The 2009 season is already one quarter complete for 28 of the league’s 32 teams and through the first four games we still have a quartet of unbeaten teams (pending Minnesota’s game Monday night).
Five teams remain winless and the prospects for at least four of them do not look promising.
Here’s a look at the 14 games to be played this week with Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Diego enjoying their Byes.
Minnesota at St Louis (No Line): Minnesota is off of Monday night’s over-hyped game against Green Bay and will be about a 10 point road favorite over the seemingly inept Rams. Preference is for the UNDER.
Dallas (-9) at Kansas City (Over/Under 43): KC is playing their third of four straight games against NFC East teams after losing to both Philadelphia and the Giants the past two weeks. The Chiefs are getting the same points here as they did against the Giants and the Giants are a much better team than the Cowboys. Preference is for KANSAS CITY.
Washington (+3) at Carolina (37½): Washington struggled more than they should have in rallying to defeat Tampa Bay last week and now take to the road to face a rested 0-3 Carolina. Preference is for CAROLINA.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia (No Line): Philly QB Donovan McNabb is expected to return for this game but his uncertain status keeps this game off the boards early in the week. Against the Giants and Redskins. Tampa managed just 86 and 229 total yards. The Eagles are off their Bye and against the two weak offenses they’ve played they limited Carolina to just 169 total yards and Kansas City to just 196. Preference is for PHILADELPHIA.
Oakland (+16) at N Y Giants (41): In a league supposedly boasting of parity it’s been clear this season that there are a handful of very good teams and a bunch of really bad teams and each week these impressions continue to be validated. If you must play this game there is only one way to look. Preference is for N. Y. GIANTS.
Cleveland (+6) at Buffalo (40): Cleveland finally scored more than one offensive touchdown in last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati as new starting QB Derek Anderson has a decent game. Preference is for BUFFALO.
Cincinnati (+9) at Baltimore (42): Cincinnati is clearly an improved team, especially on defense, although they have allowed more rushing yards in each succeeding game this season. Baltimore is steamed after losing in New England last week. Preference is for BALTIMORE.
Pittsburgh (-10½) at Detroit (43): Pittsburgh dominated San Diego last week yet found themselves in a tight game after building a 28-0 lead. The Lions continue to have problems on offense and the Steelers are likely to play conservatively and run the ball often in a game they figure to win easily. Preference is for the UNDER.
Atlanta (+2½) at San Francisco (41½): Both are "go with" teams this season and have started the season a combined 6-1 ATS. Atlanta is off of their Bye week. San Francisco has played excellent defense, especially against the run. They have not allowed 100 rushing yards in any of their first four games. The Falcon offense has not been able to run the ball as much as expected as they were limited to under 70 yards overland in two of their first three games. This shapes up as a very physical game with both defenses likely to make more big plays than the offense. Preference is for the UNDER.
New England (-3) at Denver (41½): It may be time to start believing in the 4-0 Broncos after they finally defeated a Playoff caliber team with their win last week over Dallas. This game could have home field implications for the Playoffs. And history suggests the teacher generally has the edge over the pupil in first time matchups. Preference is for NEW ENGLAND.
Houston (+6) at Arizona (48): Arizona is off of their Bye week following a 1-2 start. Their lone win was a dominating effort at Jacksonville in a game not as close as the 31-17 final might suggest, having led 24-3 at the half and 31-3 late in the third quarter. Houston lost at home to Jacksonville a week later before defeating Oakland handily on Sunday. Preference is for the OVER.
Jacksonville at Seattle (No Line): Seattle’s uncertain QB situation keeps this game off the boards early in the week. QB Matt Hasselbeck is questionable and his absence has resulted in the Seahawks scoring under 20 points in each of their last three games. Jacksonville has won two straight following their 0-2 start, scoring over 30 points in each. Both came against a pair of struggling Division rivals. Preference is for SEATTLE.
Indianapolis (-3½) at Tennessee (46): After starting last season 10-0, Tennessee has dropped 8 of their last 11 games including all 4 this season. These teams have split their season series each of the past three seasons and most have been extremely tightly contested. The on field results suggest the Colts here but long standing handicapping principles clearly point to the Titans who have burned their backers badly each of the past two weeks. And if the Colts are such an obvious play, why is this line so short? Preference is for TENNESSEE.
N. Y. Jets (-1) at Miami (36½): The Jets continue to be a solid defensive team. They suffered their first loss of the season at New Orleans last week but held the high powered Saints offense to their lowest points and yards of the season. Their own offense was held in check by an improved New Orleans defense. Miami’s offense has run the ball effectively, rushing for 239, 149 and 250 yards the past three weeks. But their offense is one dimensional, having yet to pass for over 165 yards in any of their first four games. That plays into the strength of the Jets’ attacking defense. Miami’s defense has also been stout against the run, allowing no foe more than 69 yards. With a pair of young quarterbacks calling signals, expect a very conservatively played game. Preference is for the UNDER.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Andy Iskoe