By Tony McClean
Updated: October 19, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct.
— The scores say it all: Bucs 14, Bengals 13; Titans 25, Redskins 22; Seahawks 30, Rams 28; Jets 20, Dolphins 17; and Saints 27, Eagles 24.
This past weekend’s games proved to be just another in the long line of nail biters in the NFL. Just how close you may ask? To be specific, eight of last week’s 13 games were decided by three points or less.
A similar total of such margins this week would place Weeks 6 and 7 into the record book as one of the NFL’s most tightly contested two-week spans since 1970.
Ironically, the two most contested weeks in league history both came in the 1999 regular season. 17 games between Weeks 5 and 6 were decided by three points or less. The second best total, 14, came during Weeks 4 and 5 during that same regular season.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK Through their first five games, the Denver Broncos have allowed just one touchdown. Currently ranked first in the least points per game allowed (7.4), the Broncos will attempt to become the first team since the 1934 Detroit Lions to allow one or no touchdowns in their first six games of a season.
TRIVIA QUESTION What active player has the most career interceptions for his current team?
A. Derrick Brooks B. Ray Lewis C. Tony Parrish D. Brian Dawkins (The answer comes at the end of the column) LAST WEEK: 7-6 (56-28 overall) It took Neil Racker’s miss on Monday night for yours truly to get at least a game over .500. Honesty, I thought that was me Coach Green was yelling at after the game. Especially after taking the Texans and the Redskins. We did have the Saints and the Seahawks huge road win. This good week-mediocre week is driving me and my followers (all three of you) nuts.
SUNDAY PATRIOTS at BILLS
On Opening Day at Foxboro, the Bills generated 240 yards of offense — only 74 in the second half — only to fall to the Patriots after leading 17-7 at the half. Since then, New England has not given up more than 17 points in a game this season and have held three opponents to fewer than 300 yards of total offense. That should be enough to take the Pats, right?? At the end of that game, I said to myself, Buffalo will be able to take them in the rematch. Well, let me be true to my word and stick with the upset.
PANTHERS at BENGALS
Back in the day, Steve Smith (pictured) and Chad Johnson were once teammates for the Corsairs of Santa Monica (Calif.) Junior College. They’ve only met on an NFL field once before, a 52-31 Carolina win over Cincy back in December of 2002. In that game, Smith had five receptions for 144 yards and a TD (and two punt-return TDs), and Johnson six catches for 114 yards. Carolina has been on a roll ever since Smith returned to the lineup after missing the first two games of the season. I don’t think Cincy will have an answer for Smith this Sunday.
STEELERS at FALCONS
Two teams who had extremely different Sundays last week meet in Atlanta. The Falcons and Mike Vick (sacked a career-high seven times) were beaten up by the Giants while the Steelers took out all of their early season frustrations on the Chiefs. Considering just how both of these teams like to run the ball, look for the winner of this game to be able to get the ball down field. While both have been up-and -down, I go with the team that’s coming in off a win.
REDSKINS at COLTS
With a win Sunday, Indy will become the ninth team in NFL history to start at least 6-0 in consecutive seasons. The Colts are coming off a bye while the Redskins are still reeling from their home loss to the Titans. For the past few weeks, BASN’s “Black Box” has been asking Grandpa Gibbs to give the former Auburn QB Jason Campbell (pictured) a chance to play. With Mark Brunell looking worse and worse every week, Sunday should as good a time as any to see what he can do.
VIKINGS at SEAHAWKS
While it won’t have half the drama of T.O.’s return to Philly had a few weeks back, Steve Hutchinson’s return to Starbucks West is a big deal. The massive offensive lineman (pictured) left Seattle during the off season and some say that’s a major reason why the Birds have struggled a bit this year. Minnesota enters the game as the league’s 12th best running attack, a large jump over the last few seasons. It took a last gasp field goal for Seattle to win on the road last week. I think the Vikings will make it close, but even with Shaun Alexander for another week, the Seahawks should still take this one.
MONDAY ***image7***GIANTS at COWBOYS
ESPN viewers can expect to see another nail biter for this week’s Monday Night showcase. These NFC East rivals are all about playing close contests. In fact, nine of the 12 meetings between these teams in the decade have been decided by seven points or less. Again this will a battle of the running games. New York’s Tiki Barber leads the league in rushing (533 yards) while Dallas’ Julius Jones is fresh from his third consecutive 100-yard game (106), a career first. T.O. may have a good night, but I have a hunch that a Drew Bledsoe interception will be the difference in this one.
OTHER GAMES Jaguars over Texans: With a week to prepare, this could get ugly for Houston.
Eagles over Bucs: Philly bounces back strong against Tampa.
Jets over Lions: In the battle of rookie head coaches, we’ll lean slightly toward Gang Green.
Chargers over Chiefs: While Leinhart is getting the hype, Phillip Rivers is quietly looking pretty decent as well.
Broncos over Browns: As our factoid showed you, Denver is doing it with the D.
Cardinals over Raiders: Heaven help them if they blow another lead…..especially against the Seniors in Black.
BYES: Ravens, Bears, Saints, 49ers, Rams, Titans.
TRIVIA ANSWER: D. Since his debut in 1996, Brian Dawkins has accumulated 29 interceptions (one this season) with the Eagles.