1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Cincinnati Bengals -6.5
The Cincinnati Bengals have had two games on the road, but they come back home needing to win to keep up with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in this division. Terrell Owens showed up in week 4, but not very many others did on their offence. He, Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco should enjoy good numbers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have looked vulnerable this season. The Buccs offence of their own hasn’t put up great passing numbers this season and could be in for a tough time on offence in this game. I expect the Bengals to run out comfortable winners this weekend.
2. San Diego Chargers -6.5 @ Oakland Raiders
The San Diego Chargers have got their offence rolling of late, while the Oakland Raiders have been letting offences score at will. Although Oakland isn’t an easy place to go, and that they will step it up for a divisional rivalry clash, I don’t see this being a competitive game. Philip Rivers will enjoy passing on the Raiders defence, while their ground game will be a weapon too. The Chargers will employ ephasis on stopping Darren McFadden, who’s looked good so far. Bruce Gradkowski has shown little consistency on drives this season. He can find his receivers for big plays on one play, and then a defender on the next. If the Raiders want to make this game competitive, they cannot afford to lose the turnover battle. I don’t have faith in them succeeding.
3. Green Bay Packers -2.5 @ Washington Redskins
A tough Monday night loss to the Chicago Bears was followed up with an unconvincing victory over Detroit for the Packers. Many people’s choice for the Superbowl as they headed into this season, they have put doubts amongst their backers early on. With the loss of Clinton Portis for the Washington Redskins, they have less potency on offence for this game. While Green Bay on offence are always capable of putting up big numbers and points. If this becomes a shoot out, the visitors will win. They may not even need for it to become one to win, with their offence capable of passing through the hosts defence and with the Packers secondary being well trained in causing turnovers of their own.
4. Atlanta Falcons -3 @ Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns managed to hold onto a slender lead over division rivals Cincinnati last weekend. The Bengals were playing back-to-back road games and their offence made costly mistakes once again, otherwise victory would have been theirs. The Atlanta Falcons have enjoyed pounding teams with Michael Turner and then allowing Matt Ryan to beat teams in the air. The Browns play tough but they won’t have a winning record at the end of this season. I expect the Falcons to show up in Cleveland, pound the defence with Michael Turner and open some holes in the secondary for Matt Ryan to beat them on Sunday.
5. Chicago Bears +2.5 @ Carolina Panthers
The Chicago Bears looked woeful in defeat to the New York Giants last week, following a gifted victory over Green Bay the week before. They’re not the strongest team in their division and their 3-0 record looked false heading into week 4. That said, they’re a decent unit with a solid defence. That is where they are going to hurt Carolina on Sunday. Should the Panthers struggle early on offence and fall behind, they’ll be open for a pounding. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen will be for a tough lesson when he steps onto the field with the Bears. Don’t expect him to have much time in the pocket or have too many receivers open. Former Panther Julius Peppers returns to face his old team and get in the face of their new quarterback.