It’s rivalry weekend in the NFL. Adding to the intensity of division battles is the fact that many of the matchups will determine who will lead the division going into next weekend. We already saw the Oakland Raiders pass the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West and we still have Saints-Falcons, Steelers-Bengals and Jets-Patriots. There’s also the Bears-Lions game, where although they both are behind the undefeated Packers they are both playing very well and are above .500.
Who do you think will win this week? Home team is in all capitals.
SAN DIEGO over Oakland—I picked the Chargers on Twitter on Thursday.
Detroit over CHICAGO—The Bears have been playing well as off late but their offensive line still leaves a lot to desire. Even Jay Cutler said the team’s outlook is a lot better when the guys in front of him allow him time to throw and he doesn’t have to pick himself up off the turf. Detroit has a very good pass defense and is fourth in the NFL in sacks.
INDIANAPOLIS over Jacksonville—Believe it or not, it is very difficult to lose every game in a single season. This is the Colts' best chance at a victory.
Denver over KANSAS CITY—Coming into the week the Chiefs were the AFC West leaders despite dropping a game against the winless Dolphins by 28 points at home last week. That’s uninspiring. You know who is inspiring? Tim Tebow.
Pittsburgh over CINCINNATI—The Bengals have won five straight, but will this young team have what it takes to stand up against the veteran Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be looking for revenge after a disappointing loss to the Ravens last weekend? To stay in the playoff hunt the Steelers will have to knock off the Bengals.
Who will win, Saints or Falcons?
DALLAS over Buffalo—After a hot start Buffalo has cooled down a bit lately with three losses in the past five games and is only 1-2 on the road.
New Orleans over ATLANTA—When you think of the Saints you think of Drew Brees and the passing game. But did you realize they are ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (126)? Meanwhile Atlanta, behind Michael Turner, is 13th (119). Darren Sproles may have been the best offseason pickup by any team.
CLEVELAND over St. Louis—Neither team looks good this season and this game could be very ugly, but the Browns do have home-field advantage.
MIAMI over Washington—Rex Grossman or John Beck? Flip-flopped by the hour. Even the Dolphins don’t have this kind of instability at quarterback.
Houston over TAMPA BAY—The Buccaneers are 2-4 against teams with winning records and their defense ranks 28th and 26th in passing and rushing yards allowed per game respectively. Even without Andre Johnson the Texans have taken advantage of lesser defenses lately, averaging just a shade under 32 points per game in the past three games, all victories.
Tennessee over CAROLINA—The Panthers defense isn’t very strong and Cam Newton seems to make quite a few mistakes when the game is on the line. The struggling Chris Johnson faces a good opportunity to have a good game against the 28th ranked Panthers run defense.
Who will win, Patriots or Jets?
PHILADELPHIA over Arizona—Arizona is starting John Skelton against a very tough pass defense. This should be an easy one for the Eagles.
Baltimore over SEATTLE—Seattle has so much trouble moving the ball on offense. Against the Cleveland Browns three weeks ago Seattle managed only 137 yards and three points. What makes you think they will do any better against the much-more heralded Ravens defense?
SAN FRANCISCO over New York Giants—The 49ers are sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (137.6) while the Giants are 24th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (127.1). A good San Francisco offensive line and running attack should neutralize the New York pass rush, which has been the team’s strong point on defense.
New England over NEW YORK JETS—The Patriots defense is pretty bad, but that’s ok because the Jets offense isn’t very good either. The Pats are struggling but do you really see them losing three in a row? Can anyone remember the last time that happened? Tom Brady’s been a bit erratic lately and this just feels like a game where he’ll put the team on his shoulders, even against the Jets tough pass defense.
GREEN BAY over Minnesota—The Packers are rolling and when the teams met three weeks ago in Minnesota, Green Bay was able to pull away with the victory. Things should be even better at home.
This week: 0-1
Last Week: 8-6