Titans, for one, can advance in second half
Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe but the 2009 NFL regular season will be three quarters complete following this upcoming weekend.
Yet still with just over a quarter of the season to play one team has already clinched a Playoff spot. Unbeaten Indianapolis has wrapped up the AFC South title with 5 games still to play. They put their 11-0 record on the line this Sunday against red hot Tennessee, the team the Colts have dethroned as Division champs.
As we go to press the New Orleans Saints were still unbeaten heading into Monday night’s contest against New England. Steady support poured in for visiting New England all of last week but the Saints remained the slightest of favorites to join the Colts at 11-0.
Here’s a look at this week’s 16 games.
N. Y. Jets (-3) vs. Buffalo (Over/Under 37) at Toronto: The NFL again goes international but this time by staying on our side of the pond as Buffalo plays a home game in nearby Toronto for a second straight season. Since axing coach Dick Jauron, the Bills have played more inspired football, nearly winning at Jacksonville before sprinting away from Miami last week, scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter. N. Y. JETS.
Denver (-4½) at Kansas City (37½) : Denver finally ended their 4 game losing streak with Thursday’s win over the Giants. They again step down in class to face a long time rival for the first time this season. The Chiefs had won two in a row before being routed in San Diego last week. KANSAS CITY.
Oakland at Pittsburgh (NL): Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger should return for this game and the Steelers are likely to be nearly a 14 point favorite over the rested Raiders. Pittsburgh returns home after two straight road overtime losses, having lost three straight overall. PITTSBURGH.
Houston (Pick ‘em) at Jacksonville (46): Houston’s psyche must be called into question after again failing to close out a winnable game. Last week the Texans raced to an early 17-0 lead over unbeaten Indy, only to again fall victim to Peyton Manning’s leadership. OVER the Total.
Tennessee (+7) at Indianapolis (47): Just prior to being blown away 59-0 in New England, Tennessee lost at home 31-9 to these Colts. Tennessee made the switch to Vince Young at QB and the Titans have won 5 straight. Their defense has also improved during this stretch as they’ve gotten healthy. TENNESSEE.
Philadelphia at Atlanta (NL): Key injuries to both teams keep this game off the boards likely until late this week. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner were both banged up in last week’s win over Tampa Bay and both are highly questionable for this game. The Eagles are also banged up although QB Donovan McNabb is not among the wounded. UNDER the Total.
Detroit (+13) at Cincinnati (42): The Bengals are closing in on a Divisional title but only one of their 8 wins has been by more than 10 points. Conversely, 7 of Detroit’s 9 losses have been by at least a dozen points. CINCINNATI.
New Orleans (-8) at Washington (48): The Saints are off of Monday night’s game against New England. They make their first trip to a cold weather venue and poor conditions could hamper their high powered passing game. Off of the Pats and with Division rival Atlanta up next this could be a flat spot for the Saints. WASHINGTON.
Tampa Bay (+6½) at Carolina (42): After tossing 4 interceptions last week Jake Delhomme may finally be replaced at QB by coach John Fox. The 4-7 Panthers will not return to the Playoffs as they are likely to be underdogs in their next four games. Neither team has much big play capability and with both running games stronger than the passing games this shapes up as a pretty dull and low scoring contest. UNDER the Total.
St. Louis (+9) at Chicago (41): The 1-10 Rams failed to take advantage of a very favorable situation last week when they fell at home to Seattle, a team that had been badly outplayed in losing all 5 of their previous road games. Following a Bye and 3 straight home games the Rams now take to the road for the first time in over a month. CHICAGO.
San Diego (-11½) at Cleveland (42½): The Chargers are on a roll and at 8-3 are tied with Cincy for the second best record in the AFC. They’ve won 6 in a row and have topped 30 points in each of their last 3 games. SAN DIEGO.
San Francisco (+1) at Seattle (41): Seattle returns home following a three game road trip, capped by a satisfying win over lowly St Louis. It was the Seahawks’ first road win of the season. They are 3-2 at home and seek to avenge a 23-10 week two loss at San Francisco. SEATTLE.
Minnesota at Arizona (NL): Arizona QB Kurt Warner’s uncertain status keeps this game off the boards on Monday but he is expected to play after sitting out last week’s last second loss at Tennessee. MINNESOTA.
Dallas (+1) at N. Y. Giants (45): These teams are headed in opposite directions as the Giants have dropped 5 of 6 while the ‘Pokes have won 6 of 7. Simply put, their season is virtually on the line here and they do have solid edges on defense, especially against the pass. N. Y. GIANTS.
New England (-6½) at Miami (47½): The Patriots are off of their Monday game in New Orleans and seek to complete a season sweep of Miami. A loss to the Saints would have the Pats up by two games over Miami so a win here would almost certainly assure New England of the Division title. The Pats won the first meeting 27-17 in which Miami allowed a season high 323 passing yards. NEW ENGLAND.
Baltimore (+2½) at Green Bay (44): Green Bay has won 3 straight and now controls an NFC Wild Card at 7-4. Baltimore’s OT win over Pittsburgh last week got the Ravens to 6-5 and in contention for an AFC Wild Card, making this a game with significant Playoff implications. GREEN BAY.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Andy Iskoe