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Sunday, September 26, 2004 

Games of the Day

The first bye week couldn't have come at a worse time for the Jets, Patriots, and Panthers, who are all coming off wins. Of course, the Bills needed the break to lick their wounds and get ready for the Patriots next week.

Early Games

While Jacksonville at Tennessee intrigues me, I expect the Titans to win fairly easily. Tennessee has the best overall offense they've faced yet, and the Titans do not want to fall two games behind in the division. Jacksonville's game last week proved how misleading stats can be - the Broncos held the ball for 37:08, outgained the Jaguars 356-176, and had more than double as many first downs (20-8). But they were forced to settle for 2 FGs in the second quarter and fumbled the game away late in the fourth.

A lot of people expected Philadelphia to be 2-0, but Detroit? The Lions have had an easy schedule (Bears, Texans) while the Eagles have faced a rebuilding Giants team and the explosive but defensively-challenged Vikings. Philadelphia's defense was shredded by Duante Culpepper on Monday night (37-47-1-343) but the Eagles smothered the run, with Culpepper outrushing Onterrio Smith 41 to 28 (on 2 fewer carries). The Eagles will not play another division game until November 15, so they need to build on their NFC East lead to give them some breathing room later.

Late Games

Green Bay and Indianpolis have a lot of big names on offense, but their defenses will decide today's game. Indy outclassed Tennessee in the second half last week, forcing 3 sacks, a fumble, and intercepting Steve McNair once. The Colts have given up an AFC-worst 556 passing yards so far, but they've played Tom Brady and Steve McNair, so keep that in perspective. Now they face another challenge in Brett Favre. The Packers couldn't stop Thomas Jones (23-152) but lost to the Bears primarily because of Ahman Green's funble late in the first half that was returned for a TD. Green Bay's defense is improved, but neither Carolina or Chicago are as explosive as Indianapolis.

Prime Time

It's been a while since a Dallas-Washington game generated a lot of national interest. A lot of the focus Monday night will be on the coaches, who had plenty to complain about this week. The Redskins were brutal last week with 7 turnovers in their loss to the Giants. Vinny Testaverde threw 3 interceptions against Cleveland, but also had 322 yards and a TD (Dallas is leading the NFL in offensive yardage per game). The Dallas defense did the rest against a feeble Cleveland attack, holding Jeff Garcia to a dreadful 8-27-3-71 performance. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can hold Clinton Portis in check; he's the first quality back they've faced this year.

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