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Sunday, November 13, 2005 

Quick Slants - Week 10

As the second half of the season starts, the playoff races begin to take shape. There are plenty of teams in contention, especially with the AFC East and NFC North so weak at the top.

Kansas City (5-3) at Buffalo (3-5)

First of all, I loved Dick Vermeil's decision last week to go for the win against the Raiders. The Chiefs had blown a 20-9 lead in the fourth quarter against a poor Raiders team. With Priest Holmes out, Larry Johnson had an excellent game, and had just scampered 36 yards on a reception from Trent Green to put the ball on the one yard line. To kick a field goal there would have been the "safe" decision, but the Chiefs defense was not playing great, so why surrender a chance to end the game right there?

Now they travel to Buffalo to play the Bills, who are fresh off a bye week. Buffalo features a better defense than Oakland, but their offense is so poor that I doubt they'll be able to take advantage of the Chiefs occassional defensive lapses. The loss of Priest Holmes will eventually take a toll on Johnson, but they should be fine today.

Denver (6-2) at Oakland (3-5)

After losing in dramatic fashion last week, Oakland returns home to play the rested Broncos, who had last weekend off. Denver has been rolling, especially on offense, while Oakland has been very inconsistent. The Raiders should have an emotional edge in this one, but the Broncos will likely need a win to stay ahead of the Chiefs, so that should be a powerful motivator.

Sunday Night
Cleveland (3-5) at Pittsburgh (6-2)

Romeo Crennel's team hasn't beaten a quality team yet this season (Green Bay, Chicago, Tennessee), yet this looks like a good spot for an upset. Charlie Batch had his hands full against the Packers last week, completing just 9 of 16 passes for 65 yards and an interception. Pittsburgh won because of their defense and special teams, scoring on a fumble return and setting up the clinching score on an interception. Their one-dimensional attack might run into trouble against the Browns.

Monday Night
Dallas (5-3) at Philadelphia (4-4)

Maybe Terrell Owens can talk to Jerry Jones before the game and work out a deal to play for the Cowboys next season. Dallas has been mentioned as one of Owens's likely landing spots for next season, though I'm not sure the Cowboys really need him.

This game is critical for both teams. The Giants and Redskins are both playing fading teams (Vikings, Bucs) so it's conceivable they'll be 7-2 and 6-3 by Sunday night. If the Eagles fall to 4-5, they will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs - there would be too many teams to climb over. While the Eagles may be more desperate, the Cowboys defense is playing much better right now and gives them a big edge. Dallas won their first matchup this season back in week 5, 33-10, by jumping out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and controlling the clock. The Cowboys ran the ball 46 times for 167 yards and held the ball for over 40 minutes. Philadelphia had 9 rushes for just 19 yards. Ouch. I don't have much confidence in the Eagles offense, and Cowboys certainly shut them down in that game. Looks like Bill Parcells is headed back to the playoffs again.

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