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Sunday, September 11, 2005 

Quick Slants

Welcome back to football season! Thursday night's opener was nice, but there's like a Sunday full of football to look forward to. Unfortunately, the schedule makers didn't cooperate. There are only 3 games this week featuring two teams with above .500 records last season and 2 of them are the prime time games. I think I'll spend part of Sunday watching Red Sox-Yankees instead...

Sunday
New Orleans (8-8) at Carolina (7-9)

The Saints are an obvious sentimental favorite, and this is going to be a surreal year for them and their fans. But the Panthers are a popular pick to go deep into the playoffs if they avoid last season's injury bug. Look for Carolina to pull away in the second half of this game.

Seattle (9-7) at Jacksonville (9-7)

This is a matchup of two trendy picks over the past few seasons. Mike Holmgren is on the hot seat this uear, as the Seahawks have been plagued with inconsistency and execution problems. Fewer dropped passes would help Matt Hasselbeck's confidence, and he's played well this preseason. The Jaguars surged to a 5-2 start, but Byron Leftwich's injury slowed their momentum, and a 21-0 loss at home to Houston on the next-to-last week of the season eliminated them from the playoffs. With Indianapolis in the same division, they might have to settle for another wild card fight. However, there is lot to build on from their first winning season since the Coughlin/Brunell glory days.

Dallas (6-10) at San Diego (12-4)

The past and the future of the NFL meet in the Drew Bowl. Bill Parcells added Drew Bledsoe in the off-season, but unless Julius Jones stays healthy and productive for the whole year, the Cowboys will have to rely on a retooled defense to win games. In San Diego, Drew Brees is out to prove that 2004 was not a fluke, and Marty Schottenheimer needs to show that he can win a playoff game. LaDainian Tomlinson gives them great balance offensively, and their defense should continue to improve.

Sunday Night
Indianapolis (12-4) at Baltimore (9-7)

Baltimore just doesn't excite me this year. The defense is good, but not great. I also have a hard time rooting for Ray Lewis or Jamal Lewis due to their checkered pasts. By comparison, Indianapolis is gaining strength on defense while their trio of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Edgerin James is still one of the best in the NFL. This will be the most entertaining game of the weekend.

Monday Night
Philadephia (13-3) at Atlanta (11-5)

This rematch of last year's NFC Championship is the best game of the weekend. McNabb and Vick should provide plenty of fireworks. I'd expect a closer game than last year, but the same final result - the Eagles are a much more complete team.

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