The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) try to pick themselves up this week in Detroit facing the 0-8 Lions. The Jaguars have underachieved big-time this year; their offense isn’t good, their defense isn’t playing very good. It seems like they can’t figure out who they are – I certainly don’t know who they are, but if they want to make a run for the playoffs, I strongly suggest this be the week they start figuring out who they really are. The Lions, on the other hand, know exactly who they are – terrible. They are 28th in total offense, dead last in total defense and they are relying on a quarterback that no one wanted 3 months ago. I agree that they have been playing better, and they probably shouldn’t be 0-8; they can’t close games, so what would make me think this game will be different. Jags win this by default, 27-24.
The Oakland Raiders (2-6) will hope to score a point this week facing the Carolina Panthers (6-2) in Oak-Town. The Panthers have been a breath of fresh air this season; they have played well the entire season and last week they proved they could beat a playoff team. The key to the Panthers success is Jake Delhomme. As long as Delhomme stays healthy, this team has a chance to go pretty far in the playoffs. The Raiders have a different story, however; their problem is much more complex. Al Davis has sent this team down to Hell. He has his franchise quarterback and running back, but he has no offensive or defensive line to speak of, he has discipline problems in the entire locker room and he just doesn’t have a good team at all. The Panthers are going to win this one, but will the Raiders score against a better defense. I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt: Panthers 27-3.
That brings us to the Indianapolis Colts (4-4) taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) at Heinz Field. The Colts have not been in synch all season and I cannot assume it will get any better. Against a defense that murders running backs, being last in rushing yardage is not a particularly good thing for the Colts. On the contrary, the Pittsburgh defense is the best in the NFL. Although their offense is riddled with injuries, their defense has kept opponents in check. The Pittsburgh Steelers will win this one in blow-out manner although the score might not reflect it: Steelers, 23-12.
Herm Edwards’ Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) stroll into San Diego to face the Chargers (3-5) on Sunday. The Chiefs are not good, what a shocker. Perhaps it is the 26th ranked offense, maybe the 31st ranked defense, or perhaps it is all the young players they have while trading away their best player. Does it matter? The Chargers are just underachieving; they have not been right all season, especially on defense without Shawne Merriman. Despite how bad they have played, they are only a game behind the Broncos who are as bad defensively as any team out there. That division is a toss-up, but this game is not: Chargers win, 34-17.
Now for the Sunday Night game, the New York football Giants (7-1) are at Philadelphia to face their rival Eagles (5-3). The Giants have been playing the best football this season and it certainly shows on paper. The 5th ranked offense and 3rd ranked defense will go into Philly Sunday night to try and move to 3-0 in the division. The Eagles are a pretty good team as well, ranked 5th in total defense and ranked 6th in total offense. Unlike the Giants, though, the Eagles are 0-2 in the division and desperately need this game. I am going on a hunch: Eagles win this nail biter, 28-27.
The Monday Night game features two NFC West teams: the San Francisco 49ers (2-6) against the Arizona Cardinals (5-3). The 49ers are disgruntled; I don’t know who is even going to start at quarterback for them. Interim coach, Mike Singletary, seems as though his disciplinary coaching is ineffective to his undisciplined team. The niners are a mess out on the field. They will be lucky to win another game this season. As for the Cardinals, it is almost role-reversal. They know exactly who they are, what they can do and what they are going to do. They’re clicking on offense and their young defense has some sparks of a decent defense. I like the Cardinals as a true threat in the NFC, however, the NFC is so good it will tough to string up wins in the playoffs on the way to a Superbowl. Cardinals win this nonetheless, 38-17.