There aren’t many decent games this weekend. Most of the games are either the very good against the very bad or 2 bad teams playing each other. Here are a couple I like.
Game of the week NY Giants 5-0 @ New Orleans 4-0
Two undefeated teams meet to decide the early inside track to the top seed in the playoffs. The Giants come in off the closest thing the NFL has to a game week bye beating Oakland easily. The two issues that the Giants have to find an answer to are RB Jacobs who is under performing and the injury to their QB. QB Manning has a foot problem that is not going to get better during the year. It is a problem because there is no quality backup.
The D has played as well as it ever has and is holding the opponent to a 24% 3rd down conversion rate. That is outstanding. They have 14 sacks and is holding the passing game to 4.9 yards per passing attempt.
The Saints have played much better on D than anyone expected them to. They have stuffed the run holding opponents to 3.7 per carry. There is no question about the power of the O through the air. QB Breez is a top player and has a passer rating of 108.4. But the running game is struggling. RB Bell ran very well but has been hurt and should return this week. The Saints have had a week off and that should help but the Giants are the 2nd best team in the conference and will win on the road.
Baltimore 3-2 @ Minnesota 5-0
This game could end up 6-3 without the benefit of a 50 MPH wind like Buffalo/Cleveland faces last week. The Ravens have the most improved player in the league this year in QB Flacco (90.2). He was a care-taker last year but is making plays to win games this season. He will be without his LT Gaither (neck) but still should make some plays. The question is will he make enough? The running game has passed from McGahee to Rice and the latter is averaging 5.8 per carry. They will have to run the ball this week because the Vikes D puts a lot of pressure on the QB in passing situations.
The Vikes have had running problems this season. RB Peterson is fine averaging 4.9 per carry but his partner Taylor is not. He is getting only 2.5 per attempt. Peterson is not a 30 carry a game guy. The Vikes are going to have to find someone to reduce the burden on AP. Favre is doing what he needs to in order win. The D is outstanding but has not yet played up to their level last year. They are giving up too many yards on the ground and have trouble getting off the field despite an easy schedule so far.
The Ravens are mad and will come in and take Minnesota out of the undefeated category.
Chicago @ Atlanta
Two 3-1 teams face off in a critical game for both because they are chasing undefeated teams leading their respective divisions. This game could determine which team gets a wild card spot in the NFC. Both teams have struggled with the running game averaging only 3.8 per attempt. But this game highlights two of the best young QBs in the game—the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (102.9 passer rating) and the Bears’ Jay Cutler (89.3). There will be a lot of balls in the air.
Both teams depend on a well above average D. The Bears have allowed 78 points and the Falcons have given up just 68. The Bears are +3 and I will take the points and Chicago.
Denver 5-0 @ SD 2-2
The Chargers have their backs to the wall in the division. No question that DV has been very lucky to be undefeated. SD is 2.5 games behind and needs a win to get back into the race for the division. DV has 2.5 signature wins including the .5 win over NE because they won the toss in overtime. QB Orton has proven to be a good fit for the short and medium throws he is asked to make. He has assembled a passer rating of 97.4. RB Moreno is averaging 4.2 but struggles to get the key short yard 3rd down coversions. The Bronco D has played well but racked up better numbers against Cleveland and Detroit. The one thing that the D has been able to do is put pressure on the QB. The team has 16 sacks with DE/LB Dumervil having half of those.
The Chargers are struggling running the ball averaging only 2.7 yards per attempt. RB Tomlinson has been a non factor most of the season so far. The team placed the Franchise tag on RB Sproles to keep him in SD. But he is only getting 2.4 yards per carry. The lack of a running game has put a lot more pressure on the passing game and QB Rivers. He has a passing rating of 90.6 which is hard given the lack of quality protection from the O line and the opponent knowing you have to pass on almost every down.
Denver will run out of luck soon but not this week. The Broncos put the SD hopes for the division title on life support.
Stinker of the week:
There are several nominees for this “honor” but one stinks beyond all others. The NFL should pay people to watch the Rams @ the Jags. The winner? The UFL.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .