Sunday Selections (Week 8)
New England at St Louis
Indianapolis at Tennessee
IND’s rebuilding defense has been beset by injuries with Freeney limited (high ankle), Mathis (knee) and DE Moala out and they’ve been worn down in the 2H being outscored 77-49. LW vs CLE they scored td’s on their 1st 2 drives but were held to 3 pts the rest of the way but thanks to numerous drops by CLE WR’s had enough to hold on. The Titans went up to BUF for a 2nd straight season and for the 2nd time came away with a road win. They looked like last year’s group led by CJ (195, 108) which opened the passing lanes for Hasselback (205, 71%, 1-0) but it was against the Bills #32 rush D. The Colts’ rush D, however, was only ranked #29 (5.0) before holding CLE to 55 yds (3.2) as the Browns were without Richardson (8 att) for a majority of the game. On offense Luck has struggled on the road (50.6%, 1-5) and the Titans D, when aided with a TOP edge due to a strong rush game, has only allowed 340 ypg vs 446 ypg in their other 5 games. IND has lost both games after a win this year while TEN has already knocked off DET and PIT at home.
PHIL’S FORECAST: TENNESSEE 24 INDIANAPOLIS 17
Jacksonville at Green Bay
The Packers return home from a 3 game road trip and after avg 402 ypg in the L/4 with Rodgers having a 15-1 ratio, the critics of the offense have been silenced. While a home game vs JAX may be a flat spot for most with ARZ and a bye on deck they’ll just keep rolling. The Jaguars are in the unenviable position of a second straight road game after traveling to the West Coast and blowing two 14 pt leads vs OAK. They now limp into Lambeau with the forecast calling for mid-40’s. The Jags may have the #32 offense and the #28 defense but to put it into perspective they have been outgained by 175 ypg which is 84 ypg worse than #31. Add to that the fact that both QB Gabbert (left shoulder) and MJD (foot) got banged up and Henne’s performance as a replacement (71 yds, 45%) much left to be desired. The standings show GB trailing BOTH CHI and MIN so no foe will be overlooked.
PHIL’S FORECAST: GREEN BAY 34 JACKSONVILLE 10
San Diego at Cleveland
There’s not much of a worse feeling than heading into your bye week off a pair of prime time nationally televised losses. The Chargers are hearing it again at 3-3 so hitting the road will be welcomed. While most thought that SD had few worries at QB, Rivers has already turned the ball over 14 times (9 int, 5 fmbl) including 6 on MNF directly leading to DEN’s comeback win. The Browns are off yet another close loss (4 by 7 or less) but they’re not the team to look for to pull the upset as they have 5 wins in their last 27 games with all 4 last year vs losing teams that avg’d 4 wins on the season and this year vs CIN . CLE’s D hasn’t been helped playing in front of the Dawg Pound as they’ve allowed 418 ypg to PHI, BUF and CIN and while they are only getting outgained by 37 ypg on the road they are at -153 ypg here. The bye will help SD get LT Gaither back and after missing the first 2 gms Matthews is returning to form (232 ttl yds the L/2, 5.3) and when he tops 100 yds on the road SD is 3-0. With the Browns new owner already taken over and GM Holmgren on the way out, a 1-7 start and a probable new HC is not far behind.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SAN DIEGO 24 CLEVELAND 13
Atlanta at Philadelphia
This is the 5th year in a row these teams have met with the Falcons pulling off a 35-31 win last year. Vick (242, 68% 2-1) was KO’d in his 1st game in the Georgia Dome since 2006 while Ryan tallied 195 yds (61%) with a 4-2 ratio. PHI had a 447-318 yd edge but Vick gave ATL 3 TO’s which set up 14 pts. It’s not a big surprise that PHI changed DC’s over the bye week as despite having the #12 defense they have only pulled in 7 sacks (30th) and the unit collapsed vs DET prior to the bye. PHI’s borderline top 10 off/def has struggled to overcome Vick’s 13 giveaways and they will be looking for a fast start after being outscored 26-7 in the 1Q this year. While ATL is undefeated, they only have 1 win over a quality foe (SD) and Smith is 6-15 vs teams with elite coaches like Reid, Coughlin, McCarthy, etc. They needed a Newton TO in the final 2:00 to beat CAR, were struggling vs WAS before RG3 was KO’d with a concussion on the ATL3 and barely got by OAK. Completely different mind-sets here as the Falcons are undefeated leading their division by 4 full games while the Eagles can not afford to fall behind with trips to NO and WAS and a game vs the Giants in the next 3 weeks.
PHIL’S FORECAST: PHILADELPHIA 24 ATLANTA 20
Seattle at Detroit
PHIL’S FORECAST: DETROIT 24 SEATTLE 20
Miami at NY Jets
The Jets have a tactical edge after facing the Patriots “Oregon Ducks spread attack” offense as the Dolphins are one of the league leaders in a sugar/no-huddle style offense. MIA’s lack of a quality 3rd receiver and the fact that this is the 2nd time around for the Jets vs Tannehill after beating him 23-20 in OT is a bonus. Tannehill only had 196 yds (44%) with an int that was returned for a td in the 1st meeting as RB Bush (61 yds rush, 6.1) was KO’d of the game. Sanchez had 306 yds (47%) with a 1-2 ratio but the Jets defense carried the day. The Jets are built for physical matchups that allow them to beat on weaker teams as shown by their wins vs BUF/IND earlier this year. With offenses needing a 1.5Q’s to get up to speed after a bye and the Jets knowing what they’re getting vs Tannehill I’ll call for the home team by double digits.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NY JETS 24 MIAMI 14
Carolina at Chicago
CAR has played only 1 road game in the last six weeks with home losses to SEA and DAL sandwiched around a bye in the last three weeks. The Newton-led offense that excited the NFL and was only held under 16 pts in one game last year has already been held to 14 pts or less 4 times. The Bears meanwhile have been the polar opposite as they finished last year not topping 21 pts in their final 6 games and never reaching 40 pts on the season while this year they’ve topped 23 pts in 4 of 5 and already topped 40 twice. Chicago is off a div Mon Nighter but a bye prior clearly negates the short week. CHI’s #3 def is all’g only 291 ypg but against the 3 lowest ranked offenses they faced (#15 GB, #28 STL & #32 JAX) they’re only all’g 223 ypg. The D also has 3+ sks in 4 of the 5 games which has allowed the secondary to put up a league leading 60.0 QBR and an awesome 5-13 ratio. Da Bears #3 scoring offense and #1 scoring D get it done again.
PHIL’S FORECAST: CHICAGO 31 CAROLINA 17
Washington at Pittsburgh
PIT is off of CIN on Sun Night and will be happy to play in front of their home crowd for only the 2nd time in 6 weeks where they’ve won 10 of their last 11. While PIT’s D has faced some attrition, they went into last week’s game ranked #4 and they still show excitement vs a marquee QB as this year they held both Peyton Manning and Vick to season lows on offense. Last year they faced a rookie QB in 3 games (Dalton 2x’s) and as you would expect from this prideful D all’d only 48% comp and 14 FD/gm. RGIII is now off a div road game, traveling for a second straight week and playing in his 8th straight game incl 5th on the road and the wear and tear will become a factor as he had been rushed/sk’d & taken QB hits 30 times in the last 2 games. The Skins D (#29) meanwhile has allowed a season high in FD’s to 4 foes this year and allowed NY to convert 8 of 12 FD’s last week while celebrating a 23-20 “win” prior to allowing a 77 yd td pass with 1:13 left. Griffin’s mobility has kept him to 1 sack or less in 4 games but when they’ve allowed multiple sacks (including last week) they’ve lost and now he faces a D which has multiple sacks in 4 of 5 games.
PHIL’S FORECAST: PITTSBURGH 30 WASHINGTON 17
Oakland at Kansas City
The last 9 in this series have been upsets. The Chiefs are 1-5 and off a bye and with HC Crennel having a clear QB conundrum it will clearly cause a rift amongst the ranks. KC’s #8 off and #16 D are solid numbers but thanks to their -15 in TO’s (-10 at home) they are #29 in scoring off and #30 in scoring defense. OAK comes in 2-4 and now hits the road after rallying from 14 pts down to beat JAX in OT thanks to both Gabbert and MJD getting hurt. It’s no secret the Raiders want to run the ball which they couldn’t last week trailing 17-6 at the half but against the Chiefs rush D allowing 4.7 ypc (#27) we’ll look for 100+ which they had at ATL and in upsetting PIT as Palmer thrived in those 2 games completing 70% of his passes with an 8.4 ypa. Look for Oakland to keep the upset streak going here.
PHIL’S FORECAST: OAKLAND 17 KANSAS CITY 16
NY Giants at Dallas
The Cowboys didn’t have to wait long to avenge both losses last year as they kicked off the 2012 season outgaining NY 433-269 in a 24-17 win. Since that time the Cowboys have beaten only TB and CAR who each only have one win when not being matched up. The Giants meanwhile have won 5 of 6 incl a win at SF with the only loss coming at PHI on a FG with under 2:00 left. The Cowboys have struggled holding on to the ball as they have 12 giveaways while the opportunistic Giants are among the leaders with 14 takeaways. Also favor a Giants run D that held SF’s #2 rush offense to a season low 80 yds (96 below avg) against a Dallas rush attack that has gained 40 ypg (2.1) at home and has inflated numbers the L2W vs BAL’s #26 and CAR’s #24 D’s. DAL C Costa (ankle) was also hurt last week. Eli loves to travel as evidenced by his 19-8 ratio (21-13 at home) and in his L/3 trips here he’s led the Giants to 478 ypg throwing for 345 ypg (64%) meaning I’ll call for the Giants to get revenge.
PHIL’S FORECAST: NY GIANTS 26 DALLAS 20
New Orleans at Denver
The situation clearly favors the Broncos being off a bye after knocking off a division rival on the road before a MN audience. The Saints had a bye prior to last week’s win vs Tampa but are now traveling for a second week. The new Manning-led Broncos offense has put up extraordinary halftime splits as they been outscored 98-42 in the 1H and outscored opponents 128-40 in the 2H. The Saints come in with the #4 off. Brees vs Manning is a Marquee game and while the Saints are starting to perform at a higher level, I will call for the home team to get an exciting win.
PHIL’S FORECAST: DENVER 34 NEW ORLEANS 31
For projected box scores for all of these games, please click here.