Julius Peppers and Michael
Rucker are perhaps the top defensive end duo in the league, while Kris Jenkins
is among the top five defensive tackles in football. The Colts' offensive line
managed to survive against
Missing Edgerrin James should have a tremendous effect in this game, because if the Panthers have had a weakness this year, it's been against the run. They have already given up 100 yards against two running backs this season and although the front seven is quick, it is undersized.
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers should have success running the ball against a Colts defense that is still somewhat soft up the middle. The Panthers rushing attack, led by Stephan Davis, is punishing and has not been stopped all season long. If the Panthers can manage to get an early lead, they can salt the game away and keep Manning and company off the field.
Prediction: Although the Colts are the better overall team, they seem ripe for the picking against the Panthers. They are coming off an emotional, Monday Night win so there is a decent chance that they will come out flat. Manning should be able to pass the ball on the Panthers, but he'll get pressured often and the running game won't be good enough to keep the Panther linebackers honest up front.
The Chiefs proved their metal by beating the Ravens and the Broncos, two tough teams that play solid defense. The Packers should be able to run the ball on
Prediction: The Chiefs' offense will come alive this week. Holmes will have a big day running the ball and Trent Green will complete passes off of play-action fakes. Dante Hall may not return a punt or a kick for a TD, but the Chiefs won't need him anyway.
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has
done a nice job of protecting his young secondary by keeping five-to-six players
in coverage and not bringing a safety in the box to stop the run. The front four
has been able to apply pressure against Bledsoe and Ramsey the last two weeks.
However, Quincy Carter can avoid a pass rush and he throws the ball well on the
run. Look for the Eagles' defense to get hit early and often in the passing
game, while the
The Steelers can't run the ball well on
offense and the line play has been miserable, which has forced Tommy Maddox into
forcing throws in the passing game. The Broncos' pass rush has been fierce all
season, so they've got the capability of breaking down the pocket around Maddox
just as the Titans and Browns did in the last couple of weeks. On the other side
of the ball,
Prediction: The Redskins have the personnel to pass the ball on the Buccaneers, especially with cornerback Brian Kelly due to miss the game. However, the Redskins' offensive line hasn't been able to pick up the blitz all year long and the Bucs' pass rush should be too fast for them to handle.