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Sunday, October 31, 2004 

Games of the Day

After the thrilling baseball playoffs, the NFL is back in the spotlight with a terrific slate of games this weekend.

Early Games

I guess Deion Sanders can still play. His interception return for a TD last week sparked Baltimore to a win over Buffalo. The Bills are awful, but the Ravens were playing without Jamal Lewis, who'll also sit out this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia survived a scare last week against Cleveland to remain undefeated, but lost RB Brian Westbrook to an injury that might keep him out of this week's game. If Westbrook is healthy, this game is a mismatch, and I still think Philadelphia will win unless McNabb tries to force things in the passing game and turns the ball over.

The Giants and Vikings have a combined record of 9-3; but they're 0-3 against teams with winning records. That said, if Randy Moss can't play, the Giants can load up against the run, slow down Mewelde Moore, and try to win a close game. This strategy might have worked for Tennessee last week, but backup QB Billy Volek threw 3 interceptions.

Jacksonville just keeps winning games in the closing seconds, so I'm in their corner until they blow a few. This week's prospective victim is Houston, who could make the AFC South race very interesting with a win. A Texans win, combined with a Colts loss to the Chiefs, would put Houston at 4-3, tied with Indy just a 1/2 game behind the Jaguars.

Late Games

Pittsburgh is coming off a bye, and playing at home with a hot rookie QB. New England has won 21 games in a row and has a defense that normally eats rookie QBs for lunch. Ben Roethlisberger has to play well for the Steelers to win this game, but he doesn't have to do it all. The Patriots receiving corps is still decimated, so their offense will struggle to put up points as they did against the Jets. If Pittsburgh can control the ball and force New England to throw (and take Corey Dillion out of the game at the same time) they have a shot.

Atlanta at Denver intrigues me. Both teams are 5-2 but coming off surprising losses. Atlanta literally got run over by Kansas City (271 yards, 8 TDs) 56-10, while Denver lost to Cincinnati on Monday night. Denver has a big edge in my mind because their running game is so strong, as Reuben Droughns gained over 100 yards again. The loss of Quentin Griffin won't even be felt.

Prime Time

The Sunday night game is awful - San Francisco (1-5) at Chicago (1-5), but the Monday night game matches up Miami and the Jets. Yes, Miami is awful, but they played the Jets close in Week 4 (17-9) and lost the game because of turnovers. Plus, the Jets should be fired up after losing to the Patriots. Miami has a good pass defense statistically, but that's because most opponents get out to early leads then just line up and run the ball down their throat. Gone are the days where these teams play 42-35 games, but this should be a slugfest that is closer than their records indicate. Look for a close Jets win.

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