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Sunday, October 02, 2005 

Quick Slants - Week 4

While most of New England focuses on the Red Sox-Yankees series and the conclusion of the regular season, there's still a few football games worthy of our time this weekend.

Sunday
San Diego (1-2) at New England (2-1)

LaDainian Tomlinson must be looking forward to this game. Even with Rodney Harrison out for most of last week's game, the Patriots still slowed down the Steelers running game. But Tomlinson, unlike Willie Parker, is the real deal. Parker is still the leading rusher in the AFC, but Tomlinson shredded the Giants for 192 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday night and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry this season. New England's defense will be tested again today.

The Patriots offense has been pass-happy so far this season. Consider that Tom Brady has a significantly higher number of pass attempts than Drew Brees:

Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int
Brady 123 78 63.4 948 3 2
Brees 80 52 65.0 575 4 3

With Kevin Faulk and Matt Light injured, you have to wonder if the Patriots can keep it up, but if they slow down Tomlinson, can Brees carry the Chargers offense?

Denver (2-1) at Jacksonville (2-1)

Jacksonville is being a tease again this season. Yes, they beat the Jets last week, but they needed overtime against a team that was using a QB with a torn rotator cuff. The Jaguars had a 308-168 yardage advantage and a 40:31 to 25:34 time of possession edge, but only a 16-12 edge in first downs. On the other hand, their come-from-behind win against Seattle is the Seahawks only loss so far, and they gave Indianapolis their toughest game of the year.

Then there's Denver, who have been impressive since being embarassed by Miami in the season opener. Both wins came at home, but they overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit against San Diego, then blew out Kansas City 30-10 on Monday night. Mike Shanahan must have given one hell of a halftime speech in the San Diego game. Up to that point, the Broncos had been outscored 48-13 in their first 6 quarters this season. In the 6 quarters since, Denver has turned the tables, outscoring the Chargers and Chiefs 47-13.

Philadelphia (2-1) at Kansas City (2-1)

The big story of this game is Donovan McNabb's abdominal injury, which illustrates his toughness and willingness to sacrifice for his team. McNabb already has 8 TD passes this season, but the Eagles have struggled this season, losing to the Falcons, blowing out the 49ers (and building up most of their stats in the process), then needing a game-winning FG to beat the winless Raiders.

Meanwhile, Kansas City's magic carpet ride crash-landed in Denver, as the Broncos shut down the Chiefs 1-2 punch of Priest Holmes (61 yards) and Larry Johnson (13 yards on 8 carries) in part because they exploded to a 17-0 first quarter lead. The Chiefs will bounce back in this game, but I still like the Eagles defense better, so I think Philly will win.

Monday Night
Green Bay (0-3) at Carolina (1-2)

This game has names, but it's not exactly a dream matchup for ABC. Brett Favre hasn't had much magic this year, while Jake Delhomme and the Panthers followed up their emotional win against the Patriots by falling flat on their faces in Miami. How often does a team win when they commit 13 penalties for 138 yards? Well, the Dolphins did, partly because they won the turnover battle 3-1, and partly because the anemic Panthers running game managed just 61 yards on 26 carries.

To be fair, Green Bay could have won last week if Ryan Longwell hadn't missed an extra point and a 42 yard field goal, but Favre isn't exactly putting up great stats:

Week 1 Det 27-44-2-201 0 TD
Week 2 Cle 32-44-2-342 3 TD
Week 3 TB 14-24-3-195 2 TD

Get the picture? Too many interceptions. Plus, Green Bay can't run the ball consistently - just 46, 116, and 75 yards in the three games so far, with the 116 coming against a weak Cleveland team.

I normally like Favre in a big spot, but Carolina is just as desperate, and the Panthers are a better team and should win this game.

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