It’s Saturday. I’m running late. So let’s get right to it.
Raiders at Ravens - Baltimore is definitely playing a very un-Raven-like brand of football these days, featuring the weakest defense they’ve ever had. It’s not a completely unexpected circumstance, given the age of some of their key players on that side of the ball, and injuries are always part of the game for every team, every year.
But when the “next man up” is required to replace a Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs, well, there’s only so many of them to go around in a generation. Baltimore’s plan, though, was to have the offense geared up into a higher performing unit so they would not have to depend on a defense lacking some of its major parts to play shut-down ball.
While they’ve been somewhat better than in previous seasons, the old “eye test” surely gauges the Ravens’ quest for an offensive powerhouse to be an unfinished one. Still, with a record standing at 6-2, it’s hard to fault them too much. After all, last year’s Giants were 7-7 before kicking things into high gear.
Meanwhile on the other foot, the eye chart hanging on the wall in Oakland has tear stains on it. When it comes to hard luck with injuries, the definition is Darren McFadden. With both McFadden and his backup now out with high ankle sprains, it’s hard to see how a crippled, one dimensional offense has enough of a chance against a Baltimore team that still knows how to win.
Besides, here’s that “West Coast teams coming East” thing barreling down on us again. At least it’s not another bad weather front.
Chargers at Buccaneers - The past month has seen San Diego’s oldsters continue their annual swooning habit and Tampa Bay’s youngsters start to put things together with some offensive discipline.
The question in this game comes down to whether or not Philip Rivers, who is not having a signature season, can press things enough (without over-pressing) to beat the Buccaneers’ still quite vulnerable passing defense. Poor Phil really doesn’t have much else to work with.
The answer, I think. is nope.
Titans at Dolphins - Now that Bud Adams has issued a major rant of threats following his team’s debacle in Nashville last week, everybody on the Tennessee side is just chock-full of negative energy.
That makes it a good week for a road game.
Football teams must face adversity together, and not be looking over their shoulders in all directions wondering what the owner has pointed at their back. At least when Dallas’ Jerry Jones calls his team out, it’s never a snarl.
It’s easy to understand Adams’ point. The Titans’ have a serious problem with offensive production, but to bring back a quarterback who hasn’t played in over a month and expect much against a defense that’s really playing well, that’s like a second marriage thing when people say it’s the triumph of hope over experience.
Can Tennessee’s defense force some turnovers, contain Reggie Bush and make Ryan Tannehill uncomfortable in the pocket? I just don’t see it happening, motivated by fear or whatever
Broncos at Panthers - Carolina is just so close to being good. They remind one a lot of what’s going on in Tampa Bay right now, just a couple of weeks behind.
As far as Denver is concerned, who wants to see this resurrection of the Miraculous Manning come to an end? Definitely not me. And now that he’s got a defense moving along strong beside him (led by some notable Kentucky Wildcat talent) everybody in the AFC West is about to give up hope of making any kind of post-season appearance.
Watch out for the trap! This has all the classic signs. Not that I’m picking that way. Just saying.
Jets at Seahawks - Team Jeckyll returns home and I won’t pick against them until they take Hyde out on the road again.
As for Gang Green…Nah, forget it. They’re not worth it.
Cowboys at Eagles - Rooting for these two is like being alone in the desert, desperate for a drink. It’s strictly a home field pick among two interesting, talented, but deeply flawed teams.
Rams at 49ers - I, for one, really want to see this traditional rivalry heat up again, especially if the Rams move back to Los Angeles. In the meantime I’ll just have to satisfy myself with the knowledge they are getting better, but lack some important pieces still.
San Francisco is satisfyingly complete, except, for some odd reason, when playing the Giants, which they most definitely are not this week.
Texans at Bears - Finally made it to Game of the Day (or night as the case may be), and while we’re at it, it’s Game of the Week too. My first guess is Jay Cutler gets beaten around pretty good by one of the best pass rushes in the league.
My other guess is that Houston wants to really make up for that horrible showing they made against the Packers last month. What better opportunity than to take it out on Green Bay’s biggest rival?
These guesses are of course a conditional reality subject to change by facts as they occur, which is pretty much why rhetorical questions are created.
Chiefs at Steelers - The league is kidding, right? Charlie Batch may get some PT. I’ve missed ol’ Charlie.