Showdown in Foxboro
Who will win the 13th meeting between both future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks?
Thursday, October 4 8:20 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Arizona Cardinals 4-0 @ St. Louis Rams 2-2
Both defenses are forcing turnovers and making it difficult for the opposition to get the ball in the endzone. Steven Jackson (groin) is expected to play and he’ll need to be effective against a raw-dog Cardinals defensive front that should have Darnell Dockett (hamstring) ready to play. This game will come down to what offense can keep themselves out of third and long situations and despite Arizona being 4-0, they are only averaging 2.7 yards per carry. That needs to change if you want to win away from home. After all, we aren’t in Arizona, the desert. Pick: Rams 24, Cardinals 23.
Final Score: Rams (3-2) 17, Cardinals (4-1) 3
Sunday, October 7
1:00 PM ET
Miami Dolphins 1-3 @ Cincinnati Bengals 3-1 – TV: CBS
There are two things Miami is really good at that can help them possibly win this game. 1, running the football and eating up clock, keeping offenses off the field. 2, getting after the quarterback on defense. They can do this against the Bengals if Reggie Bush has a big day on the ground and Cameron Wake breathes down Andy Dalton’s neck all afternoon. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer won’t have his group sleeping on Miami’s rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s arm because the training wheels are off of him. You must pressure the kid into mistakes with some blitz packages. That’s the plan for Zimmer and the Bengals defense. Pick: Bengals 21, Dolphins 19.
Green Bay Packers 2-2 @ Indianapolis Colts 1-2 – TV: FOX
With head coach Chuck Pagano missing due to treatment for leukemia, the Colts will have a win it for Chucky type attitude. I don’t think that’ll be enough to slow down Green Bay’s deadly weapons of Aaron Rodgers on passing downs. And if you’re looking for a big fantasy pickup for this weekend, get James Jones who’ll get some good targets with Greg Jennings (groin) sidelined. Pick: Packers 31, Colts 17.
Baltimore Ravens 3-1 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1-3 – TV: CBS
ongoing turnover factor continues for Matt Cassel and the Chiefs offense, we may see Brady Quinn under center. And when your offense has a bad habit of doing so, it’s time to feed Jamaal Charles the rock. Either way Kansas City tries to do it, they won’t better Baltimore in the aspect of discipline football. Pick: Ravens 27, Chiefs 16.
Atlanta Falcons 4-0 @ Washington Redskins 2-2 – TV: FOX
Here’s the big difference maker for the Falcons who’ve turned from pretender to contender. Bringing in Mike Nolan to run the defense has them bringing different looks against opponents each week. They’ll continue to use the same approach against an extremely talented rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III with some disguised coverages and blitz packages. Mainly, I don’t see how a banged up Washington defense can put a halt to the highest rated passer in the game Matt Ryan and the Falcons prolific passing attack. Pick: Falcons 33, Redskins 25.
Cleveland Browns 0-4 @ N.Y. Giants 2-2 – TV: CBS
The injury bug on both sides of the ball has New York missing receivers Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, along with safety Kenny Phillips and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Cleveland will double up on Victor Cruz, New York’s only big time target in this matchup. So look for the Giants offense to change things up by running the football effectively on first down and protect Eli Manning on third down to move the sticks. Pick: N.Y. Giants 24, Browns 13.
Philadelphia Eagles 3-1 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2 – TV: FOX
Pittsburgh can’t afford to drop to 1-3 behind Baltimore and Cincinnati in the AFC North. They’ll need to get the ground game working and running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is expected to return. That being said, I wouldn’t expect Mendenhall to get a lots of action as he’s trying to work himself back into the rotation. The Eagles defense has been stingy against the run only allowing 3.8 yards per rush and I think they’ll limit Pittsburgh from making big plays on the ground. It’ll come down to what quarterback makes less mistakes and makes big plays on the run against a heavy pass rush. In this case, I put my trust in Big Ben Roethlisberger who’ll be the bigger burger eater with extra ketchup over Michael Vick at the Heinz in a must win game. Pick: Steelers 29, Eagles 21.
4:05 PM ET
Seattle Seahawks 2-2 @ Carolina Panthers 1-3 – TV: FOX
I don’t think Cam Newton needs to be the one apologizing for fumbling the football late last week that cost the Panthers a win on the road in Atlanta. In my opinion, this is on the coach and what the Panthers are all about on offense. Key point, your quarterback is tied with your running back for most yards rushing on the team. It’s suicide football, plain and simple. And still to this day, I don’t understand why the Panthers dished out big bucks to DeAngelo Williams to be the main man on offense when he clearly isn’t. You’re setting up your quarterback that gets hit every game to possibly get injured and lose games when all the weight is put on his shoulders and Seattle has tough defense. Things just don’t make sense to me in Carolina. Pick: Seahawks 20, Panthers 17.
Chicago Bears 3-1 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1-3 – TV: FOX
What do you do when your offensive line isn’t giving your quarterback good protection? You speed things up, getting your quarterback to get rid of the football quicker and have your play-making receivers run shorter routes and make plays after the catch. That’s what Chicago did on Monday in Dallas. Just get the ball in the hands of Brandon Marshall and he’ll do the rest. Perfect switch up and two thumbs up from me to Chicago’s offensive coordinator Mike Tice making things much simpler for Jay Cutler. Pick: Bears 24, Jaguars 17.
4:25 PM ET
Tennessee Titans 1-3 @ Minnesota Vikings 3-1 – TV: CBS
Tennessee’s defense is allowing 137-yards rushing per game, not to mention the pass defense is even worse. I can’t see them doing anything to slow down Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin. Pick: Vikings 27, Titans 13.
Denver Broncos 2-2 @ New England Patriots 2-2 – TV: CBS
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Peyton Manning – “He’s a tremendous player and is really driving that offense right now, doing the things that he does that makes him Peyton Manning. He’s certainly a difficult and challenging quarterback to face. It seems like he has a good rhythm going.” That’s the obvious factor. I know coach Belichick and Patricia have something other than Manning on their minds about the Denver offense. Willis McGahee is averaging 6-yards per carry running with power and Ronnie Hillman is getting more chances as a change of pace running back that is more elusive and effective out of the backfield as a receiver. The Broncos know they have to establish the run on the road if they have any chance of winning this game. They won’t be able to outscore Brady and the Pats if they try to match points for points through the air. Whispers from Belichick to Patricia would be to get Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower ready to tackle, because the Broncos will do everything they can to get positive yardage on the ground on first down to keep Manning out of third and long situations. You can always bet the house on Belichick to have a game plan to take away his opponents strengths in a game of this magnitude. Pick: Patriots 31, Broncos 23.
Buffalo Bills 2-2 @ San Francisco 49ers 3-1 – TV: CBS
The Bills aren’t getting much out of their new look defensive line that features Mario Williams, a big reason why they’re allowing 286-yards per game against the pass. And San Francisco’s offensive line is as good as Houston’s when protecting their quarterback and creating running lanes for the running game. Not looking good for Buffalo’s chances to pull off the upset considering they have more problems than just defense because the offense has a terrible habit of turning over the football. Pick: 49ers 41, Bills 17.
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
San Diego Chargers 3-1 @ New Orleans Saints 0-4
I keep hearing all week long that the Saints will be inspired because of Sean Payton being in the building. Not so sure the Payton factor will inspire a terrible New Orleans defense that’s allowing a huge chunk of yardage all across the board. San Diego has a well balanced offense that is running the ball well and spreading the football around to multiple receivers behind the arm of Philip Rivers. The boobie-traps just keep getting worse for New Orleans every week. Pick: Chargers 34, Saints 30.
Monday Night Football, October 8 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Houston Texans 4-0 @ N.Y. Jets 2-2
Chants of Tebow begin after Houston’s J.J. Watt sacks Mark Sanchez for the third time in the first half. Houston will have it easy running the football with Arian Foster against a dismal Jets defense that allowed 245-yards rushing last week at home to San Francisco. Thank goodness America gets to watch WWE Monday Night Raw or postseason baseball other than football on a night like this. Pick: Texans 34, N.Y. Jets 7.
Bye: Dallas 2-2, Detroit 1-3, Oakland 1-3, Tampa Bay 1-3