PEWTERREPORT.COM STAFF STANDINGS

Scott Reynolds 65-34

Jim Flynn 59-40

Hugh MacArthur
57-42

LAST WEEK

Scott Reynolds 6-7

Jim Flynn 4-9

Hugh MacArthur 4-9
 
San Francisco at Chicago (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur
– It is hard to spend too little time picking this one. A bye and the most complete team in the NFL will roll over the 49ers. Chicago

Reynolds – It’s hard to see how the Bears can lose this one. Their bye week will correct any of the mistakes they made at Arizona.  Chicago

Flynn – Chicago’s offense, particularly QB Rex Grossman, struggled in Arizona two weeks ago, but the Bears will find their groove again against a San Francisco defense that’s surrendering 362 yards and 32 points per game, and is allowing opposing offenses to convert 51.2 percent of its third down attempts. Chicago

Arizona at Green Bay (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Edgerrin James’ YPC is 2.7 and continuing to head south. It is possible that the Cardinals could awaken against a horrible Green Bay secondary. It would be more possible if Jim Hart and Mel Gray were suiting up with Conrad Dobler and Dan Dierdorff up front. Green Bay

Reynolds – Green Bay showed it was capable of beating a bad team last week in Miami. That means they can beat another bad team when Arizona comes calling. Green Bay’s bad, but at least they are a little better at home. Green Bay

Flynn – Stick a fork in the Cardinals. They clearly are still reeling from their collapse on Monday Night Football against the Bears. Add to that the fact that the Cardinals lost last Sunday to the 0-6 Raiders and you have a team that’s on life support. The Packers suck whatever air is left out of the Cardinals at home. Green Bay

Baltimore at New Orleans (1:00 Sunday ET)

MacArthur – Brian Billick is back calling the plays and Steve McNair is scheduled to start in this must-win game for the Ravens. The Saints are good, but not 5-1 good, and the Ravens need this game more. Look for Billick to open up the offense with McNair back at the helm and for a swarming Ravens’ defense to shutdown the Saints’ running game and take control. Baltimore

Reynolds – I thought Philadelphia would beat New Orleans two weeks ago, but I was wrong. The Saints are as good as their 5-1 record. But with Brian Billick now in charge of the play-calling duties, I think that makes a difference. The Ravens defense is good enough to stop the Saints and I look for more offensive production due to Billick’s play-calling. Baltimore

Flynn – Both teams are coming off bye weeks, so the extra time to prepare and get rested is a wash. Both teams are playing good defense, but I’ve doubted the Saints all season long and I’m not about to do it again when they’re 5-1 and playing at home. New Orleans

Jacksonville at Philadelphia (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur –  On a scale of 1-10, if the Jags getting beat at Houston rates as a 7, the Eagles losing two straight, including the last on a 62-yard field goal to Matt “the toe” Bryant rates as a 965.  The Jags picked the wrong time to invade the Linc. The Eagles still have the top-rated offense in the league, and the Jags simply won’t score enough to keep up. Philadelphia

Reynolds – The Jaguars have quarterback issues and that may affect the confidence of their team. The Eagles are like a wounded animal coming home after two straight field-goal driven losses on the road to NFC South teams. They’ll extract some revenge on the Jaguars at home. Philadelphia

Flynn – Jacksonville is coming off an embarrassing loss to Houston and will give Donovan McNabb fits, but the Eagles have dropped two straight road games and get just what the doctor ordered with a much-needed home game. The Eagles are too good of a team to lose three straight games. Philadelphia

Atlanta at Cincinnati (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – This is an intriguing game. A team that runs for over 220 yards per game vs a team that cannot stop the run. The Falcons’ pass rush will be slowed by the absence of John Abraham (abdominal surgery), but Carson Palmer still isn’t all of the way back, and I don’t think the Bengals will have the ball long enough to win. Atlanta

Reynolds – Back-to-back great games for Michael Vick, the quarterback? I don’t think so. Cincinnati got its groove back with a gutsy home win against Carolina last week. The only thing that scares me is their run defense against Atlanta’s high-powered running game. The Bengals have to jump out to an early double-digit lead to force Atlanta to abandon the run. I’d pick the Falcons if they were at home, but I’ll take the Bengals instead. Cincinnati

Flynn – Expect the Falcons to be involved in yet another shootout in Cincinnati. The Falcons have the best rushing attack in football, and the Bengals have a difficult time stopping the run. However, the Falcons defense will have an even tougher time stopping the Bengals’ aerial attack, especially on the road. Cincinnati

Seattle at Kansas City (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – My head is still spinning from trying to figure out how the Chiefs beat the Chargers last week. Damon Huard?  Seattle is positively reeling with injuries on offense. They are also giving up big plays on defense and Peter Boulware is taking the fall as he has just been benched. It looks like the curse of Super Bowl losers is for real. Kansas City

Reynolds – The Chiefs proved they can be a dominant team at home by beating a very good San Diego team at Arrowhead. Damon Huard will be the key. They need a good effort from him to balance out Larry Johnson’s running ability. Seattle is reeling with the loss of Shaun Alexander and now Matt Hasselback. Kansas City

Flynn – Kansas City is a tough place to play, especially when the opposing team is without its starting quarterback and tailback. The Seahawks will be hard pressed to come up with a much-needed road win without Matt Hasselback and Shaun Alexander. Kansas City

Tampa Bay at New York Giants (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – Ugh.  I hate this game. Usually I pore through the stats and look for a silver lining that will show the way to a Buccaneers victory. This week is brutal. Tiki Barber is running wild in his last season, pacing the number two offense in the NFL. The Bucs proved last week that they are suddenly abysmal at stopping the run, and that this situation is unlikely to be an aberration. Eli Manning over the top to Plaxico Burress will be the big play threat that the Bucs must stop through the air. I pray that Monte Kiffin gives up the notion that this team can blitz (it cannot), and simply plays Tampa 2 with 100 percent commitment to shutting down Tiki. If he does that, here is your one stat to hang your hat on: Manning does have 13 touchdown passes this year, but also has thrown 8 picks. Stop the run and make him pass. As with last week, the Bucs must use their young offensive line and Cadillac to shorten the game. That, and tell Matt Bryant to bring his titanium-toed kicking shoe again. Tampa Bay

Reynolds – I think the winning formula for the past two weeks has been Scott and Jim picks the Bucs to lose and Hugh picks them to win. Let’s do it again this week and see what happens. You want some analysis, too? The two key guys for the Bucs are 5-foot-9 cornerback Ronde Barber, who could struggle against the 6-foot-6 Plaxico Burress, and rookie right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who is going up against Michael Strahan, who needs just one more sack to pass Lawrence Taylor to become the all-time leading sacker in Giants history. Trueblood has to keep Bruce Gradkowski upright and Barber has to take away the jump ball to Burress. I think with eight men in the box, Tampa Bay can shut down Tiki Barber – if they can tackle well. That’s a big “if.” I like the Giants at home. New York Giants

Flynn – I’ve picked against the Bucs for several consecutive weeks, and although I want to believe this team can escape New York with a huge win, the harsh reality is that Tampa Bay’s defense is struggling and now faces a New York offense that is averaging 400 yards of offense, including 200 yards rushing, per game. That, along with the fact that the Bucs offense has struggled in recent weeks, tells me the Bucs probably won’t be coming back to Tampa with their third straight win. New York Giants

Houston at Tennessee (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

MacArthur – This will be a close game, but I like the Titans’ running game and I like them at home. Tennessee

Reynolds – What a dog this game is. Ugh. I’ll take the Titans at home because they have been playing better football longer this year. Houston is coming off only one good game. Tennessee

Flynn – The Texans are coming off a big win over the Jaguars, but the Titans are coming off an even bigger win against the Redskins and a bye week. Homefield advantage helps the Titans take care of the Texans in a close one. Tennessee

St. Louis at San Diego (Sunday 4:05 PM ET)

MacArthur – The Rams have been one of the surprise teams in the league. The Chargers will be fuming after their loss at Kansas City, and this week they take it out on St. Louis. San Diego

Reynolds – I think homefield advantage plays a big role in this game. If it were in St. Louis, I’d like the Rams. Because it’s not, I like the Chargers in a bounce-back game. San Diego

Flynn – Even without Shawne Merriman, the Chargers are a pretty good football team, and they’re good enough to defeat the overrated Rams at home. San Diego

Indianapolis at Denver (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Wow. Talk about a game of opposites. With apologies to the Bears, the NFL’s best defense against the NFL’s best passing game. Even Jake the Snake won’t be able to mess this one up.  Denver

Reynolds – The Colts haven’t played well recently, but I think they are up for a real challenge. I think Peyton Manning will love the fact that he’s going up against the top defense in the league. They key is getting close to 100 yards on the ground out of rookie Joseph Addai. I like the Colts in a road upset. Indianapolis

Flynn – Here’s Denver’s chance to prove to the rest of the NFL that its defense is for real and that its can get the monkey, or in this case, the Colts, off of their back with a win. The undefeated Colts have not played great in recent weeks and are about due for a loss. Denver

New York Jets at Cleveland (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Firing Maurice Carthon won’t help the Browns’ offense. Chad Pennington can still play and the Jets’ defense has been very opportunistic. New York Jets

Reynolds – The Jets are quietly putting together a good season under first-year coach Eric Mangini. The Browns are awful and show little signs of life. New York Jets

Flynn – The Jets are bad, but the Browns are worse. Homefield won’t help the Browns in this one as the Jets are used to the cold weather. New York Jets

Pittsburgh at Oakland (Sunday 4:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Big Ben is likely to start, and the Pittsburgh running game will bowl over the Raider defense. Pittsburgh

Reynolds – Something tells me that the Raiders are really going to put up a fight in this one. For about a quarter. Then Pittsburgh’s ground game and defense takes over, taking some pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh

Flynn – With or without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are a good enough team to take care of the Raiders on the road. Pittsburgh

Dallas at Carolina (Sunday 8:15 PM ET)

MacArthur – Tony Romo should have stuck to ribs this week.  Going to Carolina is not a place to start your season.  The Panthers are hitting their stride and Dallas is coming apart at the seams.  Carolina

Reynolds – Hey Hugh, that’s Tony Roma – not Tony Romo – for some good ribs. Carolina’s defense will be anxious to get a shot (or two, three or four) on the young quarterback, but Romo is mobile and has some escapability. Yet, the Panthers won’t let Dallas escape with a win thanks to Keyshawn Johnson, who gets a revenge game against his old team. Carolina

Flynn – A short week and a physical game against the New York Giants send Dallas into Carolina to face a Panthers team that had their four-game winning streak snapped in Cincinnati last week. Dallas’ defense is good, but it will have a tough time containing Steve Smith, who will be the difference in this one. Carolina

New England at Minnesota (Monday 8:30 PM ET)

MacArthur – Minnesota is a much better team than people give them credit for. New England is also a better team than people give them credit for this year, which is hard to imagine, but still true.  The Pats’ onward march toward a playoff bye continues in a closely contested game at the homer dome. New England

Reynolds – I think Minnesota has won with good defense and smoke and mirrors on offense. I think New England can go in and steal a road win at the Metrodome. I also think Minnesota can win at home with an enthusiastic crowd. This one could go either way. I’ll take the Pats because of Brady and Belichick – and Laurence Maroney, who used to run wild at the ‘dome when he was a Golden Gopher over the last three years. New England

Flynn – Minnesota is coming off a huge win in Seattle, but red-hot New England will quickly bring the Vikings back down to reality. Next to Denver, New England might be the best team in the NFL right now, and that’s not good news for the Vikings. New England  

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