Carolina relies on the running game to win, and now they will be missing their leading rusher. Atlanta has been getting their running game going the past few weeks. The Falcons also have the better passing game. If Jonathan Stewart rushes for over 100 yards, the Panthers may have a chance.
Falcons 34 Panthers 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins
The good news for the Bucs is that they won't have to travel far for this game. Both teams feature young quarterbacks at the helm, but Tampa's Josh Freeman might throw the ball a lot to try to pick on the Dolphins young and depleted secondary. It might come down to who controls the ball best.
Dolphins 16 Buccaneers 14
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings won their first meeting with Detroit this year by running the ball and controlling the clock. The formula will probably not be changed.
Vikings 38 Lions 24
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets
The Jets desperately need to win this game if they have any hopes at all at contending for a playoff spot. Expect them to try to run the ball down the Jaguars throats, while Jacksonville attempts to reciprocate that notion with All Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew. It will be a smash mouth game, where Rex Ryan will ask his defense to win this one.
Jets 24 Jaguars 13
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Game Of The Week
The Bengals have been the feel good story of the 2009 season thus far. They have a balanced offense and a very good defense. Playoff talk is a long overdue discussion in the Queen City, but it is a reality thus far. The problem is that the Steelers now appear to be clicking on all cylinders right now. If their running game can keep going, it will make the defending champions even more dangerous. This might be the best game of the week.
Steelers 38 Bengals 34
New Orleans Saints @ Saint Louis Rams
This is a week the red hot Saints can be thankful for playing in the NFC South. Not that the Rams are complete pushovers, because they do feature the excellent Stephen Jackson at running back, but New Orleans should win this if they do what they need to.
Saints 41 Rams 17
Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans
Don't look now, but the Titans are on the verge of a third straight win after six consecutive defeats. Chris Johnson is the MVP candidate no one talks about, but the key move might have been played by owner Bud Adams. Adams ordered that Vince Young start at quarterback just three weeks ago The Bills, who have been inconsistent all season, get Trent Edwards back at quarterback. He could have some rust on him, so Buffalo will need to run the ball well.
Titans 24 Bills 21
Denver Broncos @ Washington Redskins
The Broncos can take a big sigh of relief after dropping two straight games. They go into the Nations Capitol to face a beat up and disheartened Redskins squad who may be down to their third string running back. They will have a guy they signed off the street recently if that back, Rock Cartwright, goes down. The plays for the Redskins are called by a guy signed off the street a few weeks ago as well. The Redskins have semi-pro written all over them right now.
Broncos 27 Redskins 6
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Flip a coin here. Keep flipping it, focusing on just the coin, for three hours. It should be more fun than watching this game.
Raiders 24 Chiefs 20
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are a team that even they cannot figure out themselves. They can be very explosive or completely benign. The Seahawks defense is just as unpredictable, having shut out two teams this year. Though Arizona are undefeated on the road and have only one win at home, I'm thinking they put two weks of solid play together.
Cardinals 27 Seahawks 19
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
The Cowboys are leading the NFC East now because they run the ball well and their defensive line has played well. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on pace to being sacked over 70 times this year behind a injured offensive line. Rodgers has been very effective when given time, and has tossed just five interceptions thus far under all of that duress. If Dallas can get to him, they should win.
Cowboys 28 Packers 24
Philadelphia Eagles @ San Diego Chargers
The Eagles are winning despite being a team trying to get healthy again. Having running back Brian Westbrook back will be a tremendous help. The Chargers have been winning because they are passing the ball so well this year. They need to run well to win this one. Philadelphia had an unpleasant experience their last time in California, and will try to make amends. If their safeties play well, they have a good chance. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates could be the key.
Chargers 31 Eagles 30
New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
The Patriots face an undefeated Colts team hurting in the defensive secondary. The Patriots are rolling in every aspect of the game right now, and will be tough to beat from here on out if everyone stays healthy. Peyton Manning will keep his Colts close, but Tom Brady should have fun throwing the football.
Patriots 38 Colts 27
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
The Ravens need a win in the worst way. Luckily for them, they are facing perhaps the worst team in the NFL today.
Ravens 34 Browns 17
After watching Jay Cutler toss his eighth red zone interception in 16 games, I had a few thoughts. None of Jeff George, because even George didn't pull stunts like that. I actually began to recall my questioning Chicago gambling away their future for Cutler. If you recall, the Bears gave up two first round and a second round draft pick for his services.
Please consider these words from Broncos legendary player Karl Mecklenberg, "I have gotten to know Jay through the Broncos and golf tournaments, and he is a child still. He is more concerned with himself than the team, and when McDaniels came in, he came in with a system that wasn't going to throw as much, and Jay saw that and put McDaniels in a tough place where he had really no choice but to get rid of him."
So what you have here is another diva who puts himself before his team. A child who would rather pad his statistics over winning. This is what the Bears traded away their future for. Then there is the old "Sid Luckman Curse". Luckman is the last great and perhaps even good quarterback to play for the Bears. Luckman, a Hall Of Famer, retired in 1950, and is STILL the franchises leader in passing yards with 14,686 yards. Think about that. Luckman played in a run first era where it was a lot harder to throw the ball with the ten yard chuck rule, let alone the way offensive linemen had to block.
Since 1979, receivers have the luxury of the five yard chuck rule and blockers are allowed to extend their arms and hold on virtually every play. It is also easier to play quarterback because they cannot be hit too high, low, or hard. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers had 14,974 yards passing in 71 games coming into this season. This is just a small example of the long line of inept quarterbacks that have followed Luckman in the last 60 years for the Bears.
I am not ready to label Cutler a complete and utter failure yet for the Bears. His receiving unit is nothing special, and his offensive line is pathetic. He is also young, so there is a lot of room to grow and mature. Chicago better hurry up and get him some blockers at least, or Cutler might soon have irreparable damage to his body and fragile ego.