NFL scoring is ‘over’whelming

Oct 3, 2006 7:28 AM

For all but the eight teams which have already enjoyed or endured bye weeks, one quarter of the season has passed.

Baltimore and Indianapolis remain unbeaten in the AFC with Tennessee and Oakland still searching for their first win. Chicago remains the only unbeaten NFC team with both Detroit and Tampa Bay remaining winless. Dallas and Kansas City each posted impressive wins following the first week of byes.

Scoring has risen steadily each week since opening day. Average total points has increased from 34.6 to 46.9. After the eight early games this past week split, all of the five late and night games went ”˜over’ the total.

Here’s a look at Week 5 with Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston and Seattle enjoying byes.

Titans +18½ at Colts (48½): Hard to imagine laying nearly three touchdowns, but just as difficult to back one of the weakest teams in the league. The Colts should score plenty of points and Vince Young will either make enough big plays to get a couple of scores or make enough mistakes to give Indy some easy scores. OVER.

Redskins +4 at Giants (43): Both teams have similar styles on offense which primarily emphasize a strong running game. That should open up the passing game. Both teams have shown weak secondaries which have permitted big plays to opposing quarterbacks. Brunell and Manning should profit. OVER.

Lions +6 at Vikes (37): The Lions remain winless, but offense showing signs of life. Minnesota played well in losing at Buffalo, outgaining the Bills but losing the turnover battle. The 37 is the lowest posted total in this series in more than a decade. The Lions have allowed at least 400 yards in each of their last two games. OVER.

Bucs +6 at Saints (36½): New Orleans is imaginative on offense and aggressive on defense. Tampa is seeking its first win following the bye, unveiling rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski for injured Chris Simms. He’s had two full weeks to prepare. Given the importance of this game, coach Jon Gruden likely to keep game plan simple. BUCS.

Rams -2½ at Packers (46½): St. Louis is an early season surprise under new coach Scott Linehan. The offense has struggled at times although impressive last week against Detroit. The defense will be tested by Brett Favre, who had passed for over 300 yards in back to back games. The last three meetings produced at least 58 points. OVER.

Dolphins +10 at Pats (37): Miami may have hit rock bottom with the loss at Houston and has just 25 points the past two games. The Patriots are still good, but not nearly what they looked like last week. Miami’s defense is still one of the best and that, combined with their familiarity with this foe, should keep this game close. DOLPHINS.

Bills +10 at Bears (34): Chicago’s offense has had more big plays in the first quarter of this season than all of 2005. Buffalo has played well, but inconsistently. The running game is a strength, but the passing is below average. Without a balanced offense the Bears defense will feast. BEARS.

Browns +9 at Panthers (38): Kudos to the Browns for taking advantage of their opportunities to win at Oakland. Carolina played a much better game in defeating the Saints. Carolina is still a legitimate Super Bowl threat, but they cannot afford to let lesser foes hang around. PANTHERS.

Jets +7 at Jaguars (38): New Jets coach Eric Mangini has put some spark into a team that was often lackluster under Herman Edwards. The running game is still a concern, but QB Chad Pennington may be even stronger than before his surgeries. Although improved, the Jets are the weakest foe faced by the Jaguars this season. JAGS.

Chiefs -3 at Cards (41): It’s hard to tell if the Chiefs benefited from a bye week as they were not really tested by San Francisco. Arizona’s offense has not been as productive as expected. Turnover-prone QB Kurt Warner is expected to be replaced by rookie Matt Leinart. That should provide a spark. CARDS.

Raiders +3½ at 49ers (40): Wow! How bad are the Raiders? They rank last in the NFL averaging just 177 total yards of offense. The passing game has averaged just 70 yards in three outings. San Francisco was shut out in Kansas City, limited to just 165 total yards. The Oakland defense is allowing below 300. UNDER.

Cowboys +2 at Eagles (43½): The much awaited return of Terrell Owens will receive all the pregame attention. The Eagles can apply defensive pressure on Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe and have had great success against the Cowboys in recent seasons. Philly had won seven in a row on this field before last season’s turmoil and injuries. EAGLES.

Steelers +3½ at Padres (36½): Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger should be closer full strength after last week’s bye. He’ll be challenged by an aggressive and well coached San Diego defense. Inexperienced QB Phillip Rivers will be tested by a strong Steelers defense. Pittsburgh has played a tougher schedule and in a favorable spot as a road dog. STEELERS.

Ravens +4 at Broncos (34): This Monday night clash should be a war. Denver is rested following a bye and should be more effective on offense. Baltimore’s offense is improving under ex-MVP Steve McNair, but the Ravens are still noted for defense. Both teams will try to establish the run and not take many chances. UNDER.