In Week Five, it is already desperation time for some teams, while others just try to stay on track.
The Ravens are coming off a physical game with the Steelers last week and they will not get a week off. The Titans are as physical as they come. Tennessee has one of the leagues best running attacks with Lendale White and Chris Johnson and make no mistake of what they want to do. Joe Flacco will try to build on his performance against Pittsburgh and manage Ravens to victory.
The Ravens defense is good enough to stuff the running game and force Kerry Collins to beat them. The Titans are ripe for their first loss.
Ravens 17 Titans 16
The Redskins are coming off a huge win against Dallas, while the Eagles came up short against Chicago. This is a classic let down game. Brian Westbrook will be a key if he plays. Donovan McNabb will have to play big, because they are having problems running the ball, and the Redskins defense plays the run well.
The Eagles have to have this game, and will play like it.
Eagles 27 Redskins 21
Miami got their first win last weekend against the Patriots, but they will be playing a Charger team that finally got LaDainian Tomlinson on track. Even though they will be traveling across the country their defense should be able to stymie Chad Pennington and company. Especially if they stuff their running game. That will be the key.
Chargers 17 Miami 13
This could be the perfect storm for the Falcons. Aaron Rodgers may not play. Green Bay’s defense is giving up over five yards per carry, and Atlanta prefers to live and die with Michael Turner running the ball a lot. Matt Ryan has struggled on the road so far, so they would like to just pound the ball.
If Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play, this game is not only close, but the Falcons have a chance to win. Green Bay’s secondary is not in great shape either.
Packers 20 Falcons 17
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Even though the Lions won both meetings last year, they are in disarray. They are winless in three games so far, and Jon Kitna has been ineffective as their starting quarterback. The Bears would like to control the game by running it and making sure that Kyle Orton doesn’t have to win the game on his own. The Bears should win a close one.
Bears 23 Lions 20
Desperation time for the Colts. They have to have this game to get back in the hunt in their division. The health of their offensive line is the key. If they can create some space for Joseph Addai, and give Peyton Manning time to throw they will be in good shape. Manning has been hit more this year than the past two years combined.
Colts 27 Texans 24
The Seahawks are coming off their bye week, but have to travel across the country to play the Super Bowl champions. Their struggles on the road when going east have been well chronicled. Julius Jones has been surprisingly effective for them and they will need to run the ball against the Giants, but that is easier said than done.
Giants will get it done at home in spite of Plaxico Burress out due to his suspension.
Giants 27 Seahawks 17
Damon Huard has stabilized the Chiefs offense, and if their offensive line continues to improve they will be more and more competitive as the year goes on. Carolina will want to exploit the suspect run defense of the Chiefs. That will keep them honest so they don’t load up on Steve Smith.
The only way the Chiefs can win this game is for Larry Johnson to have a big game. If the Chiefs become one dimensional they will be in trouble.
Panthers 31 Chiefs 24
This game may come down to how well Brian Griese plays against the Bronco defense. Griese has thrown six interceptions the last two weeks, but Denver’s defense hasn’t been effective stopping teams either. The Broncos fortunes have rested on the arm of Jay Cutler, who has been great.
Tampa Bay’s defense will not be easy to dissect, and if Denver insists on throwing a lot, they could be in for a long day. A balanced attack would be more in order if they want to keep Cutler healthy. Both teams are 3 - 1 so something has to give.
Denver 28 Buccaneers 20
Arizona looked lost against the Jets last week and were blown out. They are having the same issues that have plagued them in previous years. They cannot run the ball with any consistency, and that puts pressure on Kurt Warner to make plays when the defenses know they have to pass.
Trent Edwards is licking his chops after looking at how Brett Favre carved up the Cardinals secondary. Turnovers will be what decides this game. Arizona is not as bad as they looked last weekend, and Buffalo may get caught looking past this game. I smell and upset.
Cardinals 27 Bills 24
New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers
The Patriots look to get back on track after losing their first game of the year. They will have to alter their approach offensively until Matt Cassel shows he can excel in their offense. That means they will have to run the ball more and have Cassel manage the game. The 49ers will continue to depend on Frank Gore. The Patriots will have to take him away and force J.T. O’Sullivan to make plays.
The game will be close, but New England will make just enough plays to win it.
Patriots 20 49ers 10
The Bengals haven’t won this year and it will be interesting to see if Marvin Lewis can hold everything together for the rest of the year. Carson Palmer’s injury hasn’t made it easier. If he can’t go, Ryan Fitzgerald is the man, which means the Bengals will look to establish the run first, and pass second. Dallas will look to balance their attack more this week, as they went pass happy and lost to the Redskins.
Dallas has been shaky on defense and the Bengals need to exploit it. With Palmer that would not be to much to ask. Without him it will be difficult. The Cowboys will be on a mission after last week.
Cowboys 34 Bengals 14
Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have had the Steelers number the last four times they have played. Pittsburgh’s running backs have been decimated with injuries and Ben Roethlisberger is banged up and is not a lock to play either. They may not want to play him based on the performance of their offensive line against the Ravens. They want to keep him alive.
The Jaguars will look to pound the ball and set up David Gerrard to make plays down the field. This will be another physical game, but look for the Jags to prevail again. They have Pittsburgh’s number
Jaguars 24 Steelers 17
The Saints have injury problems, and the Vikings struggle to score points. For Minnesota to win, they have to force turnovers by the Saints. They will have to pressure Drew Brees into making bad decisions while putting him in a lot of third and long situations. That can only happen if they stuff the run.
The Saints want this to be a shoot-out, because they don’t believe the Vikings can beat them at that game. If the don’t turn the ball over, the Saints should prevail.
Saints 27 Vikings 20