Miami Dolphins vs Green Bay Packers: MIA +3.5
MIA is not about to light the world on fire, but they have a number of things going for them on Sunday. Unlike GB, they are relatively healthy coming out of a bye week. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is anxious to put some pressure on Rodgers and aims for at least three sacks per game. He loves to disrupt the QB and this is not good news for someone coming off a concussion and no running game to relieve the pressure. If Channing Crowder returns from a groin injury things will be that much tougher for a struggling GB team. MIA has been surprisingly good on third down offense and defense this season and remain a disciplined bunch. I like them to win the game outright, but I love them with the points. Prediction: Bank MIA +3.5.
Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots: BAL +3
Usually I would not take a road team facing NE off of a bye. The Pats traditionally come out and kill opponents after a week off. However, that trend doesn't scare me given how BAL is playing this year. Much like ATL, the Ravens lost a lot of close games in 2009. I wasn't going to buy into them until they proved to me that they can rise up and win a few of the tough ones. So far this year they have done that. They took down a very good Jets team in week one and pulled out a gutsy win against the Steelers on the road. I don't see many weaknesses on BAL right now. They will have little trouble putting up points against a defense currently put together with scotch tape. I'm not a Flacco fan per se, but the Pats will have trouble getting sustained pressure on him and it doesn't matter who you are in this league - if a QB gets time to scan the field against a porous secondary, he will make plays. They should also dominate possession as they rank near the top of the league in third down offense and defense. I expect BAL to win this one convincingly, but if it's close I love the underdogs points. Prediction: Bank BAL +3.
Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles: ATL +3
ATL's key to this game will be running the ball. PHI lost their best run defender last week Broderik Bunkley and he is out of this game. ATL already had a huge advantage on the ground heading into the game and it just got significantly better. Their other good run defender Mike Patterson is also dinged up with back problems. PHI also have big problems covering tight ends which means they will have more trouble with Tony G coming to town. Samuel should return from a concussion this week, but with all the success the Falcons have running the ball, expect some big plays off of play action in the passing game. ATL also get WR Michael Jenkins back this week. There will also be big plays to made for ATL in special teams. PHI have had trouble with starting field position all year and that won't change on Sunday. This game might not be as close as people think. Prediction: Bank ATL +3.
Indianapolis Colts vs Washington Redskins: IND -3
Meanwhile for the Colts, Peyton is coming off his worst statistical game of the year but they still managed to win by 10 points. It isn't very often that he has two bad games in a row and given how he started the year he should have little trouble getting back on track with a full slate of healthy receiving options. If they build a lead in the first half Mathis and Freeney will be able to tee off on Mcnabb. We all saw how Mathews terrorized that offensive line in week 5 and WSH are still having big problems at both tackle spots. The Colts are also one of the most disciplined teams in the league so they won't be beating themselves. So far IND have been heavy road favorites all year so to get them at -3 is a steal. WSH will be a trendy pick among the sharps because they are the home dog in a night game, but I'm not buying in. Prediction: Bank IND -3.
New York Jets vs Denver Broncos: NYJ -3
The New York Jets were a sheik pick heading into the season and I was on the bandwagon. Five weeks into the season it's easy to see what all the hype was about. I had serious questions about Sanchez after what I saw in the preseason and in the first game against BAL, but since then he's proven that he can make enough plays to put this team in a position to win. Having said that, he needs to do it for more than a month before I'm a true believer. Thankfully for him, the team around him play lights out football. This week they go into Mile High to take on the high flying Kyle Orton. Who knew he would be putting up the kind of numbers he is without Brandon Marshall? He will eventually come back down to earth and he struggled last week against a good BAL defense and put up most of his numbers when the game was out of reach. I expect him to struggle once again against an aggressive NY defense. They have no running game whatsoever to take any pressure off him, and the defensive backs won't be biting on the play fakes like the Titans did two weeks ago. NY is not playing as well on third down defense as they would like, but without a running game it will be hard for DEN to take advantage.
However, this game will be won and lost on the line of scrimmage. The Jets own huge advantages on both sides and it will be another big day for the best offensive line in the NFL. NY will also have favorable field position because they will have a big edge in the return game. To make matters worse for DEN, the Sanchez should have more than enough time to find his receivers while Orton is scrambling for his livelihood. This one could get ugly as NY lays a beat-down on the wannabe-contenders in Colorado. Prediction: Bank NYJ -3.