Denver Broncos vs Atlanta Falcons – I think I stopped believing in the Broncos right after the lowly Kansas City put up 33 in week four of the season. They certainly can put move the football through the air, but the running game is just so, so and the defense would have a difficult stopping Colorado School of Mines.
Mike Smith and his staff have done a truly exceptional job and have this young Falcons club and the fans actually thinking playoffs! With 890 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, I wonder if the Chargers with a struggling L.T., would like to have Michael Turner in uniform for the remainder of the 2008 season? The Falcons have won four of the last five while the Broncos have lost three of the last four contests on the season.
I sure like Cutler, Marshall and Royal, but the combination of Ryan, White, Jenkins and Turner are fast making a believer out of me.
Falcons 31 – Broncos 24
Philadelphia Eagles vs Cincinnati Bengals – This weeks opponent (the Bengals) in Cincinnati and the December 15th home match-up versus the Cleveland Browns are the only seemingly soft touches left on the Eagles schedule. Last Sunday the Eagles played well, but had their three game losing-streak snapped by the Giants, the leagues team. The Bengals snapped an eight game losing streak in week nine and celebrated the victory with a bye in week ten. Cedric Benson, Chad Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick provided the offensive spark, but I don't see lightning striking twice against the high-flying Eagles.
Eagles 34 – Bengals 20
Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers – A loss this week at home versus the division rival Bears, even with a very favorable late season schedule, would essentially end the Packers 2008 season. The Pack has dropped two very close decisions in as many weeks, while the Bears lost a close decision to the undefeated Titans without starting quarterback Kyle Orton, whom they hope will have recovered enough from his grade II ankle sprain to start in this critical match up. Safety Nick Collins has played exceptionally well as of late, but the Packers were dealt a very severe blow last week when Nick Barnett their top defensive performer was lost for the season with a knee injury. Both clubs have excellent kicking games, but the Packers Crosby has the bigger leg; it might well prove the difference in this one.
Packers 24 – Bears 21
Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts – The streaky Texans lost a close decision at home to the Colts in week five and this time it's a money game and Peyton Manning led clubs seldom lose critical season altering games. Sage Rosenfels has not played near as well as he did in 2007. The Texans' Mario Williams has really turned it up a notch this season and the defense this week welcomes the return of Dunta Robinson, one of the top young corner in the game, but it's not going to be enough to keep them from becoming the Colts third straight victim.
Colts 31 – Texans 21
New Orleans Saints vs Kansas City Chiefs – The Saints have shown almost a complete inability to win football games outside of the friendly confines of the Super Bowl, but this weeks opponent, the Chiefs has shown an inability to win either at home or on the road. With a season ending injury to Kolby Smith and a less than 100% Jamaal Charles (ankle sprain), the Chiefs sort of welcome the return of their prodigal son Larry Johnson. Look for Drew Brees to keep the Saints faint playoff hopes alive and defeat the struggling, under manned Chiefs.
Saints 27 – Chiefs 17
Oakland Raiders vs Miami Dolphins – JaMarcus Russell missed last weeks' loss to the Panthers due to tendonitis in his plant (right) leg; his absence probably had little effect on the outcome of that one. In 2007 the Raiders totally dominated the Dolphins up front on their way, but based on what I have seen to date, this Dolphins club bears absolutely no resemblance to last season's gang that couldn't run, throw, pas catch or tackle. Look for the Dolphins to give the offensively challenged Raiders a steady diet of runs from Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and the controlled passing game from Chad Pennington. I don't see many potential win left on the Raiders schedule and unless some drastic, philosophical changes are made within this Raiders organization, I see little hope for this once proud football club.
Dolphins 24 – Raiders 13
Baltimore Ravens vs New York Giants – Both teams have won four straight, by playing excellent defense and controlling the football on the ground and under rated passing games. Eli gives the G-men a far more experienced hand at the QB position, but over the past four games rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has been absolutely lights out (six TD's and no interceptions). The Giants are at home and I believe are the top club in the NFL, but even minus star safety Ed Reed, this one could be a lot closer than most people expect.
Giants 20 – Ravens 17
Minnesota Vikings vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Vikings have won two straight, but immobile quarterback Gus Frerotte has been far too inconsistent in recent weeks , but the same can not be said for Adrian Peterson, the leagues top running back. The Buccaneers hope the return of Cadillac Williams and Joey Galloway can add some punch to a somewhat surprising Buccaneers offense, but if they are to win this one, they are going to have to get another near flawless performance Jeff Garcia. Both clubs are in the thick of the playoff race, but I like the home club in this one.
Buccaneers 31 – Vikings 27
Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers – The Panthers have won three straight and if they can avoid looking ahead to next weeks showdown in Atlanta, this contest versus the winless Lions at home should be easy. After playing fairly well in four straight contests, the Lions were executed last week at home versus the Jaguars. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, as was expected, struggled in his first action of the 2008 season. It's not going to get any easier this week against a Panthers club which features Julius Peppers, a player who may well have turned in his best performance of his career last week versus the Raiders
Panthers 27 – Lions 10