Panthers at Redskins: The Redskins face a team that likes to run a number of the same offensive looks as themselves, except the Skins are either executing better, or their “read option” has not yet become stale like it has in Carolina. The Panthers are a mess. They’ve dropped 5 straight games, their GM was fired, and their QB is throwing people under the bus. The Skins have faced a recent string of good opponents. They had the Falcons and Vikings at home, then had to face the Giants and Steelers on the road. They beat the one team they should have beaten, the Vikings, while showing progress and/or hope for the future in two of those losses (the Falcons and Giants).
My friend Rich Tandler of CSN Washington pointed out that in each of the last 4 seasons, the Skins have gone 2-6 in the back half of their schedule. This is an opponent that the Skins should be able to handle. Unlike last season, their OL is healthy. Their starters along the OL have missed a total of 64 snaps this season (see graph to the right).
In past seasons, it was almost “OK” for the Redskins to slog through the second half of the season. That’s not true anymore. The Redskins need to continue to progress, and a loss to this Panthers team would be, in my opinion, a significant step backwards.
They need to choke this team out, and I think they will. Skins, 34-20.
Steelers at Giants: The line for this game started at Giants -6. That seemed about right to me. The Steelers are 1-3 on the road this season, with two of those losses coming to the Raiders and Titans. The Titans (-95) and Raiders (-48) are 2nd worst and 5th worst in the league in point differential, respectively.
This Steelers team is ordinary, despite their reputation and respectable 4-3 record. They’ll be without Troy Polamalu again today, which certainly doesn’t help, but perhaps equally worrisome is that RT Marcus Gilbert will also be out. Gilbert dominated Jason Babin earlier this season, although in fairness, Babin has been getting dominated by a lot of offensive tackles this season. Still, I liked what I saw of Gilbert there. He’ll be replaced by rookie Mike Adams. I watched Adams get torched repeatedly by the Eagles’ defensive linemen in the preseason, although the thinking is that he has played well the last two games. He has not seen a pass rush as good as the Giants’ yet.
Also likely out for the Steelers are RBs Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer. Expect Isaac Redman to start, and be generally slow and ineffective.
Somehow, that Giants -6 line dropped to Giants -3 during the week. Huh? These teams are not equal, in my opinion. Love the Giants here, comfortably. 30-20.
Cowboys at Falcons: Must win for the Cowboys, and sort of a “meh” game for the Falcons, who are playing for little more than playoff seeding just 7 games into the season. However, the Falcons are mostly healthy, while the Cowboys will be without DeMarco Murray. Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree are also banged up with hip and hamstring injuries. On the defensive side of the ball, ILB Dan Connor will also be out after the Cowboys lost Sean Lee for the season. When it rains it pours. That means that Orie Lemon and Ernie Sims will see snaps tonight. Can’t wait to see how the Falcons plan on attacking Sims, who is enormously talented but might be the least instinctual player in the NFL.
Cowboys lose… again… in some sort of odd fashion. 27-26.
Eagles at Saints: I detailed in great length how terrible the Saints are in pass D, run D, and run O. Still, I’ve completely lost faith in Michael Vick as a QB that can succeed in the NFL. He can’t diagnose blitzes, he’s careless with the football, and he’s missing on plays that are there to be made. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s playing behind a terrible offensive line, but he’s not making plays even when the protection is there.
This is Vick’s best (and probably last) opportunity to save his job, and his 2013 paycheck. Enormous stakes for him. I don’t think he has it, and I don’t expect him to light up this Saints D like every other opposing QB has done so far this season, with the exception of Matt Cassel:
I see a decent game for Vick, but bad considering the opponent.
Saints outscore Philly, 31-24.