NEW HAVEN, Ct. — While the Monday Night showdown between the Colts and Patriots is getting all the deserved hype this week, there are a few other divisional matchups that should get the headlines as well.
In the NFC South, where Carolina, Tampa, and Atlanta all sit on top at 5-2, the Panthers invade Raymond James to battle the Bucs. The Falcons will be in the Sunshine State as well to battle the Dolphins.
In the AFC West, the suddenly resurgent Raiders go to Kansas City to meet their bitter rivals at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won their previous meeting back 23-17 in Oakland way back in Week Two.
Later on Sunday night, the Eagles and Redskins will try to bounce back from their losses last week in an NFC East tilt. Philly has won the last seven meetings.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
St. Louis’ Steven Jackson (179 yards) and Jacksonville’s Fred Taylor (165 yards) last Sunday became only the second set of opponents in NFL history to each rush for at least 165 yards. The first: Cleveland’s Bobby Mitchell (232) and Washington’s Johnny Olszewski (190) on November 15, 1959.
Which player has the most career 100-yard rushing games by an active running back?
A. Curtis Martin
B. Marshall Faulk
C. Jerome Bettis
D. Corey Dillon
LAST WEEK’S ANSWER
Kevin Greene (left) and Simeon Rice each hold the NFL record for the most consecutive games with at least 2.0 or more sacks in a game with five.
LAST WEEK: 8-6 (66-45 overall)
We went with some upsets (Jags, Saints) and got burned. Not to mention getting killed by the Bucs (10 POINTS?? 10 POINTS AGAINST THE NINERS??) and the Browns falling to the Texans (DAAAAAAAAYUM, ROMEO!!). But we did have Da Dears’ OT win along with the Silver and Black’s win in Tennessee.
PANTHERS at BUCS
This game has all the makings of a real low scoring defensive battle. Carolina comes in off a thumping of the Vikes while the Bucs are still trying figure out just who the hell is Cody Pickett. The real game within the game will be Panther wideout Steve Smith versus the Tampa secondary. If Ronde Barber and his Pewter pals are smart, they won’t get into a pre-game yapping session with Mr. Smith. Just ask Fred Smoot. He’s still trying wipe off the burns from last Sunday.
RAIDERS at CHIEFS
Very quietly, Da Raidahs have won three of their last four to set themselves up for a decent grudge match with K.C. While the Chiefs have won the last five meetings with the Silver and Black, they’ve all been by seven points or less including the most recent matchup in September at the Black Hole. La Mont Jordan has finally shown over the last three games (9 TDs: 7 rushing, 2 receiving) why the Raiders signed him in the off-season. As usual, this will come down to defense. For this one, I smell a slight upset.
FALCONS at DOLPHINS
This will be a game for all fans of great running backs. Atlanta offers Warrick Dunn, T.J. Duckett and that guy wearing No. 7. The Dolphins counter with rookie Ronnie Brown and Grizzly Adams……whoops, I mean Ricky Williams. Again like so many games, it will come down to the defenses and turnovers. Keep this in mind: The Fish have won seven of their last nine home meetings against NFC opponents. Just thought I’d throw that little tidbit out there.
EAGLES at REDSKINS
Both teams are coming off a pair Aunt Esther road specials (i.e. really, really ugly losses). The Redskins got caught in an emotional whirlwind at the Meadowlands while Philly was all but manhandled by the Broncos. With T.O. scheduled to sit on the sidelines, the Eagles’ much maligned running game will have to come through in a big way. The Redskins have had their ups and downs offensively as well. So who wins this? Something tells me that the Eagles find a way.
COLTS at PATRIOTS
You know the drill. New England has owned this series recently in winning the last six meetings including two playoff thumpings. Given the fact that Indy’s defense has stepped it up while New England has been up and down all year, all signs point to a Colts’ win. Right? But this is the very reason why the Pats have won three of the last four Lombardi Trophies. Just when you think it’s time for them to fall off, the Brady Bunch pulls it off. They may not give the Colts a punking, but I just think the Pats and Belichik has Peyton’s number.
Bears over Saints: Yes, Chicago plays ugly. But first place never looks so good.
Chargers over Jets: As the second half approaches, the Bolts are a team that many folks will not wanna face.
Bengals over Ravens: It will be close, but Cincy should pull this out.
Jaguars over Texans: Sorry, Houston won’t win two straight…….I hope…….
Vikings over Lions: Oh, Minny’s back at home? Okay, they should win then.
Seahawks over Cardinals: The Birds are the quietest 5-2 team in the league.
Giants over 49ers: Sorry, Cody. The only prominent Pickett I know is Wilson Pickett. Think of this as the game of a 1,000 sacks.
Steelers over Packers: Brett Favre’s “final” season turning into a real nightmare.
IDLE: Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis.