NFL week nine: a little prognostication

campbell getting sackedThe Washington Redskins versus the Atlanta Falcons. The Atlanta Falcons come off of two disheartening losses. The Atlanta Falcons know, as we all know, that they are a good football team. They have to prove it against the (insert your adjective here) Washington Redskins. Many of the Washington fans are pointing to Jason Campbell, thinking that he is the problem. That’s not how I see it. The offensive line for the Washington Redskins has simply been terrible. Jason Campbell has not had enough time. Look for Atlanta to win at home.

The Arizona Cardinals versus Chicago Bears. What happened in Arizona? They looked very good against the New York Giants. They were able to shut down the Giants’ running game. They played defense. The struggling Carolina Panthers ran all over the Arizona Cardinals. Kurt Warner had five interceptions! You can’t win football games like that. On the other side of the ball, Jay Cutler has been mediocre at best. The Chicago Bears have not been running the football all that well. I’ll take the Chicago Bears at home, even though I feel that the Arizona Cardinals are going to wake up at some point in the season, remember that they are the defending NFC champions and begin to play like it.

The Baltimore Ravens versus the Cincinnati Bengals. This could be a GREAT game. Did you know the Cincinnati Bengals are leading their division? Just a couple weeks ago, the Cincinnati Bengals ran over the Ravens. Cedric Benson ran for over 120 yards. Last week, the Baltimore Ravens found their defense and beat up the undefeated, previously undefeated, Denver Broncos. The Cincinnati Bengals’ defense is sixth in the NFL in points allowed per game. They allow only 18.3. If the Bengals are able stop the Ravens’ rushing attack and generate some offense, they may be able to squeak out a victory. Now, this will be a close game. I like Ray Rice, but I’ll stick with Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Indianapolis Colts versus the Houston Texans. Houston is playing some good football. They’ve found a running game. Matt Schaub is really playing well in the pocket. In order for Houston to the win, they’re going to have to get some pressure on Peyton Manning and force some turnovers. I think the Houston Texans will miss their tight end Owen Daniels who is out for the season after a knee injury suffered last week. Look for Peyton Manning and the gang to find a way to win, again.

The Jacksonville Jaguars versus the Kansas City Chiefs. The Kansas City Chiefs are currently going through an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael. Larry Johnson is so far in the doghouse that some fans of asked the team to release him so that he would not be able to hold their all-time rushing record. Jacksonville, on the other hand, has been up and down, to say the least. They played a completely unmotivated and lackluster game against the Tennessee Titans and get handed a 13-30 loss. Jacksonville needs to gain an identity. Are they a running team? I thought they were a tough-nosed defense of team, but that hasn’t held true for over a season and a half. Look for Jacksonville to struggle but to pull out a victory.

The Miami Dolphins versus the New England Patriots. Miami has really made the most of what they have. They have a young quarterback who is struggling. They really don’t have any big-play receivers. They have a fabulous running game and that’s about it. Their defense is mediocre at best. Is that good enough to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots? Maybe. The offensive line of the New England Patriots is not great. They are okay at best. They still have great receivers. If Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown can control the game and Joey Porter, if he can close his mouth for half a second, and Jason Taylor can play like they did five years ago, the Miami Dolphins can pull out a victory. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. The Dolphins need a couple more players. I look for the patriots to jump out to an early lead and take the Miami Dolphins out of their run game. New England Patriots cruised to an easy victory.

The Green Bay Packers versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is still struggling. They really don’t have a quarterback. They’ve lost their defense of identity. The Green Bay Packers have a great offense. They really only need a couple more pieces to become an elite team, in my opinion. The Packers need to shore up their offensive line and get a solid, durable running back. They have their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. If Green Bay can control the ball and keep Aaron Rodgers up right, they should roll to an easy victory.

Now the late games —
drew brees verses miamiThe Carolina Panthers versus the New Orleans Saints. Don’t believe what you saw last week with the Panthers. They aren’t fooling me. I don’t think that their running game is back. I don’t think that the problems they have shown all year on defense has been solved. In order for the Panthers to keep this game competitive, their defense has to slow down the most explosive offense in the league. I don’t think the front four for the Carolina Panthers can match up with the offensive line for the New Orleans Saints. Look for Drew Brees to have a big day. (I wish he was on my fantasy team.) The New Orleans Saints remain undefeated.

The Detroit Lions versus the Seattle Seahawks. Unless the Detroit Lions rail before some early turnovers, this game is over by the the first quarter. Matt Hasselbeck will try to in this game early. Look for deep plays and lots of screen passes to Julius Jones. The Seattle Seahawks cruised to victory at home.

The New York Giants versus the San Diego Chargers. Just three short weeks ago, I thought the New York Giants were cruising to another division title and a deep run into the playoffs. Their offense and defense were clicking. The Giants have lost three straight. Eli Manning, who took great care of the ball last year, is starting to throw some interceptions. Is he missing Plaxico Burress? I think the Giants are hurting on both sides of the ball. The defensive front four are not controlling the line of scrimmage like they did last year and the year before. They have lost some key players in the secondary but the secondary was dependent upon the defensive line to put pressure on the quarterback. Philip Rivers should have a big day pushing the ball down the field. The woes for the New York Giants continue. Now, I say this in spite of the fact that I don’t think the San Diego Chargers are very good team. I think they’re in the middle of the pack, but Philip Rivers is playing well. The Chargers by 10 points.

The San Francisco 49ers versus the Tennessee Titans. Can Vince Young continue to play well? He did a very good job of taking care of the ball last week. I don’t see the defense of Mike Singletary being as generous. I see pressure coming from everywhere, including the locker room. The Titans are going to have to roll out Vince Young in his second start. On the other side of the ball, San Francisco 49ers took Alex Smith out of storage to try to resurrect their season. He’s played fairly well. If he can control the ball (no interceptions) against an anemic Tennessee Titans defense the 49ers should have a good game and win.

Sunday night game —
The Dallas Cowboys versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Classic NFL. The NFC East division is on the line. I have no idea what to expect. Both teams in the last several weeks have played some very good football and some very bad football. Which Philadelphia Eagles team are we going to see? Are we going to see the team that struggled against the hapless Washington Redskins team and was simply awful against the Oakland Raiders? Or are we to see the team that basically destroyed the New York Giants? The same can be said for the Dallas Cowboys. Remember it wasn’t that long ago that the Dallas Cowboys had to go to overtime to beat the winless Kansas City Chiefs. In order for the Dallas Cowboys to win they have to protect the quarterback. Tony Romo has to have time to see the field. I am hopeful that the Dallas Cowboys will move Roy Williams to slot where I think he can be more effective. The Dallas running backs need to run hard and strong. There needs to be an excellent mix of run and pass so that the Cowboys stay out of third and long. From the defensive standpoint, the Dallas Cowboys must keep Donovan McNabb in the pocket. They must generate lots of pressure from their front four. Jackson and Westbrook are the two key players. The Dallas Cowboys must control these players in order to win. The Philadelphia Eagles formula for winning has been the same for the last 15 years. The defense creates turnovers and field position and the offense strikes quickly. Look for Felix Jones and Martellus Bennett (TE) to have big games. I think the Cowboys will use two tight ends and one wide receiver package for a good deal of the game. The Cowboys by seven.

Monday Night Football —
The Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Denver Broncos. Now that should be fun. Look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to get after the Denver Broncos offense. I think there will use the same type of scheme that we saw from the Baltimore Ravens. I would like for the Denver Broncos to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers just because I have a long-standing disdain for the Steelers, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to run the ball effectively and throw out a play action pass. They’ll get the ball downfield to Santonio Holmes, who I think will have a big game. The Denver Broncos don’t push the ball down the field and I think this will hurt them against a fast Steeler defense. I look for the Steelers to win by four or five points in the thin air of Denver.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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