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Washington Redskins vs New York Giants: NYG -7
Two categories that should allow them to dominate the game is on the ground and on the line of scrimmage. NY backs might have problems securing the ball, but they should be able to have their way on Sunday. This will alleviate the pressure off the passing game and allow Eli to pick his spots down the field. In fact, Eli could have a big game because WSH have been giving up big chunks of yards all season. WSH can't generate enough pressure on the QB and when you can't stop the run or the pass you usually lose the time of possession battle too. This is reflected in the stats as WSH only average about 42 completed offensive plays per game. This ranks near the bottom of the league and puts far too much pressure on the defense.
The story doesn't get any better for the WSH offense. They only average about 10 points per game from long drives and this is largely due to their league-worst third down percentage. They simply can't sustain drives on a consistent basis. I wouldn't be shocked if the NY defensive line win this game all by themselves and McNabb will need to find the fountain of youth quickly if he hopes to stay alive much longer. The only bright spot for this team will be their return game. WSH should get some favorable field position throughout the game, but how much will it matter? When a team can't drive down the field and score points then I'm also less concerned about a late cover with garbage points. This is a team going nowhere and now they have another handful of injuries to contend with on both sides of the ball. Prediction: Bank NYG -7.
Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ATL -2.5
I might sound like a broken record when I describe how ATL will cover, but there are always new people reading this for the first time. In this game ATL will once again dominate the game on the ground and Ryan will have a lot of time to scan the field to make plays. They are very good in red zone offense and defense and lead the league in many critical categories. Third down offense, points from long drives, and completed offensive plays per game. They also rank near the top in turnover differential and least amount of penalties per game. I'm not sure about you, but when you can do these things on a consistent basis you are going to win most of your games. Last season ATL lost most of their tough games, but this year they are winning them. This is a clear sign of a team that has taken that next step. Even if this game is close, ATL have a QB and a kicker who get it done in the clutch. Jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride. Prediction: Bank ATL -2.5.
Dallas Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -5
It is also no secret that Jon Kitna isn't Tom Brady or Philip Rivers and the IND defense will be able to do enough to limit the DAL passing attack. The main advantage they will have will be in the return game. However, as we have seen over the last couple of months, when your only mismatch on the field is on special teams, your chances of winning are dismal at best. DAL still turn the ball over too much and can't get enough points from long drives. This is a very bad formula if you are facing the Colts. If they fall behind like I expect them too, they won't have the home crowd to rally them this time and Kitna could morph into a turnover machine. DAL can't run the ball either so controlling the clock and limiting Peyton's opportunities isn't much of an option. The motivation meter in DAL is dropping as that initial surge of change has passed. Fade the Cowgirls this week with confidence. Prediction: Bank -IND 5.
St Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals: STL -3
The ARI offense and defense might need to be separated in the locker room and the sidelines because Anderson is doing no favors for his team right now. Coach Spags will bring the pain on Sunday and force whoever is at QB into some ill-advised passes down the field. STL should also have little trouble limiting a running game that hasn't had any consistency all year. The only thing ARI have going for them is the return game and I've already stated what I think about a team in that situation. I could go into more detail on this one, but I think it would be unnecessary to list all the reasons I like STL to win this game. STL is 8-3 ATS and ARI is 3-8. Need I say more? Prediction: Bank STL -3.
Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs: OVER 48
Since this game is a total I'm not going to give a full game analysis for it. With so many games going over the total this year I am limiting my total picks to one or two a week that I think will continue the trend. 48 is a large number and in years past I would normally stay away from picks like this, but this is a new NFL that does everything it can to generate offense. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this game generated over 60 points. DEN have proved all year that they can put up points in the air. I'm not sure what supplements Kyle Orton is taking, but whatever it is it's working. Whether it is early in the game or late, this team puts up points. On the other side of the ball, Matt Cassel has caught fire over recent weeks and has found a nice chemistry with Dwayne Bowe. This is likely due to the massive success of the running game and I see the same story playing out on Sunday. I was high on Jamaal Charles coming into the season and I think he continues to fly under the radar this year. He should be getting a lot more national attention because he is an electrifying back who can kill you rushing or receiving. Neither of these defenses is about to pitch a shutout anytime soon and neither defensive line has enough push to stifle the passing attack. Look for a lot of big plays and back and forth scores in this one. Prediction: Bank O48.