Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -7
No one has any illusions about how these teams matchup. With a dynamic run game, KC will try to pound the ball and keep Peyton off the field. They will have a big advantage here, but will it be enough? How are they going to keep up after Manning puts up three TDs in the first half? The problem for KC is their secondary can't hang with the force that is the IND passing game. So far KC is near the top of the league in 3rd down defense, but IND ranks just as high for 3rd down offense. Up until this point KC has relied mostly on good coaching, inspired defense, and big plays. This is reflected in their inability to come away with sustained drives or drive points. They also have a horrible 3rd down offense. How will they control the clock if they can't stay on the field? The bye came at the worst possible time for the Chiefs and that warm and fuzzy feeling from September disappears after Sunday afternoon. Prediction: Bank IND -7.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills: JAX PK
BUF has been pathetic on third down on both sides of the ball this year and there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. They started the year without T.O., have traded their starting QB, and now shipped Lynch off to the Seahawks. The players must be thinking who is next. Morale is low as this organization lacks direction on almost every level. No one wants to sign with, coach, or watch this club. They rank near the bottom of the league in almost every important statistical category. This is not to say that JAX will blow them out because they haven't been world-beaters either, but they have enough pieces in place to be a mediocre team. On Sunday, that will be more than enough to beat what could be the worst team in the NFL. Prediction: Bank JAX.
Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins: GB -2.5
WSH's win has masked a number of problems with this team. Portis isn't healthy so they are turning to an unknown in Torain. He has ran the ball well, but he's not reliable in blitz pickup so they take him out on most third downs. Their pass defense has been horrendous so far and that is not good news with Rodgers coming to town. The strength of the D is stopping the run, but that won't help them against the Pack. To hang with GB they will need to do a lot better on third down. Most drives are stalling and they have just as much trouble getting off the field defensively. The smoke and mirrors are useful against mediocre teams, but GB is not one of them. Prediction: Bank GB -2.5.
Atlanta Falcons vs Cleveland Browns: ATL -3
ATL will enter CLE with huge advantage on the ground and the air. It's not that the Browns have been that bad this year, it's that ATL has been that good. They will continue to sustain drives and shouldn't have too much trouble keeping CLE's offense on the sidelines. ATL ranks near the top of the league in drive points, the rule of 50 category (completions/rush attempts), turnover differential, and penalties. Both sides of the ball are playing sound, fundamental, and disciplined ball. Whitherspoon is on track to return this week which will only bolster an already stout defense.
Things are not as peachy for the Browns. They pulled off the upset against state-rivals CIN, but they were fortunate to come away with a win after letting Palmer put up great numbers all afternoon long. There is not a lot to like about CLE other than their effort level. They might have found a RB in Hillis, but he will come back down to earth this week against ATL. If Delhomme plays, it won't make much of a difference. It could even be a liability after missing so much time. Jake isn't exactly known as the most consistent of QB's in the league. I'll be surprised if this game stays within one score. Prediction: Bank ATL -3.
San Diego Chargers vs Oakland Raiders: SD -6
This week OAK is in serious trouble because they don't have a hope in hell in stopping the run and won't be able to pass effectively if they get down 10 points. McFadden's hamstring has tightened up so they will likely be without one of their only bright spots of the season. OAK continue to lead the NFL in penalties which should come as a surprise to no one. They are having trouble sustaining drives which means their defense is getting left out on the field too long. They had big problems with HOU's offense last week and that was without Andre Johnson. SD have had very few problems coming out with wins when they travel to OAK and that trend will continue on Sunday. In fact, they haven't even defeated SD since 2002. Prediction: Bank SD -6.
New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals: UNDER 45.5
ARI might be starting an undrafted rookie at QB, but will it really make any difference for the offense? QB is not the only position the coaches are considering changing because the team is in complete disarray. ARI will be lucky to score 10 points in this game and there is a strong possibility of getting shutout. They are bottom-feeders in every statistical category. Drive points, 3rd down conversions, penalties, turnovers, and ball possession. The Saints will score some points, but they will need to suddenly become the high-flying Saints of yester-year to go over the 45.5. Prediction: Bank UNDER.
Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts: OVER 44
The Chiefs are downplaying the timing of their bye week, but for a team that was off to a hot start I think the bye came at the worst possible time. It will be hard to build on their early season momentum when they travel to IND to play the high-flying Colts. However, I do like them to put up some points on a defense that is susceptible to the run. Charles and Jones are a dynamic one-two punch and I expect their strong coaching staff to put them in a position to break off some big runs. I also expect them to have great field position all day with McCluster and Arenas returning kicks. Even if they struggle on offense early in the game, they will get some easy garbage points as the defense will go soft if IND is up big. Prediction: Bank OVER.