDERS, 23-20

Sunday, Nov. 11, 1:15 p.m. PT

Line:  Cowboys favored by 1½  

Strongest Trends:  Dallas has won the last two meetings.  The home team has covered ATS in 11 of the last 17 meetings.

Last Meeting:  The Cowboys won the season opener at home, 45-35.

Cowboys Status Report:  Dallas romped at Philadelphia Sunday night, 38-17.  The Cowboys are ahead of the Giants by a game atop the NFC East.

Giants Status Report:  New York was on a bye last week after having played in London the previous weekend.

Fantasy Factors:  The first meeting this season was a shootout, and this one should also feature plenty of points.  All key offensive starters for both teams are plays except for the Giants’ Plaxico Burress, who’s battling an ankle injury.  He is likely to play, but his effectiveness is limited. Also, both defenses should be given the week off.

Game Summary:  In other game analyses, I’ve noted such comparisons as one team having extra time to prepare and the other operating on a short week, or remaining on the road a second week in a row, and those issues simply haven’t been relevant this season (consider Green Bay’s win at Kansas City last week).  The game will be close – and probably the week’s most entertaining clash – and I have to give a reserved nod to the visiting Cowboys, whose defense is more likely to force Eli Manning into mistakes when compared to the Giants’ pass rush having an adverse effect on the elusive Tony Romo.

Prediction:  COWBOYS, 31-24

DETROIT (6-2) at ARIZONA (3-5)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 1:15 p.m. PT

Line:  Cardinals favored by 1    

Strongest Trend:  The home team has won the last seven meetings, covering ATS in all of them.

Last Meeting:  Arizona won, 17-10, at home last season.

Lions Status Report:  Detroit routed visiting Denver last week, 44-7, and is second in the NFC North, a game behind Green Bay.

Cardinals Status Report:  Arizona lost at Tampa Bay a week ago, 17-10.  The Cardinals are also second in their division (NFC West) and a game behind the leader (Seattle).

Fantasy Factors:  RB Kevin Jones has been solid, and is a good start this week.  QB Jon Kitna is worthy, but it’s routinely tough recommending any Lions WRs because there’s no clear-cut No. 1.  For the Cardinals, QB Kurt Warner and his two top WRs, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, are good starts as is RB Edgerrin James.

Game Summary:  The Cardinals are tough at home, the Lions have struggled on the road.  The home team has won seven in a row in this series.  Easy call, right?  Wrong.  I’ll take Detroit, because the Lions are playing well and with a confidence not seen in the Motor City since Barry Sanders was toting the rock.  Detroit’s defense is opportunistic and will likely keep the pressure on Warner throughout.  The Lions’ win at Chicago two weeks ago proved to me they’re no longer road patsies.

Prediction:  LIONS, 24-20

Sunday, Nov. 11, 5:15 p.m. PT

Line:  Colts favored by 3½    

Strongest Trends:  The Colts have won four of the last five meetings, including their last two trips to San Diego.  The Chargers have covered ATS in the last two meetings.

Last Meeting:  The Chargers stunned the Colts at Indianapolis, 26-17, in 2005.

Colts Status Report:  Indianapolis lost at home to New England Sunday, 24-20, but remains a game ahead of Tennessee in first place in the AFC South.

Chargers Status Report:  San Diego was flattened by Minnesota on the road, 35-17, but remains tied for first with Kansas City in the AFC West.

Fantasy Factors:  Assuming nice weather (we’re talking San Diego here), expect plenty of offense.  All the Colts regulars are good starts, including WR Marvin Harrison.  For the Chargers, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates are fairly obvious, and WR Chris Chambers has been a nice addition as well.  QB Philip Rivers is horribly inconsistent as a fantasy producer, but I give him a nod because the Colts are one of the few teams with the firepower to seize a sizable lead on the Bolts and force them into throwing more than they want (or, to put it another way, as much as coach Norv Turner likes).

Game Summary:  I’m not sure how the Colts will react to their first loss, but I doubt it will be overly negative.  They played well in defeat last week but succumbed to a slightly better team at crunchtime.  San Diego is a quality club, but it’s not a team that is a weekly lock to play at a high level.  The Colts essentially are.

Prediction:  COLTS, 28-24

Monday, Nov. 12, 5:30 p.m. PT

Line:  Seahawks favored by 10  

Strongest Trends:  The Seahawks are 7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS in the last nine meetings.

Last Meeting:  The Seahawks won at San Francisco, 23-3, in Week 4.

49ers Status Report:  San Francisco lost at Atlanta last week, 20-16, and is third in the NFC West, two games behind the Seahawks.

Seahawks Status Report:  Seattle came from ahead and lost at Cleveland in OT, 33-30, but remains atop the NFC West.

Fantasy Factors:  The 49ers’ offense is going nowhere and its best player, RB Frank Gore, is dinged.  Avoid everyone.  For Seattle, the RB scenario is somewhat of a mystery where Shaun Alexander is concerned.  Maurice Morris holds just about as much value these days.  QB Matt Hasselbeck and WR Deion Branch are quality starts, as are K Josh Browns and the Seahawks teams.

Game Summary:  A Monday Night dud… 49ers just don’t have the tools to do anything constructive offensively unless a sudden and complete reversal of fortune takes place.  The Seahawks are the easy and logical pick to roll at home.

Prediction:  SEAHAWKS, 24-10

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