Arizona Cardinals vs Kansas City Chiefs: KC -7
For KC, the advantages might be too long to list them all. First and foremost they have a monumental advantage on the ground. Jamaal Charles has been an underrated monster and along with Thomas Jones they have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. They also do a good job against the run on defense. Another bid edge they will have will be on the line of scrimmage. KC has protected Cassel pretty good this season and they will also cause fits for the ARI offensive line. They haven't been great with red zone defense this year, but this will only hurt them against teams that can consistently move the ball. ARI rank near the bottom on third down offense and only average about a touchdown a game from long drives. ARI also turn the ball over too much and don't generate enough on the other side of the ball. Look for KC to bounce back from a horrible loss and get back on track this week. It would qualify as a great shock if this game is competitive in the 4th quarter. Prediction: Bank KC -7.
Washington Redskins vs Tennessee Titans: TEN -7
Atlanta Falcons vs St Louis Rams: ATL -3
ATL is a team that can beat you a number of different ways. They will do a good job limiting Jackson in this one and there will be opportunities to make plays in the air. The Ryan-White duo are proving to be unstoppable this season. I lost two props last week because I thought White was more injured than he was, but he showed no ill effects of his knee injury and put up gaudy numbers against BAL. The are a tough team to get off the field. ATL rank 1st in the league on third down offense and sit in the top third of the league in red zone offense. They average almost three touchdowns a game from long drives and control the clock more than their opponent in most games. If things weren't already tough enough for STL, they will also have to earn every yard and point they get. ATL rank near the very top in turnover differential and penalties. This is a sign of a well-coached team as they very rarely beat themselves. The future is bright for the Rams, but the best I see for them in this matchup is a moral victory. Prediction: Bank ATL -3.
Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings: GB -3
Despite the injuries, GB have continued to find ways to win games and a lot of that has to do with two key players - Aaron Rodgers and Clay Mathews. Both of these guys are difference makers on their respective sides of the ball. I don't expect it to be any different when they lineup on Sunday. GB is great offensively once they get inside the 20 and don't have much problem moving the sticks even without a legitimate running game. They are near the top in turnover differential and score a lot of points from long drives. MIN might have swept the division series last season, but it will be GB who takes both games in 2010. Prediction: Bank GB -3.
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots: IND +4
Let's take a look what NE will be able to do on the field. First off, everyone knows how vulnerable IND is in run defense. NE have a nice edge here, but is it something that Belichick will exploit? Traditionally Brady is the one making things happen in this offense and that is no different in this rivalry. Therefore, this advantage is not as important as it should be. This doesn't mean that Brady won't make plays. We all know he will. But will it be enough? NE also have a nice edge stopping the run in this matchup. Unfortunately for the Patriots this isn't a game that is going to be won or lose on the ground.
For me there are four significant mismatches on the field in this game and they all favor IND. The obvious one is in the air. Peyton knows how to exploit inferior defensive backs - especially when they are inexperienced. Road noise is not something that Peyton worries about so the home field advantage is not as relevant as it would be otherwise. The less obvious advantages IND have is on third down and in the red zone. IND rank near the top in both categories offensively. NE are near the bottom on third down defense and dead last in red zone defense. Lastly, NE have had problems getting to the quarterback all season long, while Peyton is one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL. These factors will be paramount and should provide Peyton with enough of an edge to keep it within four points - if not win outright. The Pats might have surprised me last week in PIT, but the Colts have a much better passing game to exploit what Big Ben and company couldn't. Prediction: Bank IND +4.