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Sunday, September 19, 2004 

Games of the Day

This week's schedule is back to normal, with better games on Sunday afternoon. The bye weeks start next week, so this is the last full slate until week 11 (November 21).

Early Games

The best game of the weekend is Indy at Tennessee. Both teams have had a little extra time to prepare, but I'm sure Tennessee had a more enjoyable week. Now the Colts have to take out their frustrations in the Titans home opener to avoid falling two games behind in the division. Peyton Manning will challenge the Tennessee defense a lot more than the Jay Fielder/A.J. Feely horror show in Miami, while the Colts aren't going to see much no-huddle, empty backfield formations from the Titans. The 1-2 punch of Chris Brown and Antowain Smith punished Miami for 140 yards, so they'll test Indy's run defense. Should be a classic.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore could be a great rivalry game, but I can't get excited about it. Pittsburgh won their opener, but Oakland won nearly every stat (except for rushing yards and 2 INTs). Baltimore's game against Cleveland had an interesting statistical quirk - both QBs threw for under 200 yards, and both teams' leading receiver was a TE. I'd much rather watch Denver at Jacksonville. Though Byron Leftwich was mediocre at best against Buffalo, the game-winning TD he threw on the final play of the game will give him confidence. Plus, Denver can be fun to watch with Quentin Griffith.

Late Games

Slim pickings late in the day. New England is in Arizona for the ultimate trap game. With a bye week looming and an emotional win ten days ago, I wouldn't be surprised to see Arizona win. New England tends to let teams hang around, and St. Louis nearly fell into that trap last week. Emmitt Smith scored a go-ahead TD late in the third quarter, but then St. Louis woke up and retook the lead 33 seconds later. If St. Louis's defense could hold Arizona to 260 yards, how will New England do? I suspect Josh McCown will have a long day.

Prime Time

Lost in the aftermath of Minnesota's 35-17 win over Dallas was that Vinny Testaverde picked apart the Minnesota secondary for plenty of yardage. He was 29-50 for 355 yards but just one TD. Three Dallas receivers had big games (Keyshawn 9-111, Bryant 8-112, Glenn 5-84). Now Minnesota has to face Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, plus deal with a legimate running threat in Bryant Westbrook (17-119 in the opener). Good luck. Of course, Philadelphia has to stop Culpepper-Moss, so this game should feature some exciting offense.

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