Watch out for multiple mismatches with very poor teams taking on the cream of the crop this week.
NEW ENGLAND@KANSAS CITY
Prediction: Patriots 34-24
The only good news for the Chiefs have going for them heading into this game is that the Pats haven't won in Kansas City since 1964.That and the fact that the Arrowhead crowd will be jacked up for Monday Night Football. Maybe Terri Hatcher will summersault into Johnny Morton's arms and he'll drop her. Last year I thought the Chiefs matched up well with New England and K.C. had a good chance to go into Foxboro and get a win because they could control the clock with Priest Holmes and The Pats running game was suspect.
Not so this time around. Derrick Blaylock may have been good against the Saints, but Bill Belichick will find a way to shut the running game down and force Trent Green to win the game. New England's secondary is brittle with Ty Law out again, but WR Troy Brown has played well at CB when needed. New England's offense should shred the Chiefs "D". Fantasy players should start Tom Brady, David Givens, tight end Daniel Graham and especially Corey Dillon.
Remember When? 12/6/64 - Babe Parilli led the Boston Patriots past the Chiefs 31-24 at Municipal Stadium.
Game Notes: Chiefs are 8-3 (.727) in past 11 home MNF games. Tom Brady is 30-4 as a starter after Nov. 1 in his career, including the playoffs. Patriots are (8-0) when Corey Dillon plays this season.
Prediction: Bills 23-20
For all intents and purposes, the Bills season is over. Drew Bledsoe is a disaster and J.P. Losman is not ready to start at quarterback. The good news for Buffalo is that they have a good defense, the weather will be cold and running back Willis McGahee will run roughshod over the Rams 29th-ranked defense.
Game Notes: RB Marshall Faulk leads all current players with 155 consecutive games with a reception. Rams need one win to reach 500th in franchise history (including playoffs). Bills Safety Lawyer Milloy was born in St. Louis.
Prediction: Saints 31-30 *Upset Special
This is a fantasy football player's dream, as both offenses should roll in the Superdome. The Broncos have been a .500 team down the stretch over the past three seasons. Denver will put up huge numbers coming off the bye week with Rueben Droughns racking up the yards, Jake Plummer throwing for over 300 and scoring three touchdowns while WR Rod Smith and Ashlie Lelie will be the beneficiaries. Saints RB Deuce McAllister is getting healthier and will take advantage of the Broncos depleted defensive line. QB Aaron Brooks and WR Joe Horn are great plays.
Game Notes: Deuce McAllister has a rushing touchdown in a career-high four straight games. Denver is (30-2) when scoring 30+ points under Mike Shanahan.
Prediction: Ravens 20-13
The Cowboys have been in a tailspin and that has mostly been the defense's fault. That's good news for Jamal Lewis who looks to return to his form of 2003. In the two games since returning from suspension, Lewis has rushed for just 152 yards and one touchdown. He'll have a great game Sunday. Dallas should have trouble moving the ball but Tight End Jason Whitten has been Vinnie Testaverde's favorite target. If you've got him, start him.
Game Notes: The Ravens have won 9 of 10 at home. Dallas RB Eddie George fumbled for the first time in 698 touches in Monday night's loss to Philadelphia.
Prediction: Colts 24-16
I had a chance to watch the Bears last week and their defense was impressive but now that MLB Brian Urlacher is out 4-6 weeks with a calf injury, they probably will take a big hit. Peyton Manning may be slowed by a very good secondary and cold weather. Play TE's Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark For the Bears; Anthony Thomas and Thomas Jones should do well against the Indy defense that yields 118 rushing yards per game. They'll split carries. Quarterback Craig Krenzel is holding on to the ball too long and may get sacked a few times. Surprisingly, the Colts defense is a good option this week.
Game Notes: In past 3 games, Colts TE's Marcus Pollard (3) & Dallas Clark (3) have combined for 6 TD's & 295 rec. yards Chicago DE Alex Brown had 1 sack last week, leading to game-winning OT safety; he also five sacks in past two games.
Prediction: Steelers 17-16
Jerome Bettis has been a workhorse for the Steelers over the past two weeks, averaging 126 rushing yards per game. The Bengals rushing defense is 30th in the league and Bettis should get many carries with Duce Staley nursing a strained hamstring. For Cincinnati, Chad Johnson guaranteed a big game and asked fans to bring cash to cover the fine he'll get for celebrating. Johnson failed miserably after his Pepto Bismol stunt and I don't know if he'll fair much better this week. The Steelers defense is number one overall so stay away from all Bengals.
Game Notes: Steelers are 3-1 at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was LB coach for Steelers '93-'95. Cincinnati has scored three defensive touchdowns in last 8 games
Prediction: Panthers 27-23
This should be a fun game to watch. Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammed has been a lethal combination the past three weeks but Arizona may be able to quell the Panthers offense Sunday. Delhomme has a fractured thumb and is listed as questionable. The Cardinals defense has force 20 turnovers this season after creating just 23 last year and Delhomme has been prone to throwing interceptions but do not start either defense. Arizona's Emmitt Smith will run for 100+ and will score at least once against the 28th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
Game Notes: The Panthers defense giving up an average of 192 rushing yards per game. Arizona D allowing 129. Cards RB Emmitt Smith rushed for 67 yards last week, becoming 1st player ever with 18,000 (18,050).
SAN FRANSISCO@TAMPA BAY
Prediction: Bucs 23-21
Here's what you'll need to know about this game: Teams can run on Tampa and teams can run AND pass on San Francisco. Bucs QB Brian Griese has been an excellent quarterback in his five appearances this season, posting a QB rating of 105.8 and throwing eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. Stay 49ers running back Kevan Barlow is a decent option. Although Barlow has run for more than 80 yards just once this season, he's scored a touchdown in three of his last four games and the Bucs give up an average of 126 rushing yards per game. For Tampa Bay, I like Griese and WR Michael Clayton.
Game Notes: The 49ers have won 10 of the last 11 games against Tampa Bay and own a 13-2 series advantage all-time. The Bucs have scored 14 touchdowns in the last five games but scored just four touchdowns through the first four games.
Prediction: Vikings 38-28
Detroit's offense has been abysmal recently and Minnesota is just the place to get Joey Harrington back on track. Harrington will find WR Roy Williams for two touchdowns but it won't be enough. Daunte Culpepper hadn't been the same quarterback since Randy Moss went down until last week when he threw for 363 yards and four TD passes in a loss to Green Bay. This week, Culpepper, Onterrio Smith, Marcus Robinson, Nate Burleson and TE Jermaine Wiggins have good days in a win over lowly Detroit.
Game Notes: Randy Moss is officially listed as doubtful. Lions QB Joey Harrington and Vikings RB Onterrio Smith were college teammates at the University of Oregon.
Prediction: Jaguars 24-21
The Titans have owned the Jacksonville, winning the past five meetings against the Jaguars. This time will be different. Even if Steve McNair starts for Tennessee, Jax QB David Garrard is the real deal and should have a nice day, as WR Jimmy Smith will get in the end zone. Jags RB Fred Taylor will benefit from his team's new game plan. Head Coach Jack Del Rio wants to run more and despite the Titan's solid run defense, Taylor will have a good day. For Tennessee, Derrick Mason is always a must-start.
Game Notes: The Jaguars are 4-0 in games decided by three points or less. The Titans have lost by 10 points or more five times this season.
NY JETS@ CLEVELAND
Prediction: Jets 21-20
The Jets have lost three of four after starting the season (5-0). Quincy Carter is starting for NY. Curtis Martin will struggle. The Jets will pressure Jeff Garcia, so starting the NY defense would be a smart move as they could easily tally a few sacks and intercept a pass or two. RB Lee Suggs has been a disappointment as a number one tailback. K Phil Dawson is a must-start.
Game Notes: Butch Davis is coaching to save his job. Martin needs 16 rush yards to join HOFer Barry Sanders as the only players to reach 1,000 yards in each of first 10 seasons.
Prediction: Seahawks 24-7
The Dolphins defense is the best against the run and 31st against the pass. Go figure, Matt Hasselbeck will be handing the ball off a whole bunch to a red-hot Shawn Alexander. I like WR Darrell Jackson in this game for one big play. A.J. Feely is starting at QB this week. Stay away from ALL Dolphins units!
Game Notes: Jim Bates takes over as Dolphins head coach and makes NFL head coaching debut. Bates was Miami's defensive coordinator. Seattle RB Shaun Alexander seeks his fourth 150-yard rushing game in row.
SAN DIEGO@ OAKLAND
Prediction: Chargers 28-20
Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson is finally healthy after the bye week. I expect him to put up monster numbers down the stretch after putting up mediocre fantasy numbers in the first half of the season. Oakland will have to play the pass. Drew Brees threw five TD's against SD on Halloween. TE Antonio Gates is a superstar. Raiders QB Kerry Collins will throw a lot. That may not be a bad thing.
Game Notes: SD Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer is 22-7 against the Raiders. San Diego outscored Oakland 42-14 on 10/31/04.
Prediction: Eagles 35-17
The Redskins have yet to score more than 18 points in a game this season. Don't expect that to change. Stay away from the 'Skins and keep riding T.O. and McNabb.
Game Notes: Redskins are 3-0 when Clinton Portis rushes for 100+ yards. Philadelphia has won five straight over the Redskins. This Rivalry dates back to 1934.
ATLANTA@ NY GIANTS
Prediction: Falcons 20-16
Every time it looks as though the NY Giants are about to fall to pieces, Tom Coughlin's Giants have come up with victories. Not so this week. The G-Men will start rookie QB Eli Manning behind a weak offensive line and alongside a much-maligned receiver corps. The Falcons have DT Rod Coleman back and he makes a difference. The Falcons couldn't stop the run or get a pass rush in his absence. Start the Falcons Defense, Michael Vick and TE's Alge Crumpler and Jeremy Shockey (NYG). Inexperienced Quarterbacks live off of Tight End routes because they are the most basic routes run by receivers.
GAME NOTE OF THE WEEK: In the six games DT Rod Coleman has played in, the Falcons have given up a total of just 80 points. In the three games Coleman missed due to injury, the Falcons yielded 117 points including 56 to Kansas City and 41 points at Denver.
GREEN BAY@ HOUSTON
Prediction: Packers 34-30
This game should feature a total score of at least 60 points, although David Carr has thrown just one TD in his last three games and is coming off a three INT outing at Indianapolis. I still think Carr and WR's Andre Johnson will get back on track and have superb days against a porous Green Bay secondary. Brett Favre and Javon Walker will have HUGE days as the Pack face the defense that has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL (23). Green Bay is next-to-last with 20 passing touchdowns allowed.
Game Notes: After starting year 1-4, Green Bay has won four games in row by an average of 16.5 points per game. Club has 65-33 (.663) record in final 7 games since '90, tied for best in NFL (SF). On Sunday Night Football, the Packers have a 10-2 record, winners of six straight.