New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins – The Pats were bombed out at home on week three versus the Dolphins and need this one badly to stay within striking distance to the division leading Jets. The Dolphins would like nothing better than to thrust a sword into the heart of the ailing Pats and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Patriots defense are going to miss Adalius Thomas a great deal, but look for the difference in this one to be their (the Pats) veteran defense unit.
Patriots 24 – Dolphins 21
Philadelphia Eagles vs Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens would like nothing better than to shut down the Eagles anemic running game and put the ball squarely in the hands of a slumping Donovan McNabb. The key to the Ravens offense is to effectively run the football and protect improving rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. Willie Anderson’s ankle injury has limited his practice week and could spell trouble for the Ravens already thin offensive front. It should come down to the wire, but I like the home to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Ravens 20 – Eagles 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Detroit Lions – Don’t look for the 7 – 3 Buccaneers to look beyond this weeks game against the Lions even with three extremely important consecutive division games coming up on the schedule. Look for the Buccaneers to try and pound the football inside (everybody else has against the Lions) and to further control the football with their short controlled passing game. The Lions re hoping for nothing more than to become the only 0 – 16 team in NFL history. Don’t see it happening week number twelve.
Buccaneers 31 – Lions 17
New York Jets vs Tennessee Titans – The Titans in compiling a perfect 10 – 0 record, have really not played particularly well in recent weeks. The Jets on the meantime have won four straight and six of the last seven contests. Brett Favre appears to have settled down some after a mid season slump and Thomas Jones is performing better than he has during his entire professional career. Kerry Collins has played extremely well in recent weeks and This is without question a must see heavyweight battle between two clubs who may well meet next week for the conference title. I went back in forth, but in the end I believe the home turf advantage will be the big difference in this key AFC battle.
Titans 17 – Jets 13
Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns – Neither team has played particularly well or with any real consistency during the 2008 season, and with no realistic playoff chances, both clubs are now just playing for respectability. I’ve been particularly disappointed in the Texans’ inability to restrict the running game. Neither interior defender has played particularly well this season and the team’s second level defenders lack the size and bulk to effectively make plays at the point of attack. Three of the four Browns’ victories have surprisingly come on the road while, while the Texans have yet to win on the road. Brady Quinn, has played adequately in his first two starts and should continue to improve with each passing game. The club who can play better defensively should win this one and I’m betting in week twelve it’s going to be the Browns.
Browns 26 – Texans 24
Chicago Bears vs St. Louis Rams – The Bears have run and controlled the football far better in 2008 than they have in recent years. The Rams on the other hand have not had any prolonged success in restricting the run game for the past three seasons. Offensively the Bears surprisingly have not shown much effectiveness rushing the passer, but with future Hall of Famer, Orlando Pace out with injury and right guard Rich incognito doubtful for this weeks contest, I see few possible advantages that I can attribute to this struggling Rams outfit.
Bears 27 – Rams 16
Minnesota Vikings vs Jacksonville Jaguars – The four and six Jaguars biggest advantage this week appears to be the visiting Vikings disappointing one and four record on the road and zero victories in games played outdoors. The Viking pressure defense has played well in all but one contest this season (Bears), and has the leagues top running back, but quarterback Gus Frerotte has been very inconsistent since taking over the starting role in week three. I really haven’t liked the way second year starter David Garrard has performed, but the club’s two headed running game have played well as of late. I see another close battle with the Jaguars’ Scobee possibly proving the difference.
Jaguars 27 – Vikings – 24
San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys picked up a much needed victory over the divisional rival Redskins last week and take on two softies in a row before closing against four very possible playoff candidates. The 49ers on the other hand won for the first time in the Mike Singletary, but a December 21 pre-Christmas rematch against the lowly Rams appears to be the only remaining potential on their schedule. The Cowboy, particularly on offense have not played to near their potential, but should improve now that Tony Romo has recovered from his broken right pinkie finger. In the end, they (the Cowboys), have too much to lose and far too much fire power for the 3 and 7 49ers.
Cowboys 30 – 49ers 18
Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs – After winning four games to start the 2008 season, the Bills have dropped four straight contests including three to divisional rivals Miami, New England, and the NY Jets. The Chiefs on the other hand have won just once during the season and have dropped six straight since upsetting the Broncos in week four. In recent weeks, the Chiefs have played far better at home, but in reality this is just not a very good football team. If the Bills are to have any chance, they will have to play far better, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Look for Trent Edwards to rebound and put up some big numbers, while Marshawn Lynch to have another impressive week running the football against a very generous Chiefs defense.
Bills 26 - Chiefs 21