Jacksonville Jaguars vs Denver Broncos – The Broncos who are extremely tough in their own building, do battle this week against a wounded Jaguar squad who desperately need this one to stay in contention in the AFC South Division race.
The Jags disappointing running game should be able to rebound this week against a Broncos defense that hasn’t had much success at stopping anyone on the ground. Through the air, Matt Jones has been the Jacksonville’s leading receiver through the first five games of the season, but the most productive part the Jags receiving grouping has been the running back combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor on flat, screens and arrow routes.
The Broncos offense is flying high with Jay Cutler, the top quarterback in the league to this point and the very dangerous receiving combination of rookie Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall. The diminutive Royal and the T.O. clone Marshall have combined for 64 receptions, 744 yards and five touchdowns in just nine total games; far and away the best combination in football.
The Jags defense has been suspect particularly in the secondary so unless they can put some real pressure on Cutler, look for this one to go squarely in the win column of the Broncos. I like their chances in this one.
Broncos 34 – Jaguars 20
Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals – This one should be one of those old fashioned shootouts! The young gun Tony Romo going up against the aging sheriff Kurt Warner.
Last week against the previously undefeated Bills, the Cardinals forced seven Buffalo turnovers in scoring 41 points. Warner on the season has thrown 10 TD receptions and when given the time, is still a very formidable signal caller.
The Cowboys with Romo leading the way are an amazing 58 % on third down conversions. The mobile Romo has thrown 11 touchdown passes and leads the league in yards per completion. The Cowboys have many potent offensive weapons, but the secondary play and coverage teams continue to be a major problem for the Cowboys.
The big problem with the Cowboys 3-4 defensive look, has been the relative ineffectiveness of their five techniques; Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, neither of who have shown the ability to apply enough sustained pressure on the passer.
Look for Cowboys rookie running back Felix Jones, who is averaging an amazing 9.0 yards per carry, to play a major role in this one. It should be a good one, but I’m going with the young gun to shoot down the old gunfighter..
Cowboys 37 – Cardinals 24
Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks – If things weren’t bad enough for the one and three Seahawks, it now appears likely that they will enter into this weeks contest against the Packers, without the services of starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and quite possibly his back–up Seneca Wallace.
If it hadn’t been for the much improved running game and the good fortune of scheduling the Rams in game number three, this decimated Seahawk squad might still be searching for their first victory of the season.
After a quick start, the Packers have lost three straight including two at home versus the Cowboys and Falcons. The running game has been dismal, but the major disappointment for the defending NFC North champions, has been the defense which has allowed better than 360 total yards a game.
Neither team is playing particularly well and the Seahawks are playing at home, but this one is far too important for this far better Green Bay squad.
Packers 37 – Seahawks 20
Philadelphia Eagles vs San Francisco 49ers – The 2 and 3 Eagles received some good and bad news this week. The good news is that this weeks’ opponent, the 49ers have performed rather poorly in recent weeks, while the bad news is that the Eagles have also dropped two in a row and will line up this week without three of their top offensive performers (Andrews, Brown and Westbrook).
Look, both coaches are in deep trouble and unless both Andy Reid and Mike Nolan turn their team’s fortunes around very quickly, I would suggest they and their staff’s get their resumes updated.
For the Eagles, Donovan McNabb numbers have been more than acceptable, but when was the last time you saw him put the team on his back or make a play with the game on the line?
The 49ers defense has given up thirty-one points in each of the last two weeks, while the offense has few players that fit into Mike Martz’s high-powered offensive system.
Look for the 49ers to attempt to run the football while the Eagles with McNabb at the helm, will attempt to exploit a San Francisco secondary that has given up some very big plays as of late.
This contest should be a close highly contested game, but if it comes down to the last possession, I question if either club have anyone on their active rosters capable of getting it done.
Eagles 27 – 49ers 20
New England Patriots vs San Diego Chargers – I thought when the schedule was announced last spring, that this one would be a mid-season prelude to the AFC championship game, but both clubs, and in particularly the Chargers, have not played to near the level that I had originally expected.
The Chargers have a host of offensive weapons including the great LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, Darren Sproles and Chris Chambers, but the receiving group as a whole is unremarkable and their offensive line is in my opinion highly overrated. The Chargers defensively have given up a ton of points, but again have some impressive players from an athletic standpoint, particularly on the back end.
The Patriots who have won ten straight games on the road have neither run the football effectively and have already given up 16 quarterback sacks in just four regular season games. Matt Cassel, who has completed two thirds of his passes on the season and last week threw for 259 yards last week versus the 49ers. I really like the progress he has made in just three professional starts and believe he could well be a force to be reckoned with before this season is over.
The Chargers just five games into the season are faced with a virtual must win situation. They certainly have the talent to win this critical match up, but I’m not sure they have the mental toughness to close the deal versus a battle tested, experienced team like the Patriots.
Patriots 31 – Chargers 23
New York Giants vs Cleveland Browns – Looking for a reason why the Giants are at the top of the heap in the NFC? It’s very simple; take a close look this Sunday at the people on their offensive front. Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara and David Diehl are certainly names that even the most fervent NFL fans are familiar with. They will bite, claw, spit and get up in your face on every snap. Kareem McKenzie shows signs of developing into a good one at the right tackle position and right guard Chris Snee, is an absolute assassin! They are not pretty as a group and none have even been selected to the Pro Bowl, but at nut-cutting time, I can’t think of another group in this league that I would rather have in front of me.
Quarterback Derek Anderson has hung in there tough, but has really struggled to make plays in critical situations (an anemic 18 for 50 on third down). Winslow, Edwards, Steptoe, and Lewis are all averaging less than ten yards per reception (unheard of at the pro level) and Jamal Lewis just isn’t moving the chains on the inside. Add to the fact that Joe Jurevicius will be on the sidelines until mid-season and off season acquisition Donte’ Stallworth, has yet to appear in a regular season game and one can get a better grip on the Brown’s offensive dilemma. The Browns’ announcement earlier in the week that Kellen Winslow was hospitalized with a mysterious illness was to my way of thinking, strange.
Although the Browns have lost both of their previous home outings, they are overall a far better football team playing on the lake. The fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium certainly make a difference, but the Giants have won an amazing eleven straight games on the road, have a balanced high-powered offense and overall just too many weapons for the Browns’ defense to handle.
Giants 31 – Browns 17