Crazy 8s

Oct 28, 2003 5:19 AM

The Kansas City Chiefs stand alone as the only unbeaten team in the NFL through eight weeks.

The Chiefs are not the only team playing outstanding football. The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts ”” both AFC rivals in the AFC South ”” are playing very well. Tennessee has scored at least 30 points in five straight games heading into the bye week.

The Titans did lose one of those games ”” in New England ”” but with the leading MVP candidate in "QB" Steve McNair should be a force all season. And speaking of New England, the Patriots don’t do anything flashy and have had to deal with an above average number of injuries to their defensive unit. But at 6-2 they lead the AFC East and have yet to really develop consistency.

Watch out for this well coached team over the second half of the season.

In the NFC, Minnesota suffered its first loss of the season but is still playing the best football in the conference. St. Louis seems to have gotten its act together and is also playing very well with only a one point loss in Seattle the only blemish since falling to the Giants on Opening Day in the Kurt Warner turnover fest.

Carolina is 6-1 and although not putting up the strong defensive stats of a season ago, its strong rushing game is giving the defense plenty of rest between possessions.

Home Underdogs finally had their first profitable week of the season. Arizona and Cincinnati both won straight up as home dogs this past Sunday and -- in a bit of irony -- face each other this week in Arizona. Jacksonville, however, did not cover as a home dog. Even with a winning week home dogs are an abysmal 9-22 ATS (29 percent).

Here’s a look at the 14 games this weekend with Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City and Tennessee enjoying byes.

Week 9

Giants (-2½) at Jets (37½): Chad Pennington saw his first action of the season in last week’s loss at Philadelphia for the Jets and the rustiness was evident. Despite their struggles on offense and in stopping the run, the Jets continue to be among the league’s best at preventing points, allowing under 17 per game. That’s a "FG" better than their landlord. The Giants have been plagued by turnovers all season. JETS.

Jaguars (+6½) at Ravens (37): Jacksonville is playing its first road game in over a month. The Jags have been competitive in most of their games but have just one win. Baltimore has the leagues best rushing offense, which more than offsets their second worst pass attack. Both teams defend the run well. UNDER.

Raiders (-2½) at Lions (39): Oakland is off of a bye week and at 2-5 any hopes of salvaging the season rests with a win here. "QB" Rich Gannon was banged up in the loss to Kansas City but the defense played its best game of the season. Detroit is still a team in transition under new coach Steve Mariucci and the defense will be tested by the Raiders trio of receivers now that Jerry Porter is back. OAKLAND.

Chargers (NL) at Bears: Both teams are having disappointing seasons but the Chargers were expected to contend for the playoffs. Chicago’s running game has been hurt by injuries while San Diego’s strength on offense is the rush attack, led by LaDainian Tomlinson. The reconstructed defense has also shown recent improvement. SAN DIEGO.

Colts (NL) at Dolphins: Miami entered Monday night’s game against San Diego having allowed the fewest points in the league, having held all foes to 21 or less. Indianapolis has scored at least 20 in each game since their Week 1 win at Cleveland, 9-6. The Colts’ defense is improved under second-year coach Tony Dungy. The running game should improve with "RB" Edgerrin James back in the lineup. UNDER.

Saints (+8½) at Bucs (39): New Orleans has played better in recent weeks but its wins have come over teams that are a combined 5-13 against the rest of the league. Tampa ranks in the top 10 in both total offense and total defense and is allowing under 14 points per game. However, the offense has been inefficient in converting yards into points. The Saints have held four of eight foes to under 20 points. UNDER.

Redskins (+3½) at Cowboys (37½): Washington is a team on the brink of turmoil based on reports during its bye week. There is a question as to whether coach Steve Spurrier has lost control of his team following several recent poor performances. Dallas still leads the NFC North following last week’s loss at Tampa Bay in which the defense played well in allowing just one touchdown and 261 total yards. Expect a bounce back from Bill Parcells team against a hated foe that Dallas had beaten 10 straight times before losing in last season’s finale. DALLAS.

Panthers (NL) at Texans: An injury to Houston QB Carr keep this game off the boards as Texans coach Dom Capers faces his former team. Carolina has a strong rushing offense and a solid defense. Houston has shown improvement in running the football and the passing game is also better, ranking 10th in the league. Despite the reputation for both defenses, this game should produce more offense than expected. OVER.

Bengals (-3) at Cards (39): The Bengals are a win away from .500 and are playing with confidence for new coach Marvin Lewis. "RB" Corey Dillon was not missed last week as backup Rudi Johnson scampered for over 100 years. Arizona has just two wins this season but both are over playoff teams from last season -- Green Bay and San Francisco. The Cards had success running the ball after turning duties over to Marcel Shipp for the injured Emmitt Smith. Cincy is improved but being installed as a road favorite is questionable. ARIZONA.

Steelers (+4) at Seahawks (44½): The Steelers’ hopes for this season may have vanished with last week’s home loss to St Louis in what were extremely favorable conditions. The defense is as poor as we’ve seen in the Bill Cowher era. Seattle is still plagued by inconsistency from week to week and the early season success, largely based on turnovers, is showing signs of reversal. Last week, the Seahawks committed five turnovers while recovering none. Both teams have decent wide receivers with big play capability. OVER.

Eagles (-4½) at Falcons (39½): Atlanta "QB" Mike Vick may return for this game but the Falcons’ season may be irretrievably lost following 1-6 start. Philly "QB" Donovan McNabb showed some improvement in last week’s win over the Jets but still is having a well below average season. Philadelphia continues to suffer injuries to its defense which makes laying points on the road risky. Look for the Eagles to use ball control and a short passing game to keep the defense rested. UNDER.

Rams (NL) at 49ers: The status of 49er "QB" Jeff Garcia has this game off the boards after the Rams opened as 2½-point favorites. The Niners inexplicably lost at Arizona last week with kicking woes once again the problem. More and more San Francisco looks like a poorly coached and unprepared team. The win two weeks ago over Tampa Bay looks more and more like a fluke. St Louis has turned around its season and the road win at Pittsburgh last week was impressive. ST. LOUIS.

Packers (+4½) at Vikings (49): Green Bay has struggled mightily in Minnesota in the Brett Favre era. The Packers do catch the Vikes off their first loss of the season. Favre’s consecutive games streak should continue despite an injury against the Rams. Minnesota won at Green Bay in Week 1 and looks to sweep the Pack in a series that has seen the home team win 16 of the last 21 matchups. But getting more than a "FG" with a balanced Packers offense is attractive. GREEN BAY.

Patriots (+2) at Broncos (36): The game opened at pick and the early money swarmed all over the host who will again start third string "QB" Danny Kanell. Denver has a strong history of success against New England, especially at home. The Broncos defense has improved greatly this season and ranks second in the league in fewest yards allowed. New England’s rushing offense is improved but the Denver "O" ranks third in the league. Patriots "QB" Tom Brady is struggling and the Pats have failed to score at least 20 points in each of their last three games. UNDER.

Last week: 4-9

Season: 46-50-3