I know that you all have been sitting on pins and needles just waiting for this week's edition of Any Given Sunday to be posted, and I'm pleased to announce that the wait is finally over. By the way, was anybody else's schedule thrown off by San Francisco's Thursday night game? Nevertheless we have made it to Sunday, and with a 49er win already in the bank let's see what we have to look forward to from the other fourteen games on the schedule this week.
Sunday 1 PM EST
After getting off to a slow start, Michael Turner is averaging 8.64 yards per carry in his last two games. I expect him to have continued to success against a Carolina defense that has struggled to stop the run at times and is giving up 4.4 yards per carry on the year. On the flipside, the Panther's DeAngelo Williams is averaging an astounding 6.6 yards per carry in his last three games. The Falcon's front seven is undersized so Carolina should be able to move the ball on the ground, which is a good thing because quarterback Jake Delhomme has been terrible all season. In the end, Atlanta's passing game has one too many weapons with wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez both playing at a high level.
Prediction: Atlanta 24 Carolina 17
You may have heard that the hapless Bucs are no longer winless, and that news may have you itching to pick them against the 3-5 Dolphins. But if you are feeling the urge to jump on the Buccaneer bandwagon, please proceed with caution. Despite leading Tampa Bay to their first win of the year, rookie quarterback Josh Freeman looked lost at times last week. He only completed 1 of 10 passes when he lined up under center, a tendency that will make it easier for Miami to scheme against their interstate rivals. Tampa Bay's 30th ranked rush defense will not be able to slow down the Dolphins rushing attack, and the end result will be a slow demoralizing loss for the Buccaneers.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 14 Miami 28
Many of Brett Favre's naysayers will tell you that his production will inevitably decline in the second half of the season. While that may be true, I just don't see it happening this week against a Lions secondary giving up 263 yards per game. After their Week 9 bye Favre and the Vikings will be well rested, and should able to put up a lot of points against Detroit.
If the Lions are going to keep up with Minnesota it will have to happen through the air. Matthew Stafford is only completing 53% of his passes, but he and wide out Calvin Johnson give Detroit a big play threat and they will need to play well if the Lions are going to win. Running back Kevin Smith has struggled in this year, and he has only had one 100 yard rushing game all season. His second one will not come against Minnesota's sixth ranked rush defense, and neither will the Lion's second win.
Prediction: Detroit 14 Minnesota 34
Jacksonville will most likely look to emphasize the pass against New York's 2nd ranked pass defense. Maurice Jones-Drew should have success running against a Kris Jenkins-less Jets defense, but that won't be enough to get Jacksonville a win against New York. The Jaguars are making the transition to a 4-3 defense after starting the season with a 3-4 alignment. The switch means that some members of Jacksonville's front seven will be playing out of position, which should mean a big day on the ground for New York's top ranked rush offense. Unless rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez completely implodes, this should be a Jets win.
Prediction: Jacksonville 21 New York 24
I know most of you are probably more interested in watching Buffalo take on the Titans, but in my estimation this will be the best game during the 1 PM EST slot. These teams are ranked 1st and 2nd in rush defense, so don't expect a lot of big plays via the running game. The winner of this game will be decided by throwing the football. Ben Rothlisberger and the Steelers have already shown the ability to spread people out and move the ball through the air, something Cincinnati has not had much success doing this year. Rothlisberger is currently the 4th highest rated passer in the league, and I think he will do just enough against the Bengals' 24th ranked pass defense to get Pittsburgh the win.
Prediction: Cincinnati 20 Pittsburgh 21
The preview will continue after the jump...
I'm having a hard time predicting anything but a blowout in this game. The Saints are a mismatch for St. Louis almost anyway you look at it. For starters New Orleans is averaging a league best 37 points a game, while the Rams are ranked 29th in scoring defense. That being said, I think you know where I'm going with this one. The only chance for St. Louis is to pound the ball with Steven Jackson and hope for the best. Now that I mention it, that's not such a bad plan after all. Jackson comes into Week 10 tied for third in the league with 784 rushing yards, and we've all seen him single handedly will the Rams to victory. Meanwhile New Orleans has given up 5.72 yards per carry since DT Sedrick Ellis went out with a knee sprain. I'm feeling lucky enough to pick St. Louis at home here.
Prediction: New Orleans 24 St Louis 28
This match up will come down to the Bills' rush defense against Chris Johnson. Johnson is averaging 119 yards per game, and you know he's salivating thinking about running against Buffalo's 32nd ranked rush defense. If the Bills can't slow down the NFL's leading rusher there won't be much to see here, but if Buffalo can play with a lead and force Vince Young to throw more than 25 times they could steal a win on the road. Tennessee has kept things simple for Young since he's returned to the starting lineup, and he hasn't had to win a game with his arm yet. If they're forced to rely on him in this match up, I think you can pencil him in for two interceptions and a Titan's loss. Unfortunately for the Bills, they just don't have the players to stop Johnson from running rough shod over their defense.
Prediction: Bills 9 v Tennessee 20
Both of these teams have top six defenses so this should be a low scoring affair. Unfortunately for Redskin fans, Denver is much more efficient on offense and should be able to pull out a win on the road. The Broncos are have a +5urnover ratio while the Redskins are a terrible -8. Denver just doesn't make that many mistakes, and against Washington that's about all you have to do these days to win the game. Bronco defensive end Elvis Dumervil is second in the league with 10.5 sacks, and should be very familiar with Jason Campbell by the time this one is over. LT Levi Jones is making his first start of the year and will have a tough time matching up with the speedy Dumervil in passing situations.
Prediction: Denver 21 Washington 10
Sunday 4:00-4:15 PM EST
Is anybody even going to watch this game? I'm sorry but I just can't get excited for the Chiefs and Raiders when I'm writing at two in the morning. Jamarcus Russell will struggle (like he always does), and the Raiders will continue to lose. One bright spot for Oakland will be the return of Darren McFadden after was out with a knee injury. It will also be interesting to see if Kansas City expands on the hurry up offense they used with relative effectiveness last week. I can remember when this was a marquee match up in the NFL so it's a little disheartening to see how far these teams have fallen, but such is the nature of professional football.
Prediction: Kansas City 12 Oakland 2
With Matt Hasselbeck back at the helm the Seahawks once again have one of the league's better passing attacks. This week they go up against a Cardinal offense that absolutely shredded Chicago's defense their last time out. Neither of these defenses are anything more than mediocre, so I see a lot of points in this match up. Both of these teams have very similar strengths and weaknesses, but Arizona is just a little bit better overall so I think they should win this game at home.
Prediction: Seattle 28 Arizona 31
The Cowboys and Packers are heading in opposite directions in the standings, but this week they will meet in Green Bay. The questions will continue to swirl around Tony Romo until he wins in the playoffs, but he has played well overall this season and he is undefeated (13-0) in the month of November. With all of their weapons on offense, Dallas should be able to move the ball efficiently against the Packers' defense. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay continues to struggle in pass protection. Things won't get any easier with DeMarcus Ware rushing the passer this week. Ware has 5 sacks in his last four games, and he should have continued success against LT Chad Clifton. Look for the Packers to mix in shorter passes and lots of Ryan Grant to keep the Cowboys off balance, but I don't think it will be enough to turn things around.
Prediction: Dallas 28 Green Bay 21
San Diego showed a lot of character going on the road and beating the Giants last week, but in the NFL there is no rest for the weary. This week the Chargers have another tough match up against an NFC East powerhouse, except this time they are at home. Both offenses are in the top ten in scoring and both like to throw the ball often, averaging over 33 attempts per game. While they have many similarities on offense, including aging and often injured over 30 running backs, the Eagles are a much better defensive team. In fact, they have the best defense according to DVOA while the Chargers rank 23rd. Because of their defense and the big play potential of Desean Jackson, I'll give the nod to Philadelphia but expect a close hard fought game.
Prediction: Philadelphia 28 San Diego 27
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Lost in all the talk about these team's offenses is the fact that they are ranked 1st and 2nd in scoring defense. Now let's talk about their offenses! I expect Brady to spread the defense and get rid of the ball quick to help mitigate Dwight Freeney and the Colts' pass rush. Indianapolis' secondary will be missing three starters so I can't see them doing much more than slowing down the Patriots on their way to several touchdowns. For the Colts, MVP candidate Peyton Manning will be looking to keep pace with the prolific Patriot's offense. While New England's defense has done a good job of limiting big plays (as have the Colts), we know that Manning can dink and dunk with the best of them and still score points. The return of rookie running back Donald Brown should help improve Indianapolis' running game and give them the balance they'll need to beat New England at home.
Prediction: New England 23 Indianapolis 24
Monday 8:30 PM EST
This week we get a real clunker for the Monday night game. The Browns are a well documented mess, while the Ravens have lost four games in a row. Baltimore is still ranked 6th in DVOA though, so I still expect them to turn their season around and this is the game it starts. Joe Flacco has given the Ravens a dynamic passing attack in his second year as a pro. He should be able to move the ball at will against a Browns defense giving up 7.8 yards per attempt. Wide receiver Derrick Mason has had over 100 yards receiving in his last two games against Cleveland, and I think this week he'll make it three for three. The Browns are 31st against the run, so expect Ray Rice to continue to produce at a high level both on the ground and in the passing game. While the Raven's defense has struggled this season, I don't think all the Myoplex bars in the world could help Brady Quinn resurrect Cleveland's offense. Baltimore wins.
Prediction: Baltimore 31 Cleveland 10