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Sunday, November 14, 2004 

Games of the Day

We've reached the second half of the season, and the playoff races continue to take shape.

Early Games

Injuries are the story for the Ravens-Jets game. Curtis Martin is having a spectacular season, but I have a hard time envisioning the Jets scoring much today with Quincy Carter replacing Chad Pennington at QB. Baltimore has allowed the fewest points in the league this year (113) and they should be fired up today, as this is a great chance to gain an edge in the wild-card race. Pittsburgh is likely to win in Cleveland, so the Ravens need a win to keep pace. The Ravens got Jamal Lewis back last week, and Jonathan Ogden is improving (but still officially questionable). The loss of TE Todd Heap hurts, but I love the Ravens defense today.

Detroit at Jacksonville is interesting for no other reason than both of these teams are struggling after better-than-expected starts. The Jaguars are tied with the Colts at 5-3, and while they had an extra week to prepare for life without Byron Leftwich, I'd be concerned. Jacksonville has won so many close games that they've grown accustomed to Leftwich engineering a miracle. Someone else will need to step up today. As for the Lions, the key will be stopping Fred Taylor. I still can't figure out how the Lions are 4-4; they have one of the worst offenses statistically, and their defense is porous. Clinton Portis ripped them for 147 yards last week as the Redskins won 17-10 even though Mark Brunell was pitiful (6-17-0-58). With Minnesota playing Green Bay, Detroit is guaranteed to gain ground with a win.

Late Games

The battle at Lambeau is the highlight of the day for me. Both Minnesota and Green Bay score a lot but can't stop anyone. This is their first meeting of the year (they'll play again on Christmas Eve), and injuries are a big factor in this game too. The Vikings have lost 2 in a row with Randy Moss hurt, and Mewelde Moore is also banged up. The schedule also works against Minnesota, who had to play Monday night while Green Bay had a bye last week (why can't the NFL do a better job with this?). Duante Culpepper may have to win this one on his own.

Prime Time

Both national games are a matchup of 7-1 and 3-5 teams. New England is home against Buffalo while Philadelphia travels to Dallas Monday night. The favorites should win both games. I'm really surprised that Dallas's defense has fallen apart. I know Woodson's out, but couldn't they have developed some depth?

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